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Help choosing my first Apistogramma/Dwarf Cichlid


New Member
Hi All,

My first time posting on here.

I currently have a 100L tall (70cm wide) South American aquarium for which i am hoping to add an Apistogramma or Dward Cichlid as a feature fish (either a single male or pair, whichever is most appropriate). I've never kept these type of fish before so would like to choose as wisely as possible and would like the communities experience and help.

My tank is v.heavily planted with a deep soil substrate. I currently have some Black Neon and White Tip Tetra in the tank along with Amano Shrimp and Snails (photo attached).

My water is testing as:

NO3 - 0
NO2 - 0
GH - 8
KH - 7.5
PH - 7.2

Which of these fish do you think would be suitable for my tank? I'd originally had my eye on Borellii or Laetecara Curviceps (dwaf flag) but these seem to be hard to get hold of locally.

Any help would be appreciated. Many thanks in advance!



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New Member
Just to add - my lighting is only 16w, so is quite dim, though i'll happily add some amazon frogbit if perferable.


Well-Known Member
(either a single male or pair, whichever is most appropriate)
If any a single male. "Pair" is not fitting, as most dwarf cichlids (this is a genus-overarching term simply denoting a cichlid under 10cm mean standard length).
Which species you ultimately choose is secondary, but I'd like to recommend staying away from domestic breeds. Pretty much all Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, Apistogramma cacatuoides, A. agassizii, A. hongsloi, A. macmasteri(and in North America also A. borellii) are overbred, massproduced fish with bad genetics, bad health and sometimes bad temper.

though i'll happily add some amazon frogbit if perferable.
Do it!

GH - 8
KH - 7.5
PH - 7.2
Only those are relevant for fish. I'd be looking into species from Southern Brazil/Northern Argentina/Uruguay... amazonian fish usually require (or at least prefer) the readings 0/0/5-6. Please note, 0 KH/GH refers to such low readings standard tests from the aquarium trade show "below detection".

My tank is v.heavily planted with a deep soil substrate.
Very unfortunate. You will have to replace that stuff after 2 years usually. It is also not really siutable for geophagine dwarf cichlids, which almost all either chew and sift sand as their main mode of feeding or at least tend to pick at mulm and leaf litter on the sand. How long is that substrate in there? If you can, wait with the cichlid until you've replaced it and wait until the tank has rebalanced afterwards.

Mike Wise

Staff member
5 Year Member
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
You have a beautiful community/display tank but I have to agree with Mac that it is not suitable if you add a breeding pair. For most apistos and male and female of the same species is a breeing pair. The tank size is OK for some smaller, less polygamous apisto pairs, but realize that the apistos will bother your tetras if they start breeding. This stresses all of the fish which can stress you out, too. Your water is hard so a single whitewater specimen like A. borellii or A. cacatuoides would be best. If the fish show good quality it does not matter whether or not they are wild or domestic. The important thing is to quarantine for at least a month before adding any fish to the community.

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