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Apistogramma borellii



    This beautiful apisto is one of the biggest of all Apistogrammas and also a peaceful community fish. Relativly easy fish to care for; they can adapt to a range of parameters but are highly sensitive to nitrates. Water quality is paramount and they like their water soft and cool.

Quick stats:

Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: Up to 3-4 inches (7.5 cm)
Tank: 25 gallons (95 litres) or larger
Strata: Mostly lower but will go everywhere.
PH: 6.0 – 8.0
Hardness: Soft to medium: dh range 5.0 – 19
Temperature: 68°F to 79°F (20°-26° C)
Note: Apistogramma Borelli live in a wide range of natural habitats, and the water parameters in these habitats vary a great deal. This shows that Borelli can adapt to a wide range of water conditions – from pH 5 to pH 8, and hardness of 1 to 15°dH. However, they do prefer cooler, softer water and are very sensitive to water quality.


Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae
Genera: Apistogramma
Species: borellii

Common name:


Umbrella Cichlid

    , Borelli’s Dwarf Cichlid, Yellow Dwarf Cichlid


    South America: Paraguay River basin and along the lower Paraná River in Argentina.

General Body Form:

    Generally an oval shape body that is laterally compressed; the dorsal and anal fins are elongated with long flowing pectoral fins. In some borellii the fin tips actually extend beyond the back of the tail.

Sexing & Coloration:

    Apistogramma Borellii are polychromatic. All that really means is, they are found in a variety of different colour patterns. The colours across the body and through into the fins is a variety of different shades of yellow. There is a black band that runs vertically down the head and through the eye. A blue colour morph and a blue with yellow head colour morph are quite common. Sexual Dimorphism: Males are bigger, with larger fins. Females are a more vivid yellow while males show more blue in their colouration. If numerous males are present, less dominant males can dullen their colouration to avoid conflict.


    Apistogramma borellii like densly planted aquariums that provide cover and some open areas for swimming in the middle of the tank. There should be a lot of caves among roots, driftwood, pots, shells and rocks for hiding. This species is sensitive to poor water quality and very sensitive to nitrates, yet tolerates most water parameters quite well. Thrives in water that has soft to very soft conditions. These fish can be kept at cooler temperatures and almost any temperature between 72 and 78 degrees should see them thrive. Keep one male with several females as they are polygamous. These fish are one of the most peaceful of the dwarf cichlids, and as such are often found in community aquariums.




    The natural diet consists primarily of small insects and planktonic animals. However, it will accept frozen or freeze-dried brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms tubifex, as well as micro pellet food and high quality flake foods.


    Females, which are yellowish colour compared to males, will become even brighter yellow when they are ready to spawn. Females will also develop a more rounded body when full of eggs. A 10 gallon tank is adequate for breeding purposes. Temperature will need to be raised a little (to 80F) to encourage the spawning process. The breeding pair should be fed a diet of live brine shrimps or blood worms two times a day. Ph should be kept acidic (5.5 to 6.0), and the water kept very soft. Reverse Osmosis water is highly recommended for breeding these fish. To encourage breeding the tank will need lots of plants (Java Fern/Moss, floating plants, rooted plants), rocks, flower pots (at least one cave per female) and driftwood. Apistogrammas like shaded waters, so provide plants or some other means of subduing light intensity. A female will usually lay 40 to 70 eggs in a well hidden cave (hence the need for numerous caves) The female attaches the eggs to the ceiling of caves, where they are subsequently fertilized. Eggs will hatch in 2 to 4 days (depending on the temperature). After a week, the female will start to carefully lead fry in search of food. Female borellis exhibit fantastic brood care and will defend fry against fish much larger than herself, including her mate (may want to remove him from a 10g setup). The intensity of brood-care will increase if a serious predator is nearby. If there is a threat that the female can’t deal with, she will exhibit body language which is a sign to the fry that there is danger. Upon receiving this signal, fry will drop down to the substrate and lie motionless until they are no longer in danger.


    Shallow swampy regions of rivers.

References:Apistogramma borellii – Umbrella Apisto
Apistogramma borellii
Yellow dwarf cichlid – Apistogramma borellii
Fish base
Umbrella Cichlid – Apistogramma borellii
Borelli’s Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma borellii)


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