Apistogramma iniridae

by Don Kinyon

This is an Apistogramma from Columbia that is rarely seen in the hobby, and though it lacks some of the bright coloration of some others and may be a little temperamental to keep, I think that it is well worth the trouble. It makes up for its subdued coloring with exceptional parenting and, in the case of the males, a magnificent high dorsal fin.

I was lucky enough to acquire a pair through a business venture. I housed them in their own twenty-gallon long bare-bottom tank, with a lot of bogwood and oak leaves for cover. There were also several clay pots for spawning sites. The water was tea-colored, very soft and very acidic, under 1° hardness on the German scale and under 5.5 pH. Filtration was a simple sponge filter and the temperature was 78°F. They got a water change of about 30% once a week.

Feeding was not a problem, as they would take anything offered. They got a variety of live, frozen and freeze-dried foods and would even take flake food.

The display of the male when courting is something that must be seen to be appreciated. His dorsal fin seems twice the height of some other Apistos.

Soon after they were settled, I noticed that the female was bright yellow and was guarding one of the pots. In a few days, she was leading about a dozen fry around the tank. For fear of losing the male (he was bullied into a corner at this point and not getting much to eat), I removed him and put him into a tank with some other male apistos in the same situation.

The babies were no problem to feed, either. They ate microworms at first and newly hatched brine shrimp soon after. The young grew at a surprising rate; at one month they were 3/8" and by two months almost 3/4". The brood had dwindled to six by the two-month mark, which could have been one reason for the accelerated growth.

I was later able to raise a larger brood by removing the male shortly after the spawning and making sure that the mother was very well fed during the period of fry care. The young seem a little more delicate than other Apistogramma, but once they are past two or three months, no special care is needed.

Even though the colors aren’t as bold as some more popular fish, these beautiful dwarf cichlids are without a doubt on the "favorite fish" lists of many hobbyists and breeders as well.

This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 30, # 1,2