Apistogramma sp. affinis breitbinden 'Sao Gabriel'

by Don Kinyon

It’s hard to keep up with all the new species of Apistogramma being imported from South America lately. Some are rather plain and others are exceptional in one way or another. This fish falls into the latter category. It is difficult to get much information on many of these fish, but knowledgeable people on the subject tell me this Apisto comes from the Rio Negro system near Sao Gabriel, Brazil.

The male of the species has a silvery body with an indistinct dark longitudinal band from the gill cover just behind the eye to the base of the caudal fin. He also has the eye stripe prevalent in Apistogramma species. His fins are hues of yellow and blue, while his face is flecked with red. The dorsal, anal, and lyreate tail fins are all elongated in the male, but the most outstanding feature that he offers is the first few spines on his dorsal fin, which can nearly reach the tip of his tail when folded back. When the male displays, he raises them like a cockatoo and is something to behold. The smaller female is fairly bland by comparison, except while mating and brood caring, at which time she is bright yellow with jet black marking.

I gave my pair their own fifteen gallon tank, filled with collected rainwater; near zero total hardness and a pH of around 6, lowered to 5.2 with dilute hydrochloric acid. The temperature was kept at 80 degrees. Two sponge filters, some sunken wood, oak leaf litter and two upturned clay pots completed the setup. The fish were in excellent health when I received them, so on a diet rich with live foods and weekly water changes, they were in breeding shape quickly.

Soon the female laid claim to the smaller of the pots. She wooed the male by folding her fins and swimming sideways to him while wagging her tail back and forth. Evidently it did the trick, for a few days later there were about 80 pink and white eggs on the underside of the pot. The male was no longer welcome anywhere he tried to rest within the sight of the female, se he was removed for his own safety.

The mother fish spent most of the next week inside the pot, only coming out to eat quickly or to chase away imagined predators. In six days she exited the pot with 40-plus babies in tow. The young fish immediately were able to eat newly hatched brine shrimp and, like their parents, always seemed ready for a meal. They followed the female for over three weeks, at which time they went their own directions, so the mother was removed from the tank.

With twice-weekly water changes of about 25 percent, and plenty of feedings, the young grew fairly well. At one month they measured an average of three eighths of an inch, and at two months over a half inch. By this time the youngsters were eating much the same foods as the parents, and some of the males were starting to show the spectacular finnage.

At this writing the fish are over three months old and becoming a little territorial. Some of the females have already staked out an area, but as yet, none of this generation has spawned.

Anyone willing to put forth a little extra effort and keep these Apistogramma will surely find them worth the trouble.

This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 32, # 3