Apistogramma cacatuoides

September 19th, 2007

I’ve kept Apistogramma cacatuoides for some time now in my 75G tank. I started with a trio of the ‘triple red’ color morph. After a few successful spawns, my brilliant male died of seemingly unknown causes. My local fish store had just gotten in wild A. cacatuoides so I decided to try one with my ‘triple red’ females. Before long they spawned, and I now have a small breeding colony of at least 12-15 fish in my 75G community tank.

Apistogramma cacatuoides male

It’s really been fascinating to watch how the triple-red coloration has mixed with the wild male’s drab color. Some of the males, like the one above, only retain a tiny bit of orange on their dorsal fin. Others, have darker bodies, with more pronounced color in their dorsals. (below)

Apistogramma cacatuoides male
Then, some of them have orange blotches on their tail fins. It’s quite possible that this one below is actually a female, but you can see the coloration nevertheless.

Apistogramma cacatuoides male

The black and orange checkerboard pattern is starting to show up on this male’s tail fin, and there’s more orange on the dorsal fin, with slightly more color on the bottommost fins.

Apistogramma cacatuoides

Finally, I also have 1-2 nice specimens where the tail and dorsal fins are totally checkered with orange and black. This fish very much approximates the original male that I started with.

Apistogramma cacatuoides male

The females themselves are not ugly fish, but are very similar to other female apistogramma. I’m fortunate to constantly enjoy the breeding coloration of at least one pair of fish at any given time. I’m amazed by the small crevices these females fit themselves into in the rocks. They’ve located hollow areas in rocks that I never knew had hollow areas.

Apistogramma cacatuoides female

I’ve also found that these are not shy fish. Unlike some other apistos that I’ve kept, they come right up to the tank when I approach, and usually stare me down until I feed them. They’re not terribly aggressive fish, even when breeding. They’ll definitely try to defend their territory, but most of the time, I see 5-6 hanging around the same area. I’ve always liked dwarf cichlids because they give you the ability to keep colonies of a single species in a modest-sized aquarium. The behavior patterns definitely change in this situation, and that’s interesting to note.

Apistogramma cacatuoides female

If you haven’t kept cichlids before, Apistogramma cacatuoides is an excellent beginner cichlid. They’re easily obtained from most fish stores, will readily breed in most water, and exhibit all of the same behaviors that people love from cichlids.

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