American Cichlids – Dwarf Agassizii (Apistogramma Agassizii)

Updated on January 30, 2021 by

Belonging to the American Cichlids family, the Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlids are small colorful fish peculiar to the Amazon river basins of South America and Peru and spanning to the Capim river basin.

They are very hardy which makes them moderately easy to care for and are most suitable for intermediate aquarists with little knowledge and experience of keeping Cichlids, although beginner enthusiasts can also do well with them

Quick stats – Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid

OriginAmazon river basin
Max size3.5” / 9 cm
AquariumMin 20 gallon / 75 liters
Water73-82° F / 22-27° C

KH 1-5, pH 5.8-7.0

Care levelModerate
ColorsRed, orange

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid description

Belonging to the Cichlid family, the Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma Agassizii) is a small and radiantly coloured species originating from the river basins of South America and Peru spanning over to the Capim river basins.

They are radiantly colored, but their coloration and body patterns greatly depend on its specific place of origin. They are more colorful in the wild than when they are constrained in the tank. But this can be helped by providing them with a home exactly as their natural habitat. We’ve got you covered on that.

They exhibit sexual dimorphism, so one can easily tell the male from the female. The males are more colorful than the female usually with their upper back being red and the lower back being green with a horizontal black band running through their body just parallel to the green back.

They can have blue, green or yellow coloration below the black bands. They have green or gold markings on the face with a yellow forehead.

The dorsal fins have a blend of orange and red color while a white or blue lines run through the caudal fins. Other fins can be blue or green.

The females usually have yellow coloring and bears similar markings as the males. The males are also larger than females, growing up 3.5”(8.9cm) long, while the females grow up to 2.5”(6cm) long. Also the males have longer fins than the females having rather a rounder fin.

They are hardy species which makes them easy to care for.  However, they are not peaceful species, though they are not overly aggressive. These cichlids species are quite polygamous having a patriach/matriach arrangement where they form harems comprising of a male with multiple females.

They are rarely found in aquarium and pet shops and can cost quite a moderate expensive  amount if found. However, they are often available online and can be specially ordered.  With a few dollars you can place your orders and set up a home for these lovely and colorful species.

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid in the natural habitat

Native to the amazon river basins of South America and Peru, and spanning through to the Capim river basins, the Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlids are mainly found in slow-moving brackish waters preferring a more acidic water with a pH range of 5.0 to 7.0 and a temperature of range of 22.8-27.2˚C.

The preferred substrate of the Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid is a mix of sand and gravel with litters of fallen leaves and dense vegetations. They are found in places with lots of rocks and caves to provide them with hiding places for breeding and to give them a good spot to hunt for prey.

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid in the ideal aquarium

Apistogramma Agassizii

Setting up the ideal aquarium for the Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid would require setting up a tank to  mimic their natural habitat, so as to provide them with the comfort of their natural home and to help brighten their color.

Also, just as with every other Cichlids, their water condition is very important and ignoring it might cause certain diseases, sickness and even worse  may result in untimely death.

This requires a well filtered and slow moving minimum of 20 gallon tank having an acidic pH range of 5-7, water hardness of 2-10 dGH. They don’t do well in alkaline water, which might even impede their breeding. The water should be changed every 1-2 weeks, replacing up to 20% of the water at each interval.

A fine dark sand would make a perfect substrate for this species. Lots of rocks and clays can be used to provide hiding places, a breeding spot, and also create territorial boundaries for the female species-one for each female.

Driftwood can be used to break the water flow to slow moving and are necessary in maintaining the pH level of the tank and also create the brownish coloration of their natural habitat – the Amazon river.

To mimic the dense vegetation of their natural habitat, floating plants can be used.  Also rosette plants such as the Amazon sword, Vallisneria and other acidic adapting plants such as the Wisteria would be perfect. These will help to diffuse light and also provide shades to the little fish.

