Max Size: 10cm

Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma cacatuoides)

The Cockatoo Cichlid is one of the more colourful fish of all the Dwarf Cichlids. This species of Dwarf Cichlid is quite hardy and can adapt to many different environments making them more straightforward to take care of than some other species of Dwarfs.

The Cockatoo Cichlid is an excellent community fish. You can keep them with other fish that are not aggressive and large. They are also receptive of their kind. You can keep these alone, in pairs, or groups of one male with 5 or 6 females. You may house more than one male together as long as the aquarium is large enough.

The body of the Cockatoo Cichlid is elongated and silvery grey and displays a long black horizontal line that runs through the centre. The male's initial several rays of the dorsal fin are extended higher than the rest, giving them the "cockatoo" appearance.

The bottom and top rays of the tail fin are also longer and brightly coloured on the male, and their belly and bottom fins are a golden brown. In contrast, the females will be a drab yellow with the front of the ventral fins becoming solid black as she ages. Her tail fin will also be more rounded.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameApistogramma cacatuoides
Other NamesCockatoo Dwarf Cichlid, Crested Dwarf Cichlid
OriginsBolivia, Brazil
Aquarium LevelMiddle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Lifespanup to 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 8.0
GH5 - 19
75 - 81℉
23.9 - 27.2℃

Photos of the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid

Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid
Cockatoo Cichlid
Cockatoo Cichlid
Cockatoo Cichlid

Natural Habitat

The Cockatoo Cichlid is primarily found in Brazil and Bolivia inhabiting tributaries of the Amazon River basin. They can also be found in the Solimoes, Ucayali, and Amazon rivers from the Pacheta River to Tabatinga in South America.

These fish inhabit slow-moving to almost still, shallow, clear and white water areas of the Amazon River. These include backwaters, tributaries and creeks that are often covered with leaf litter.

These fish prefer sandy substrates which they can rummage through looking for food. The Cockatoo Cichlid hides from predators amongst the vegetation.

Ucayali River

What to feed the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid

It would be better if you mainly fed the Cockatoo Cichlid on frozen and live foods such as brine shrimp, insects, insect larvae and crustaceans. Still, it would help if you supplement this with high-quality flakes and pellets, so they receive the proteins and vitamins they need to thrive.

It is advisable to feed them two to five small pinches of food daily in smaller volumes rather than a large quantity once a day, this will help to maintain the water quality over a more extended period.

How to sex the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid

It is relatively straightforward to distinguish the female from male Cockatoo Cichlids. The females are yellow with dark markings when in breeding and caring for their brood whereas the males are larger with the first several rays of the dorsal fin being more elongated and sharp. The males also have much brighter colouring than the females.

How to breed the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid

The Cockatoo Cichlid will reach sexual maturity around 8 to 10 months old.

Groups of multiple females will each defend a small territory from all species except a dominant male. They are cave spawners and usually lay up to 80 eggs. The eggs are deposited onto the cave's ceiling where they are cared for by the female whilst the male guards the surrounding territory.

For them to breed in the aquarium, you must supply caves which can be coconut shells, upturned flowerpots or suchlike and make sure you provide cover for these spawning sites with broad-leaved plants or similar. Conditioning them with live foods, raising the temperature, and frequent small water changes will help to trigger spawning.

The female will approach the male, curl her body, and perform to catch his attention. When he sees her, he will then display back to her by flashing his fins. The female will lay around 80 salmon coloured eggs on the surface of her cave. The male will fertilise them and quickly leave the cave to guard the outside, leaving the female to care for them.

In a group situation, the male will visit the caves of every female and breed with her. She will have a range that she guards within the male's territory. Sometimes when several females are brooding, they will kidnap others fry to add to their school.

The babies will become free-swimming a few days after hatching. The school of fry is then lead out by the female where on the odd occasion the fry will change mothers.

The fry grows relatively quick, and you can feed them initially on rotifers and then a week or two later you can provide them with nauplii as well as freshly hatched baby brine shrimp.

Other Cichlids of interest

African Butterfly Cichlid(Anomalochromis thomasi)
Banded Apistogramma(Apistogramma bitaeniata)
Blue Panda Apistogramma(Apistogramma panduro, Apistogramma pandurini)
Bolivian Ram Cichlid(Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)
Checkerboard Cichlid(Dicrossus filamentosus)
Convict Cichlid(Amatitlania nigrofasciata)
View all Cichlids
Date Added: 07/12/2020 - Updated: 07/12/2021 13:18:43