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Apistogramma cacatuoides
Cockatoo Apisto, Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Cockatoo Apisto - Apistogramma cacatuoides

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Apistogramma_cacatuoides_1.jpg (29kb)
Apistogramma cacatuoides var. "Half-Orange" (male)
Photo Credit: Alex Kawazaki

Name: Apistogramma cacatuoides
Size TankpHTemp
Origin: Amazon Basin
5 cm 40 L 6.5 26C


Probably the easiest Apistogramma to keep. Although because of that, many people just buy them on impulse, forgetting they are still dwarf cichlids which need a mature aquarium and varied diet. Quite shy at first, but look fantastic during courtship with some amusing displays between males, so keep at least a 'two females per male' ratio. Look best in leaf littered aquaria in my opinion, with soft water conditions, although I have seen them healthy in neutral conditions.

Contributed by Phil T.

Apistogramma cacatuoides are lovely and I find them very friendly little fish to have in the aquarium, not to mention beautiful. They are extremely hardy and rather easy to breed. I recommend with the first spawning to do it as a pair or 2 females to one male, as too many females seem to overwhelm a first time male. As an extra assurance of a successful spawning I recommend a product by Seachem called South American Cichlid Trace - it seems to keep them really happy. Well, I would assume so, seeing as when I add it they swim into the liquid and appear to look pleased. All in all they are delightful and easy to keep. My crew seems to be placid towards tankmates, but the females sometimes have a bit of a go at fish that stay still too long, but nothing too serioius.

Contributed by Fox M.

I bought 6 of these amazing juvenile fish from a tropical fish farm several months ago. I tried choosing 3 fish which appear to have better coloration and show signs of occupying territory in the local shop's tank. Fish which exhibit these characteristics tend to be male. The other 3 fish I chose were the ones with smaller finnage and more timid in the tank. After rearing them for several months, they shown signs of maturation and they turned out to be excellent fish. Two of them paired off and I separated them into a 60 cm tank with many caves. Their diet is constituted mostly of tubifex worms and occasionally I will feed them with beef heart mix. It's been really tough to breed this fish and the pair of fish did not manage to breed successfully.

Contributed by Beng Teck

These beautiful little fish needs their space! I strongly recomend to have only one male and multiple females in each tank (2 females - 60 L; 4 females - 100 L). This can be a very interesting fish if you make them feel at home, and for that, nothing better than a small cavern for each one of them. Their spot in the aquarium will be always guarded by its owner and it's very cute to see the male try his luck in all female's caverns. They are quite sensitive fish, so be careful, and if your're a beginner I would recommend you start with something easier than cichlids. To everyone that really wants to try their luck, I advise you to make a darkwater Amazon environment with lots of cambombas, echinodorus and especially lots of rock caverns, and some roots too!

Contributed by Rafael Alves

Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlids are one of the most beautiful and unique fish for all level aquarists. They are very hardy fish and tend to be more interested in the outside world than inside their tank. They are very friendly fish, although they may try to chase away other dwarf cichlids, but NEVER to fight them. They are very responsive to their owners and they LOVE to stare at you! Some Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlids may be a bit colorless, so you may have to carefully find a more colourful one that you think is great. A funny thing that this cichlid tries to do is show off it's flashy fins to the female. It spreads out it's fins and leans at an angle to show the female! It is recommended to keep a female to enhance the male's colors or the cichlid might turn a bit dull...since it has no one to show off to. Overall, I think Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlids are SUPER fish and I would recommend these fish to everyone!

Contributed by Leo Lim

This beautiful dwarf cichlid really is a must for all aquarists at some point, perhaps at a slightly later stage as they are not as easy as some other similar fish to keep. I would recommend Pelvicachromis pulcher (the krib) for the budding keepers. The Cacatuoides seem to be of the more intelligent type, as they grow older they really do get wiser: the female's brood size will increase due to experience and the male will master swimming between multiple females, forming multi relationships in the aquarium. I have a trio in a 60 cm aquarium with a sand bottom, water with pH 7.0 and GH 3-5. In each corner I used two terracotta garden saucers on top of each other with a hole cut in the edge of the top saucer big enough to allow the females access, but too small for the male to enter. It is best not to allow the male to enter the spawning cave as he has been known to eat the eggs. Two parallel cuts with a small hacksaw and then snapped off with a pair of pliers does the trick. They will invariably use these caves. The resulting sharp edges can be smoothed with a file. The eggs are fertilised by a combination of the male wafting his milt through the cave entrance and the movements of the female inside the cave. Feed fry on infusoria. This is done by putting potato in some tankwater on a windowsill in the sun. Do this as soon as the eggs have been laid. Then simply syringe the top layers of this off once they have hatched and inject close to the fry. After 5 days of this, feed them Brine Shrimp Nauplii three times a day for about another 4 days and then onto microworm or commercial foods such as liquifry. Enjoy!

Contributed by James. C Evans

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