Apistogramma trifasciata stats infographicApistogramma trifasciata, commonly known as Apistos or dwarf cichlids, are small, brightly colored fish with a peaceful personality. While they rank medium to hard in the level of care required, their curious and fun nature makes them easy to take care of. Other than that, they also do well in community tanks.

They spread throughout South-American waters: the Paraguay River drainage, Brazil’s Guaporé River, and the middle Paraná River drainage in Argentina.

Plus, they have an average lifespan of around 5-10 years, which is pretty good for a pet fish.

This article will teach you how to take care of and maintain this lovely fish breed. We will cover topics like tank-mates, breeding, diet, and many more, along with some of its cousin species.

Taking Care of Your Apisto

Apistos prefer to live in pairs or groups with one male and several females. It is generally recommended to keep these fish in a tank of a minimum of 25 gallons or larger.

Temperatures ranging from 71-86 degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels of 5-7 are the ideal living conditions.

They require well-filtered water that is slow-moving and not too hard. These cichlids tend to dwell on the bottom part of the tanks and need lots of hiding places, plant matter, and some access to live plants to live a healthy life. We recommend using wood, plants, rocks, or any other decor material to create a sense of a colony for them and provide shelter from light.

They are also highly sensitive to changes in the water conditions and require good filtration and frequent water changes in small quantities. Various aquarists recommend a reverse osmosis water filtration system to help keep the tap water safe and soft.

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Tank Mates

Apistogramma trifasciata commonly known as apistos or dwarf cichlidsAs Apistos prefer the bottom of the tank, peace-loving fish that swim on top generally make good tank mates. Avoid aggressive species as Apistos might become targets due to their small size.

As long as there is ample food and plenty of space, this species lives happily. We recommend keeping more than one Apistogramma in the tank, preferably two to four females for every male. Different species of cichlids and dwarf cichlids are also known to live well together.

Here is a list of some compatible tank-mates:

Apisto Breeding: Conditions and Suitable Environment

Apistos are some of the easiest fish to breed; you just have to provide the right environment. They reproduce best in warm waters with very little flow and temperature in the range of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The water should be slightly acidic (6-6.5 pH) and soft around 5 dH. These fish are egg layers. They are very protective of the baby fish, and the females choose a heavily guarded spot to lay the eggs while the males guard the breeding area.

– Setting Up the Breeding

As for the setup, there are two options: a separate breeding tank or letting them breed in the same tank and then transferring the fry into another tank until they are mature enough to be introduced to the community tank.

If there are other fish of the same species, then the female can breed in the same community tank. In a separate breeding tank setting, the bonded pairs are transferred to a different tank with at least 10 gallons, and you should reduce the flow of water by covering the filters with sponges. It also helps in preventing the fry from getting sucked in the filter.

Since the female fish is heavily involved in the breeding process, a breeding tank is a more straightforward option as it minimalizes fish disturbance. It also improves the chances of breeding and increases the survival rate of the fry.

– How to Encourage Breeding?

The best approach to encourage breeding is to find a bonded pair and place them together. If there are no bonded pairs, place a male with several females but make sure there is a single male Apistogramma trifasciata to avoid territorial behavior. Ensure that the water parameters are safe and that the temperature is optimum for breeding.

The females, once ready, will coax the males into breeding and lay the eggs. It usually takes around three days for the eggs to hatch, during which time the fish are very protective of their eggs. Once hatched, baby fry eats whatever the mother gives them, primarily algae. When they are ready, they can be transferred back to the community tank.


Size Up to 2 inches(5-6 cm)
Tank 25 gallons or larger
Strata Mostly lower and middle but will go anywhere
pH 5-7
Hardness Soft to medium (0-12 dH)
Temperature 71-86 Fahrenheit 

Diet: Know What to Feed Your Apistos

Apistogramma trifasciata are essentially omnivores and like to keep a balanced diet. They feed on plant-based foods: algae and plant leaves. Protein is their preference, and their diets are limited to insect larvae, small invertebrates, fish fry, and worms.

You can feed them with brine shrimp and worms and high-quality pellets and flakes. Since they like to dwell on the bottom of the tanks, they prefer sinking food to floating food. Baby fish eat whatever their mother provides. However, after a few days, you can feed them brine shrimp to help them grow.

Below are some of the popular Cichlids:

– Three-Striped Dwarf Cichlid

The Three-Striped Dwarf Cichlid is one of the most beautiful and colorful species. They are of South American origin, namely Brazil and Paraguay. They are a peaceful species marked with three lateral stripes, hence the name. The males have a yellow face with neon blue coloration all over the body, while the females display mostly dull yellow coloration. They grow out to around 1-1.5 inches, with the males being slightly larger than the females.

– Striped African Cichlid

The Striped African Cichlid is probably the most colorful of all the freshwater fishes. They are active, beautiful, and incredibly unique in shape and behavior, with over 2,000 species.

Most of them are moderate in size and are suitable for home aquariums, but some of these species grow quite big and are unsuitable for home environments.

There are further classifications of African Cichlids based on the regions in Africa:

  1. Lake Malawi: Home to about 800 species of Cichlids. It boasts some of the most colorful cichlids that display bright colors and striking patterns, e.g., Zebra cichlids are colored in blue with black and yellow bars or Peacock cichlids brightly colored in blue, red, and yellow.
  2. Lake Tanganyika: Home to around 250 species of cichlids. It also has the largest (35 inches) and the smallest (1.3 inches) of known cichlids.
  3. Other types of Cichlids: These are relatively lesser-known and come from West Africa or Lake Victoria.

– Striped Cichlid

These are small elongated fish that grow up to 4 inches. Juveniles and females are usually bright yellow with black and white stripes on the upper half of the body. Males are distinctly different and have black or dark brown bodies with light blue or yellow stripes on the upper half of the body.

– Black Striped Dwarf Cichlid

This is a beautiful but rare dwarf cichlid species known for its elongated body and spade-shaped tail. They have slimmer bodies than other dwarfs. They are native to Brazil and are somewhat tough to maintain and breed due to their aggressive behavior.

The males are larger and more colorful than the females and have a flare-type tail red in color. They thrive in an aquarium with open space and decor materials like rock, wood, etc., to feel colonized.


  • Dwarf cichlid known as apistogramma trifasciataApistos is a beautiful and curious species that is easy to care for
  • With proper care, they can live up to 5-10 years
  • They are native to South America
  • Due to their peaceful personality, they are compatible with other fish
  • Breeding them is also not much of a hassle
  • Their diet is not very complex, and their food is readily available

Even if you are a beginner and want a proper community, you just have to follow the guidelines and tips provided above. Quality in care, feeding, breeding conditions, and tank mates will ensure a long and healthy community of Apistogramma trifasciata.

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