Amazon Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma pertensis)

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Amazon Dwarf Cichlid
Apistogramma pertensis
Amazon Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma pertensis)
Name Amazon Dwarf Cichlid
Name Lat. Apistogramma pertensis
Family Cichlids
Family lat. Cichlidae
Order Cichlids
Order lat. Cichliformes
Origin Brazil
Habitat Streams
Diet Carnivore
pH 5.0-7.0
Behavior ♂ territorial
Keeping Pair, harem
Care Level Moderate
Reproduction Cave spawner
Breeding Moderately difficult
Life Span 3-4 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size ♀ 4 cm, ♂ 6 cm
Temperature 23-27 °C
Hardness < 10 °dH
Aquarium ~ 100 l
US Units
Size ♀ 1.6", ♂ 2.4"
Temperature 73-81 °F
Hardness < 178 ppm
Aquarium ~ 25 gal

Distribution and habitat

The distribution area of the Genetted Dwarf Cichlids is the river system of the lower Rio Negro near Manacapuru in Brazil. They live there in shallow, plant-rich small waters and in the riparian zones of streams with fallen leaves and dead wood.


The aquarium should have a dense planting, with many hiding places (stones, roots, caves) and offer free swimming space. A dark substrate covered with some foliage (sea almond leaves) and some subdued light (floating plants) are ideal.

No ammonia, ammonium and nitrite should be detectable, the nitrate value should not exceed 100 mg/l. To ensure the water quality and oxygen content, a filter and heater adapted to the aquarium size is required, as well as lighting for the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals.


In the wild they feed mainly on small crustaceans and insect larvae. The food supply consists of live, frozen and dry food. For a balanced diet, feed once a day with a high-quality, protein-rich dry food for cichlids (flakes, granules, pellets) as well as daphnia, artemia, mysis, mosquito larvae, etc. (live or frozen).&nbsp

It is recommended to feed small portions several times a day. Only feed as much as will be eaten within a few minutes. A regular and varied diet promotes health and increases resistance.

Behaviour and compatibility

They should be kept in pairs or better in a harem, one male with several females. Males are territorial within the species, so keeping several harems is only recommended in a larger and richly structured tank. They can be socialized well with other calm fish, but defend their territory consistently

Basically, only compatible fish species with similar demands on water quality and water temperature may be socialized.

Sex dimorphism

The male is larger, more colorful, and has significantly longer, more pointed fins.

Reproduction and breeding

They spawn in caves (cave breeders), with the spawn deposited on the ceiling of the cave. The female performs brood care while the male defends the territory. After 3-5 days, the fry hatch and are then housed and guarded by the female in a bottom pit until they swim free after 4-5 days.

Fry must be fed several times a day with special rearing food. Breeding is hardly possible in community tanks, where the fry are easy prey.


The foliage (sea almond tree, oak, etc.) enriches the water with humic substances, naturally lowers the pH and is a valuable secondary food source.

The well-being of the fish should be monitored regularly. Temperature should be checked daily, pH, hardness and nitrate levels at least every 14 days. Regular partial water changes are recommended, even if the contaminant level has not yet reached the upper limit. Sudden changes in water quality should be avoided. Newly introduced fish must be accustomed slowly to the water in the aquarium.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Werner Winter; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: BMELV (1998): Tierschutzgutachten - Haltung von Zierfischen (Süßwasser); BAENSCH & RIEHL (2004): Aquarien Atlas Bd. 2, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF