Apistogramma Bolivian Butterfly

Dwarf cichlids from South America are loved by aquarists around the world. These unusual and brightly colored fish will adorn any tropical aquarium. In our article, we will talk about the content of one of the popular miniature cichlids – the Apistogramma Bolivian butterfly.

General information

Apistogramma The Bolivian butterfly (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus) is a freshwater ray-finned fish from the Tsichlov family. The species was first described in the scientific literature over a century ago – in 1911. The taxonomic position of the species has changed several times, at the moment it belongs to the genus Microgeophagus. True, the historical name “Apistogramma” is firmly entrenched in the fish.

The Bolivian butterfly is a dwarf cichlid that does not grow more than 8 cm in length. She is peaceful and has an interesting bright color and body shape.

Despite their modest size, apistograms are fish with high intelligence. They are able to recognize their master, form strong pairs, and have a pronounced parental instinct.

The Bolivian Apistogramma is well suited for general aquariums, although it is considered slightly more aggressive than its closest relative, the Ramirezi Apistogramma.

The fish is not difficult to care for and can be recommended for novice aquarists.


Apistogramma Bolivian butterfly has an ovoid elongated body up to 8 cm long. Its main color is pale yellow, the head and chest are bright oranges. Directly in the middle of the body, on the sides, there is a dark, rounded spot, behind which noticeable gray stripes stretch towards the tail.

The eyes are large; a dark vertical stripe passes through them.

The dorsal fin is long and pointed, especially in adult males. A red border stretches along the upper part, and the extreme rays of the caudal fin are similarly colored. The fins themselves are transparent.


The native land of the Bolivian Apistogramma is the tropical waters of South America. The fish can be found in the vast territory of Brazil and Bolivia. The first specimens of this Apistogramma were caught in Bolivia, for which the fish got its name.

The Apistogramma is found in numerous creeks, oxbows, lakes with a slow current, and a sandy bottom. It prefers to live in shallow waters, where it finds shelter among driftwood and thickets of aquatic plants. Spends most of the time in search of insects living at the bottom.

Care and maintenance

When keeping the Apistogramma, the Bolivian butterfly is recommended to adhere to the rule that one fish has 20 liters of water. You can also put a couple of fish in the aquarium, but it is better if it is a small group of 6-8 individuals.

Apistograms are very fond of digging in the ground, so it is better to stay on a sandy or small pebble substrate. The fish will look great among natural decorations – stones, snags, and living plants. The latter should be planted in islands, not forgetting to leave a place for swimming. Bolivian butterflies do not damage plant leaves, so you can use any species you like: Vallisneria, Hygrophila, Ambulia, Bacopa, Echinodorus, Cryptocorynes, etc. Apistograms love the dim lighting, so it would be useful to launch a hornwort, pistia, or Riccia on the surface of the water in the aquarium.

The more hiding places in the aquarium, the better. You can build them using existing decorations, or add ceramic pots and coconut halves. Be sure to place a few flat stones on the bottom, it is possible that they will be an excellent spawning place for Bolivian butterflies.

Pure water is the key to the well-being of the Apistogramma Bolivian butterfly. Be sure to install a suitable filter in the aquarium and ensure proper aeration. Once a week, a freshwater change will be required. It should be 20% of the volume of the aquarium. The water from the central water supply system is completely unsuitable for keeping fish, therefore, before changing it, it is necessary to make it safe for the inhabitants. This will help the Tetra AquaSafe conditioner, which removes dangerous chlorine and heavy metals from the water, as well as enriches it with useful vitamins and natural colloids. These heat-loving cichlids will need a thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature.

In its natural environment, the Apistogramma Bolivian butterfly lives in reservoirs with a high content of humic substances, so it is useful to add conditioner with natural peat extract Tetra ToruMin to the water, which creates the effect of “black” tropical water.


Apistogramma Bolivian butterfly is a peaceful cichlid. She will not be able to offend even a small fish. Unless it will scare you away from your corner or laying eggs.

The most suitable cohabitants will be species adjacent to apistograms and in nature – gregarious characin: neons, tetras, corridors, ancistrus. Bolivian butterflies get along with petsilia, mollies, swordtails, gourami, barbs, and other dwarf cichlids.

But keeping with large fish species is completely out of the question – apistograms will be mercilessly beaten. Problems can arise with shrimps, small cichlids can eat them, especially after molting.

Bolivian butterflies live amicably among themselves if the volume of the aquarium is sufficient. Fights are possible between males without serious consequences.

Feeding Apistogram Bolivian Butterfly

In nature, the Apistogramma Bolivian butterfly eats various invertebrates, which it digs from the bottom. At home, the best option would be to feed the fish with high-quality dry food. Unlike live or frozen food, they are completely balanced and, thanks to the complex of vitamins, ensure the health and longevity of your pets. And it is very easy to bring an infection into the aquarium with live food, which cannot be said about dry food.

When choosing food, one should take into account the smallmouth size of the Bolivian butterfly Apistogramma. The following types of feed are best suited:

  1. TetraPRO Color Multi-Crisps or Tetra Rubin are foods with a high content of natural color enhancers. After a few weeks of feeding, you will notice that the apistograms have become much brighter;
  2. Tetra Cichlid Color Mini is a food specially designed for small cichlids. Contains a large amount of high-quality proteins, as well as natural color enhancers;
  3. Natural delicacies in nutritious jelly – Tetra FreshDelica will help to diversify the menu of Bolivian butterflies. You can offer your cichlids bloodworms or brine shrimp, which they will definitely like.

It is desirable to feed the Apistogramma in small portions to avoid overeating.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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