RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube





Ash Lipped Apisto (A80)

SynonymsTop ↑

Apiastogramma sp. “Schwarzbrust”

Apistogramma sp. “Roterpunkt”

Apistogramma sp. “Rote”

Apistogramma sp. “Rotter”


Apistogramma: from the Greek apisto, meaning ‘meaning uncertain, inconstant, unstable, faithless’, and gramme, meaning ‘line’, in reference to the variably-developed lateral line in member species.

cinilabra: From the Latin cinis, for ash and labrum, for lips. In reference to the ash grey lips males display during courtship and aggression.


Order: Perciformes Family: Cichlidae


Known from backwaters between Iquitos and Nauta, Loreto district, Peru


Collection reports state A. cinilabra is found in shallow, blackwater pools, often no more than 30cm deep, especially through the dry season. Leaf litter features heavily, above a substrate of fine white sand. Fallen branch and woody matter can also be found given the biotope is situated in heavily forested areas.

Electrical conductivity was measured at below 50 μS/cm-1 and temperatures upwards of 27.0°C/80.6°F.

The pH measured was as low as pH3.8 and never exceeded 5.0. The temperature was above 27c, though this can probably be attributed to seasons and will usually be lower.

Sympatric fishes included Apistogramma atahualpa, Apistogramma eremnopyge, Pyrrhulina cf. spilota and an unidentified Rivulus sp.

Maximum Standard Length

Despite being shorter than many congeners, the body is much deeper and so A. cinilabra can not be considered a dwarf of the genus.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

A 60cm length aquarium will suffice for a breeding pair, though it would be advisable to go bigger if you aim to maintain a group.


Provided adequate cover and structure is available this species is unfussy with regards to décor with ceramic flowerpots, lengths of plastic piping and other artificial materials all useful additions.

A more natural-looking arrangement might consist of a soft, sandy substrate with wood roots and branches placed such a way that plenty of shady spots and caves are formed.

The addition of dried leaf litter provides additional cover and spawning sites, and brings with it the growth of beneficial microbe colonies as decomposition occurs.

These can provide a valuable secondary food source for fry, while the tannins and other chemicals released by the decaying leaves aid in simulation of natural conditions. Alder cones may also be used for the latter purpose.

Fairly dim lighting is recommended and aquatic plant species that can survive under such conditions such as MicrosorumTaxiphyllum or Cryptocoryne spp. may be added, while floating vegetation, especially Ceratopteris spp., is also useful.

There is no need to use peat, the collection of which is both unsustainable and environmentally-destructive.

Filtration need not be too strong, with an air-powered sponge filter or similar adequate.

It goes without saying that these are fishes are sensitive to fluctuating organic wastes and should never be introduced to biologically-immature aquaria.

Water Conditions

Despite being found in such specialised, hyper-acidic conditions in nature, A. cinilabra acclimatises well to captive conditions.


Apistogramma spp. are chiefly carnivorous and feed mostly on benthic invertebrates in nature. A fine, sandy substrate will allow Apistogramma to perform natural sand sifting behaviours which are vital for good health.

In the aquarium live and frozen foods such as Artemia, Daphnia, Moina and chironomid larvae (bloodworm) should be offered regularly although most species will also learn to accept dried alternatives with pelleted products generally preferred to flake.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Generally a peaceful fish, Apistogramma cinilabra settles well into a calm community aquarium with small characins, rasboras and Otocinclus spp. making ideal tankmates, however in confined quarters they may become bullyish towards conspecifics.

Wild examples are best maintained alone or with small ‘dither’ fishes such as Nannostomus spp., and ideally should not be mixed with other Apistogramma.

Sexual Dimorphism

Males are larger, more colourful and develop more extended fins than females. In spawning conditions and during broodcare the female will adopt a bright yellow livery with black makings through the body and face and more typically on the anterior edge of the ventral fins.

In the species, only the male may develop the ash-grey lips.


Substrate spawner which normally lays its eggs in crevices or cavities among the décor.

Sexually-mature males establish territories and react aggressively to other males in the vicinity, though the presence of several females is normally tolerated. If breeding is your aim, it is advised to start with a group and allow for natural pairs to from as Apistogramma cinilabra can be quite picky with regards to potential mates. In a large enough aquarium (200l+), a single male may be housed with multiple females, though one must take care to ensure that all females are getting to food and not suffering excess bullying.

Post-spawning the male usually returns to protecting his larger territory and courting other females leaving the female to guard and tend the eggs and fry, although when maintained as a single pair he may help guard the fry once mobile.

Depending on temperature the eggs hatch in 36-72 hours with the fry free-swimming after a further few days.

NotesTop ↑

A. cinilabra can be distinguished from congeners by its disproportionately high body and short caudal peduncle. In males, the namesake ash-grey lips are unique to this species, as well as red pectoral bases and red spots on the chest.

According to the description, Apistogramma cinilabra may indeed be threatened or even endangered in the native range, though not enough data has been recorded to confirm this. Regardless, emphasis should be on reproducing and forming a captive population, where possible.

Apistogramma is among the most speciose of South American cichlid genera with over 70 species valid at present but many more awaiting description.

In addition many species exist in two or more geographical colour forms which may or may not turn out to be distinct in the future.

Hobbyists tend to label these with collection data if available in order to avoid mixing them and the potential of hybridisation.

Member species have also been organised into a series of species lineages, complexes and groups by authors in order to better separate them.

Such lists have been augmented by fish that have appeared in the aquarium trade and are in a state of near-constant flux.

At current, Apistgramma cinilabra belongs to the A. eonotus complex within the A. regani lineage,

Apistogramma and a number of related genera are often included in the putative subfamily Geophaginae.

No Responses to “Apistogramma cinilabra – Ash Lipped Apisto (A80)”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.