Apistogramma Borellii: The Perfect Care Guide for Beginners

apistogramma borellii care guide

Apistogramma borellii, also known as the Umbrella Cichlid or Dwarf cichlid, is a fascinating fish species that has captured the attention of aquarists worldwide. Its peaceful nature, small size, and vibrant colors make it an ideal choice for beginners looking to venture into the world of cichlid keeping.

In this guide, we will explore the essential aspects of caring for Apistogramma borellii. We will delve into its natural habitat and striking appearance, examining the unique features that set it apart from other fish species. Additionally, we will discuss its behavior, breeding requirements, and lifespan, providing valuable insights for those interested in keeping and breeding these intriguing creatures.

Whether you're a novice aquarist or a seasoned hobbyist, understanding the proper care and maintenance of this captivating fish will ensure a rewarding and successful aquatic experience. By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, you can create an environment that closely mimics the natural habitat of Apistogramma borellii, allowing them to thrive and exhibit their full potential.

So, let's dive into the world of Apistogramma borellii and discover why it is the perfect choice for beginners.

Key Takeaways

  • Apistogramma borellii, also known as Umbrella Cichlid or Dwarf cichlid, is a popular and peaceful fish species among aquarists.
  • It is important to provide the fish with the appropriate habitat, including soft sandy rivers with low water currents and slightly acidic waters.
  • The fish displays dimorphism, with males being larger and more vibrant in color compared to females.
  • Successful breeding of Apistogramma borellii can be achieved by conditioning the tank, providing proper water parameters, and offering caves for spawning and protection.

Overview and Habitat

description and natural environment

Apistogramma borellii, also known as the Umbrella Cichlid or Dwarf cichlid, is a popular freshwater fish among aquarists due to its peaceful disposition, small size, and striking color.

In the wild, Apistogramma borellii is commonly found in the Parana River and the Paraguay River in South America. It thrives in soft sandy rivers with low water currents. The presence of tannins in the habitat creates slightly acidic waters, which the fish prefers.

The conservation status of Apistogramma borellii is currently not evaluated, but its natural habitat is under threat due to deforestation and pollution. As responsible aquarists, it is important to support efforts to conserve the natural habitats of these beautiful fish and ensure their survival for future generations.

Appearance and Size

The physical characteristics of Apistogramma borellii contribute to its unique and captivating appearance in the aquarium. This South American cichlid species has a yellow face, anal fins, and pectoral fins, with the rest of its body being silver. The dorsal fins have yellow tips, while the rest of the fin is silver. A black line runs from its gills to its tail. It has a short, stout body that distinguishes it from old-world cichlids.

Apistogramma borellii measures about 2.6 inches at maturity, making it a dwarf cichlid. The breeding habits of this species involve the female spawning in caves and protecting the eggs. Understanding its natural habitat preferences, such as soft sandy rivers with low water currents and slightly acidic waters, is crucial for providing optimal care.

Dimorphism and Behavior

sexual dimorphism in animal behavior

In regards to dimorphism and behavior, the Umbrella Cichlid exhibits distinct differences between males and females. Males are larger, reaching lengths of less than three inches, while females are smaller, growing to only two inches with proper care. The males also display more vibrant and brilliant colors compared to the females, making them easily distinguishable. This dimorphism is a characteristic of the species.

In terms of behavior, the Umbrella Cichlid is a peaceful schooling fish that prefers to hide rather than engage in confrontations with other fish. It is compatible with many fish species, but male Yellow Dwarf Cichlids may display aggression towards each other. To minimize aggression, it is recommended to raise them in a small group of at least six.

The presence of a social hierarchy is observed among the males, with dominant males establishing their territories and displaying courtship behaviors to attract females. Understanding the mating behavior and social hierarchy of the Umbrella Cichlid is essential for providing appropriate care and maintaining a harmonious aquarium environment.


Successful breeding of Apistogramma borellii has been achieved by many aquarists. To breed this species, it is important to follow specific breeding techniques and understand their spawning behavior. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Conditioning the tank is crucial for successful breeding. Providing appropriate water parameters, such as temperature, pH, and hardness, is essential.
  • Moving mature pairs to a separate breeding tank with caves or other suitable spawning sites is necessary.
  • The female Apistogramma borellii will lay her eggs in the chosen spawning site and guard them.
  • After four to six days, the fry will become free-swimming and can be fed with vitamin-enriched brine shrimp and micro worms.

Lifespan, Care, and Beginner-Friendly

longevity support and accessibility

To ensure the optimal lifespan and care of Apistogramma borellii, it is essential to provide a suitable environment and maintain proper tank conditions. This includes maintaining appropriate water parameters such as temperature, hardness, and pH, as well as providing caves for hiding and protection. Regular water changes and filtration are necessary for maintaining water quality. Feeding the fish a balanced diet and monitoring its health are also important aspects of care. Apistogramma borellii has a lifespan of three to five years on average, but with proper care and diet, it can live beyond five years. Common health issues for this species include bacterial and fungal infections, which can be prevented by maintaining clean water conditions. When it comes to tank mates, Apistogramma borellii is compatible with many fish species, as it has a peaceful disposition. However, it is important to avoid aggressive or larger tank mates that may intimidate or harm the Apistogramma borellii. The following table provides a visual representation of suitable tank mates for Apistogramma borellii:

