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July 24, 2015

It’s finally Friday, readers! We have a great number of Apistogramma species available – they’re popular with us hobbyists for their stunning colors and interesting behavior. This dwarf cichlid has a fascinating pattern of habitats in nature: the distribution of different species groups (a classification of many species connected by common ancestry) is directly correlatable to the paleogeography of South America. For example, species groups occurring in two disparate river systems in the Amazon basin will display a regional habitat directly related to prehistoric watershed patterns. More information about group classifications can be found on, and on the Paleogeography I speak of can be found on

The Apistogramma genus creates an amazing feature fish in any tank. Apistogramma females are, for the most part, yellow with a bold black stripe running from their eye to the end of their caudal fin. However, don’t let this deter you from ordering pairs – the presence of females will bring out the best display colors in males. These fish swim near the bottom of the tank, so a layered display with calm mid-level swimming and top-level swimming species will provide ideal stocking. Boisterous species such as many danios will upset the Apistogramma species and should be avoided.

Apistogramma agassizi “Fire Red” is a beautiful color morph of the lean, torpedo-shaped A. agassizi species – males present a lovely purplish color on the dorsal edge of their bodies and dorsal fin. Their ventral sides and dorsal, anal and ventral fins are brilliant yellow-orange. With a distinct red and black edging and tipping to their unpaired fins. The bulk of their flanks are pale pink with an overlay of blue iridescent scales. The Fire Red’s spade-shaped caudal fin is brilliant red with a striking white edge. Iridescent blue spots adorn their face, concentrated on the gill plate. With maturity, their ventral and dorsal fins grow gorgeous filament extensions.

Apistogramma agassizi Fire Red

If you are looking for coloration closer to that found in nature, Apistogramma agassizi “Red” is another beauty and our specimens are large and healthy. Their foreheads and ventral edges are golden brown with brilliant blue iridescent scales over their flanks and dark lateral lines. Each fin is orange and rimmed in black, with the caudal fin highly pointed and red in color. The Red’s faces are mottled with the blue iridescence typical of their species.

WS Apistogramma agassizi Red

Apistogramma cacatuoides “Super Red” has long been a staple for the Apisto keeper looking for color. These stout-bodied fish have relatively plain, bronze bodies with bold lateral lines, tear marks and a bit of black scale edges below the lateral line. The true appeal of these fish is their fins - each unpaired fin is marbled in brilliant persimmon red and pitch black, givng them their alternate name of “Triple Red”. Their caudal fins are a beautiful lyre-shape with striking filamentous extensions from the top and bottom rays and their dorsals are truly astounding – they are nearly the height of the fish’s body, excluding the three extended rays at the leading edge and the long filamentous extension at the rear of the fin. In good condition, this finnage is truly striking and an amazing centerpiece for your well-chosen community aquarium.

WS Apistogramma cacatuoides Super Red

Finally, Apistogramma hongsloi is even more stout-bodied than the Super Red Cacatuoides. While it does feature some extension in the trailing edges of the anal and dorsal fin, for the most part their fins are short and proportional to their body. Their caudal fin is rounded and, as with their face and cheeks, a beautiful sunflower yellow. Their bellies are marked with cherry red scales, as are their chins, and their flanks are striking white. The dorsal and anal fins are both striped with blue-white and cherry red, culminating in one strikingly beautiful fish. Our specimens are young, but they will gain this gorgeous coloration as they grow.

WS Apistgramma hongsloi

Thank you for reading my little article on the beautiful Apistogramma genus, short as it is. Let me know if you have any requests; otherwise, we’ll see you back here next week!

Jessica Supalla