The genus Apistogramma is part of the family Cichlidae or the cichlids. Over 90 species have been officially described with several more undescribed.

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 variable lateral line consisting only of pored scales.


The Apistogramma species are counted among the Dwarf Cichlids. The males are often larger than the females and grow to be anything between seven and nine centimeters. The males are more brightly colored and often have a clearly recognizable color and pattern per species. Many Apistogramma females, on the other hand, resemble each other. From a dull grey/brown to a yellow color with a black mask when they are in the mating season.


The species of the Apistogramma genus are found in the tropical and subtropical waters of South America. Some species occur in larger areas but many of the Apogrammas can be found in a limited distribution area.

Apistogrammas inhabit the basins of the Amazon, Rio Orinoco, Rio Tocantins, Rio Araguaia, Rio Parnaiba and Rio de la Plata, among others. The countries where they live are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.


In the wild, Apistogramma search for small invertebrates. Worms, insects, larvae but also pieces of algae. It is omnivorous but they prefer small live food (micro-predators).

Apistogramma reproduction

Within the Apistogramma genus there are several methods of reproduction. Many of the species lay their eggs in burrows or crevices. They do this between pieces of wood, branches or under leaves. A number of species are truly monogamous while other species form a harem. Usually both parents take care of the eggs and fry, but usually the female fans and cares for the eggs. The Apistogramma male guards the surroundings and scares off predators.

Mouthbrooding species

Not all Apistogramma species lay their eggs in a burrow. Three species are known to incubate the eggs in their mouths: Apistogramma barlowi, Apistogramma megastoma and Apistogramma pantalone.

Apistogramma ortegai

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