Alternative species (click on the thumbnail to see the card)
Apistogramma cacatoides (mistake)
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid
Origin: South America (Peru to the west of Brazil)
Very pronounced. Males are much more colourful and larger than females and their fins are longer. The pectoral fins of females are bordered with black, a characteristic absent in males.
100 L / 22 imp gal / 26 US gal
T°: 24 to 28°C or 77 to 84°F
pH: 5 to 7.5
Hardness: 1 to 8°dGH
Female 5cm (2") - Male 8cm (3")
3 to 5 years
Couple or harem
How to feed the Apistogramma cacatuoides?
This fish is not very difficult to feed, but like many members of its family, it prefers small prey alive or, failing that, frozen. Indeed, some specimens are reluctant to eat dry food (note that small pellets pass better than flakes).
On the menu: artemia, daphnia, mud worms and other chironomid larvae...
What kind of behavior does the Apistogramma cacatuoides have?
Calm and sometimes shy, it is especially aggressive with other members of its species with whom it is territorial.
It evolves mainly in the bottom of the aquarium. They are able to vary their colors according to their mood!
During the breeding period, both male and female become aggressive and hunt all fish that approach their territory or hiding place (which represents about a 30 cm / 12" square).
Who can live with the Apistogramma cacatuoides?
The Apistogramma cacatuoides likes to live with its congeners. It can live as a couple in a 100 L / 22 Imp gal / 26 Us gal aquarium. For a trio (1 male and 2 females) go to 150 L / 33 Imp gal / 40 Us gal and finally, the ideal situation, for a harem of 1 male for 3 females it will be necessary to count 200 L / 44 Imp gal / 53 Us gal. Why is a small harem of 4 fish ideal? It happens that in cases where there are only 2 females, one of them is constantly harassed by the dominant couple!
You can make 2 groups cohabit in large aquariums. The males will then establish a hierarchy, and the dominated will try to pass for a female by folding its fins.
For the other species, it is especially the water parameters that will have to be compatible (acid and fresh water). You can associate them with Characidae (for example Hemigrammus bleheri is an excellent candidate, as is Paracheirodon axelrodi), small Loricariidae or other dwarf Cichlidae such as Mikrogeophagus ramirezi (only in 300 L / 66 Imp gal / 79 Us gal aquariums to avoid causing turf wars).
Avoid other bottom-dwelling species like Corydoras as they occupy the same living area and risk being injured when the Apisto keeps its young.
Shrimps such as Neocaridina davidi should also be avoided as they will serve as a meal for sure!
How to breed the Apistogramma cacatuoides?
The reproduction of Apistogramma cacatuoides is quite easy.
This species lays on hidden substrate, that is to say that the female will lay in a crevice. Install a laying site such as a half coconut or a lying flowerpot. A particularly acidic pH will be required to trigger egg laying (between 5.5 and 6.2). Make a good water change, with slightly cooler water. This should trigger reproduction. If this does not work, stimulate your fish by feeding them live prey.
During mating, the female will change color to bright yellow. The female lays between 100 and 250 eggs which the male fertilizes afterwards. She watches them and maintains them (ventilation, removes non-viable eggs...) while the male patrols the territory. Incubation lasts about 3 days and the fry are free swimming after 5 more days. The fry swim close to the female who continues to protect them for another week, then they take their independence! This period is really very pleasant to observe. Sometimes the female gobbles up a few stray fry to bring them back to the small troop. She seems to teach them and show them where to feed.
Food of the fry: artemia nauplias, zooplankton. Make small meals but 5 to 6 times a day.
Which aquarium for the Apistogramma cacatuoides?
The water parameters of its natural environment are highly variable, which makes it a naturally adaptable species.
Given its shy temperament, the decor must imperatively offer hiding places, for example using half coconuts or inverted flower pots. These hiding places not only allow the fish to hide, but also to define territories. The rest of the decor is made up of roots, rocks and many plants.
To obtain good water parameters, you can add peat in the filter, or line the floor of the aquarium with dried beech, oak, Ketapang or Catappa leaves (this carpet of dead leaves will be very appreciated by your fishes!). The water will take a color similar to that of tea, it is normal and even desirable! This will also lower the pH. To obtain fresh water, cut the tap water with osmosis water. Finally, the water should remain relatively warm, with an ideal temperature of around 27-28°C or 81-82°F.
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Easy to maintain, this species is very well suited for beginners in aquarium keeping.
Very popular in aquarium keeping, selections from the wild form have given many ornamental varieties of this species, to the point that it is quite difficult to find Apistogramma cacatuoides in their natural form in the trade. It should be noted that the natural forms also show differences in coloration according to their geographical origin. You will therefore find in the trade appellations such as:
Apistogramma cacatuoides sunset
Apistogramma cacatuoides sunbeam
Apistogramma cacatuoides double red
Apistogramma cacatuoides triple red
Apistogramma cacatuoides gold
Apistogramma cacatuoides white gold
Apistogramma cacatuoides albinos
Apistogramma cacatuoides orange flash
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