Apistogramma meinkeni "Tefe"

by Don Kinyon

I had never seen this apisto before, so I was a little disappointed to find it lacked the bright coloration of some others that have been so popular lately. They soon grow on you, though, and are an attractive fish even without all the color. I was holding some of these fish as part of a business venture and had two pair of them in a 20-gallon tank with a few tetras. I wasn’t thinking of breeding these fish at the time, just hanging on to them until they sold.

These are not at all finicky eaters; anything in the tank small enough to get into their mouths was dinner. They even seemed to pick at the algae on the wood and stone on the tank. They were fed a mixture of live, frozen and dry foods, with dry food of some kind or other fed at least once a day.

The rainwater in the tank was 5.8 pH and kept at about 80° F. When one of the females turned the bright yellow that most apistos do when they are guarding a nest, I did some reading up on the fish. One prominent dwarf cichlid book gives little information on them and another assumes them "difficult". It gives a person a sense of accomplishment reading this about a fish that’s spawning in his tanks, even if that spawn was 100% dumb luck.

The fish spawned on the underside of a clay pot in the corner of the tank. There appeared to be a LOT of eggs, maybe as many as 150. I had another tank available, so I moved all the adults, along with the tetras, to a flat 19-gallon tank. When I checked on the adults the following day, the other female had laid her eggs on the underside of a pot in the new tank. There weren’t as many eggs in this bunch and I knew there would not be much cover for the young in the 19, so both pots were placed in the 20 gallon tank, for a total of well over 200 eggs, by guess.

Two days after spawning, the eggs hatched, and in five more days the fry began to swim. I expected a high mortality rate, but it was not the case. The young ate micro worms and newly hatched brine shrimp almost immediately. I’m not sure if young meinkeni are naturally slow-growing or if they weren’t getting enough fresh water, but they progressed very slowly, even with 25% three-times-a-week water changes. At 30 days, they were only at 3/16" and at 60 days about twice that.

Some of the young have been moved to other tanks (and other hobbyists) since then, and the fry are progressing a little faster.

This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 31, # 1