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Maximum size : 8 cm

Banded Apistogramma - Apistogramma bitaeniata : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Banded Apistogramma (Apistogramma bitaeniata) showcases a fascinating balance of peacefulness and territorial behaviour, particularly during breeding periods. However, it is possible to house a single male with multiple females in a generously sized aquarium, as they naturally form a harem structure. To accommodate their territorial tendencies, the tank should offer an abundance of visual barriers, allowing each female to establish her individual territory.

In the company of compatible tankmates, such as Corydoras Catfish, small Tetras, Hatchetfish, Pencilfish, and Suckermouth Catfish, your Banded Apistogrammas will thrive. However, it is essential to exercise caution when selecting tankmates, avoiding small aquariums with larger, more aggressive species. Additionally, it is advisable to refrain from keeping them together with different Apistogramma species, ensuring a harmonious aquatic environment.

Creating an optimal habitat for these Apistos involves providing a well-established water source with soft and acidic characteristics, complemented by a dark substrate and dense plant life. Including rocks and driftwood throughout the tank allows for the formation of territories and ample hiding places. The introduction of floating plants can be beneficial to create a natural ambience while dimming the aquarium's light. Employing dried Indian Almond Leaves and Peat Filtration aids in achieving the desired water conditions while maintaining low nitrate levels necessitating efficient filtration, gentle water movement, and regular partial water changes. It is crucial to ensure the aquarium is equipped with a secure and snug-fitting lid, as these fish possess impressive jumping abilities.

The male Banded Apistogramma exhibits a sleek physique, characterized by a pale silver body with a striking greyish-black stripe that extends from behind the eye to the caudal peduncle. Notably, the caudal fin displays a captivating false eyespot. In contrast, the female boasts a lemon-yellow body adorned with a greyish-black horizontal stripe, albeit in a paler tone. Furthermore, the females exhibit a central eyespot during the spawning season. These distinct differences between the male and female Banded Apistogramma render them easily distinguishable, often leading to the misconception that they are separate species.

Banded Apistogramma Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Banded Apistogrammas is a relatively straightforward task. The distinct physical characteristics exhibited by each sex allow for easy identification. Males, in particular, undergo notable transformations that set them apart. They grow significantly larger in size and display vibrant, eye-catching colours that serve to attract potential mates. An elongated and pointed dorsal fin further distinguishes the males, enhancing their allure and aesthetic appeal. Additionally, males develop extended pelvic fins, contributing to their striking appearance.

Conversely, females exhibit different traits that aid in their identification. While they remain more diminutive in size compared to their male counterparts, females undergo their own transformation when they are ready to engage in reproduction. At this stage, females acquire a yellow colouration, serving as a visible indication of their readiness to breed.

By observing these distinct characteristics, aquarists can discern the gender of Banded Apistogramma with relative ease, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of these captivating fish.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameApistogramma bitaeniata
Year Described1936
Other NamesBanded Dwarf Cichlid, Two-striped Apisto, Banded Apisto
OriginsPeru Brazil
Max Size8 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asPairs
LifespanUp to 6 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH4.5 - 7.0
GH2 - 8
KH2 - 12
TDS0 - 90
75 - 86
23 - 30

Natural habitat

Banded Apistogrammas are captivating inhabitants of the aquatic wonderland found in the middle Rio Maranon and lower Rio Ucayali Basins in Peru, extending their range to the enchanting waters of the Rio Solimoes and the lower Rio Tapajos in Brazil. These vibrant fish thrive in the serene embrace of slow-moving, shallow blackwater creeks and tributaries, where the substrate is adorned with a delicate carpet of leaf litter.

In their natural habitat, the Banded Apistogrammas find solace and nourishment amidst the gentle flow of these mystical waterways. The presence of leaf litter not only provides a picturesque scenery but also serves as a source of sustenance and shelter for these captivating creatures. This submerged world of fallen leaves offers a realm teeming with life, where Banded Apistogrammas find their refuge and establish their territories.

By understanding and replicating the unique conditions of their native habitat, aquarists can recreate a slice of the captivating Amazonian environment within their own aquariums. Providing a carefully arranged substrate of leaf litter and maintaining the tranquil flow reminiscent of their natural home will ensure the well-being and contentment of these remarkable Banded Apistogrammas.

 Ucayali River - Peru
Peru Flag
 Marañón River - Peru
Peru Flag

How to breed the Banded Apistogramma

Breeding Banded Apistogrammas in the home aquarium can be a rewarding but challenging endeavour. To create the optimal conditions for successful breeding, it is crucial to replicate their natural habitat. This entails maintaining very soft and acidic water parameters while elevating the temperature to the upper end of their preferred range.

Providing the females with suitable spawning sites is essential. Caves created using pipes or flower pots can serve as ideal locations. The female will deposit approximately 40 to 60 eggs on the ceiling of the chosen cave. Once the eggs are laid, the male will diligently swim over them to fertilize each one. This process continues until the female has completed spawning all her eggs. During this period, the female takes on the responsibility of guarding the precious eggs while the male dutifully defends the territory.

The hatching period typically occurs within two to four days, with the timing influenced by the water temperature. The female remains vigilant, protecting and caring for the newly hatched fry. After a few days, she will lead the fry out of the cave, exhibiting remarkable combative behaviour to deter potential predators. It is important to note that while the female Apisto demonstrates exemplary parenting skills, there is a slight possibility that she may consume her own eggs, particularly if she is experiencing stress or if this is her initial batch of eggs.

In smaller aquariums, removing the male once the eggs have been laid is advisable. This precautionary measure prevents any potential aggression from the female, ensuring a safe environment for the developing fry. Upon becoming free-swimming, the fry initially relies on its yolk sac for sustenance and remains relatively inactive. As they gradually become more mobile, offering them a diet consisting of infusoria, baby brine shrimp, and microworms will support their growth and development. Once the fry reaches a size where they are no longer seen as prey, they can be introduced into the community tank.

By diligently attending to the specific needs of the Banded Apistogramma during the breeding process, aquarists can witness the joy of successful reproduction and the flourishing of these captivating fish in their aquarium.

Diet & feeding

Banded Apistogrammas display a primarily carnivorous feeding behaviour, as observed in their natural habitat, where they consume a variety of invertebrates. Therefore, to replicate their dietary preferences in the aquarium setting, offering a well-rounded diet comprising live or frozen food options is recommended. Suitable choices include Artemia, Bloodworms, Tubifex worms, and Daphnia, which provide essential nutrients and satisfy their natural feeding instincts.

In addition, to live or frozen fare, incorporating high-quality pelleted and flake foods will contribute to a balanced diet for Banded Apistogrammas. These commercially available food sources offer convenience while ensuring optimal nutrition for these captivating fish. Finally, it is worth noting that Banded Apistogrammas tend to forage close to the substrate, sifting through the bottom of the aquarium in search of their food. This behaviour should be taken into account when providing feedings to accommodate their feeding preferences.

By providing a diverse diet that includes both live or frozen options and nutritionally balanced pelleted and flake foods, aquarists can ensure the well-being and vitality of Banded Apistogrammas in their aquariums.

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