Apistogramma: Care and Maintenance

Among the representatives of the ichthyofauna of the South American continent, the dwarf cichlids of the Apistogramma stand out very strongly. These peaceful and very bright fish are a real decoration of a tropical aquarium.

Apistogramma aquarium

When choosing an aquarium for apistograms, it is recommended to follow the following rule – a couple of fish should have at least 40 liters of water.

It is best to decorate the aquarium in a natural style, so the fish will look as impressive as possible. Natural driftwood, rocks, and aquatic plant bushes are perfect. They will also allow you to successfully divide the territory if the aquarium contains several pairs. Flat stones are also a convenient place to lay eggs.

It is best to keep the fish in small groups, there should be 2-3 females for one male.

Apistograms are very sensitive to the content of nitrogenous compounds in the water, so the aquarium should be equipped with a powerful filter and compressor to create the most comfortable conditions. Heat-loving apistograms will also need a thermostat.

Weekly maintenance includes regular water changes, wall cleaning, rinsing of the filter sponges.

Water parameters

In their homeland – South America – apistograms live in warm, slow-flowing reservoirs with “dark” tropical water rich in humic substances. Water in shallow waters quickly warms up to 30 ° С, therefore it is better to keep it at 25-30 ° С in an aquarium. In water with low temperatures, fish often get sick.

Apistograms prefer soft water similar to nature (GH <15). The acidity should be in the range of pH = 6.0-7.5.

It is useful to enrich the water with humic substances, which have a beneficial effect on the health and appearance of apistograms. This can help, in addition to natural driftwood, Tetra ToruMin conditioner with natural peat extract.

To prevent the accumulation of metabolic products once a week, it is necessary to change 20% of the water in the aquarium. Use Tetra AquaSafe Conditioner to quickly prepare tap water for changes. It will remove chlorine and heavy metals from water, enrich it with vitamins and protective colloids. Dosage of the product: 5 ml per 10 liters of water.


Apistograms prefer dim, dim lighting. Too bright light scares the fish. Therefore, it is recommended to run floating plant species on the surface of the water, which will create natural shading.


Quartz sand or fine pebbles are placed on the bottom of the aquarium with apistograms. This species does not belong to actively burrowing fish. Such substrates are also well suited for planting live plants. A layer of neutral soil is 4-6 cm so that the plants can root better. Remember to place Tetra CompleteSubstrate underneath the neutral soil.


Apistograms are very fond of swimming in thickets of plants, so it is highly recommended to plant several types of long-stemmed plants along the walls of the aquarium. You can create thickets from Vallisneria, Cabomba, Bacopa, Hygrophilous, and a number of others. It is useful to plant several bushes of Echinodorus or Cryptocoryne, under the leaves of which it will be convenient for the fish to hide.

Feeding Apistogramma

The most suitable food for apistograms when kept in home aquariums will be high-quality dry food. It is better to refuse live and frozen food, as they are not balanced and can lead to infection of the aquarium inhabitants with parasites or infections.

The following foods for ornamental fish are perfect for Apistograms:

  1. TetraPro Energy is food in the form of chips with a special energy concentrate. It is an additional source of energy. It is made using a gentle low-temperature technology, which allows you to preserve even more useful elements and vitamins in the raw material. The food is absorbed as much as possible by the fish, allowing you to keep the water in the aquarium clean.
  2. TetraPro Color or Tetra Rubin is a food with a high content of natural carotenoids. They enhance the color of apistograms, in the color range of which there are predominantly yellow, orange, and red tones. After two weeks of regular feeding, you can already see the result.
    If your pets prefer food in the form of granules, then take a look at TetraMin Mini Granules or
  3. Tetra Cichlid Mini Granules. They work especially well if apistograms are kept in a common aquarium with other species. The pellets slowly sink to the bottom, where they become available to the fish.
  4. And of course, don’t forget to pamper your pets with tasty and safe treats from the Tetra FreshDelica range. Food organisms in nutritious jellies, such as bloodworms or brine shrimp, will no doubt please small predators.

Remember that fish are prone to overeating, so be sure to eat well. It is better to give food in smaller portions, but more often. It is recommended to grind large flakes or chips by hand.


Peaceful and small apistograms are a good choice for a community aquarium. These cichlids are not capable of offending anyone. Viviparous fish (guppies, platies, mollies, swordtails), neons, tetras, rasbora are perfect for cohabitants. You can combine these cichlids with medium-sized barbs, lalius, scalars, catfish.

Care must be taken when combining with shrimp. Adults are less likely to fall prey to apistograms, but juveniles may suffer.

Of course, various types of apistograms are perfectly combined with each other. However, do not forget that these are territorial fish, so a spacious aquarium and various shelters will be needed.

Apistograms get along extremely well with discus, as they do not experience discomfort in soft water with a sufficiently high temperature.

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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