Maximum size : 7 cm

Macmasters Apistogramma - Apistogramma macmasteri : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


Prepare to be captivated by the extraordinary beauty and captivating nature of Macmasters Apistogrammas (Apistogramma macmasteri). These mesmerizing fish possess a peaceful temperament, making them ideal inhabitants for both community aquariums and dedicated species-only setups. However, it is crucial to consider their breeding behaviour, as territorial tendencies may arise during this period. Therefore, keeping a single pair of Macmasters Apistogrammas in a more intimate and cosy aquarium setting is recommended for optimal results. This ensures a harmonious environment where they can thrive and exhibit their full splendour.

A captivating harem dynamic can be achieved if you choose to house multiple females alongside a single male in a larger aquarium. It is imperative to create a habitat that offers an ample number of visual barriers, allowing the females to establish their distinct territories within the group. A cohesive and intriguing social structure can be forged with careful consideration and the provision of suitable hiding spots and broken lines of sight.

When selecting tankmates, opt for compatible companions that complement the peaceful nature of Macmasters Apistogrammas. Delight in the harmonious coexistence of Tetras, Barbs, Danios, Guppies, and other Livebearers, as well as smaller Gouramis, Catfish, and Loaches. However, exercise caution when pairing these magnificent fish with larger, more aggressive species. It is also advisable to refrain from housing them alongside different Apistogramma species to avoid potential conflicts.

Macmasters Apistogrammas are not overly concerned with elaborate decor; their primary focus lies in having a sufficient cover and structural elements within the aquarium. Embrace the opportunity to enhance their habitat with ceramic flowerpots, plastic piping, and other artificial materials. Alternatively, incorporate branches and roots for a more natural aesthetic, creating an intricate network of shade and caves amidst a soft sandy substrate. To infuse a touch of authenticity, dried leaves can be introduced, fostering the growth of beneficial microbes and elevating the overall natural ambience.

These captivating fish possess a slender, torpedo-shaped body, showcasing a silvery-grey hue that is beautifully accentuated by a fine, horizontal black line extending from behind the eye to the caudal fin. Additional distinguishing features include a striking black stripe descending from the eye, elegantly tracing its way towards the gill plates. Finally, the head and gill plates boast a captivating marble-patterned display, artfully blending the body's rich orange tones with hints of black. Notably, their lips exhibit a subtle yet distinctive dark grey colouration, adding a final touch of allure to their exquisite visage.

Macmasters Apistogramma Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Macmasters Apistogrammas can present a challenge, particularly when the female is in the breeding state. Typically, females exhibit a more diminutive stature and less vibrant colouration compared to their male counterparts. However, it is important to note that when females prepare to spawn, their body colours can become strikingly similar to the males. In contrast, males boast a larger physique, accompanied by more pronounced and elongated dorsal and anal fins culminating in sharp, pointed tips. These distinctive physical attributes serve as reliable indicators to differentiate between the male and female Macmasters Apistogrammas.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameApistogramma macmasteri
Year Described1979
Other NamesApistogramma macmasteri Dwarf Cichlid, Macmaster 's Dwarf Cichlid
Max Size7 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asPairs
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 5.5 - 7.0
GH 1 - 8
TDS 0 - 90
Ideal Temperature
73 - 84
22 - 28

Natural Habitat

Macmasters Apistogrammas have a limited distribution and are exclusively found in the Rio Metica and Rio Guaytiquia Basins, which are part of the Orinoco Basin in the upper Meta River system of Colombia, South America. These captivating fish thrive in the tranquil embrace of narrow, shallow creeks and meandering blackwater streams. 

Their natural habitat boasts a substrate adorned with a carpet of delicate leaf litter, creating a harmonious interplay of light and shadow. In addition, the intricate network of submerged roots and secluded caves provides these Apistogrammas with ample shelter and hiding places, allowing them to embrace their natural behaviours and flourish in their unique aquatic haven.

 Metica River - Colombia
Colombia Flag


Macmasters Apistogrammas exhibit intriguing breeding behaviour as substrate spawners, typically choosing cavities and crevices within the aquarium decor as their preferred nesting sites. However, in well-planted tanks adorned with floating vegetation, these remarkable Apistos may defy expectations and opt for communal spawning, with some resilient fry seeking refuge amidst the verdant foliage. A single spawning event can yield anywhere from 60 to 120 eggs, a testament to the prolific nature of these captivating fish.

Once the female has laid her eggs, the male assumes his role by swimming over them and diligently fertilizing them. This process is repeated until the female has successfully deposited all of her precious eggs. The female's remarkable maternal instinct comes to the fore, as she assumes the responsibility of caring for the eggs and nurturing the developing fry. In a remarkable display of parental devotion, the female Apisto refrains from preying upon her own young, safeguarding their well-being. However, it is worth noting that in certain situations, particularly if the female is stressed or inexperienced, she may exhibit the unfortunate behaviour of consuming her own eggs.

In smaller aquariums, removing the male from the vicinity becomes necessary once the eggs have been laid, as the female's protective instincts can lead to heightened aggression towards the male. With proper care and attention, the eggs typically hatch within two to three days, their emergence eagerly anticipated. Subsequently, the fry undergoes a critical transformation, transitioning to a free-swimming stage approximately five days after hatching. At this juncture, nourishing infusoria, baby brine shrimp, and microworms become essential to support their growth and development.

After several weeks, the remarkable journey continues as the female gradually sends away her brood, encouraging their independence. It is worth noting that the male may allow the young to reside within his territory, but territorial disputes may arise if any males within the brood threaten his dominance. Once the fry has reached a size where they are less susceptible to predation, they can be introduced to the community tank, where they will embark on a new chapter of their aquatic existence.

Diet & feeding

Macmasters Apistogrammas display a predominantly carnivorous diet in their natural habitat, where they feed on various invertebrates. In the aquarium setting, offering a well-rounded diet that includes live or frozen food options is crucial. Artemia, Bloodworms, Tubifex worms, and Daphnia are highly recommended for their dietary needs. Complementing their nutritional intake, pelleted and flake foods can also be provided. These Apistogrammas exhibit a feeding behaviour characterized by staying near the bottom of the aquarium and sifting through the substrate in search of sustenance. Aquarists can ensure the health and vitality of their Macmasters Apistogrammas by offering a diverse range of food sources.

Other Apistogramma of interest