freshwater community4


Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid

cockatoo dwarf cichlid

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Scientific Name:  Apistogramma cacatuoides      
Min. Tank Size:   25 gallons      
Personality:   Peaceful      
Temperature:   75-82°      
pH:   6.0-7.5/0-10°dGH     
Size:   3.5"      
Diet:   Omnivore      
Breeding:   Egglayer      


Captive-bred specimens can be kept in a community set-up, but wild-caught specimens are best kept in a species tank. For a community set up, the peaceful varieties of Tetras would be a good choice.

Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid

Also simply referred to as the Cockatoo Cichlid, the Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid is a South American Cichlid native to the Amazon River basin. Their native range is northeastern Peru into southeastern Colombia and western Brazil. These fish can be found in slowly flowing waters such as tributaries, creeks and backwaters. This Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid can be identified by its long body, large mouth and thick lips. Males of this species typically exhibit reddish orange coloration on the dorsal and caudal fins while females are less colorful. Overall body coloration may vary depending on the locality but common body colors include blue, yellow and red. Females fo the species are often pale yellow and may have a black line running along the side of the body.

Tank Set-up

Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlids are well-suited to the planted tank and will enjoy additional cover offered in the form of driftwood branches and ceramic flowerpots. The substrate in the tank should be soft and sandy and these fish will appreciate the addition of leaf litter to simulate their natural habitat. These Dwarf Cichlids prefer dim lighting and, because they come from slowly flowing waters, filtration should be efficient and water flow should be minimal. Although large water changes are recommended, regular partial water changes are a must to maintain water quality. Though captive-bred specimens can be kept in the general community tank, wild-caught specimens tend to be highly territorial and are best kept in a species tank.


In the wild, these fish are micropredators which feed on small insects and crustaceans. Captive bred stocks will except flake and pellet foods designed for Cichlids. However, wild caught specimens may only accept live or frozen foods such as blood worms, Daphnia, etc. they may learn to accept flakes or pellets over time. For optimum health and coloration, feed a varied diet of live and frozen foods like Daphnia, brine shrimp and bloodworms.


Like many Cichlids, Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlids are substrate spawners and tend to lay their eggs in crevices among aquarium decorations. After spawning, the female will take up care of the fry while the male guards the spawning site. In small aquariums, the female may become very aggressive in defending her fry, so it may be necessary to remove the male or to breed this species in a separate spawning tank. Providing a larger tank with plenty of room will help to alleviate this problem.

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