Banded Apistogramma (Apistogramma bitaeniata)
The Banded Apistogramma is generally a peaceful species; however, they can become somewhat territorial when breeding. It would be better to keep these fish in pairs; however, if you have a much larger aquarium, it is possible to house one male with several females as they will form a harem. The females will establish individual territories, hence the importance of many visual barriers within the tank.
Good tankmates for your Banded Apistogrammas could include Corydoras Catfish, small Tetras, Hatchetfish, Pencilfish, and Suckermouth Catfish. However, you should avoid keeping them with Larger, more aggressive species in too small an aquarium. Also, it would be best if you did not keep these fish with different Apistogramma species in the same aquarium.
The ideal setup for these Apistos would include well-established water that is soft and acidic, a dark substrate and dense planting. These fish will also require plenty of hiding places to form territories amongst rocks and driftwood. You could also use floating plants as cover to help dim the light in the aquarium. The addition of dried Indian Almond Leaves and Peat filtration would help create the favoured conditions. Filtration should be efficient, but water movement needs to be gentle, and you should perform frequent partial water changes to keep the nitrate to a minimum. It would also be helpful to know that you will need a tight-fitting cover on the aquarium, as these fish can jump.
The Banded Apistogramma has a relatively slim body. The male's body has a pale silver colour with a horizontal greyish-black stripe running along the body from behind the eye to the end of the caudal peduncle. A false eyespot augments this at the root of the caudal fin. The female is lemon yellow and has a greyish-black horizontal stripe; however, it tends to be much paler. Females also have a central eyespot, especially at spawning times. It would be easy to believe that these two fish are different species because they look so different.
|Scientific Name||Apistogramma bitaeniata|
|Other Names||Banded Dwarf Cichlid, Two-striped Apisto, Banded Apisto|
|Aquarium Level||Bottom - Middle|
|Difficulty||Beginner - Intermediate|
|Best kept as||Pairs|
|Lifespan||up to 6 years|
|PH||4.5 - 7.0|
|GH||2 - 8|
|KH||2 - 12|
|TDS||0 - 90|
|75 - 86℉|
23.9 - 30℃
Banded Apistogrammas are endemic to the middle Rio Maranon and lower Rio Ucayali Basins in Peru, through to the Rio Solimoes and eastwards to the Rio Madeira at Manaus and the lower Rio Tapajos in Brazil in South America. These fish inhabit slow-moving, shallow blackwater creeks and tributaries where the substrate is composed of leaf litter.
Other Cichlids of interest
What to feed the Banded Apistogramma
Banded Apistogrammas are primarily carnivorous and prefer live food feeding on a range of invertebrates in the wild. In the aquarium, it would be best to provide a diet consisting of live or frozen foods such as Artemia, Bloodworm, Tubifex worms and Daphnia alongside pelleted and flake food. These fish prefer to stay close to the bottom of the aquarium sifting through the substrate for their food.
How to Sex the Banded Apistogramma
It is relatively straightforward to distinguish the male from the female Banded Apistogramma. Males will grow larger than females, are more colourful, and have elongated, pointed dorsal to attract females. In addition, the males will also develop extended pelvic fins. In contrast, females will be smaller and will develop a yellow colouration when ready to reproduce.
How to Breed the Banded Apistogramma
You can breed Banded Apistogrammas successfully in the home aquarium; however, it can prove challenging. The water will need to be very soft and acidic, and the temperature will need to be raised to the top end of their preferred range.
Ideally, you should provide the females with a suitable spawning site in the form of a cave using pipes or flower pots; then, the female will lay 40 to 60 eggs on the cave's ceiling. When the female has laid her eggs, the male will swim over the eggs and fertilise them. The pair will repeat this process until the female has laid all of her eggs.
The female will guard the eggs, and the male will defend the territory.
The eggs will usually hatch between two to four days later, depending on the water temperature. The female will continue guarding the babies and then lead the fry out of the cave a few days later. She will be very combative at this point, fending off any would-be predators.
The female Apisto is a perfect parent and will not prey on her own young however it is possible for the female, if stressed, to consume her eggs, especially if this is her first batch of eggs. If you have these Apistos in a smaller aquarium, you will need to remove the male once the eggs have been laid, as the female can become super aggressive.
The newly hatched babies will initially feed on their yolk sac and remain inactive. However, once they become free-swimming, you can provide them with infusoria, baby brine shrimp and microworm. Once the fry is big enough not to be seen as a snack, you can then introduce them into the community tank.