Apistogramma Borellii Stats InfographicApistogramma borellii is regarded by aquarists as a delightful cichlid species to raise. Its vibrant colors quickly take your tank from drab to gorgeous. They are hardy and commonly found in the Amazon Basins of Brazil and Paraguay.

The fact that they can withstand a range of water conditions does not mean that you should trivialize their care.

On the contrary, with the proper care and diet, you can ensure that they flourish and reach the full extent of their potential. Learn how.

Apistogramma Borellii Stats

Origin South America
Lifespan 3-5 Years
Behavior Peaceful
Care Level Beginners
Size 2.6 Inches
Temperature 20 C- 26 C
Hardness Moderate
pH 5.8-8.0


Apistogramma borellii fishApistogramma borelli is also known as Umbrella Cichlid or Dwarf cichlid because of its tiny size. It is pretty popular among aquarists thanks to its peaceful disposition, size, and striking color. It is commonly found in the Parana River and the Paraguay River in South America, Brazil, and North Argentina.

In the Opal Apistogramma borellii natural habitat, you will find soft sandy rivers with low water currents. These rivers are generally situated in the middle of the tropical forest, thick with trees. The trees’ leaves and roots provide shelter for the fish from predators.

It thrives in slightly acidic waters thanks to the tannins present in the leaves and roots of the plants that grow in the habitat.

– Appearance

The Umbrella cichlid has its entire face and anal and pectoral fins colored in brilliant yellow, while the other parts of its body are a bright shade of silver.

The tip of the dorsal fins are brilliant yellow like the anal and pectoral fins; however, the other parts of the fin are the same brilliant silver. At the middle of its body is a black line that sometimes has a reddish hue that runs from its gills to its tail.

The Opal Apistogramma borellii has a short, stout body that makes many people mistake it for the old-world cichlid. However, its fins give it away as a South American Cichlid.

– Size

Apistogramma borellii size is quite diminutive like other dwarf cichlids. It stays relatively small and only measures about 2.6 inches at maturity.

– Dimorphism

Certain differences allow you to tell the male and female Opal Apistogramma borellii species apart.

First, the males are larger than the females; they grow to less than three inches.

Females are smaller, growing to only two inches with proper diet and care. Another difference is their coloring; the males come in more vibrant and brilliant colors than their female counterparts.

– Behavior

The Yellow Dwarf cichlid is a peaceful schooling fish that is compatible with quite many fishes. They prefer to flee rather than to get into a confrontation with other fish. Being friendly, they prefer to hide from other large, aggressive fish species; this is why you need to design their tank with lots of hiding space.

Male Yellow Dwarf Cichlids may sometimes display aggression towards each other; thus, we advise that you raise these fish as a small group of at least six. If you choose to keep six of them, you must ensure that you have just one male in the mix.

As long as this criterion is met, you can keep this relatively docile cichlid with other small fish species with a similar disposition.


Although the Apistogramma borellii is a hardy fish, it is still vital that you care for them properly. To do this, you will need to understand what they need and how best to create the perfect habitat.

– Tank Size

The Apistogramma borellii is a dwarf cichlid, small. Thus, it does not require a large tank; with a 10-gallon tank, you can house a single pair of this species. But, of course, if you intend to accommodate larger groups, you will require a larger tank; the bigger, the better.

– Substrate

When selecting a substrate for your fish tank, choosing one that closely resembles that found in the fish’s natural habitat is essential.

You cannot go wrong with a soft sandy substrate that cannot bruise the abdomen of your fish. In addition, we recommend that the substrate is of a darker color to offset your fish’s bright color.

– Water Condition

Like many South African Cichlids, the Opal Apistogramma borellii is sensitive to high nitrate concentrations in the water. Hence, you must ensure that the tank water is changed periodically; it’s the only way to control the nitrate and ammonia levels.

The Umbrella Cichlid is quite hardy and seems to prefer slightly acidic climates. In fact, in its natural habitat, the waters are acidic, courtesy of the tannins present in the leaves and roots of the plants. It can tolerate pH levels within 5.8 to 8.0.

The recommended temperature lies within 20 C – 26 C. To successfully breed this species, we recommend increasing the water temperature a bit; they breed in warmer waters. An aquarium heater will help you ensure the temperature within this range, ensuring that you do not go above the recommended range.

While this species can withstand varying degrees of water hardness, it is still vital that you do not misuse this wriggle room. Instead, keep the water at moderate to hard levels, preferably moderate hardness.

– Lighting

In the wild, the Opal Apistogramma borellii inhabits dark water. A significant driver of this darkness is the tannins from the leaves of the plants growing in the water.

Subdued lighting works best for them, so we advise that you set up your tank with that in mind. Remember that when the light in the tank is intense, Umbrella cichlids tend to go into hiding.

Dim lighting also brings out the color of this species, making them even more vibrant.

– Tank Decoration

As we stated earlier, mimicking the natural habitat of Opal Apistogramma borellii is essential for its survival. In the wild, the water where this fish is found is filled with thick trees that create a sense of security. You can add leaf litter to make them feel even more secure.

Driftwood and caves help provide hiding spots for the fish. Upturned plant pots can also serve to create more hiding spots. You can also add ornaments to make them feel more at home and beautify their tank.

– Diet

Apistogramma borellii is carnivorous, so finding what it will eat is not much of a bother for you. However, we advise that you tailor their meals to suit what they eat in the wild; lots of high-quality protein and small portions of leafy vegetables.

Great meal options to meet their dietary needs include bloodworms, micro worms, mosquito larva, and daphnia. Frozen and pellet foods are also great options for this fish.

Tank Mates

Yellow Dwarf cichlid is a peaceful cichlid species, so you don’t want to keep them with large, aggressive fishes. Fishes that stay smaller than three inches make the best tank mates for this cichlid.

This means that you can keep them with fish like tetras, Chinese algae eaters, Corydoras, and Plecos. Also worth considering are other Dwarf South African cichlids with peaceful temperaments.

You must avoid housing Umbrella Cichlids with aggressive fish species, fin nippers, and larger fish species as a rule of thumb. You can also leave them in groups but remember that your tank must be large enough to keep them fit if you choose to house more than one male. Don’t forget to include lots of hiding space and maintain the ratio of males to females in the tank to prevent unnecessary aggression.


A lot of aquarists have successfully bred this fish in captivity, and you can too!

The first step towards success is ensuring that your fish tank is appropriately conditioned to induce and sustain the breeding process.

Start by moving the mature pairs to a separate tank that houses only their species. The breeding tank should have the proper water parameters, i.e., slightly elevated temperature, moderately hard water, and slightly acidic pH. In addition, the tank should have lots of caves to serve as protection for the mating pairs as well as their eggs.

The female Apistogramma borellii will spawn in the caves and protect the eggs until they are free-swimming.

Usually, it takes the fry about four to six days to become free-swimming. After that, you can feed them with vitamin-enriched brine shrimp and micro worms.


The average Apistogramma borellii lifespan is around three to five years. Of course, the actual length of time the fish will live is to a large extent dependent on the quality of care and diet you give to it. In a favorable environment and with the right diet, you can even get the fish to live past the five-year mark.


  • Apistogramma borelliiApistogramma borellii is a unique cichlid with vibrant colors and a calm disposition.
  • It favors dim-lit tanks and dark-colored substrates.
  • With proper care, this fish will grow to its full size (2.6 inches) and live for five years.

Apistogramma borellii is a delightful fish to raise. Its peaceful, schooling nature makes it great for beginners. Now that you know all about this fish go ahead and use our guide to raise your fish. Let us know how it goes in the comment section.

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