South American Dwarf Cichlids


Introduction
The first part of this article covers the dwarf cichlid genera; Apistogramma, Apistogrammoides, Biotecus, Crenicara, Crenicichla, Dicrossus, Laetacara, Mikrogeophagus, Nannacara, Taeniacara and Teleocichla.
Whilst the second part of this article covers genera that not dwarf cichlids, but are smaller in size and are also very popular with dwarf cichlids enthusiasts; Biotodoma, Bujurquina, Cleithracara, Guianacara, Gymnogeophagus, Heroina, Mazarunia, Tahuantinsuyoa.


Habitat
Dwarf cichlids are found in the three major water types of South America.

Whitewater;
Whitewater rivers pick up large amounts of sediment, usually clay, from the Andes, and because of the turbidity of the water, it has a white or tan colour, in appearance.
Whitewater rivers lack any rooted plant life, because light cannot penetrate the murky water very well, but are nutrient rich rivers, and extensive "floating meadows" of flora such as water hyacinth and floating grasses, can be found in calmer backwaters.


The Amazon river is a typical white water river.
pH - 6.8 to 7.1
dH - 3 to 8
Temperature - 26 to 29 degrees.


Clearwater.
Clearwater or bluewater rivers are tributaries which flow through ancient Brazilian and Guyana rock beds, where little sediment is released into the rivers, leaving the water very clear and transparent, and have abundant plant growth.


The Rio Tocantins and Rio Xingu are typical clearwater rivers.
pH - 6.9 to 7.3
dH - 5 to 12
Temperature - 24 to 28 degrees.


Blackwater.
Blackwater rivers are tea or black in colour from the tanic acid released from decaying vegetation, and they are also very transparent.
Blackwater rivers are highly acidic and are nearly as soft as distilled water, with few aquatic insects able to survive in its extreme acidity.


The Rio Negro and Rio Cururu are typical blackwater rivers.
pH - 4.5 to 6.5
dH - 0 to 4
Temperature - 26 to 30 degrees.


Dwarf cichlids are a favourite prey of all sorts of larger fishes and are under constant threat from them.
Their major predators are less the ill-famed Piranhas, but more the predatory Characins and predatory Cichlids, such as Crenicichla, Knifefish and also numerous Catfishes.
Their typical habitat is rarely large rivers and lakes, but more, streams, ponds, pools, and remainders of water bodies which are under threat to dry up completely during the dry season.
They avoid open water, and live near the banks in extremely shallow water, sometimes in only a depth of just a few centimetres, and it is characteristic for all the biotypes, that they are well covered and enable the fishes to lead a secretive and concealed life.
In water courses crossing the rainforests, a thick layer of leaf litter provides the required cover, with additional hiding places supplied by roots, dead branches and twigs, and in open terrains they find cover amongst the flooded or overhanging vegetation.


Keeping Dwarf Cichlids
Before setting up a tank for dwarf cichlids, it is important to check out the species you are going to keep fully, as dwarf cichlids come from varying water parameters and habitats and have varying degrees of aggressiveness towards their own kind.


Housing
The ideal size of tank for keeping dwarf cichlids is 90cm * 25cm * 25cm.


Filtration
Filtered by a sponge filter run off an air pump, a sand substrate (making sure the sand is no more than 1.2cm deep), some caves for shelter (overturned ceramic clay pots with a notch cut out of the rim for an entrance is one method), and most importantly, weekly 50% water changes, as dwarf cichlids are very sensitive to nitrate levels.


Feeding
Feed them with good quality flake food, freshly hatched baby brine shrimp and frozen foods such as; Daphnia, Cyclops, Brine Shrimp and Mysis, cutting up larger food so that it is not too big for their mouths.


The following water parameters are good for keeping most dwarf cichlids in, and a lot of species will breed in these values, though some species do require a more specific pH for keeping and breeding.
A slightly acidic pH value of around 6.5
Soft water of between 1 to 4 dGH
A temperature of 26 Degrees (79 F)


South American Dwarf Cichlids.


Some genera of dwarf cichlids are very popular with aquarists and are regularly exported from South America, whereas, other genera are very rarely exported.


The following diagrams illustrates the different parts of a fish used to identify a dwarf cichlid.


ID Apistogramma




Lanceolate fish tail rounded fish tail
Lyretail fish tail Truncate fish tail

Apistogramma.


Apistogramma nijsseni
A. nijsseni


Apistogramma is the largest and most popular genus of dwarf cichlids, with approximately 80 species in it, and this list is always growing, with new species being discovered regularly. They are highly dimorphic, only six known species have inverse or no sexual dimorphism, therefore the sexes of adult individuals of Apistogramma are usually easy to identify.
Males are typically distinctly larger than females and often develop larger, more elongated fins, whereas, females are more typically yellow when breeding or aggressive, with black markings on their ventral fins.


Apistogramma agassizii
Agassiz' dwarf cichlid
A. agassizii is found along almost the entire length of the Amazon river, and most of the tributaries of the Rio Ucayali and the Rio Solimoes.
A. agassizii has a relatively elongated and slender body, a fairly low dorsal fin, with enlarged fin membranes at the back of the dorsal and anal fins.
Males have a lanceolate caudal fin which is outlined with blue, white or reddish bands, whereas, females have a round caudal fin.
A. agassizii occupies a special position among Amazon species, which can be explained by its extremely broad distribution. There are several populations that are completely isolated from one another, resulting in a number of regional characteristics, especially in regard to colour and pattern. Despite these dissimilarities and the many attempts to declare a new and separate species, it is acknowledged that none of the colour morphs are sufficiently different to warrant species status.
A. agassizii has been firmly established in the aquarium hobby for a long time, with a multitude of bred lineages and wild caught specimens from various collection sites in South America, available these days.


One aspect to watch out for when keeping A. agassizii. The female can become highly aggressive after spawning, and if the tank is too small, her continuous attacks on the male may severely threaten him. If however, the female is not willing to spawn, the situation changes and the male may become a tyrant which threatens the safety of the female. A. agassizii is a cave spawner and the female can lay up to 200 eggs, usually in small batches over an hour or two. Depending on temperature, the larvae hatch 36 to 60 hours post spawning, and eight to ten days after that, the fry become free swimming. The fry are usually guided and protected by just the female, only once the female is ready to spawn again, is the male permitted to help care for the fry. Juveniles grow moderately fast and attain sexual maturity at about four months of age, at a length of approximately 4cm.


Male adult size - Up to 10cm
Female adult size - Up to 6cm
Waters pH - 5.0 to 6.5
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 21 to 30 Degrees


Apistogramma baenschi
Apistogramma sp. "Inca"
Apistogramma sp. "Inca50"


A. baenschi is found in small streams around the mouth of the Rio Huallaga where it meets the Rio Marañon in Peru.
A. baenschi has seven black vertical bands on its body, a black caudal spot, a rounded caudal fin, which has a complete and continuous red band.


Males have a bluish body colour, elongated ventral fins that are orange in colour, and the front of the dorsal fin is elongated.
Females have a yellow body colour, which ranges in intensity depending on mood, and black ventral fins, which have an orange/yellow outline. When a female is in breeding mood, her body colour becomes an intense yellow, and in contrast to the black vertical bands along the body, has a body colour similar to that of a bee.


A. baenschi is a relatively newly found species, but has become very popular with dwarf cichlid enthusiasts.


Male adult size - 6cm
Female adult size - 4cm
Waters pH - 6.0 to 6.9
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 23 to 29 Degrees.


Apistogramma bitaeniata
Two stripe dwarf cichlid.
A. bitaeniata can be found in the Amazon river, the Rio Ucayali and the Rio Napo.
A. bitaeniata has a relatively elongated body shape, a truncate to lyrate caudal fin, and depending on its mood, there may be a second lateral band below the normal lateral band, which resembles an abdominal stripe, and also has a highly varied body colouration.


Males have a pronouncedly lyrate caudal fin, the back of the dorsal fin is elongated, transparent whitish blue to yellowish green ventral fins, which are long and tapered.
Females have a round to slightly truncate caudal fin, short ventral fins, usually rounded, or sometimes, slightly pointed with a black or gray base colour.


A. bitaeniata has been firmly established in the aquarium hobby for decades, and has undergone intense selective breeding, and today, there are a number of exceptionally colourful blood lines available.
Though wild caught specimens are rarely found in shops.
A. bitaeniata appears to be one of the few species of Apistogramma that are strictly limited to blackwater habitats, and is always found where leaf litter has accumulated, and this restriction for such a small dwarf cichlid, can be interpreted as a strategy to avoid predation.
A. bitaeniata can be very aggressive when kept as pairs and it is recommended to have some dither fish with the pair to spread this aggression out.


Male adult size - 9cm
Female adult size - 6cm
Waters pH - 5.0 to 6.0
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 21 to 30 Degrees


Apistogramma borellii
Yellow dwarf cichlid.
Borelli's dwarf cichlid.
Umbrella dwarf cichlid.


A. borellii is found over the whole central and upper Rio Paraguay System and the entire Pantanal / Mato Grosso region.
A. borellii is a relatively small, deep bodied species that is distinctly compressed, with a caudal fin that is large and round, and has a zigzag lateral band that extends onto the caudal fin.


Apistogramma borelliiAdult males usually have a metallic blue body, but can also have an ochre to lemon yellow body. Males grow slightly larger than females and develop a very tall dorsal fin, the height of which often equals the depth of its body, the back of a males dorsal and anal fins are elongated and pointed, and its head is usually yellowish and may also have red vermiculations. Many older males develop a distinct, gradually ascending "hump" above their eyes.
Females, in contrast, have short dorsal fins, which merely equal about half the height of their grayish ochre to yellowish body, and the back of a females dorsal and anal fin is rounded.
For many decades A. borellii has been one of the most popular aquarium fishes, besides its facile reproduction, it is also indifferent towards changing parameters of the water it is kept in. A. borellii can be kept in harder, more alkaline water, and may breed in harder alkaline water, but, it will breed far more prolifically in slightly acidic water, which also aids in egg development and hatching.
In contrast to so many other dwarf cichlids, it readily accepts virtually any kind of food, though it does prefer to sift a sandy substrate for edibles.

