Maximum size : 6.5 cm

Umbrella Apistogramma - Apistogramma borellii : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


Umbrella Apistogrammas (Apistogramma borellii) are renowned for their distinct characteristics and captivating presence. With their striking appearance and intricate behaviours, these fish have earned a prominent place among aquarists and enthusiasts. Exploring its unique traits and habitat preferences unveils a species that demands appreciation and careful consideration within aquarium keeping.

While inherently inclined towards peaceful behaviour, Umbrella Apistogrammas exhibit a propensity for territoriality during their breeding phases. Optimal management involves maintaining solitary pairs or, in more capacious aquatic settings, a solitary male accompanied by multiple females, constituting a harem structure. Notably, the females are predisposed to establishing discrete territories, thus underscoring the significance of incorporating a profusion of visual partitions within the tank.

When considering compatible tankmates, judicious selections are advised. Corydoras Catfish, Hatchetfish, Pencilfish, diminutive Tetras, and Plecos, can foster harmonious cohabitation. Such selections are predicated upon synergies in terms of behaviour and environmental preferences, thereby promoting a balanced and tranquil community dynamic.

For the successful maintenance of these fish within a domestic aquarium, it is imperative to cultivate an environment characterized by specific water parameters and an intricately designed habitat. Firstly, the aquatic milieu should consist of soft, mildly acidic water maintained at a temperature below the norm. Before introducing these fish, it is prudent to ensure the thorough maturation of the aquarium, fostering a stable and balanced ecosystem. The aesthetic composition of the enclosure is a critical facet. Dark substrate is a judicious choice, complemented by abundant lush plant life. Including densely planted areas contributes to both the visual allure and the provision of shelter. Incorporating natural elements such as rocks and bogwood further amplifies the habitat's complexity, providing numerous secluded retreats.

While the fish exhibit an adaptable disposition towards decor aesthetics, they notably appreciate the presence of pristine terracotta flower pots or similar structures. The judicious use of floating plant cover can effectively diffuse ambient light, enhancing the overall ambience. Implementing peat filtration and integrating Indian Almond Leaves constitutes a favourable measure to replicate their preferred environmental conditions. Additionally, it is imperative to acknowledge their propensity for leaping, necessitating a securely fitted tank cover to prevent escape. Similar to various other species within the Apistogramma genus, these Apistos demonstrate limited tolerance to elevated nitrate concentrations. Ensuring the sustained welfare of this species necessitates implementing routine partial water changes as an imperative practice.

The Umbrella Apistogrammas are distinguished prominently by their captivating chromatic manifestations, a feature that is especially conspicuous in the male specimens. Umbrella Apistogrammas exhibit remarkable polychromatism, showcasing an array of diverse colour patterns across their range. Interestingly, a singular collection site can yield multiple discernible colour variants, underscoring the species' intrinsic variability. In their natural habitats, a myriad of forms exists, some notably distinguished by vibrant hues. Among these, certain male specimens stand out with captivating facial streaks in vivid red tones, rendering them particularly noteworthy.

Dr Uwe Römer's insights elucidate that wild imports consistently display metallic blue hues among all male individuals. A notable proportion, ranging from 30 to 40 per cent, additionally exhibit extensive yellow pigmentation, while an intriguing 10 per cent feature distinctive red facial markings, further contributing to the species' intricate spectrum of colouration.

Umbrella Apistogramma Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Umbrella Apistogrammas is a straightforward undertaking. Males present with notable distinctions, characterized by their superior size, enhanced chromatic presentation, and the development of more pronounced fin extensions compared to their female counterparts.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameApistogramma borellii
Year Described1906
Other NamesUmbrella Cichlid, Umbrella Apisto, Yellow Dwarf Cichlid
OriginsBrazil , Bolivia , Paraguay , Argentina
Max Size6.5 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 - 8.0
GH 4 - 15
Ideal Temperature
68 - 78
20 - 26

Natural Habitat

Umbrella Apistogrammas exhibit endemism within the water systems of the Paraguay and Paraná Rivers, spanning across the countries of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina within the South American continent. These particular Apistogrammas are indigenous to regions characterized by their presence in tranquil, sluggish, shallow watercourses and tributaries. Notably, the substrates of their habitats frequently consist of layers of fallen leaves, contributing to the composition of their aquatic environments.


During the reproductive phase of Umbrella Apistogrammas, the female engages in a site selection process, often favouring secluded areas such as caves. Employing captivating postures and displays, she entices the male to join her in the chosen cavity, priming the environment for egg deposition.

As spawning commences, the female meticulously arranges successive rows of eggs, periodically receiving fertilization contributions from the male. Following the spawning ritual, the female assumes the role of egg custodian, dedicating a substantial portion of her time to their meticulous care. 

Her preference for caves characterized by constricted openings often results in her temporary seclusion, rendering her elusive to observers. Approximately 2 to 4 days, contingent upon temperature conditions, elapse before the eggs hatch, leading the female to relocate the emergent "wrigglers" to a predetermined location, typically within the cave's confines. 

Within an additional week, the fry attains free-swimming capability, heralding their readiness for nourishment. Early preparation is advised to ensure the availability of suitable fry sustenance; newly hatched brine shrimp and microworms stand as commendable dietary choices during this pivotal developmental phase.

Diet & feeding

The dietary preferences of Umbrella Apistogrammas are notably diverse, encompassing a spectrum of nutritional sources reflective of their omnivorous inclination. In their natural habitats, these organisms feed upon various fare such as aquatic invertebrates, small crustaceans, insect larvae, and algae. 

Within the confines of a well-maintained aquarium, their dietary needs can be met through a combination of high-quality pellets, flakes, and granules tailored to small fish, supplemented by a regular inclusion of live or frozen offerings such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Incorporating a balanced regimen that aligns with their omnivorous proclivity ensures their nutritional requirements are met, promoting their overall health and vitality.

Other Apistogramma of interest