Agassizi cichlid

In this article we will discuss agassizi cichlids.We will discuss everything about them from their habitat information,tank size,water parameters,feeding habitat,breeding,diets and other parameters too.


In this blog

  • Key specifications of Agassizi cichlids
  • Agassizi cichlid habitat information
  • General characteristics of agassizi cichlid
  • Tank size of Agassizi cichlid
  • Water parameters of Agassizi cichlid
  • Tank mates of Agassizi cichlid
  • Tank plants for Agassizi cichlids
  • Substrate for Agassizi cichlid
  • Feeding habits of Agassizi cichlid
  • Behavior of Agassizi cichlid
  • Breeding of Agassizi cichlid
  • What are the signs of a happy agassizi cichlid?
  • What are the signs of a stressed agassizi cichlid?
  • What are the signs of a dying agassizi cichlid?
  • Disease in agassizi cichlid
  • Summary 
  • Frequently asked questions

Agassizi cichlid

Key specifications of Agassizi cichlids

Scientific nameApistogramma agassizii 
Other namesAgassiz’s dwarf cichlid,Apistos
Habitat Southern tributaries of the Amazon river
Diet Carnivore and omnivore 
Temperament Semi-aggressive and Territorial 
Life spanUp to five years
Conservation statusNot listed

Agassizi cichlid Habitat information

They were first seen and described by Steindachner in 1875.They are seen in the clear water where the water movement is slow.Their distribution is from Peru to the Capim River Basin of South America.

As per Steindachner the coloration and patterning of agassizi cichlids depends from where they have originated.

General characteristics of agassizi cichlid

  • Small,curious and colorful cichlid.
  • Sexual dimorphism is prominent.
  • Vibrant gold bodies with black lines in the middle.
  • Males are larger than females and can grow up to 3 and half inches or 8.9 cm in length.
  • Females are smaller than males and can grow up to 2 to 2  and half inches or 6 cm in length.
  • They have a well developed pharyngeal set of teeth along with regular teeth.
  • To sense smell,they have a nostril on each side of their nostrils.
  • Male Agassiz’s dwarf cichlids are territorial and aggressive in nature.
  • Males are more colorful than female agassizi cichlids.
  • Wild caught apistos are more colorful than captive breed apistos.
  • Wild caught apistos are more sensitive than captive breed apistos.
  • Popular varieties of apistos are gold,blue and red.
  • They do well in pairs and even do better with more females than male in the aquarium.
  • Breeding between wild caught and captive bred is known to produce healthier lines of agassizi cichlid.
  • They are considered a great addition to freshwater community tanks.
  • They can live up to 5 years in aquarium conditions and 12 years in the wild.

Tank size of Agassizi cichlid

  • The minimum tank size needed to house an agassizi cichlid is a 15 gallons long tank.
  • Bigger and spacious tanks are good for their growth and survival.
  • Smaller and overcrowded tanks can trigger aggression in them.
  • They like to establish their territory in their tanks,so they need proper space for that. 

Water parameters of Agassizi cichlid

Agassizi cichlids are hady species because they have been in captive breeding since a long time and have adapted to a wide range of water conditions.

Agassizis are sensitive to poor water conditions ​​and fluctuations in water quality.Carefully monitor the water in the aquarium using the good quality water test kit to ensure that the cycle is stable.

Water parameters:

  • Water temperature-76 to 86F (warm water)
  • Water pH-5.0 to 7.0 (acidic to neutral)
  • Degree of water hardness- 2 to 12 KH (soft water)
  • Nitrate levels-very low
  • They need 10-20% water changes weekly or biweekly.

Tank mates of Agassizi cichlid

Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid are peaceful community fish and can be kept with species of similar size,or smaller and non-aggressive schooling fish.

They go best with shoal of tetras and species from the same habitat as agassiz’s dwarf cichlid.Some of their suitable tank mates-

  • With their own kind
  • Pencilfish
  • Tetras (cardinal and neon)
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • Dwarf rainbowfish
  • Dwarf gouramis
  • Rasboras (galaxy rasboras specially)
  • Pygmy corydoras

Tank plants for Agassizi cichlids

Agassizi cichlids  found in relatively slow-moving rivers with lots of plants, soft water, low pH, and leaf litters.It would be better to replicate the same set up in aquarium settings too,to give them the feel of their natural habitat.

List of some suitable live plants for them:

  • Eleocharis parvula (hair grass species)
  • Eleocharis acicularis (hair grass species)
  • Coconut caves
  • Terracotta flower pots
  • Litter-leaves of Indian-almond, contains tannins that stain the water darker, prevent stress and protect the fish from disease.
  • Tank plants should be trimmed from time to time.
  • Tank plants should be given indirect sunlight or aquarium bulbs which can be healthier for their growth should be installed.
  • Dead plants or infected plants should be discarded to avoid bad bacteria growing in the tank,as it can pollute the tank environment.
  • Tank decors should also be cleaned to avoid tank pollution.
  • Avoid sharp and pointed aquarium decors in their tank as it can hurt them.