A. borellii is a cave spawner and the female can lay up to 200 eggs, usually in small batches over an hour or two.
Depending on temperature, the larvae hatch 48 to 96 hours post spawning, and seven to eleven days after that, the fry become free swimming, and females usually tolerate the presence of the male among the young.
Juveniles are slow growing, often requiring more than a year to become fully grown, and attain sexual maturity at about six to seven months of age.


Male adult size - Up to 6cm
Female adult size - Up to 4cm
Waters pH - 5.0 to 8.0
Hardness - 1 to 15 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Apistogramma cacatuoides
Big mouth Apistogramma
Cockatoo dwarf cichlid


Apistogramma cacatuoidesA. cacatuoides is widely distributed in the catchments of the upper and central Rio Ucayali of the Peruvian lowlands and also in the Brazilian and Colombian drainage of the Rio Solimoes eastward to the region of Tefe.


Males typically have large jaws, blue lips, a lyrate caudal fin, a dorsal fin with distinct enlargements at the front and back, a lateral band that is continuous to the base of the caudal fin, irregularly shaped red and/or black spots on their caudal fin, a trait that is also found on the dorsal and anal fins of selectively bred lineages, and grow to about twice the size of the females.
Females do not have any enlargements at the front and back of the dorsal fin, have a slightly truncate caudal fin, with three distinct abdominal stripes.


A. cacatuoides inhabits small streams, lagoons, and lakes in the rain forest, with water type bearing little influence on its distribution, but the degree of acidity plays a decisive role. This species typically hails from white or clear water habitats, specimens from blackwater are the exception and are usually in poor health, therefore, a very low pH has a distinctly negative influence on A. cacatuoides.
A. cacatuoides ranks among the "Golden Oldies" of aquarium fishes. It is relatively adaptive to changes in water chemistry, readily reproduces, and its colouration is extremely variable. These attributes has given rise to intense selective breeding, leading to the establishment of a multitude of colour forms, among which yellow and red dominate.


A. cacatuoides is a cave spawner and the female can lay up to 200 eggs, usually in small batches over an hour or two. Depending on temperature, the larvae hatch 48 to 72 hours post spawning, and seven to ten days after that, the fry become free swimming, and are solely tended by the female. Juveniles are comparatively fast growing and attain sexual maturity at about five months of age.


Male adult size - Up to 9cm.
Female adult size - Up to 6cm.


Waters pH - 6.8
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH.
Temperature - 21 to 29 Degrees.


Apistogramma diplotaenia.
Double band Apistogramma
A diplotaenia is found throughout the Rio Negro river system.
A diplotaenia has a slender body shape, a lateral band that forks between the head and the caudal peduncle, and transparent fins.
The bifurcate lateral band is normally jet black, and is a stark contrast to its off white to yellowish coloured body, and the bifurcate lateral band is occasionally fragmented into two rows of elongated spots.
The caudal and anal fins of some individuals, have irregular rows of spots, in others, the ventral fins take on a reddish hue in certain moods.

Males have a dorsal fin that is distinctly elongated at the rear, and has transparent, elongated and pointed ventral fins. Whereas, in females, the dorsal and ventral fins are rounded, the front half of its ventral fins are black in colour, and mature females develop a reddish area on the body directly above the anal fin.


A diplotaenia is a species of Apistogramma which is highly adapted to living along open sand substrates near river banks, which is completely different to the other Apistogramma species. Sometimes, it is only the waves in the sand made by the current that provide this fish with cover, but more commonly, pits are excavated, and aided by its colouration, help it to escape detection by predators. A diplotaenia is not a beginners fish and should be left to more experienced aquarists, and is also very hard to breed in captivity.


Male adult size - Up to 5cm.
Female adult size - Up to 4cm.


Waters pH - 4.5 to 5.5
Hardness - 0 to 2 dGH.
Temperature - 23 to 30 Degrees.


Apistogramma elizabethae
Elizabethae's dwarf cichlid


A. elizabethae is found in the Rio Uaupes region.
A. elizabethae has a slender and elongated body shape, with two distinct lateral spots.


Males have elongated fins at the front of the dorsal fin, a transparent lyrate caudal fin, which assumes a lanceolate shape with age, and has transparent whitish to bluish ventral fins. Whereas, females have a round to slightly truncate caudal fin, with short and black to charcoal grey ventral fins. Two colour forms are known for males; a " Yellow Gray Form" and a "Red Blue Form". The yellow gray form has a greyish white to yellowish gray head and body in neutral mood, whereas, the red blue form has a blood red to reddish orange head, a reddish to yellowish orange chest and belly, and a metallic blue body.


Male adult size - 10cm.
Female adult size - 6cm.


Waters pH - 4.0 to 5.5
Hardness - 0 to 2 dGH.
Temperature - 22 to 30 Degrees.


Apistogramma hongsloi
Red lined dwarf cichlid
A. hongsloi is widely distributed in the upper and central catchments of the Orinoco river in Colombia and Venezuela.


A. hongsloi is typically, deep bodied, substantantially compressed and only slightly elongated, and has a lateral band which extends in a straight line from the rear of the eye to the centre, of the upper half of the caudal peduncle. Males grow substantially larger than females and sometimes develop extremely, elongated and pointed dorsal, anal and ventral fins. Adult males have a black or dark red line along the base of their anal fin, such a marking is never present in females. Females have a black abdominal stripe, and often an anal spot, and black markings on their ventral fins. Colombian strains of hongsloi are the most colourful. With a bluish body, a yellow head, and a very pronounced red line above the anal fin, whereas, strains from Venezuela are yellowish grey, with a black striation above the anal fin.
Males and females are relatively tolerant towards their sexual partners.
A. hongsloi is one of the more long lived of Apistogramma, with a life span of 5 - 6 years in the aquarium.


Male adult size - 9cm.
Female adult size - 6cm.


Waters pH - 5.0 to 6.9
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH.
Temperature - 21 to 30 Degrees.


Apistogramma macmasteri
McMaster's dwarf cichlid
Red tailed dwarf cichlid


A. macmasteri is found in the drainage of the upper Rio Orinoco.


A. macmasteri is distinctly laterally compressed and moderately deep bodied, with a pointed head. Males grow twice as large as females, develop a high dorsal fin, which is elongated at the back. Mature males exhibit a reddish border on the top and bottom of the caudal fin, whereas, females do not have a tall dorsal fin, and the outside edges of their yellow ventral and anal fins, are black.

A. macmasteri is a cave spawner and the female can lay up to 200 eggs, usually in small batches over an hour or two. Depending on temperature, the larvae hatch 36 to 72 hours post spawning, seven to ten days after that, the young fry are free swimming, and the fry are usually solely tended by the female. Juveniles are comparatively fast growing and are able to reproduce after four to eight months. Under normal circumstances, the young are driven from the females territory at about four to six weeks of age, whereupon the male takes over their care for some time. The male will then expel young males from within his territory and court the young females when they reach sexual maturity.


Male adult size - 9cm.
Female adult size - 6cm.


Waters pH - 4.5 to 6.5
Hardness - 0 to 4 dGH.
Temperature - 21 to 29 Degrees.


Apistogramma panduro
Apistogramma pandurini
Blue sky dwarf cichlid
Azure dwarf cichlid


A. panduro is found in small forest creeks near Jenaro Herrera towards Colonia Angamos, east of the Brazilian border and at Quebrada Carahuayte, a left bank tributary of the Rio Ucayali in Peru. Males have a unique large, black triangular spot that extends from a point between the back edge of the dorsal and anal fins to the centre of the caudal fin, covering the caudal peduncle and the base of the caudal fin, which females do not have. Mature females, especially socially dominant ones, display a highly variable black band or spot on their flank, just behind their pectorial fins, sometimes triangular in shape. Both sexes have a caudal fin which is round with a black edge and has a complete red sub marginal stripe, and both sexes also have enlarged fins at the back of the dorsal fin.


A. panduro is fairly aggressive towards members of the opposite sex, but peaceful in front of their own gender and are not shy towards their keeper. A. panduro is a another relatively newly found species, that has become very popular with dwarf cichlid enthusiasts.


Male adult size - Up to 9cm
Female adult size - Up to 6cm


Waters pH - 4.5 to 6.0
Hardness - 0 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 23 to 29 Degrees


Apistogramma trifasciata
Three stripe dwarf cichlid
Blue Apistogramma


A. trifasciata is found in Brazil, Paraquay and Argentina, from the Rio Paraquay, the Rio Parana, the Rio Guapore and the Rio Madeira.Apistogramma trifasciata


A. trifasciata has a relatively stout and moderately laterally compressed body, a lateral band that covers the whole length of the body, increasing steadily in width from the head to the base of the caudal fin, a transparent, round caudal fin, which occasionally has a fine brownish or gray, reticulate design.
Males have a predominantly metallic blue azure, or more rarely, metallic green, body colour, a dorsal fin azure in colour, which is enlarged at the front and back, enlarged anal and ventral fins, and males of certain breeding stocks, as well as wild caught males, develop bright red caudal fins.
Females are yellowish gray, with a small round lateral spot, a low dorsal fin with no enlargements, the first two dorsal fin membranes are black in colour, the dorsal and anal fins are rounded and yellowish, and the front of the ventral fins are dark gray to black, and are not enlarged.


Male adult size - Up to 6cm
Female adult size - Up to 4cm


Waters pH - 6.0 to 6.9
Hardness - 2 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 29 Degrees


Apistogrammoides


The genus Apistogrammoides has one species in it called, Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis.


Apistogrammoides pucallpaensis
T bar dwarf cichlid


A. pucallpaensis is found in the lower and central catchments of the Rio Ucayali in Peru and also in the upper reaches of the Amazon River (Colombia).


A. pucallpaensis is relatively easy to identify, since its anal fin has eight spines and is relatively long in comparison to that of Apistogramma species. On its caudal peduncle, one of the cross bands meets the end of the lateral band, creating a T-shaped black marking, which is where it's common name of "T bar dwarf cichlid" comes from. Males grow slightly larger than females, and display an irregular, yellow gray alveolar pattern on the caudal fin when reaching maturity, and in general have more colourful dorsal and anal fins. Females have a transparent caudal fin, and a small spot on the base of their ventral fins.


A. pucallpaensis do better with a thick layer of floating plants, because when collecting wild specimens, they were always found among such vegetation.