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlids are social species and are most suitably kept with schools of its like species. They should be kept in harems of 1 male with 3-4 females. If more than 1 male should be kept, then a larger tank should be provided.

However, if they should be housed with other species, the best tank mates for Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid are other peaceful/semi-aggressive and community species alike such as the Cardinal Tetras, Otocinclus Catfish, Dwarf Gourami, and Dwarf Rainbowfish. They are also compatible with invertebrates such as shrimp and snails.

Large and aggressive species should be greatly avoided. This suggests that the Tiger barbs, Rainbow Shark and Oscars are unsuitable tankmates for the Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid.

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid feeding

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlids are omnivores and would feed on meaty foods, vegetables and flaked foods. In the wild they primarily feed on live foods, usually benthic invertebrates.

So enriching them with meaty foods such as baby brine, bloodworms, insects, frozen brine shrimps, insect larvae, crustaceans and smaller live prey would just be great.

Their meals should be supplemented with vitamins enriched flaked meals and pellets.

Instead of one large feed a day, they should be fed multiple times a day with just enough they could finish in 2-3 minutes, and any left-over should be removed as soon as they are done eating. This will also encourage a higher water quality.

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid breeding

For effective breeding, a spawning tank with a harem of one male with several females should be set up with caves provisions for each female. A slightly acidic water pH of 6.0-6.5, hardness of 5-8 dH and a temperature of 26-29˚C with frequent water changes would encourage breeding.

When the females are ready for breeding, the female will approach the male displaying some body movements by curving her body to entice the male.  The male will consent to the invitation by dancing, usually by flashing his fins.

After spawning takes place, the female will lay about 40-150 eggs on the rooftop of her territorial cave. The male will fertilize the eggs and will leave the female to tend to the eggs.

Under the supervision and care of the female, the eggs will hatch in 3-4 days depending on the water temperature. As soon as they are hatched, the female will take the fry to the bottom of the substrate where they stay for about 4-6 days until they are free swimmers.

The fry can be fed 3 times a day with liquid foods and smaller live feeds such as the baby brine shrimp until they are mature enough to feed on heavier foods.

Moreso, if a certain sex of breed is preferred, a mechanism that works for the Cockatoo Cichlids may also be emoployed. This mechanism solely depends on the water temperature of the breeding tank.

It has been found that for a breeding tank of Cockatoo Cichlid, having a lower temperature of about 20˚C or less, most of the fry will be female, but for a higher temperature of about 30˚C, most of the fry will be male.

However for this to be effective, this condition must be maintained and kept constant for the first 3 weeks.

Apistogramma Agassizii

To conclude

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid is a great choice of fish with peculiar personalities to bring decor to your aquarium home and lighten up your room. Although they are not peaceful, they are however, not overly aggressive.

They are most suitably kept in harems of its like species, which consists of a male with several females. Nonetheless they can be compatible with semi-aggressive fish alike and invertebrates. Large aggressive species are greatly avoided.

The breeding process is encouraged with the right water conditions and the eggs hatches in 3-4 days. The preferred sex can also be encouraged by following the proposed theory of the Cockatoo Cichlid.

In general they have a moderate care level, and with proper care and adequate tank conditions the  Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid can live up to 5 years.

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid FAQs

How long does the Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid live?

With proper care and right tank condition, they can live up to 5 years.

What is the maximum size of the Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid?

The Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid males can grow up to 8.9 cm long while the females can grow up to 6 cm long.

What are the suitable tank mates of the Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid?

They are compatible with peaceful, semi-aggressive and community species such as the Cardinal Tetras, Otocinclus Catfish, Dwarf Gourami, and Dwarf Rainbowfish. However they are most suitable with harems of its like species.

What are the best foods for Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid?

They are omnivores, but in the wild they tend to be more of carnivores, feeding primarily on live feeds and prey. This requires that they should be often fed with meaty live and frozen foods. Their diets can also be supplemented with vegetables and enriched flaked food and pellets.