Substrate for Agassizi cichlid

  • Both fine grain sand and gravel can be used.They like fin grains because they like to sift sand through their gills.
  • Use a siphon to clean their substrate  to remove all the debris.
  • Sand is easy to keep clean with vacuum. 
  • Make sure not to keep the substrate layer too deep.

Feeding habits of Agassizi cichlid

In the wild they are purely carnivorous and feed on benthic invertebrates.In aquarium conditions they are omnivores and can be trained to eat a variety of food.

It’s very easy to feed Agassizi cichlids in aquarium conditions.Being a carnivorous fish they should be fed a protein rich diet without fail.

List of their favorite food:

  • Newly hatched baby brine shrimp
  • Frozen brine shrimp 
  • Crustaceans
  • Flakes 
  • Cichlid Pelleted foods (should be fed regularly)
  • Insects and insect larvae
  • Glass worms
  • Artemia 
  • Daphnia

Feeding frequency

  • Adults should be fed small amounts twice a day,which they can finish in 1 minutes.
  • Juveniles should be fed thrice a day.
  • Overfeeding should not be done,as it can cause bloating,indigestion and even increase the weight of the fish,thereby making them lethargic.
  • Uneaten or leftover food should be removed everyday using a gravel siphon to avoid ammonia pollution in the tank.  
  • Rotate their diets for better results.

Behavior of Agassizi cichlid

  • Agassizi cichlids are semi-aggressive and territorial in nature. The male agassizi are aggressive in nature.
  • Females are not that aggressive and if we are keeping them in aquariums then we should keep more females to avoid aggression in tanks.
  • They are known for their inquisitive behavior and they even recognise their owners.Apart from recognising their owners they even interact with their owners.
  • They are polygamous,where the male is dominating in the groups.
  • Their social groups are called harems.

Breeding of Agassizi cichlid

Agassizi cichlids are substrate spawners or cave breeders and breeding them is not tough in aquarium settings.

The right conditions like proper breeding temperature,live aquatic plants and a great diet will make the spawning process easier.

As a substrate spawner or cave breeders they properly clean a suitable area for laying the egg.

The eggs are scattered and an egg layer is formed by the female.The eggs are guarded by the male agassizi cichlid.

Breeding conditions:

  • Water temperature-79F-84F
  • Water pH-6.0-6.5
  • Degree of water hardness- 5-8 dH
  • Breeding plants-green cabomba,hornworts

They can only be seen aggressive after spawning & when the female is guarding their egg.This behavior can be dispersed by providing a lot of hiding spots & in some cases by temporarily removing the male from the breeding tank.

What are the signs of a happy agassizi cichlid?

Signs of a happy agassizi cichlid:

  • Healthy and hearty appetite
  • Active swimming patterns
  • Flared out fins
  • Bright and vibrant colors.
  • Blemish free
  • No white spots on the body
  • No abnormal body growths
  • Clear, normal eyes

What are the signs of a stressed agassizi cichlid?

Here are the signs of a stressed agassizi cichlid:

  • Strange Swimming patterns or swim frantically or odd swimming patterns.
  • Crash at the bottom of the tank
  • Rub themselves against the rocks or gravels
  • Lock their fins under significant stress

What are the signs of a dying agassizi cichlid?

Here are the signs of a dying agassizi cichlid:

  • Clamped fins
  • Labored breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Rubbing against tank objects

Disease in agassizi cichlid

They will also get common cichlid disease due to poor water conditions.

  • Shimmies
  • Ich 
  • Gill flukes/inflamed gills
  • Dropsy- pineapple scales
  • Intestinal worms
  • Hole in the head
  • Velvet-oodinium gold- gray spots
  • Mouth fungus
  • Cotton wool disease


  • Monitor water parameters daily.
  • Antibiotics and antiparasitic treatments
  • Sick fish should be separated in a separate hospital tank for curing them and avoiding the spread of disease to other tank mates.
  • Salt bath,consult your vet,for how many days they need to take salt water bath and how many times they should be given salt bath.
  • Avoid overfeeding
  • You can fast your cichlid as per the veterinarian advice.


  • When it comes to color patterns, the Apistogramma genus never fails and Apistogramma agassizi is no exception. The wild form is famous for its bright yellow color, but there are other varieties too with different colors.
  • Agassizi cichlids are peaceful in nature and are only seen aggressive after spawning and when the female is guarding their egg.
  • Sensitive to poor water conditions.Water should be monitored daily.
  • Should be fed a protein rich diet.
  • Cichlid pellet food is important for their health and should be fed daily.
  • Always quarantine live food before feeding them,at least for 3 weeks.
  • Quarantine new tank mates for 3-4 weeks in separate quarantine tanks to avoid infections.
  • Agassizi cichlids are beautiful,colorful and a peaceful community fish.

Frequently asked questions

Can we keep Agassizi cichlids with blue rams in the same aquarium?

Agassizi cichlids are territorial in nature & have the habit of chasing blue rams when kept together.It would be better to either avoid keeping them together or monitor everyday their behavior towards each other.

Are Agassizi cichlids difficult to keep?

Agassizi cichlids are captive bred, hardy species and are known to tolerate a wide range of water conditions.They are not difficult to keep, just replicate their natural habitat and feed them a good quality food.They are very good community fish too.