The Laetacara dorsigera is a shimmering, iridescent fish from South America. It is also known as the Redbreast Acara due to its intensely red chest.

The Laetacara dorsigera belongs to the genus ‘smiling acaras’. Its scientific name Laetacara is from the Latin laetus, ‘happy,’ while natives in South America call cichlids Acara. The pattern around its mouth and snout gives these fish a smiling appearance.

The Redbreast Acara is ideal for beginners and experienced fish enthusiasts as they adapt well to various types of water. This peaceful dwarf cichlid, growing up to 3 inches, is robust and undemanding. It is an excellent choice for community and planted aquariums.

What Makes the Laetacara Dorsigera Unusual?

The male Redbreast Dwarf Acara Cichlid displays exquisite pastel colors when it matures.

The primary colors of the acara cichlids are cream, yellow and brown. Dark lateral stripes run through the top lip, starting below the Acaras white smile or mustache and passing across the lower half of their flanks.

It is fascinating to watch the colors of the stripes change to russet or purples and blues, depending on their mood. These Cichlids have bright blue spots on their body and fins.

– Laetacara Dorsigera Appearance

The Redbreast Acara’s body is roundish. It is plumper, and the head is blunter compared to other small Laetacara. It has a lateral band that begins at the rear edge of the eye and ends at the midbody.

Acara Cichlid has a well-defined stripe between the eyes, and often there is a dark spot outlined with blue or white at the base of the dorsal fin. The spot on the female’s dorsal fin has a red and blue edge.

The male Redbreast Acara grows a little larger than the females. Males develop noticeably longer ventral fins. Female Redbreast Acaras usually have a noticeably larger spot on the base of their dorsal fin. They are fuller and have a more rounded belly. The belly of the female dwarf acara is generally more intensely red than that of males.

– Laetacara Dorsigera Care Guidelines:

  • Diet: An assortment of high-quality dry, frozen, and live meaty food
  • Minimum Tank Volume: 70 liters
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons for a group; 10 gallons for a pair
  • Water Temperature: 22-28 C
  • Water pH Range: 6.0 – 7.5
  • Water Hardness Range: 1-8 dGH

Laetacara Dorsigera Care

The Redbreast Dwarf Acara Cichlid will thrive in a dimly-lit aquarium with plenty of plants, roots, and stones with a dark, sandy substrate. Use clay pots, driftwood, and rock formations to create hiding places while leaving sufficient open areas for them to swim around. Place some flat rocks for spawning.

This shy, timid acara cichlid is happy in well-planted tanks with a 24 – 29 C temperature range. The water should be medium-flowing as redbreast dwarf acaras are most comfortable in the middle or at the bottom of the tank.

If you have more than one pair of dwarf acaras, place driftwood and rock to create natural territories within the tank for each couple.

This species is a bit sensitive, so it is vital to maintain water quality. You should ensure an efficient filtration system but keep the water movement reasonably gentle. It is best to carry out frequent, partial water changes to keep nitrate levels at a minimum.

Suitable Tank Mates for the Laetacara Dorsigera

Laetacara dorsigera is very peaceful for a cichlid. It can live in an aquarium with schools of Tetra, Hatchetfish, or Pencilfish. You can also keep it in larger tanks with other dwarf cichlids such as Apistogramma and smaller Loraciids if you provide adequate territory and spawning sites.

The Laetacara dorsigera is spunkier than the Dwarf flag acara, Laetacara Curviceps, but more docile than some other cichlids. Keep these Dwarf Redbreast Acara with small tank mates like tetras or by themselves in a species tank. They feel threatened by larger cichlids.

Laetacara dorsigera, like other fish, will eat any fish that is small enough. Larger fish can prey on this dwarf cichlid. It would help to consider this when choosing tankmates.

It would be best not to keep dwarf shrimp and other small, delicate invertebrates with the Redbreast Dwarf Acara Cichlid. More durable, larger invertebrates such as snails could make good tank mates if the aquarium is large enough.

Avoid keeping Laetacara Dosigera with Laetacara Curviceps or other fish in the same genus to prevent interbreeding.

