By: John Harris
© John Harris
Common Name: Triple Red Dwarf Cichlid
Latin Name: Apistogramma cacatuoides
Origin: Rio Plata, South America
Temperature: 74-78 degrees
Ease Of Keeping: Moderate
Adult Size: 3"
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Spawning Method: Cave Spawner
Comments: Apistogramma cacatuoides is perhaps the hardiest and easiest to spawn of the dwarf cichlids from South America. They are a peaceful, colorful, lively fish that come in many different color variants because of selective breeding. The fish pictured with this article is a Triple Red strain, meaning that males have red markings on it's dorsal, caudle and anal fins. They prefer soft acidic water with a pH between neutral and 6.5 and a hardness below 150 ppm. TDS. Tank temperatures should remain between 74-78 degrees, and they do best in aquariums larger than 15 gallons.
These cichlids can be kept in groups as long as there are caves, decorations and/or rockwork for the fish to use as shelter and territory space. They do fine with other South American community fish and seldom bother other fish unless protecting eggs/fry. Breeding colonies should consist of two to three females per male. Feed them a high protein diet of good quality flake food supplimented with frozen or freeze dried meaty foods.
Apisto. cacatuoides is a very prolific breeder. They are cave spawners, so provide caves for them to spawn in such as small plastic or terra cotta flowerpots turned on their sides. Generally, pairs will lay 80-150 eggs which are tended by the female. Males will guard the outside of the caves until the fry hatch, whereupon the females will chase off the males or any other fish that threaten her fry. These fish have such strong parental insticts that it's common for non-breeding females to "adopt" fry that aren't their own, even fry of other species!
The fry can be fed up to 5x per day on microfoods once they've absorbed their yolk sacs and are free swimming. Suggested fry foods are: Hikari first bites, golden pearls, daphnia, cyclops, baby artemia and unicellular algaes. Fry often benefit from having clumps of java moss in their tanks, which contains microorganisms for them to nibble on in-between feedings.
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