In contrast to the majority of south American dwarf cichlids, the courtship of A. pucallpaensis frequently lasts a couple of days until a spawning site is chosen. Only the female cares for the eggs and the subsequent larva. Depending on the temperature of the water, it takes eight to ten days until the eggs have hatched and the larvae are free swimming. Both parents look after the free swimming young, only in exceptional cases will the female not tolerate the male in the vicinity of the brood within the first few days of free swimming.


Male adult size - Up to 5cm
Female adult size - Up to 4cm


Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Biotoecus


The genus Biotoecus has two species in it; B. dicentrarchus and B. opercularis.


Biotoecus dicentrarchus
B. dicentrarchus is found in the upper system of the Rio Orinoco in Venezuela and Colombia.

B. dicentrarchus has a slender, elongated, sand-coloured, transparent body, that often has a pale metallic blue sheen, and a dark cheek. A row of six round spots run along its sides, black and brown spots frame the stripe on the operculum, and the anal fin is relatively long. It has a low dorsal fin, the back of which is long and pointed, with the dorsal fin becoming progressively lower to the front. B. dicentrarchus sexual characteristics are only recognizable in adults. Males grow slightly larger than females and develop filamentous enlargements on their ventral fins, a trait not present in females. Females are stockier and in comparison to males, and have a distinctly more rounded belly. B. dicentrarchus has never been exported from South America, though, single specimens may slip through as B. opercularis.


Biotoecus opercularis
Green dwarf cichlid


B. opercularis is found in many parts of the Amazon.


B. opercularis has a slender, elongated, transparent body, that often has a faint metallic blue hue, and its head is relatively pointed with conspicuously big eyes. A small round spot is visible on the mid body and there is no lateral band, the anal fin is comparatively long, and the dorsal fin has no pointed membranes. B. opercularis sexual characteristics are only recognizable in adults. Males grow slightly larger than females and develop filamentous enlargements on their ventral fins, a trait not present in females. Females are stockier and in comparison to males, and have a distinctly more rounded belly. White sandy stretches in clear and black water rivers are its preferred habitat and it is occasionally found in streams with thick layers of leaf litter.


B. opercularis is one of the most sensitive dwarf cichlids to put in an aquarium.


Stress caused by larger tankmates, maintenance, fluctuating water chemistry, infrequent water changes, and water used for water changes not exactly the same parameters as the tank water, quickly manifests itself by drastically increased susceptibility to fungal or bacterial infections, and to make the situation worse, the fish are very intolerant to all medications. To fully enjoy their fascinating behavior, the aquarium must be large, with a thick layer of fine white sand and leaf litter, a large open area in the middle of the tank, and dead wood, or, plants, around the sides of the tank.


B. opercularis has been bred in captivity and prior to spawning, there is a prolonged courtship, which is fascinating to see. B. opercularis is only recommended for highly experienced hobbyists, beginners will find it disappointing and short lived.


Male adult size - Up to 8cm
Female adult size - Up to 6cm


Waters pH - 6.6 to 6.8
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH.
Temperature - 23 to 30 Degrees.


Crenicara


The genus Crenicara has two species in it; C. latruncularium and C. punctulata.


Crenicara latruncularium
C. latruncularium is found in the border region between Brazil and Bolivia, in the Rio Guapore and Rio Mamore, basins.


C. latruncularium can only be confused with C. punctulata, and the two can be distinguished from each other by the number of spines in their dorsal fin. C. latruncularium has 15, whereas, C. punctulata has 16 - 17. C. latruncularium has a brown head with its three or four metallic silvery green to blue green dashes, that parallel the contour of its forehead, are particularly distinctive. Sexual differences are slight. In males the striations on the opercula are considerably more distinct, whereas in females, when brooding and being territorial, the two longitudinal rows of dots create two stripes.


C. latruncularium is difficult to breed. It is a very shy species and disturbances inside the aquarium should be minimized when they are present, as it disappears for days, even weeks when frightened.


Male adult size - 15cm
Female adult size - 15cm


Waters pH - 6.3 to 7.0
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Crenicara punctulata
Red finned checkerboard cichlid


C. punctulata is found throughout north-western South America, east of the Andes.


C. punctulata is grayish with a metallic silver to gold sheen, its cheeks, throat, and belly (particularly in adult males), are golden yellow, and rarely possess striations. Males have dorsal and anal fins that are pointed, its dorsal and caudal fins have a narrow white margin, the caudal fin also has a dense pattern of vertical bands, its head and belly are a metallic copper or golden colour, and all fins are transparent bluish. Males fins are proportionally larger than those of females, whereas females have, rounded dorsal and anal fins, a whitish gray belly, anal and ventral fins that are reddish orange, and its caudal fin lacks any pattern, and is nebulous white. C. punctulata females can change gender.


When only a group of females are kept, the dominant female will turn into a male and mate with all the other females. Such a reproductive strategy enables populations to conserve the ability to reproduce even if unpredictable or extremely disadvantageous conditions cause a high mortality rate in males.


Male adult size - 12cm
Female adult size - 8cm


Waters pH - 6.0 to 7.0
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Crenicichla


Dwarf Pike Cichlid

The genus Crenicichla is large and has a number of larger species in it, but several species are comparatively small, and only grow to 15cm in total length. The common name for this genus is pike cichlids, because of their body shape, and the smaller species of the genus are called dwarf pike cichlids.
The Crenicichla genus has 10 species of dwarf pike cichlids; C. compressiceps, C. heckeli, C. nothophthalmus, C. orinoco, C. regani, C. sp. Mendezesi, C. sp. Pernambuco, C. sp.Rio Branco, C. urosema and C. wallacii.
The more commonly exported species are;


Crenicichla compressiceps
C. compressiceps is endemic to the Rio Tocantins and its tributaries and inhabits areas near rapids.


C. compressiceps is a relatively compact, deep bodied, small pike cichlid. Because of the lateral compression of the head and anterior body, they are atypical, and it is hard to confuse this species with any other species of Crenicichla, C. compressiceps has a shade of greenish yellow, which often transforms into greenish black towards the back. Seven, or, eight, or occasionally six, narrow yellow vertical bands are found on the body, sometimes extending onto the dorsal fin. The caudal, dorsal and anal fins are marked with a varying number of distinct black vertical bands. Sexing is hard, full grown males are generally larger, their dorsal fin is slightly more pointed, and ripe females have considerably more rounded bellies.


C. compressiceps is relatively easy to keep, but need a large tank with piles of rock, where they can take shelter, and under good aquarium conditions, they will reach their normal lifespan of four to six years.


To get a pair of these fish, it is best to acquire a small group and allow pairs to form on their own, but once a pair forms, you should remove all other fish, as territorial compressiceps are extraordinarily aggressive and will viciously attack any other tankmates. A cave is excavated by the pair and up to 80 eggs are attached to the ceiling, the female then generally assumes sole responsibility for the brood, only occasionally will the male help. Egg development is relatively slow in this species, larvae take four days to hatch, and free swimming juveniles usually emerge from the cave after twelve to fourteen days. The young fry need regular partial water changes and readily eat freshly hatched baby brine shrimp. Brood care often lasts for several months and is preformed by both parents.


Male adult size - 9cm
Female adult size - 7cm


Waters pH - 6.0 to 6.5
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 23 to 32 Degrees


Crenicichla heckeli
C. heckeli is endemic to the rapids of the Rio Trombetas.


C. heckeli is only slightly laterally compressed, has ten crossbands, a greyish brown body colour, the ventrum of males and young females is an aged ivory colour, the bottom edge of the conspicuous brown or black spot just below the eye is bordered by a silver band. Males and sub adults often have irregularly banded caudal fins. When ready to breed, females display a vertical, silver white bar on the back of the dorsal fin, a wine red and occasionally orange belly and ventral fins.


The eggs are deposited in a very secluded cave, which the female hardly leaves during the development phase of the eggs and larvae. The female reappears with the school of juveniles, eleven to twelve days post spawning and the fry will accept freshly hatched baby brine shrimp immediately. A few days after the fry emerge from the cave, the male is permitted to participate in brood care. Juveniles are very aggressive, two week old fry have been observed attempting to chase one another out of the territory. Sexual maturity is attained at about nine months of age.


Male adult size - 8cm
Female adult size - 5cm


Waters pH - 6.0 to 7.2
Hardness - 2 to 6 dGH
Temperature - 23 to 32 Degrees


Crenicichla notophthalmus
C. notophthalmus is found along the entire Rio Negro region, including the lower Rio Uaupes.


C. notophthalmus has a red and white strip on the upper edge of the caudal fin, the posterior part of the iris and its lower edge are bright red, and depending on mood, eleven dark vertical bars may be present on the upper half of the body. Males grow about one third larger than females, and the front of the dorsal fin is enlarged. Females have one or more ocelli or black and white markings on the dorsal fin.


If kept as a pair, the two specimens must be the same size, otherwise the larger of the two may kill the other.


When ready to breed, the female occupies a long narrow breeding cave, and regularly cleans the ceiling of the cave with her mouth. The closer it comes to spawning, the more misshapen, and intense reddish orange, the females belly becomes, and caring for the eggs and larvae are the sole responsibility of the female. The larvae hatch after three to four days and become free swimming seven to eight days later, once the juveniles are free swimming, both parents participate in brood care. The juveniles grow rapidly, often reaching a length of three centimetres after just two months, and parental care may last for up to four months.


Male adult size - 15cm
Female adult size - 10cm


Waters pH - 5.5
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 22 to 30 Degrees


Crenicichla regani
Regan's pike cichlid


Crenicichla reganiC. regani is one of the most widely distributed species of the genus, and is found in almost every river system of the Amazon.


C. regani is an extraordinary polychromatic dwarf cichlid, it is small and has a distinct post ocular spot, and a equally distinct caudal spot of variable size. Males reach substantially larger sizes than females and have a white marginal band on the top edge of the caudal fin. Females have an extremely variable spotted pattern on their dorsal fin. C. regani is considered as one of the least demanding dwarf pike cichlids.