Ideal companions include:

Breeding the Laetacara Dorsigera

The Redbreast Acara are among the easiest South American cichlids to breed. Breeding is relatively straightforward with a well-matched couple. You can raise a group of six to eight unrelated juvenile dwarf redbreast acaras to sexual maturity and let them pair up.

If you wish to encourage spawning, keep tankmates of other species to a minimum. It may even be better to avoid other tank mates altogether.

You can condition the acara cichlid to breed by giving them plenty of live and frozen food. Raising the temperature above the average temperature will trigger spawning. A temperature between 77 – 86 F is suitable. Water pH level under 6.5 is appropriate for breeding.

Although Laetacara dorsigera are generally peaceful, they become territorial when spawning. Put them in a well-planted tank and layout plenty of rocks or bogwood to create shaded hiding places.

Conceal the spawning site from view on at least three sides of the aquarium. The acara cichlid lay and fertilize up to 300 eggs on a flat stone.

The Redbreast Dwarf Acara display brilliant red underbellies and red highlights in the dorsal and caudal fins when breeding. Tiny, sparkling blue scales cover its body during breeding.

– Laetacara Dosigera as Parents

Laetacara Dosigera deposits its eggs on a flat surface such as a rock, a piece of wood, or a broadleaf. It may even lay eggs inside a cave.

The eggs are tiny, and the parents protect them ferociously. The female guards the eggs while the male patrols the perimeter. If the Redbreast Dwarf Acara spawns in the community aquarium, you may want to move the other fish for their safety.

The eggs usually hatch within 48 hours, and the parents move the fry to a breeding pit. The dwarf acara wrigglers will be free-swimming in a few days. Both parents continue to care for the fry.

– Laetacara Dosigera Fry Care

The parents share the responsibility of caring for the brood, although the male is more involved with defending the territory. Parent dwarf acara care for their fry for three weeks.

You should remove the wrigglers from the parents after this time. The newly free-swimming fries are tiny. Feed them small foods at regular intervals. Fry flourish with infusorians, paramecia, rotifers, and fine powdered foods.

Introduce the baby redbreast acara to larger foods after a week. Freshly hatched brine shrimp are suitable seven days after the fry start swimming freely.

It can be challenging to raise the fry as they are sensitive to water changes. Make small frequent water changes instead of fewer large ones.


Common Name: Dorsigera, Redbreast acara
Family: Cichlidae
Order: Perciformes
Size: Up to 3 inches
Habitat: South America: Amazon River basin, in the Guaporé River drainage; Paraná River basin, in the Paraguay River drainage in Brazil and Paraguay, middle Paraná River drainage in Argent
Min Tank Size: 30 gallons for a community setup; 15 gallons for a species tank
Diet: Omnivorous; accepts live, flake, and frozen
Behavior: Peaceful; aggressive during spawning
  • Temperature: 77 – 84 F
  • pH: 6.0 to 7.5
  • dH: 1-20
Care: Easy; adjusts to most water conditions
Communities: Best kept with other dwarf cichlids or small tetra species
Suitability:  Good for a beginner


Feeding is straightforward for the undemanding Redbreast Dwarf Acara Cichlid. It is omnivorous and will readily eat quality dry, frozen, and live meaty foods. Adding some vegetable matter to their diet is also beneficial.

Laetacara dorsigera are not picky eaters. They will enjoy commercial foods along with live and frozen. A variety of high-quality food is essential to ensure that this fish maintains perfect health and coloring.

You should aim to feed the dwarf cichlid a balanced diet. Use a good cichlid pellet base and supplement it with vegetable matter and spirulina. Give the acara cichlid brine shrimp, micro worms, and tubifex.

Offer your Redbreast Dwarf Acara regular meals of small live and frozen foods. Bloodworm, Daphnia, and Artemia are ideal. Include dried flakes and granules with additional plant or algal content.


Here is a summary to provide you with all the information you need to care for your Laetacara Dosigera at a glance:

  • It is ideal for community tanks.
  • The dwarf cichlid is a sturdy fish that is easy to look after.
  • It lives harmoniously with many other species.
  • It is only an aggressive fish at spawning time.

Why don’t you add these little fish with their delightful color changes to your aquarium? They are hardy and easy to care for. You will get lots of pleasure watching them.

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