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Apistogramma nijsseni



    A peaceful dwarf cichlid that prefers planted tanks with some driftwood. Water quality is paramount as this species requires very good filtration and quality environment. Not an “easy” fish to keep.

Quick stats:

Listed tank sizes are the minimum.
Size: Males 3″ (8 cm) females smaller
Tank: 15+ Gallons recommended.
Strata: Bottom, middle but will go everywhere.
PH: 5.0 to 7.0
Hardness: Soft to hard. dh Range 2-15
Temperature: 73°F to 86°F (23°-30° C)


Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae
Genera: Apistogramma
Species: nijsseni

Common name:


Panda Cichlid

    , Dwarf Panda, Nijsseni’s Dwarf Cichlid.


    South America: Amazon River basin, in the Carahuayte River drainage, a tributary to the Ucayali River.

General Body Form:

    Compressed elongated body and dorsal fin.


    Males are larger with blue coloration on their flanks and a red-tipped caudal fin. Females have a more panda-like color scheme, showing yellow as the base color with large blotches of black in a ‘camouflage’ style pattern. Females have a lighter red-tipped caudal.


    This is one of the more difficult to keep of the Apistos. They have very demanding water qualities that must be met, otherwise the fish will not fair well. Prefers a tank with lots of plants and bogwood. Rock formations will provide extra cover and may serve as a spawning site for mature fish. This species does not fare well in dirty water, so frequent water changes and good filtration are necessary for survival! More peaceful than the larger components of their Cichlidae family, but may exhibit cichlid-like aggression when breeding.


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    Omnivorous. Will likely take dry foods, in which case a good quality cichlid pellet should be fed as staple. Feed live or frozen foods regularly, too. Variety is vital, as is dietary balance – vegetable foods should be fed occasionally too (vegetable or spirulina flakes, or small pieces of cucumber).


    Heavily vegetative black water creeks and streams.


    Cave Spawner, Soft, acidic water is vital for breeding the Panda dwarf cichlid. Keep one male with a harem of females (a trio is ideal in smaller tanks). Females will hold their own small territories, whilst male’s territory is the entire tank (or at least 24″ if more than one male is kept in a larger tank). Female will guard fry whilst male defends his larger territory.

References:Apistogramma nijsseni – Panda Apisto
Fish Base

5/5 - (16 votes)


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