The closer it comes to spawning, the more intense the females colours become. The eggs are adhered in batches on the ceiling of the spawning cave, after that, the eggs and larvae are the sole responsibility of the female. The larvae take three to four days to hatch, and free swimming juveniles usually emerge from the cave after seven to eight days, then both parents participate in brood care. The young fry readily eat freshly hatched baby brine shrimp, and grow rapidly, reaching a length of more than two centimetres after just two months. Parental care care often lasts for several months and is preformed by both parents.


Male adult size - 13cm
Female adult size - 8cm


Waters pH - 6.0
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Crenicichla urosema
C. urosema is endemic to the rapids of the lower Rio Tapajos, in the greater area of Sao Luiz, Brazil.


C. urosema has a large, uniformly dark vertically ovoid spot that covers the upper two thirds of the caudal peduncle and has a uniform yellow brown colouration along the sides of its body, this allows this species to be easily distinguished from all other dwarf Crenicichla, as well as the young of larger species. C. urosema is hard to sex outside the breeding season, males are only slightly larger than females.


Near the breeding season, females develop a spectacular colouration, a red stripe appears on their dorsal fin, and the chin, throat, and belly, turn yellow to golden orange, easily distinguishing them from the bluish gray males at this time. The young are tolerated in their parents territory for about three months. After only six weeks the quarrelsome disposition of the fry becomes obvious, perhaps an indication of very early independence, and in order to curb losses among juveniles, plenty of small hiding places should be provided for shelter from aggression for the fry.


Male adult size - 9cm
Female adult size - 7cm


Waters pH - 5.3 to 6.2
Hardness - 0 to 2 dGH
Temperature - 23 to 32 Degrees


Crenicichla wallacii
Slender pike cichlid


C. wallacii is found in the central and upper Rio Orinoco and the lower Rio Uaupes. C. wallacii can only be confused with C. notophthalmus.


Adult males can be distinguished from C. notophthalmus by the obvious spot on the caudal peduncle, and a lack of enlarged fin membranes at the front of the dorsal fin. Adult females can be distinguished from C. notophthalmus by their dorsal fins, C. notophthalmus has a silvery white band around its black markings on the dorsal fin, whereas, C. wallacii has a, white, yellow, or red fringed band around the black markings on the dorsal fin. Males grow about one third larger than females, and do not have black markings on the dorsal fin, like most females.


Male adult size - 15cm
Female adult size - 10cm


Waters pH - 5.5
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 22 to 30 Degrees


Dicrossus


Dicrossus filamentosus

Dicrossus was originally assigned to the genus Crenicara, which included all known chequered cichlids, but in 1990 Kullander resurrected the genus Dicrossus to separate this, small, slender species from the larger, high-backed species of the genus Crenicara.


The genus Dicrossus has four species in it, with D. filamentosus and D. maculatus, D. sp. "Rio negro" and D. sp. "tapajos" The two commonly exported species are;


Dicrossus filamentosus
Dicrossus filamentosusLyre tailed checkerboard cichlid


D. filamentosus is found in the entire upper Western catchments of the Rio Orinoco and throughout the central and upper Rio Negro region of Brazil.


D. filamentosus has a copper coloured body, is slender, elongated and spindle shaped, has a blunt snout and a small mouth. Males have a lyrate caudal fin, and develop characteristic filaments on their caudal fin at an early age, and are usually copper hued, with red and blue striped ventral fins. Females have a whitefish gray coloured body, and when ready to spawn, the females ventral fins become a solid salmon red colour.


D. filamentosus eggs are attached to a solid surface and brood care is solely the responsibility of the female. Six to ten days after laying, the fry are free swimming and will accept newly hatched baby brine shrimp. Growth is relatively rapid if partial regular and substantial water changes are preformed. D. filamentosus is not recommended for the beginner, successful long term care demands good water and experience in water management.


Male adult size - 8cm
Female adult size - 5cm



Waters pH - 4.5 to 6.0
Hardness - 0 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 22 to 30 Degrees


Dicrossus maculatus
Checkerboard cichlid


D. maculatus is found in the entire stretch of the Amazon River and its tributaries, between Belem and the Rio Javari.


D. maculatus is very similar to that of other species of the genus. As an adult, it can be distinguished from D. filamentosus by its caudal fin (D. maculatus has a lanceolate caudal fin, whereas, D. filamentosus has a lyrate caudal fin), and from all other Dicrossus by the pattern on the sides of the body, i.e. two rows of black spots. To distinguish the sexes of D. maculatus, the fish need to be at least half grown. The caudal fin of males is slightly less lanceolate and bluish with a dense pattern of vertical bands, whilst that of females is round and always transparent, without any design.


D. maculatus is not recommended for the beginner, successful long term care demands good water and experience in water management.


Male adult size - 9cm to 12cm
Female adult size - 8cm



Waters pH - 4.5 to 6.0
Hardness - 0 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 22 to 30 Degrees


Laetacara
The genus Laetacara has six species in it; L. curviceps, L. Dorsigera, L. flavilabris, L. thayeri, L. sp. "humpback" and L. sp. "orange fin".


Laetacara curviceps
Dwarf flag cichlid


L. curviceps is found along the entire southern catchments of the Rio Amazonas, east of Santarem.


L. curviceps has a body that is roundish and distinctly compressed, in comparison to other species of the genus its body is somewhat more slender and elongated, and has a more pointed head. It has a lateral band that extends the entire length of its body and onto the base of the caudal fin, which distinguishes it from similar species. Sexing can only be distinguished in adults. Males grow slightly larger and develop longer ventral fins. Females are slightly smaller and usually have a significantly larger spot on the base of their dorsal fin, and have a slightly stouter shape, with a more rounded belly.


L. curviceps is found in varied water types, but fares better in slightly acidic water.


L. curviceps is an open spawner and usually establishes a permanent pair bond. The eggs are attached to a solid surface and tended by both parents. Depending on water temperature, the larvae hatch 40 to 60 hours post spawning. The parents often chew the larvae from the eggshells and place them directly into a previously excavated sand pit. Larvae development is approximately ten days, during which the larvae are frequently relocated by the parents. Brood care can last up to two and a half months.


This species of dwarf cichlid is particularly recommended for a beginner dwarf cichlid aquarist.


Male adult size - 8cm
Female adult size - 6cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 6.9
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Laetacara dorsigera
Red breasted flag cichlid


L. Dorsigera is found in the upper catchments of the Rio Madeira and the entire region of the Rio Paraquay and its tributaries.


L. dorsigera has a roundish body, that is distinctly laterally compressed in comparison to other species, its body is somewhat stouter and fuller, with a blunt head. It has a lateral band that starts at the rear edge of the eye and ends at the midbody, from the midbody to the caudal peduncle, it is marked with at least five characteristical, broad, vertical bands, it also has a distinct stripe between the eyes and there is often an intensely pigmented spot in the dorsal fin. Sexing can only be distinguished in adults. Males grow slightly larger than females and usually develop distinctly longer ventral fins. Females usually have a significantly larger spot on their dorsal fin and a more rounded belly, which is a more intense red than that of males.


L. dorsigera is an open spawner that usually establishes a permanent pair bond. The eggs are attached to a solid surface and cared for by both parents, and by this time, the female usually has devolved her intense black and red brood care colouration. Depending on water temperature, the larvae hatch after 40 to 60 hours, and the parents often chew the eggs shells and place them into a previously excavated pit in the sand. Larvae development takes about ten days, and during this time the larvae are frequently relocated. Freshly hatched baby brine shrimp are a good initial food.
Brood care can last for up to two and a half months.


This species of dwarf cichlid is particularly recommended for a beginner dwarf cichlid aquarist.


Male adult size - 8cm
Female adult size - 6cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 6.9
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Laetacara flavilabris
Orange fin flag cichlid


L. flavilabris is found throughout the entire upper lowland drainage of the Rio Ucayali.


L. flavilabris is copper to ochre brown in colour, has white or pale yellow lips and two vertical wedge shaped spots on its operculum. L. flavilabris is very hard to sex, even in adults.


Male adult size - 12cm
Female adult size - 12cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 6.5
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Laetacara thayeri
Red bellied flag cichlid


L. thayeri is found in the upper Amazon River basin.


L. thayeri has a dark spot on its nape in conjunction with its lateral band, this lateral spot is characteristic of this species of Laetacara and has a distinct lateral band to the middle of its body. L. thayeri is hard to sex. The back of the dorsal fin of adult males is enlarged and pointed. In females, the back of the dorsal fin is usually rounded or only minimally enlarged.


Male adult size - 8cm
Female adult size - 8cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 6.5
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Laetacara sp. "humpback"
Humpback flag cichlid


L. sp. "humpback" is found in the entire catchments area of the lower Amazon river.


L. sp. "humpback" has two to four stripes or rows of dark spots on its flanks, a squarish black spot at the centre of its lateral band, and a bluish grey to violet body. L. sp. "humpback" is very hard to sex, even in adults.


Male adult size - 6cm
Female adult size - 6cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 6.9
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Laetacara sp. "orange fin"
Orange fin flag cichlid


L. sp. "orange fin" is found in the entire Rio Negro system and the upper to central region of the Rio Orinoco.


L. sp. "orange fin" has a distinct lateral spot and a conspicuous predorsal spot. L. sp. "orange fin" is very hard to sex, even in adults.


Male adult size - 12cm
Female adult size - 12cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 6.0
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Mazarunia


The genus Mazarunia has one species in it called Mazarunia mazarunii.


Mazarunia mazarunii
Mazaruni cichlid


M. mazarunii is endemic to the upper Mazaruni River in Guyana.


M. mazarunii is moderately elongated, deep bodied and distinctly laterally compressed, with an inferiorly positioned small mouth. Its body is ochre yellow to pale gray, grayish blue, or occasionally even silvery white, and has plain fins roughly the same colour as its body. In neutral mood, adults have a spotted pattern that forms more or less complete crossbands, but when agitated, this pattern fades in males, while females display a conspicuous vertical lateral spot. Adult males develop a distinct cranial hump, which females do not.


The biotype of the fish is described as "sand holes and rock cavities in very shallow marginal sections of the river" in the vicinity of a rapid named "Sand Landing", where the water was soft, acidic and swift flowing.


It is worth noting, that when M. mazarunii leaves a pit in the sand, they always swim out backwards, even if it is possible to swim out forwards.


Male adult size - 10cm
Female adult size - 6cm



Waters pH - 5.0 to 6.0
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Mikrogeophagus


The genus Mikrogeophagus has two species in it; M. altispinosa and M. ramirezi.