Compatible Tank Mates Incompatible Tank Mates
Corydoras catfish Aggressive cichlids
Tetras Large predatory fish
Guppies Arowanas
Dwarf shrimp Oscar cichlids

Tank Conditions and Maintenance

Maintaining optimal tank conditions and proper maintenance are crucial for the health and well-being of Apistogramma borellii. To ensure the best environment for these vibrant dwarf cichlids, consider the following:

  • Aquarium Setup: Provide a tank with a minimum capacity of 20 gallons to accommodate a small group of Apistogramma borellii. Use dark-colored substrates, such as sand or fine gravel, to mimic their natural habitat. Add plenty of hiding places, such as caves and driftwood, to create a sense of security for the fish.
  • Water Parameters: Apistogramma borellii thrives in slightly acidic water with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. The temperature should be maintained between 76°F and 82°F, and the water hardness should be soft to moderately hard, with a range of 5 to 15 dGH.
  • Filtration: Install a reliable filtration system to maintain water quality. Consider using a sponge filter or a canister filter, which provide efficient mechanical and biological filtration. Regularly clean and maintain the filter to prevent the buildup of debris and ensure optimal water conditions.
  • Regular Maintenance: Perform regular water changes of 10-20% every week to remove any accumulated waste and maintain water quality. Use a gravel vacuum to clean the substrate and remove excess debris. Monitor water parameters regularly using appropriate test kits to ensure they remain within the recommended range.

Feeding and Diet

eating habits and nutrition

Apistogramma borellii's diet should consist of a variety of high-quality foods to ensure their nutritional needs are met. These dwarf cichlids have omnivorous feeding habits, meaning they can consume both plant matter and small invertebrates. In their natural habitat, they feed on insects, crustaceans, and small worms, as well as plant material such as algae and detritus.

To replicate their natural diet in captivity, it is recommended to offer a combination of high-quality pellets or flakes, frozen or live foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and small worms. It is important to provide a balanced diet that includes both protein and plant-based foods.

This will help maintain their vibrant colors, promote growth, and support overall health. Regularly monitoring their feeding habits and adjusting the diet accordingly is essential to meet their nutritional requirements.

Tips for Beginners

When caring for Apistogramma borellii, beginners should focus on creating an optimal environment and providing proper care to ensure the fish's well-being. Here are some tips to help beginners successfully care for this species:

  • Breeding techniques: Conditioning the fish tank appropriately is crucial for successful breeding. Moving mature pairs to a separate tank with proper water parameters and caves is important for breeding. The female Apistogramma borellii will spawn in the caves and protect the eggs. Fry become free-swimming after four to six days and can be fed with vitamin-enriched brine shrimp and micro worms.
  • Tank decor suggestions: Providing caves for hiding and protection is essential for the fish's well-being. The fish prefers dim-lit tanks and dark-colored substrates. Adding live plants and driftwood can simulate their natural habitat and create a more stimulating environment for the fish.
  • Water parameters: Maintaining appropriate water parameters, such as temperature, hardness, and pH, is crucial for the fish's health. Regular water changes and filtration are necessary for maintaining water quality.
  • Monitoring and care: Feeding the fish a balanced diet and monitoring its health are important aspects of care. Regularly observing the fish's behavior and making adjustments to the tank environment can help ensure its well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Ideal Tank Size for Keeping Apistogramma Borellii?

The ideal tank size for keeping Apistogramma borellii is a minimum of 20 gallons. Providing ample swimming space and hiding spots with caves and plants is essential. Best tank mates include peaceful community fish that share similar water requirements.

Can Apistogramma Borellii Be Kept With Other Types of Cichlids?

Apistogramma borellii can be kept with other types of cichlids, but compatibility should be considered. Breeding behavior and techniques for this species involve conditioning the tank, providing proper water parameters, and using caves for spawning and egg protection.

How Often Should Water Parameters Be Tested and Adjusted for Apistogramma Borellii?

Water parameters for Apistogramma borellii should be tested regularly, ideally once a week, to ensure optimal health. Adjustments should be made as needed to maintain appropriate temperature, hardness, and pH levels for the fish's well-being.

Are There Any Specific Plants or Decorations That Are Beneficial for Apistogramma Borellii?

When creating a naturalistic aquascape for Apistogramma borellii, it is best to use plants that mimic their natural habitat, such as Amazon sword, Java fern, and Anubias. Adding driftwood and rocks can also enhance the visual appeal of the tank.

What Are the Common Diseases or Health Issues That Apistogramma Borellii May Encounter, and How Can They Be Prevented or Treated?

Prevention and treatment of common diseases in apistogramma borellii can be achieved through maintaining proper water parameters, regular water changes, and feeding a balanced diet. Breeding tips include conditioning the tank, providing suitable caves, and feeding fry with vitamin-enriched brine shrimp and micro worms.


In conclusion, Apistogramma borellii, also known as the Umbrella Cichlid or Dwarf cichlid, is a visually striking and peaceful species that is well-suited for beginner aquarists. With its vibrant colors, small size, and peaceful nature, it is a popular choice among fish enthusiasts.

By providing the appropriate tank conditions, regular maintenance, and a balanced diet, aquarists can ensure the optimal health and longevity of this species.

Overall, Apistogramma borellii is a fascinating and rewarding fish to care for in the aquarium setting.