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Apistogramma cacatuoides


Species information

Species: Apistogramma cacatuoides


Common name: Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid

Origin: South Ameriaca ? Widely distrubted in the catchment of the upper and central Rio Ucayali of the Pervian lowlands.


Maximum size: Females: 6cm; Males 9cm

Natural habitat: A. cacatuoides inhabits small streams, lagoons and lakes in the rain forest. This species typically prefers shallow zones where thick layers of leaf litter and pieces of wood provide shelter.

Natural foods/prey: Zooplankton

Water chemistry in the wild: This species typically hails from white or clear water habitats with gernerally a pH of between 6.5 ? 8.0, dGH 0 -18 and low salinity. Its environment can fluctuate between 16 ? 33 degrees celcius.

Predators: Larger fish

Brood size: More than 200 eggs.

Sexual dimorphism: There is distinct sexual dimorphism. Males grow to about twice the size of females. On reaching maturity males develop a distinctly lyrate caudal fin, whereas females have round or at most truncated caudal fins. The dorsal fin of the male has remarkably long membranes between the scond and eighth spines, which looks similar to the crest of a cockuto.

Breeding method: The males of A. cacatuoides exhibit a high degree of polygamy. They claim a superterritory within which several females establish and vigorously defend small territories against potential competitors. The males patrol the outer borders of their realms in regular intervals and visit the females at their individual hiding places. Sometimes occupying just a few tens of square centimeters the females territory has an easily defend shelter at its center. The clutch of egss is attached to the inside of the shelter and immediately fertilized by the males. All subsequent care of the clutch is left to the mother. The larvae hatch, temperature dependent, after two to three days. The larval phase lasts five to seven days. The fry are free-swimming seven to eleven days postspawning. In peaceful surroundings, the mother guides her offspring through her territory for upto three weeks, by which time she is ready to spawn again.

Husbandry Requirements

Minimum tank size: From 1ft to 4ft, I prefer 1.5ft or 40l aquariums. The larger the aqurium the more likely natural interactions will be observed.

Sex ratio: 4:1 (Female:Male)

Tolerance of conspecifics: As long territories are available they are tolerant. As soon as territory squables erupt they are very aggressive.

Tolerance of heterospecifics: Very compatible

Water chemistry in aquaria: Salinity <1,000ppm, Hardness <20 dGH, DO2 <4ppm, TAN <0.1

Temperature range: 16 ? 33, optimum 24 ? 26

Foods accepted: All small live and frozen foods, flakes and pellets.

Special requirements: Suitable easily defendable shelters. Plants, slate, rocks, coconut shells, terracotta pots, PVC pipe, etc. have all been successfully used. I prefer 100mm diameter terracotta pots placed top down with the drainage hole enlarged and a slot made in the lip.


  • This species is one of the longer established dwarf south american cichlids established in the hobby. There are a number of varieties that have been developed. The hardest part to enjoying this species is finding well formed individuals. Due to the long term selective breeding of this species it is not always possible to find suitable individuals.
  • The best way to enjoy this species and other Apistogramma species is to purchase a male and several females. Their home should be in a well planted tank with numerous shelters. They will soon be entertaining you with their particular intraspecific interactions.


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