Mikrogeophagus altispinosa
Bolivian ram


Mikrogeophagus altispinosaM. altispinosa is found in the catchments of the upper Rio Madeira.


M. altispinosa is relatively large, stocky, deep bodied, and slightly elongated, with an unusually narrow caudal peduncle. Particularly while in a state of fright, six indistinct crossbands appear on the body, and a small, round, black spot, also becomes visible on the third crossband. The height of the dorsal fin is approximately equal to half the height of the body, and it has a yellowish gray to sand yellow body colour. Sexing M. altispinosa can be hard.


Males grow slightly larger than females, and when compared side-by side, females appear slightly stouter and have more rounded bellies. Males frequently have longer dorsal fin membranes and elongated ventral and caudal fins, but these traits can also be found in some females.


M. altispinosa is an open spawner and will breed in medium hard water, but it is much more prolific in softer water. After several days of courtship, the eggs are adhered to either a rock, root, leaf, or are occasionally laid in a sand pit. Both partners will guard the spawn and the larvae, and after at least one week, the young are free swimming and are capable of eating newly hatched baby brine shrimp from the start. Growth is slow and sexual maturity is usually not attained until the second year of life.


Male adult size - 9cm
Female adult size - 8cm



Waters pH - 6.5
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 29 Degrees


Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
Butterfly cichlid, Blue ram


Mikrogeophagus ramireziM. ramirezi is found throughout the catchments area of the Rio Orinoco of Colombia and Venezuela.


M. ramirezi is relatively deep bodied and slightly elongated, and has an unusually narrow caudal peduncle. Particularly while in a state of fright, six indistinct crossbands with narrow interspaces appear on the body. A large, irregular, vertically ovoid, black spot lies in the middle of the body, often covering two thirds of the height of it's body. The height of the dorsal fin is approximately equal to half the height of the body, and it has a azure to steel blue body colour, with a yellow to golden throat. Sexing M. ramirezi can be hard. The back of a males dorsal fin is enlarged and generally longer than those of females. Mature females display a rosy violet to cherry red belly, whereas in males, the belly remains bluish.


M. Ramirezi is an open spawner and will breed in medium hard water, but is much more prolific in softer water. The aquarium should have a sand substrate, scattered rocks, pieces of wood and sparse vegetation, and provided that the temperature is above 27 degrees, the pH between 5 and 6, the majority of the eggs in a batch will hatch. M. ramirezi reproduction can be problematic and it is believed that some of these difficulties stem from the fact that most M. ramirezi sold through commercial channels are bred and reared artificially. Various studies have shown that a proportion of the behavior of cichlids is learned from their parents and this possibly includes brood care, and this learned brood care is obviously lacking in artificially reared specimens. Another reason can also be the lack of sufficient space in a tank, as stress caused by overcrowding, will frequently drive parents to eat their eggs, and for this reason, it is preferred to house M. ramirezi in a larger, species only tank.


Male adult size - 6cm
Female adult size - 5cm



Waters pH - 5.0 to 6.0
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 30 Degrees


Nannacara


The genus Nannacara for the most part incorporates five different species, these five species constitute two groups with clearly discernible morphological differences. One group, the N. anomala complex, includes three relatively small species that all possess a chessboard pattern; N. anomala, N. aureocephalus and N. taenia. The second group, the N. adoketa complex, is comprised of two larger species which do not have a chessboard pattern; N. adoketa and N. bimaculata.


Nannacara anomala complex


Nannacara anomala
Golden dwarf cichlid


N. anomala is found in the costal areas of the Guianas, particularly in the catchments of the upper and central Rio Essequibo.


Nannacara anomalaN. anomala is laterally compressed and deep bodied. In males, the caudal fin is round, the dorsal fin increases gradually in height from the front to the back and is decorated with a fine "scribbled" pattern consisting of light gray and black, lines and dots. Where the dorsal and anal fins meet its body, it has a broad, charcoal grey to black margin, and additionally, the entire length of the dorsal fin has a narrow red fringe, with a blue sub marginal band. It has a dirty grayish brown body, which in mature males, is virtually covered by a metallic green, blue, or occasionally, copper red sheen. Females, in contrast, are yellowish gray and always display a lateral band, which is one to two scales in width and extends to the base of the caudal fin. Threatening, brood caring, or stressed females display six crossbands on the body and an irregular black pattern on their head, together these markings create the chequered pattern typical of females of the N. anomala complex. Males grow considerably larger than females. Males are mostly metallic green or occasionally bronze coloured, whereas females, are yellowish gray to gray and often have a black chequered pattern.


Usually a cave is chosen by the female, who can lay up to 200 amber coloured eggs, and the female alone cares for the eggs and larvae. Depending on temperature, the eggs hatch 36 to 86 hours after being laid, and the entire development to the point where the fry become free swimming takes between eight and fourteen days. Brood care for the young fry is provided by the female and considering her size can be surprisingly quite aggressive, not hesitating to attack much bigger tankmates. The young are fast growing, reaching a total length of four centimetres after three months, and adulthood approximately one to two months later.


Male adult size - up to 8cm
Female adult size - up to 5cm
Waters pH - 6.0 to 7.0
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 21 to 29 Degrees


Nannacara aureocephalus
Golden head dwarf cichlid


N. aureocephalus is found in the basins of the; Riviere Approuague, Riviere Mana, Riviere Orapu and the Riviere Fleuve Oyapock.


N. aureocephalus is laterally compressed and deep bodied. Full grown males are very stout with a blunt head and a more or less lanceolate caudal fin, the dorsal fin increases in height from the front to the back, and is decorated with a finely "scribbled" pattern of reddish and yellow, lines and dots, as well as a narrow red margin. It has a yellowish gray or occasionally brownish body, mature males have a pale yellow sheen, and in stark contrast to the body, the head is yellow. Females and semi adult males have a round caudal fin. Females generally have a yellowish gray body, and always display a lateral band, which is one to two scales in width and extends to the base of the caudal fin.


Threatening, brood caring, or stressed females display six crossbands on the body and an irregular black pattern on their head, together, these markings create the chequered pattern typical of females of the N. anomala complex.


Sexing, courtship and fry development is the same as the other species in this genus.


Male adult size - 12cm
Female adult size - 6cm



Waters pH - 5.0 to 6.0
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 21 to 30 Degrees


Nannacara taenia
Banded dwarf cichlid


N. taenia is found along the lower course of the Amazon River.


Both sexes of N. taenia bear a unique pattern of narrow longitudinal bands on the body, that in certain moods, extend to the centre of the caudal peduncle. At times these eight stripes run continuously (dominant aggressive disposition), while at others, they have a slight zigzag character (suppressed, apprehensive disposition). The lateral band is sometimes distinct, and begins right behind the eye as a narrow band, broadening to 1.5 scales in width in the centre of the body, and continues to the centre of the caudal peduncle. In males, the top third of the dorsal fin has a bright red margin, and the dorsal and anal fins are more distinctly pointed than females.


Male adult size - 4cm to 5cm
Female adult size - 4cm to 5cm



Waters pH - 6.0 to 7.0
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 21 to 29 Degrees


Nannacara adoketa complex


Nannacara adoketa

Nannacara adoketa
N. adoketa is found three localities in the Rio Negro, each of which is several hundred kilometres from each other.


Fully coloured N. adoketa either have a metallic blue sheen on their body, or intense dark bands. Males are a rosy gray, whereas females, are light gray. Dominant fish usually display distinct bands on the upper half of the body, that intensify in colour to the caudal peduncle, whereas non dominant fish, normally lack any banded pattern, but they do exhibit a conspicuous, small lateral spot and a short cheek band that tapers to a point. When ready to spawn, females have a distinct dark banded pattern which begins on the caudal peduncle and intensifies towards the head as the time for laying draws near.
Sexing can only be done with mature adults.


Males grow around 30% larger than females, their dorsal and anal fins are distinctly larger and pointed, and their ventral fins have lengthy thread-like filaments that extend well beyond the base of the anal fin. In females, the filaments on the ventral fins reach the base of the anal fin at most, the dorsal fin is rounded or slightly pointed.


Feeding N. adoketa is unproblematic, all types of substitute food are readily accepted, except flake food.


Adults have a strong tendency to become obese, one or two days of fasting each week is advised with them.


N. adoketa is hard to breed in an aquarium.


Male adult size - 13cm
Female adult size - 10cm



Waters pH - 4.0 to 4.5
Hardness - 0 to 2 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 28 Degrees


Nannacara bimaculata
Two spot dwarf cichlid


The distribution range of N. bimaculata is largely unknown.


N. bimaculata has a grayish beige colouration and jet black bands on the body and base of the dorsal fin, are distinctive. A distinct dark black spot is situated on the third crossbar below the dorsal fin, but above the mid body, which has a shiny silvery border. Apart from size, the differences between sexes are still largely unknown.


There are no records of keeping N. bimaculata in captivity, but they should be kept along the same guidelines as N. adoketa.


Male adult size - 13cm
Female adult size - 10cm



Waters pH - 4.0 to 4.5
Hardness - 0 to 2 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 28 Degrees


Taeniacara


The genus Taeniacara has one species in it, called Taeniacara candidi.


Taeniacara candidi
Black stripe dwarf cichlid


T. candidi is found in the Amazon region between the Rio Tefe and the Rio Tapajos.


T. candidi has an extremely slender, elongated body, and its unusually low dorsal fin comes to an abrupt, clear angle at the back. In males, the caudal fin is elongated and lanceolate, though such a caudal fin can be only occasionally found in females. Its lateral band covers almost half of the height of its body, beginning on the upper lip and ending on the base of the caudal fin. Below the lateral band there is a row of vertical dashes, occasionally spots, that extends from the base of the ventral fins to the anal fin. The practice of vertically rocking the body around the eye axis is a species specific trait, chiefly seen among territorial males, though, agitated specimens may exhibit this behavioural peculiarity without interruption over extended periods of time, and can appear to be waving.
Males are distinctly larger than females, and develop a long, lanceolate caudal fin, and also develop, substantially enlarged, bluish or whitish, transparent ventral fins.
Females have a rounded caudal fin, short ventral fins, which are usually reddish with a black margin.


