Apistogramma macmasteri

Apistogramma macmasteri, a really beautifully colored dwarf cichlid. This dwarf cichlid can reach a maximum length of about 8 centimeters.

Apistogramma macmasteri

Apistogramma macmasteri was described by Sven O. Kullander in 1979. The genus name Apistogramma can be broken down into two ancient Greek words. Apisto means uncertain and gramma means signal. This is a reference to the variably developed lateral line that largely consists only of scales with pores. The species name is in honor of the aquarist Mark McMaster who pointed out this species to Kullander in 1973. At the time, only aquarium specimens were available.


The Apistograma macmasteri can reach a length of about eight centimeters. This is one of the most beautiful apistogramma species. The males have a light base color with a bright red mask on top. The females, on the other hand, are a bit dull gray in color. Only during the mating season do they turn bright yellow with a black-spotted pattern. The male also has these spots, but less visible. At 8 centimeters, the males also grow slightly larger than the 5 centimeters of the females.


Rio Meta, Rio Orinoco, Columbia.

The Aquarium

An aquarium of at least 80 centimeters is required for this apistogramma. Decorate the aquarium with some dark areas, a sandy bottom, broad-leaved plants and floating plants, and provide sufficient hiding places with, for example, driftwood roots or half coconuts. Filter the water over peat. They are quite sensitive to nitrite, nitrate, and ammonium, so regular water changes are recommended and check the water values regularly.

Apistogramma macmasteri lives in Colombia in shallow waters between fallen leaves. You can imitate this in the aquarium by drying beech leaves and then boiling them. This will prevent the leaves from rotting quickly in the aquarium.


It is a peaceful, sometimes shy fish that you should keep in a harem, so 1 male with several females. The male should have at least 2 or 3 females to form his harem, if he only has 1 female available, all his attention will be focused on her and the female usually does not survive.

They are ideal for a community aquarium together with, for example, a school of characins, but do not keep them together with too active fish. They usually swim in the lower layers of water. In an aquarium of sufficient size (from 1.50 meters) these fish can also be kept in a group, this way you will see more natural behavior and have fewer aggression problems. When keeping Apistogramma in groups it is important to have at least 3 males.

Water parameters

Temperature: 23-30 degrees Celsius.
PH: 5,5-7,5
GH: 1-12

In nature, fish have to deal with fluctuating temperatures. Keeping fish at the minimum or maximum temperature for a long time is not always desirable and can shorten the average lifespan of the animals.


Apistogramma are naturally detritivorous, a layer of detritus on the bottom from which they filter their food is ideal. They also like small live food such as mosquito larvae, mysis, daphnia, cyclops and brine shrimp, as well as frozen food. Feeding brine shrimp brings out their red color better.

Breeding Apistogramma macmasteri

Breeding Apistogramma macmasteri is easy. It is a cave breeder, so make stone caves or use half coconuts. If a female accepts the male, they choose a cave for egg deposition, the eggs are guarded by the female.

The females are highly territorial and have brood care, they can also become quite aggressive. She digs pits in the sandy bottom into which she moves the clutch. The eggs hatch after 48 hours and after 5 days they are already swimming around freely. You can raise the fry with brine shrimp nauplii.



John de Lange

Copyright images

F. Ingemann Hansen – Akvariefotografen.com
Hristo Hristov

Additional information





First described by

Sven O. Kullander


Social behaviour

Breeding behaviour


Min. aquarium length in cm







Minimum length


Length maximum


Temperature minimum


Temperature maximum


pH minimum


pH maximum


GH max



There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Apistogramma macmasteri”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *