Apistogramma cacatuoides



    A peaceful and one of the hardier Apistogramma, the Cockatoo is not the easiest to find but if you do they will provide enjoyment and splashes of brilliant color to your set up.


Quick stats:


Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: males 3.5″ (9 cm) females much smaller
Tank: 24 inches, 32+ preferred
Strata: Bottom, middle
PH: 6.0-7.0, better if not above 6.5
Hardness: Soft to hard. dH range: 1.0-16.0°
Temperature: 79-84°F (26-29°C)


Order: Perciformes
Suborder: Percoidei
Family: Cichlidae
Sub Family: Apistogramma




    Not in IUCN Red List

Common name:


Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid

    , Cockatoo cichlid


    South America, Peru, Amazon river basin

General Body Form:Males are much larger and have highly developed fins. The first three to five rays of the dorsal fin are elongated and stand out from the rest. The end of the dorsal fin comes to a sharp point that lengthens down the body. The caudal (tail) fin is forked and the anal fin is also elongated that ends in a point. Females have less showy fins. The main body is marked with one lateral stripe that extends from the eye to the tail fin, below the main stripe are three shorter lines.

Coloration:The male is the looker in this species. The color of the male can vary depending on its heritage and population The most common seen variety has a brown body . The underside is a golden-brown color as well as the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins. The anal and pelvic fins are edged with an aqua blue color. The dorsal fin starts out yellow and black near the body and ends with the tips being a bright orange. The eye is marked with a angled stripe that extends down to the underside near the corner of the gill cover. The tail varies in base color from clear to green and is splattered with a series of red spots. Females are much drabber in color although during breeding they can turn a bright yellow.

A note from Steve an avid hobbyist who specializes in Apistogramma as well as live plants

“The coloration of the males vary and come in many colors not just the triple red variety. That being said a triple red pair can have single, double, or triple red, orange, and yellow varieties in their fry. A single variety only has color on one fin (usually dorsal) and doubles have color on two fins and so on”.


Maintenance:The tank should be heavily planted and provide many caves and other hiding places. These fish Cichlids will not dig up your plants. A dark substrate will bring out the males bright colors and make them feel more secure. Roots, and driftwood will also make them feel at home. Water purity is a must and good filtration and a frequent water changing schedule is essential. Peat filters or a black water extract will aid in their care. Feed the Cockatoo with a variety of medium sized live food supplemented with a high quality medium sized flake or frozen product.


Biotope:Leaf littered, shallow slow moving water of its home range.


One of the harder fish to breed as their eggs are prone to fungus and are also sensitive to anti-fungal treatments These are harem fish and should be kept in a ratio of one male to three or more females. The Females will lay their eggs in a cave or other cavity. She will do all the guarding of the eggs and the male will patrol his whole territory. He may be breeding with more than one female at the same time The eggs will hatch in about four days and will b need to be fed very small food such as roftiers and infusoria. In another four to six days the fry become free swimming and will be moved to an open pit, They now can be fed baby brine shrimp and other small foods .If the male has spawned with more than one female the fry will intermix and be guarded by each female as if they were her own.

Another note from Steve an avid hobbyist who specializes in Apistogramma as well as live plants

“As far as breeding is concerned, they are prolific, but usually are bad parents so fry usually don’t make it unless the owners get involved. In my experience the female will loose her zeal for guarding her fry and in a few weeks she wont protect them at all, but will allow them to stay in her breeding ground. This fish is very social and the female I have now lays eggs and once they hatch she passes the responsibility of raising them to her three oldest daughters. It is a crazy thing to watch. The males are the passive ones here and as long as he doesn’t haunt the female he should stay healthy.”

5/5 - (17 votes)


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