The eggs are cared for by the female alone, and up to 100 white eggs can be laid, which hatch after 36 to 72 hours. Depending on temperature, the young are free swimming after seven to ten days, and the fry are guided solely by the female. The juveniles reach a size of 2cm after three months and are then driven out of the males territory.


Male adult size - 7cm
Female adult size - 5cm



Waters pH - 6.5
Hardness - 2 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 30 Degrees


Teleocichla


The genus Teleocichla has six species in it; T. centrarchus, T. cinderella, T. gephyrogramma, T. monogramma, T. prionogenys and T. proselttus, and are rarely exported from South America.


Telocichla centrarchus
Little is known about the distribution range of this species, but they have been found in the upper Rio Xingu.


The fact that T. centrarchus has four spines in the anal fin, instead of three, is its most characteristic trait. Males are larger and the back of the dorsal fin is slightly more pointed. In females, the back of the dorsal fin is always rounded and the ventrum is metallic red.


T. centrarchus is better adapted to living above sand expanses than rocky enviroments, and requires high temperatures.


Spawning takes place on the underside of a root or flat rock. Following egg deposition, the female barricades the entrance to the spawning site with sand and cares for the clutch and subsequent larvae all on her own. The up to 100 juveniles are free swimming about twelve days post spawning, grow rapidly, and are sexually mature by six months of age.


Male adult size - 15cm
Female adult size - 10cm



Waters pH - 6.0
Hardness - 1 to 3 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 33 Degrees


Telocichla cinderalla
Cinderella cichlid


T. cinderalla is found within the catchments of the lower course of the Rio Araguaia and Rio Tocantins.


T. cinderalla has a very slender, elongated body, a conspicuously pointed head and a low set mouth, with a very long dorsal fin, that is relatively low in height. It is one of the less colourful dwarf cichlids, with a gray to yellowish gray body colour, and comparatively thick lips, which appear fleshy. Males grow larger, and the back of the dorsal fin is pointed and filamentous. Females have greenish metallic spots on their flanks, and the back of the dorsal fin is rounded.


T. cinderalla inhabits sand expanses between large accumulations of rocks.


They live in pairs with their young above open terrain, and pairs with their offspring were also observed in areas with strong current. Their eggs are few, but large, and the period of development from hatch to free swimming juveniles is very short. This rapid development and large juvenile size must be considered an adaptation to life in rapids. Immediately after the young are free swimming, they master the strong currents and begin grabbing particles of food as they pass by.


It is possible that T. cinderalla is extinct in its type locality due to the erection of the Tucurui Dam, which had vast ecological consequences for the entire region.


Male adult size - 14cm
Female adult size - 9cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 3 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 23 to 28 Degrees


Teleocichla gephyrogramma
T. gephyrogramma is endemic to the rapids of the Rio Xingu, upstream from Altamira.


T. gephyrogramma has a characteristic pattern of alternating rectangular, interlinked spots and a narrow, irregularly shaped second lateral band running above them, and the base of the dorsal fin is orange.


Sexual Differences are slight. The only definite trait that differentiates the genders, is the red and blue margin on the superior fringe of the caudal fin of the male.


T. gephyrogramma exclusively inhabits rocky sections of rapids in the Rio Xingu, upstream from Altamira. There they live within crevices so small that the fish just manage to squeeze in.


Male adult size - 8cm
Female adult size - 8cm



Waters pH - 6.0 to 7.0
Hardness - 2 to 6 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 33 Degrees


Teleocichla monogramma
T. monogramma is endemic to the upper Rio Xingu.


T. monogramma has a series of irregularly shaped, circular spots that are interlinked by a narrow lateral band in the upper third, the caudal peduncle carries an elongated oval spot, and has a yellow or gray sand coloured body.


Males are larger and have a narrow red fringe on their dorsal fin and upper caudal fin. Females have a metallic green or blue ventrum, a reddish stripe along the base of the dorsal fin, and grayish brown spots on their flanks.


Although small, T. monogramma is quite capable of standing its own ground and is very active, also, during periods of sexual activity, it may become very aggressive towards co specifics as well as congeners


Male adult size - 11cm
Female adult size - 7cm
Waters pH - 6.5
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 32 Degrees


Teleocichla prionogenys
T. prionogenys is endemic to the lower Rio Tapajos.


The most characteristic features of T. prionogenys, is its extremely long snout and large mouth, that is terminal rather than inferior, with somewhat pouted lips. T. prionogenys is particularly slender and elongated, its body is a grayish ochre colour, and marked with seven irregular, rectangular grayish brown spots.


T. prionogenys is very rare in its natural habitat.


Male adult size - 12cm
Female adult size - 8cm



Waters pH - 5.0 to 6.0
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 33 Degrees


Teleocichla proselytus


T. proselytus is endemic to the Rio Tapajos system.


The body of T. proselytus is a yellowish ochre, frequently with a brownish dorsum and a whitish belly, and the caudal peduncle has a small, distinct spot. Males are larger and have elongations on their fins and a distinct red fringe on the dorsal and caudal fin. Some males have a caudal fin that is almost entirely wine red in colour. The back of a females dorsal fin is rounded and their caudal fins are plain.


Male adult size - 12cm
Female adult size - 9cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 6.5
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 33 Degrees


Small South American Cichlids


The following genera are not typically classed as dwarf cichlids, though sometimes, some are, depending on your definition of a dwarf cichlid. They are included in this article because they are very popular and commonly kept by dwarf cichlid enthusiasts.


Biotodoma


The genus Biotodoma has four species in it; B. cupido, B. wavrini, B. sp. "aripuana" and B. sp. "guyana".


Biotodoma are moderately deep bodied species, with an oval laterally compressed body. There is a round black ocellus, surrounded by a number of whitish zones, on the posterior part of the body, and each species can be differentiated from one another, by the position of this lateral spot.


Biotodoma cupido
Cupid cichlid


Cupid cichlidsB. cupido is found in many rivers in Peru.


The habitat of B. cupido is characterised as extensive sandy or muddy bays with no current, and prefers shallow sandy regions with low predation pressure.


In B. cupido the lateral spot lies above the upper lateral line, only a short distance from the dorsal, and is bordered anteriorly and posteriorly by a number of whitish areas. A number of narrow vertical bars are visible on the flanks, and its body colour is light brownish with a silvery sheen. Older specimens may, exhibit very beautiful markings on the body, iridescent in all the colours of the rainbow. Only adult B. cupido exhibit clear sexual differences.
Males have iridescent bluish horizontal lines beneath the eye, while in females these lines are broken up into dots. Unfortunately only dominant females exhibit these typical markings, while younger or subordinate females have just one faint interrupted line. Males grow somewhat larger and are more slender than females, and it is virtually impossible to sex half grown specimens.


Spawning B. cupido is very unlikely, unless they are in a species only tank. Pair formation begins with lateral threat behaviour and frequent mouth fighting, then eventually a mutual search for a spawning site takes place, with the female making the actual decision. About 200 eggs are eventually laid, and attached to a flat stone by a tiny "stalk", that enables them to move to and fro in the current. The female generally hovers several centimetres away and fans fresh water over the eggs with her pectorial fins, and if chasing an intruder away, the male immediately takes over fanning the eggs. After about 2 days at 28 degrees, the larvae either penetrate the egg cases independently, or are freed by the parents, then the parents move the larvae, which are incapable of swimming at this stage, around a number of pre dug pits. After a further 8 days the fry are free swimming and can now be fed newly hatched brine shrimp. The fry of B. cupido grow relatively slowly and do not reach the 3cm mark for about 2 months, and then, at least 18 months are required for them to reach sexual maturity.


Male adult size - up to14cm
Female adult size - up to 12cm


Waters pH - 6.0 to 6.9
Hardness - 0 to 6 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 30 Degrees


Biotodoma wavrini
B. wavrini is found mainly in the Orinoco region, including the borders with Amazonia. The habitat of B. wavrini is slow flowing waters with a low pH, usually with leaf litter and wood, and a sandy or muddy substrate.


B. wavrini has a more elongated body and rather more pointed snout than B.cupido. The lateral spot lies below the upper lateral line, i.e., between the two lateral lines, and the lateral spot is also framed by two comma like light areas. Its body colour is silvery green, and there are no other markings on the body, a black band runs vertically from the front of the dorsal fin, down through the eye, to the bottom of the gill, and there is a iridescent bluish area behind the eye, broken into spots.


Sexing is very difficult to determine. Males are larger, and the back of the dorsal, caudal and ventrals fins are elongated. Also in this species, males have iridescent bluish horizontal lines beneath the eye, while in females these lines are broken up into dots.


B. wavrini are best kept in a species tank with small characins for target fish, as this species is pretty aggressive towards its own kind.


Adult specimens can keep larger fish at a distance during spawning preparations. Specimens imported to date have not proved very hardy in the aquarium and have always disappeared from the hobby, and no records are available of them being spawned in captivity.


Male adult size - up to 12cm
Female adult size - up to 12cm


Waters pH - 5.0 to 6.9
Hardness - 0 to 5 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 30 Degrees


Biotodoma sp. "Aripuana"
B. sp. "aripuana" is found in the Rio Aripuana.


The habitat of B. sp. "aripuana" is slow flowing areas, over sand, mud, leaf litter and wood.


B. sp. "aripuana" lateral spot has an elongated shape, it is above the lateral line, and lies directly below the line of the back, and above the lateral spot is a white line, and below it is two white areas.
Sexing B. sp. "aripuana" is very hard.


B. sp. "aripuana" requires the same care as other Biotodoma species.


Male adult size - up to 14cm
Female adult size - up to 12cm


Waters pH - 6.5 to 6.9
Hardness - 2 to 6 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 30 Degrees


Biotodoma sp. "Guyana"
B. sp. "guyana" is found in the Essaequibo system in Venezuela.


In B. sp. "guyana" the lateral spot lies on the upper lateral line and is usually enclosed by four white spots.


B. sp. "guyana" requires the same care as other Biotodoma species.


Male adult size - up to 14cm
Female adult size - up to 12cm


Waters pH - 6.5 to 6.9
Hardness - 2 to 6 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 30 Degrees


Bujurquina


In 1986, Kullander created the genus Bujurquina (pronounced boo-her-ki'na).



