Maximum size : 5.5 cm

Three Striped Apistogramma - Apistogramma trifasciata : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Three Striped Apistogramma (Apistogramma trifasciata) is a captivating and ornate species of Cichlid originating from the vibrant waterways of South America. Renowned for its intricate colouration and intriguing behaviour, this species presents a fascinating subject for enthusiasts and aquarists alike. With its characteristic territorial tendencies and distinctive social dynamics, these Apistos are a captivating addition to freshwater aquariums.

Three Striped Apistogrammas exhibit an inherently tranquil disposition, although this temperament may undergo a shift towards territorial behaviour during breeding phases. To optimally accommodate these tendencies, it is advisable to maintain either a solitary pair or, in more capacious aquarium setups, a solitary male alongside multiple females to facilitate the formation of a harem structure. Notably, the females will actively establish discrete territories, underscoring the significance of a profusion of visual obstructions within the tank layout. When considering compatible tankmates, judicious selections include Corydoras Catfish, Hatchetfish, Pencilfish, diminutive Tetras, and Plecos.

In preparation for housing Three Striped Apistogrammas, it is imperative that the home aquarium be established with specific parameters. Notably, the water within should possess attributes of softness and acidity and exhibit a state of biological maturity prior to the introduction of these fish. An optimal setup would entail the incorporation of a dark-hued substrate, an abundance of densely planted vegetation, and the strategic inclusion of concealing spaces among features like rocks, driftwood, and coconut shells. 

The integration of floating plant cover can serve to effectively disperse incoming light. Employing peat-based filtration mechanisms and the incorporation of dried Indian Almond Leaves stands to yield advantageous outcomes, as these measures contribute to the establishment of the preferred environmental conditions. Moreover, it is advisable to take heed of the necessity for a securely fitted lid for the tank, as these particular fish have demonstrated propensities for jumping. 

The filtration system should exhibit efficiency while concurrently promoting gentle water movement. Regular instances of partial water replacement are strongly recommended to curtail the accumulation of nitrate, ensuring an environment conducive to the well-being of the inhabitants. These Apistos demonstrate a notable intolerance to elevated nitrate levels. Consistent implementation of regular partial water changes stands as an essential requisite to ensure their sustained health and thriving.

Three Striped Apistogrammas constitute a diminutive and vividly coloured species distinguished by a unique body morphology that stands apart from the customary elongated and laterally compressed form observed within the Apistogramma genus. The characteristic colouration of these cichlids exhibits a spectrum of variation, typically encompassing iridescent blue or warm yellow hues adorning the flanks. Notably, three distinctive dark stripes adorn both the body and fins in a horizontal arrangement. 

The chromatic display on the fins is notably subject to sex and age variations. Male individuals frequently present elongated dorsal fins imbued with hues of crimson, while their female counterparts tend to display more restrained black pelvic fins. It is noteworthy that this genus exhibits a plethora of pattern divergences, often stemming from variances within populations or geographical locations. This diversity can be attributed to the influence of natural selection pressures, including unique water conditions and the presence of region-specific predators, all of which contribute to shaping the distinct appearances of these specimens.

Three Striped Apistogramma Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Three Striped Apistogrammas is a straightforward endeavour. Males exhibit distinctive sexual dimorphism, being distinguished by their notably larger size and heightened chromatic richness in comparison to female specimens. 

The males showcase elongated front rays within the dorsal fin, accompanied by prominent ventral fins of considerable length and a caudal fin with a rounded contour. In contrast, females manifest a comparatively smaller stature and more subdued colouring, often presenting a subdued yellow hue or a diluted palette, further underscored by the presence of more rounded fin profiles. 

Notably, during breeding phases, females undergo a transformation, adopting a significantly enhanced vibrantly yellow hue, a marked departure from their non-breeding appearance.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameApistogramma trifasciata
Year Described1903
Other NamesThree-striped Dwarf Cichlid, A204
OriginsBrazil , Paraguay , Argentina
Max Size5.5 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
Best kept as1 Male + Several Females
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 5.0 - 7.0
GH 2 - 10
Ideal Temperature
68 - 77
20 - 25

Natural Habitat

The geographical range of Three Striped Apistogrammas is primarily confined to the native environs of Arroyo Chagalalina in Paraguay. Their distribution further extends across the Rio Guaporé drainage within the southern expanse of the Amazon Basin, encompassing the interlinked Rio Paraguay watershed spanning both Brazil and Paraguay. Additionally, their presence extends as far as the middle Paraná Basin within Argentina. In their natural habitat, these Apistogrammas are prevalent in tranquil, slowly flowing shallow creeks and tributaries, with the substrate predominantly composed of accumulated leaf litter.


Three Stiped Apistogrammas exhibit a substrate-spawning reproductive strategy characterized by the deposition of eggs within crevices or cavities nestled amidst the aquarium decor. Once sexually mature, male specimens establish distinct territories and display confrontational behaviour towards neighbouring males while usually exhibiting a higher tolerance for the presence of multiple females. 

Subsequent to the spawning event, the male typically assumes the role of guardian over an expanded territory, engaging in courtship rituals with additional females. Meanwhile, the female undertakes the responsibility of safeguarding and nurturing both the eggs and the ensuing fry. The incubation period of the eggs, contingent on ambient temperature, spans between 36 to 72 hours, subsequently leading to the emancipation of the fry into a free-swimming state within a few ensuing days.

Diet & feeding

Three Striped Apistogrammas exhibit a diverse and adaptable feeding behaviour reflective of their omnivorous tendencies. Their diet encompasses a spectrum ranging from algae and organic detritus to various small invertebrates such as insects, worms, and crustaceans. 

In captive environments, they can readily acclimate to commercially prepared foods, including high-quality flakes, pellets, and granules. Nonetheless, to replicate their natural dietary preferences, offering a variety of live and frozen fare such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia is recommended. 

By providing a well-rounded diet that emulates their wild feeding habits, aquarists can support the overall health, vitality, and vibrancy of Apistogrammas within their aquariums.

Other Apistogramma of interest