Synonyms: Biotodoma agassizi, Geophagus agassizi, Mesops agassizi
Physical description: An elongated with moderately compressed sides. In males, the caudal fin is highly elongated and comes to a point. In females, the caudal fin is rounded. Several different color variations exist mostly depending on if the fish was wild-caught or its geographical population. Males are much more colorful. The upper back is red, while the forehead is yellow. Below these areas, the back is green which parallels a wide, horizontal, black band that extends from the tip of the snout, back through the eye, and to the tip of the caudal fin. The lower parts, just below this band, can range in color from gold to green to blue. The belly is usually yellow. The face is usually marked with green or gold markings. The dorsal fin is a fire orange-red color that comes to a sharp point. The other fins are often blue to green. On the caudal fin a white to blue set of lines come to a point near the end of the fin. A black stripe extends from the eye, down to the corner of the gill cover. Female do not have the elongated fins or colors of the male. They are usually yellow in color with similar markings.
Size/Length: Males to 3.5" (9 cm), females only reach 2.4" (6 cm)
Similar species: None
Habitat: Inhabits shallow areas of blackwater ponds and slow-moving water with a substrate of decaying leaf litter. South America; found in the tributaries of the Amazon in Bolivia and Brazil.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A 24" (61 cm) tanks with a capacity of 20 gallons (75 L) is sufficient for a small group. A more preferable size would be a 32" (81 cm) tank with a volume of 30 gallons (114 L). In either case, the tank should be arranged with a dark gravel bottom. Use lots of plants to serve as shelter along with rocky caves, roots, and pieces of wood. The filter should be efficient as this species requires clean, nitrate-free water. Agassiz's Dwarf Cichlid thrives in peat filtered water. Provide a good source of oxygen.
Water chemistry: pH 5-7 (6.4), 2-10 dH (6), 73-81°F (23-27°C)
Social behavior: A peaceful, but territorial species that will not harm plants. A male forms a harem and as a result, should be kept in a ration of one male to every three or four females. Males defend a large territory in which several females may guard their own brood.
Suggested companions: Corydoras , tetras, pencilfish, hatchetfish, Loricarids.
FOOD: Live; crustaceans, insects, insect larvae; flakes; pellets; tablets; finely chopped meat.
SEX: Males are far more colorful and considerably larger than females. The males fins are also more elongate.
Breeding techniques: The water should have a pH from 6.0-6.5, a water hardness from 5-8 dH, and a temperature from 79-84°F (26-29°C). Frequent partial water changes should be made. A single male will defend a large territory containing several females. He will court each female and mate with them. The female will lay up to 150 eggs in a previously cleaned cave or over-turned flower pot. The eggs will be carefully guarded by the female. They hatch in three to four days. The fry are lead into a shallow pit and are free-swimming four to six days later. The young can be first fed with roftiers and liquid foods, and later with Artemia nauplii. The female attracts the young by her movements.
Breeding potential: 8. Breeding Agassiz's Dwarf Cichlid is difficult and the eggs are sensitive to fungus.
Remarks: A fish highly sensitive to the build-up of toxic compounds and medications. Different color variations including red, gold, and blue are available. Wild-caught specimen are even more delicate, but more colorful than tank-bred fish. This species requires frequent partial water changes in order to prosper.
Difficulty of care: 7. A delicate species.