Bujurquina species have an elongated body, a well fringed caudal fin, a lateral band that extends obliquely from the back of the eye to back of the dorsal fin, or, just above the caudal peduncle. They also have a dark curved nape band that extends from the lateral band up to just behind the gill cover, and sometimes over the nape region, just behind the eye, such as the species, B. mariae.


Bujurquina species are delayed mouth brooders, where eggs are often laid on leafs that are movable, so that, if danger threatens or water levels drop, they simply drag the spawn elsewhere. If no moveable platforms are available, they will lay there eggs on a flat surface, such as a stone, or piece of slate. The eggs are fanned and guarded for 24 to 48 hours, after which, the larvae are chewed from their eggshells and taken into the mouths of one, or both parents, where they are incubated for a further 2 to 6 days. The free swimming fry commence foraging for food immediately, and, if threatened, they stream back into the open mouths of the parents, and this intense parental care lasts for 6 to 8 weeks.


The Bujurquina genus has 17 species in it; B. apoparuana, B. cordemandi, B. euphinus, B. hophyrys, B. huallagae, B. labiosa, B. mariae, B. megalospilus, B. moriorum, B. ortgai, B. peregrinabunda, B. robusta, B. syspilus, B. tambopatae, B. vittata and B. zamorensis.


Virtually all of the species in this genus are found in rather restricted areas which are not commercially collected for exporting, but three species that are occasionally exported are;


Bujurquina mariae
Male adult size - 15cm
Female adult size - 15cm


Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 24 to 26 Degrees


Bujurquina syspilus
Male adult size - 10cm
Female adult size - 10cm


Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 23 to 27 Degrees


Bujurquina vittata
Gold cheecked flag cichlid


B. vittata is found in the Rio Orin.


B. vittata has an overall body colouration of light yellow, with a distinctive black lateral line stripe that runs most of the length of its body, the face and nose have light blue iridescent stripes across them, the throat is a bright yellow, and the dorsal and anal fins of both sexes, vary from red to orange.
Males have rather long and filamentous fins, and the caudal fin is clear of markings, and grow slightly larger and bulkier, than females.


Male adult size - 12cm
Female adult size - 12cm


Waters pH - 6.0 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 6 dGH
Temperature - 24 to 28 Degrees


Cleithracara


The genus Cleithracara has one species in it, C. maronii.


Cleithracara maronii.
Keyhole cichlid


Keyhole cichlidC. maronii is found in the Rio Orinoco basin and rivers of Guyana.


C. maronii has a oval shaped, short body, and a rounded forehead.


It has a mottled golden brown coloration, occasionally marked with faint lateral lines, a curved dark band, that runs from the front of the dorsal fin, through the eye down to the corner of the gill cover. It has fins that range from body colour to dark green blue in colour, and can rapidly change its body colour from golden brown to dark brown, when frightened. A characteristic dark splotch, near the midsection of its body, is said to resemble a keyhole, hence its popular name. C. maronii need a sandy or fine gravel substrate, with plenty of hiding places, because of how timid they can be, and some open spaces should also be provided in the tank for swimming room. Sexing C. maronii is hard. Males are typically larger than females and have more elongated, anal and dorsal fins.


C. maronii can be fussy when choosing partners, it is better to put several juveniles in a tank together and leave them to pair off on their own. They are open spawners with up to 300 eggs being deposited on a clean flat stone, and the eggs are cared for by both sexes, who will fan them with fresh water and pick out unfertilized eggs. The fry hatch after 3 to 5 days and are free swimming several days later and accept newly hatched brine shrimp immediately. It is not uncommon for a pair to eat their first brood, but they will spawn again within a matter of days. If the egg eating is continuous, the eggs should be removed after they are laid and hatched and raised in a separate tank. C. maronii become sexually mature at around 6cm to 7cm in size.


C. maronii are relatively undemanding of water chemistry, but for breeding a slightly acidic pH is proffered.


Male adult size - 10cm
Female adult size - 8cm


Waters pH - 6.0 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 22 to 25 Degrees


Guianacara


Guianacara can be recognised by their characteristic "saddle spot", which varies in shape and size from species to species, and possess a more or less pronounced eye stripe on a silvery beige background, which begins on the nape and extends to the anterior edge of the operculum. The upper head profile rises steeply, but no nuchal hump is developed.


The genus Guianacara has six species in it; G. geayi, G. oelemariensis, G. owroewefi, G. sphenozona, Guianacara sp. "Rio Caroni" and Guianacara sp. "Red Cheek".


Guianacara geayi
G. geayi is found in the Camopi and Oyapock drainage in French Guiana. The Oyapock and Approuague drainages are softwater rivers with a strong current, occasionally rapids and rocky terrain.


Only where there are bays in the banks and the current is less strong, deposits of sand are found, and occasionally wood and leaf litter. The eroded cavities in the rock near the bank is where these cichlids like to live and breed.


G. geayi has a wedge shaped lateral spot, as in G. sphenozona, but in contrast to that species, G. geayi has larger spots in the soft dorsal. A most important character is that the spots in the dorsal are not limited to the soft part, but are found on the spinous part as well. G. geayi has a distinctive suborbital stripe which extends downwards in a straight line to the lower edge of the operculum and then turns slightly upwards again, creating a small black angle on the cheek. G. geayi has a yellowish body colour. G. geayi does not exhibit any pronounced sexual dimorphism, apart from the fact that males grow larger and may have more elongated tips to their fins.


An aquarium with a capacity of 100 litres is adequate for keeping a pair of these fishes. If however, they are to be housed with other fishes, or perhaps even several pairs are to be kept together, then the bottom area of the aquarium should under no circumstances be less than 100cm * 50cm, as otherwise the pairs will squabble excessively. This may not necessarily lead to injuries, but the long term stress will be too great. In addition the aquarium should be provided with as many hiding places as possible, wood is particularly suitable, but stones will do as a substitute. If suitable caves are not available then a lot of digging may take place, especially in the corners, with small ramparts of sand being erected and then vehemently defended.


Male adult size - 20cm
Female adult size - 16cm to 18cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 32 Degrees


Guianacara oelemariensis
G. oelemariensis is named after the only river system in which the species is known to be found, the Oelemari river in Surinam.


G. oelemariensis can very easily be differentiated from other members of the genus, as in contrast to other species, G. oelemariensis does not have a saddle spot as such, but instead exhibits a black lateral spot, rectangular in appearance, that lies on the centre of the flank. Males have rather more prolonged and pointed dorsal and anal fins, and have a large number of light spots on the dorsal, anal and caudal fins. Females remain smaller and look rather more dainty.


Although G. oelemariensis has yet to appear in the aquarium hobby, it can be assumed that it will not make any appreciably different demands on its owner than do the other species of the genus.


Male adult size - 11cm to 15cm
Female adult size - 11cm to 14cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 32 Degrees


Guianacara owroewefi
G. owroewefi can be found in the Maroni river, as well as the upper Coppename drainage.


G. owroewefi is found in the calmer reaches of fast flowing rivers. In general the fishes frequented sandy bottoms covered with mud and mulm in the bank region. Mainly clearwaters, but during the rainy season sediment was sometimes washed down such that the visibility was appreciably reduced.


Driftwood, rocks covered in vegetation, and accumulations of boulders shelter the shore zone such that the current there was not so violent, and in addition, provided the fishes with shelter from predators, and a large numbers of caves, overhangs, and crannies, where parents could tend their young in relative safety.


G. owroewefi exhibits a vertical stripe on the centre of the body, most strongly marked on and just below the upper lateral line. If the typical saddle spot is exhibited then unlike in G. geayi and G. sphenozona, in G. owroewefi it does not appear wedge shaped, but rather like a narrow band. The sexes can only with great difficulty be differentiated on the basis of colouration. During brood care females do infact exhibit a more contrast rich colour pattern, with the suborbital stripe, the throat, and the lips, shiny black. The reddish colouration on the head diminishes in females but becomes brighter in males.


Only when the fry are free swimming does the male exhibit a more contrast rich pattern on the head, which probably serves the young as an orientation aid.


G. owroewefi does not differ from other members of the genus in its maintenance requirements.


Male adult size - 15cm
Female adult size - 12cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 32 Degrees


Guianacara sphenozona
G. sphenozona can be found in the river Sipaliwini.


G. sphenozona exhibits a flank stripe which is most strongly marked on and above the upper lateral line and may extend some distance into the dorsal. The flank stripe may take the form of the tapering black wedge that gives this species its name, or be reduced to a spot on the lateral line. In contrast to G. geayi, G. sphenozona exhibits smaller spots on the dorsal fin, and these spots are restricted to the soft part. Males grow larger and appear significantly "beefier" than females. No other sexual differences can be discerned.


G. sphenozona does not differ from other members of the genus in its maintenance requirements.


Male adult size - 8cm to 12cm
Female adult size - 8cm to 11cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 32 Degrees


Guianacara sp. "Rio Caroni"
The Rio Caroni in eastern Venezuela is the home of G. sp. "Rio Caroni".


In contrast to G. sphenozona, G. sp. "Rio Caroni" has more of a beige grey base colour. The saddle spot and the colouration of the unpaired fins are similar to those of C. sphenozona. Males grow larger and exhibit a weekly developed nuchal hump. It remains to be clarified whether this is a new species or a local variant of G. sphenozona.


Male adult size - up to 15cm
Female adult size - up to 14cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 32 Degrees


Guianacara sp. "Red Cheek"
The Rio Caroni in eastern Venezuela is also the home of G. sp. "Red Cheek". In spite of the depth of 160cm, the biotype discovered was extremely warm, and the bottom of the pool was muddy.


G. sp. "Red Cheek" exhibits a black vertical saddle spot which was most boldly coloured on or below the lateral line, and has a red opercula spot.


Male adult size - up to 15cm
Female adult size - up to 15cm



Waters pH - 5.5 to 7.0
Hardness - 1 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 32 Degrees


Gymnogeophagus


Gymnogeophagus inhabit calmer sections of rivers in which there are large areas of submerse vegetation. Large rivers are generally avoided, and if they are found in such waters then it is in the rather slower flowing reaches.


All members of this genus should never be kept at constant temperatures, but maintained at temperatures of less than 20 degrees for at least two months per year. Individuals that are kept long term at temperatures more than 24 degrees, grow old very quickly and never achieve a good age, and can also lose their colour after just a year.


The genus Gymnogeophagus has nine species in it; G. australis, G. balzani, G. gymnogenys, G. labiatus, G. lacustris, G. meridionalis, G. rhabdotus, G. setequedas and G. sp. "rosario".


Gymnogeophagus australis
It is at present unclear whether G. australis is a valid species, as the holotype is lost and this species can no longer be found at their type locality.


Male adult size - up to 15cm
Female adult size - up to 15cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 25 Degrees


Gymnogeophagus balzanii
G. balzanii has a wide distribution and can be found in the Rio Paraquay, the Rio Guapore, the Rio Paraquay drainage, the Rio Pilcomayo, the Rio Parana drainage and the Rio Riachuelo. G. balzanii inhabits almost exclusively slow flowing or still waters such as ditches, ponds, swamps, or flooded grasslands, but can also be found in the quieter parts of larger rivers. G. balzanii is very common in areas with dense vegetation, large expanses of sand are not the main habitat by any stretch of the imagination.


G. balzanii has an olive green to yellowish background with numerous vertical bars split into narrow double bands. The upper half of the body in males exhibits greenish to sometimes bluish shades, while the breast and throat region is vivid yellow. With the exception of the pectorals all the fins share the base colour. Adult dominant males exhibit numerous iridescent bluish white dots on the fins, back, and head region. A dark band runs from just in front of the dorsal origin to the posterior edge of the eye. The cheek is adorned with a dark vertical stripe connecting the eye with the lower part of the operculum. There is a dark, roundish, lateral spot between the upper and lower lateral lines. The body is much compressed laterally and the very short body lends adult individuals an almost disc shaped appearance. Females generally remain smaller, and are not as exquisitely coloured as males.


The choice of spawning substrate appears to be the prerogative of the male, usually a flat stone, or one at a slight angle to the bottom is chosen. The actual courtship is best described as restrained, the male merely performs a few brief quivering motions in front of the female, with a little tail beating thrown in. G. balzanii is a larvophilous mouth brooder in which the care of the eggs and fry is preformed solely by the female.


G. balzanii is the type species of the genus, although it is rather atypical of the members of the genus.


Male adult size - up to 20cm
Female adult size - up to 17cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 25 Degrees


Gymnogeophagus gymnogenys
G. gymnogenys is found in various rivers in Uruguay.


G. gymnogenys inhabits slow flowing to still waters, and frequents the bank region among submerse growing vegetation, and there may also be a covering of floating plants, with a muddy substrate.


In both sexes the base colour is greenish beige to yellow, in the flank there is a dark, sometimes rectangular looking lateral spot at the height of the body axis.


Males and dominant individuals have an interorbital bar and a saddle stripe at the dorsal fin origin, the area between is coloured vivid yellow and may develop into a nuchal hump, and in addition males exhibit iridescent bluish spots on the flanks. Males are more colourful than females and may develop a nuchal hump.


Male adult size - up to 17cm
Female adult size - up to 14cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 25 Degrees


Gymnogeophagus labiatus
G. labiatus is found in the Rio Santa Maria in Brazil. G. labiatus inhabits fast flowing water, whose bottom is covered with large rocks and coarse gravel. These fishes are very timid in both the wild and the aquarium and lead a relatively reclusive life close to the substrate.


In contrast to G. gymnogenys the nuchal hump is rusty red in colour. G. labiatus has a lateral spot that lies on the centre of the flank below the upper lateral line, and there is a dark band on the nape, ending at the posterior edge of the eye, with a further dark band running from the eye to the anterior operculum. Males grow significantly larger than females, are more vividly coloured, and develop an imposing nuchal hump.


Male adult size - up to 18cm
Female adult size - up to 15cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 25 Degrees


Gymnogeophagus lacustris
G. lacustris is found in the Rio Maquini, the Rio Cornilios and in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.


G. lacustris are light olive green on its back and flanks, becoming somewhat lighter ventrally. There are usually nine double vertical dark bars, and a lateral spot on the third to fourth vertical bars A distinct dark band runs from the nape to the eye, and then usually ends on the inner corner of the preoperculum.


Snout, cheeks and operculum are darker than the body. Older adult males have a pronounced nuchal hump and also grow rather larger than females.


Male adult size - up to 18cm
Female adult size - up to 15cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 25 Degrees


Gymnogeophagus meridionalis
G. meridionalis is found in the Rio Negro, the Rio Uruguay drainage and in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. G. meridionalis inhabits small pools, streams and large rivers, that have a sandy or muddy bottom, and are found in clear, as well as dark and murky water, which is either, slow flowing or still water.


The base colour of G. meridionalis is grey brown with an olive tinge, which becomes lighter ventrally, giving way to yellow. There are six vertical bars on the flanks, with the lateral spot on the third of these, between the two parts of the lateral line, and has a more roundish form. An eye stripe runs from the nape to the eye and then vertically downwards to the front of the operculum. The pectorals are colourless. Males grow larger and more colourful than females.


Male adult size - up to 12cm
Female adult size - up to 10cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 25 Degrees


Gymnogeophagus rhabdotus
G. rhabdotus has a wide distribution in Brazil. G. rhabdotus inhabits rather varied biotopes, and is found in lagoons, streams and small rivers with sandy, rarely muddy or stony bottoms, with at most, a moderate current and dense vegetation.


Because G. rhabdotus has a rather wide distribution, a number of different populations have evolved.


The base colour of all populations is, however, olive brown and the scales have reflective dots that are arranged in lines, giving the impression of longitudinal stripes. There is a lateral spot on the central flank, which can take the form of a transverse streak, and is surrounded by a lighter zone. A dark band runs through the eye, extending from the nape to the anterior operculum. The pectorals are colourless. Males grow larger and are significantly more colourful, and the back of the dorsal fin, and anal fin, are elongated.


Male adult size - up to 15cm
Female adult size - up to 12cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 25 Degrees


Gymnogeophagus setequedas
G. setequedas is widespread in the central drainage of the Rio Parana in Brazil and Paraguay. G. setequedas inhabits generally vegetated bank zones.


G. setequedas has a base colour of a shade of green, with a few rows of iridescent bluish spots on its flanks. The ventral area is light yellow, and all the fins are transparent and colourless. It has an elongate dark lateral spot on the central flank, below the upper lateral line and encompassing two rows of scales. Males grow larger and more colourful than females.


Male adult size - 12cm to 14cm
Female adult size - 9cm to 12cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 25 Degrees


Gymnogeophagus sp. "Rosario I"
G. sp. "Rosario I" only known locality to date, is the Arroyo Colla, near the town or Rosario in Uruguay. Where G. sp. "Rosario I" inhabits, the bottom is covered with large stones, while the shore was densely vegetated. In addition many branches and roots hung down into the Arroyo Colla, creating numerous hiding places.


G. sp. "Rosario I" has a vertical suborbital stripe on the cheek, ending shortly before the underside of the mouth and not contacting the operculum. There is a second dark vertical band beginning at the base of the dorsal fin and ending about halfway down the side. G. sp. "Rosario I" have a dirty yellow base colour, the outer parts of the dorsal, anal and caudal fins are reddish in dominant males, while the inner regions appear yellowish. Males have fine bluish white spots on all the unpaired fins, whereas, females do not, and males grow larger than females.


Male adult size - up to 18cm
Female adult size - up to 15cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 8 dGH
Temperature - 20 to 25 Degrees


Heroina


The genus Heroina has one species in it; Heroina isonycterina.


Heroina isonycterina
H. isonycterina is found in the Rio Napo drainage.


H. isonycterina is a deep bodied fish, which is strongly laterally compressed, with elongated dorsal and anal fins. It has pale greyish body colour with 8 or 9 blackish vertical bars on its body, a midlateral spot, a prominent round or square dark brown caudal base spot, and a variably expressed pattern of minute spots scattered over most of the sides and fins.
Aquarium specimens in neutral colour, have a pale olivaceous body colour with grey vertical bars and black midlateral and caudal spots, and horizontal rows of red spots on its anterior sides, and a red iris.
Breeding specimens in aquarium take on an emphasized barred colouration and eyes that turned deep red. While guarding eggs particularly the female showed much more darker vertical bars, and the lower head and chest turned nearly black.


Male adult size - up to 10cm
Female adult size - up to 9cm



Waters pH - 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 6 dGH
Temperature - 23 to 29 Degrees


Tahuantinsuyoa


The genus Tahuantinsuyoa has two species in it; T. chipi and T. macantzatza. Tahuantinsuyoa are delayed mouth brooders, with slightly acidic water needed for breeding them.


Tahuantinsuyoa chipi
T. chipi is endemic to the Rio Pachitea drainage.


Male adult size - 8 cm
Female adult size - 8 cm



Waters pH - 6.0 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 28 Degrees


Tahuantinsuyoa macantzatza
Inca Stone Fish


T. macantzatza is endemic to Rio Aguaytía drainage.


Male adult size - 12cm
Female adult size - 12cm



Waters pH - 6.0 to 7.5
Hardness - 2 to 4 dGH
Temperature - 25 to 28 Degrees


References;


Dr. Uwe Romer's book - Cichlid Atlas 1.
The most up to date book, full of great information and pictures on South American dwarf cichlids in their natural habitat, covering the genera; Apistogramma, Apistogrammoides, Biotoecus, Crenicara, Crenicichla, Dicrossus, Laetacara, Mazarunia, Mikrogeophagus, Nannacara, Taeniacara and Teleocichla.


Horst Linke & Dr. Wolfgang Staeck's book - American Cichlids 1 - Dwarf Cichlids.
An older book, full of great information and pictures of South American dwarf cichlids in their natural habitat, covering the genera; Apistogramma, Apistogrammoides, Biotoecus, Crenicara, Crenicichla, Dicrossus, Laetacara, Mikrogeophagus (or Papiliochromis), Nannacara, Taeniacara and Teleocichla.


Thomas Weidner,s book - South American Eartheaters.
Full of information on all South American Eartheaters in their natural biotypes, covering the genera; Biotodoma, Geophagus, Satanoperca, Gymnogeophagus, Retroculus, Acarichthys and Guianacara.


Other New World Cichlid Articles Information