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Apistogramma eremnopyge READY & KULLANDER, 2004



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.

eremnopyge: from the Greek eremnos, meaning ‘black, swarthy, dark’, and pyge, meaning ‘rump, buttocks’, in reference to the diagnostic dark blotch on the caudal peduncle of this species.


Order: Perciformes Family: Cichlidae


Known only from Loreto region in northeastern (Amazonian) Peru.

Type locality is ‘Río Pintuyacu, 48 kilometers on road from Iquitos to Nauta, Río Itaya drainage, Province Loreto, Peru’ and it’s also been recorded from tributaries of the Nanay system in the same area.

An additional population is known from the Río Tapiche, a tributary of the Río Ucayali located well over 150 km further south.


Little information is available but apparently inhabit slower-moving tributaries, backwaters and creeks containing very soft clear or black water water in areas where fallen leaf litter collects.

Maximum Standard Length

Male: 7 cm Female: 5 cm

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Base dimensions of 60 ∗ 30 cm or more are just about acceptable for a single pair, though this species seems to fare better in larger aquaria (see ‘Behaviour and Compatibility’).


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.

This species also requires require acidic conditions with negligible carbonate hardness and very low general hardness so a reverse osmosis unit or other method of obtaining soft water may need to be employed, and this can be further acidified using phosphoric acid or similar if necessary.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 22 – 28 °C

pH: 4.0 – 6.0

Hardness: 18 – 90 ppm


Apistogramma spp. are chiefly carnivorous and feed mostly on benthic invertebrates in nature.

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 ↑

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

This species can apparently be maintained in pairs only when other, conspecific pairs are visible in adjacent tanks (Römer, 2006) as this distracts them from attacking each other.

It’s thus preferable to keep a group consisting of several males with up to three times as many females in a larger set-up.

Sexual Dimorphism

Males are larger, more colourful and develop more extended fins than females, particularly the dorsal and anal.


Substrate spawner which normally lays its eggs in crevices or cavities among the décor with a detailed report published by Römer (2006).

Sexually-mature males establish permanent territories and react aggressively to other males in the vicinity, though the presence of several females may be tolerated.

Spawning normally occurs during darkness or at dawn with 50-150 eggs being deposited, after which the male returns to protecting his territory, leaving the female to guard and tend the eggs and fry.

At 25°C/77°F the eggs hatch in around two days with the fry free-swimming after a further 5-6 days.

They are still very small at this stage and may initially require microscopic foods until large enough to accept Artemia nauplii and suchlike.

After 4-8 weeks the young fish are driven away by the female though they may be permitted to remain within the male’s larger territory for several additional weeks.

Temperatures in excess of 27°C/80.6°F are known to have a detrimental effect on the survival rate of fry.

NotesTop ↑

This species is assigned the code A218 under the DATZ system and has been available under numerous trade names including A. sp. ‘fresa’, A. sp. ‘strawberry’, A. sp. ‘diamante’, A. sp. ‘roterbart’. A. sp. ‘Rio Tapiche’, A. sp. ‘red beard’, A. sp. ‘barabarossa’ and A. sp. ‘barbaroja’.

It can be distinguished from similar-looking species by the presence of a dark blotch on the lower portion of the caudal peduncle in both sexes, and is further diagnosable by possession of a relatively narrow lateral stripe, usually four dentary lateralis pores, usually 3 postlachrymal infraorbital pores and absence of a lateral spot (except in exceptional cases when a small lateral spot is visible).

A redescription was published in unusual circumstances, appearing in a hobbyist magazine almost immediately after the original.

It’s a member of the A. bitaeniata group of related species within the genus.

Apistogramma is among the most speciose of South American cichlid genera with around 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.

For example the A. bitaeniata complex, of which A. eremnopyge is a member, is contained in the A. bitaeniata group, itself a subdivision of the A. agassizii sublineage within the larger A. trifasciata lineage.

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

Kullander (1998) conducted a morphology-based phylogenetic study in which the neotropical Cichlidae was divided into six subfamilies of which the Geophaginae contained 16 genera divided among three ‘tribes’:

Acarichthyini – Acarichthys and Guianacara.
Crenicaratini – Biotoecus, Crenicara, Dicrossus and Mazarunia.
Geophagini – Geophagus, Mikrogeophagus, ‘Geophagusbrasiliensis group, ‘Geophagussteindachneri group, Gymnogeophagus, Satanoperca, Biotodoma, Apistogramma, Apistogrammoides and Taeniacara.

Later molecular studies by Farias et al. (1999, 2000, 2001) resulted in the additions of Crenicichla and Teleocichla to the Geophaginae, a result supported by López-Fernández et al. (2005) who conducted the most detailed molecular analysis of the grouping to date including 16 of the 18 genera and 30 species.

However their conclusions regarding interrelationships between genera did vary somewhat from previous hypotheses and can be summarised by the following loosely-defined groups:

– a weakly-supported sister group relationship between Acarichthys and Guianacara.
– a well-supported “Satanoperca clade” comprising Satanoperca, Apistogramma, Apistogrammoides and Taeniacara.
– a “big clade” with Geophagus, Mikrogeophagus, ‘Geophagusbrasiliensis group, ‘Geophagussteindachneri group, Gymnogeophagus, Biotodoma, Crenicara and Dicrossus.
– a “crenicarine clade” with Biotoecus and Crenicichla.

No representatives of Teleocichla or Mazarunia were included in the study but the former is well-established as sister to Crenicichla while the latter has grouped closely with Dicrossus and Crenicara in earlier works.

The other main conclusions of the paper are confirmation that Geophaginae is a monophyletic group exhibiting strong signs of having undergone rapid adaptive radiation.


  1. Ready, J. S. and S. O. Kullander, 2004 - Zootaxa 564: 1-10
    Apistogramma eremnopyge, a new species of cichlid fish (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from Peru.
  2. Farias, I. P., G. Ortí, I. Sampaio, H. Schneider and A. Meyer, 1999 - Journal of Molecular Evolution 48(6): 703-711
    Mitochondrial DNA phylogeny of the family Cichlidae: monophyly and fast molecular evolution of the Neotropical assemblage.
  3. Farias, I. P., G. Ortí, I. Sampaio, H. Schneider and A. Meyer, 2001 - Journal of Molecular Evolution 53(2): 89-103
    The cytochrome b gene as a phylogenetic marker: the limits of resolution for analyzing relationships among cichlid fishes.
  4. López-Fernández, H., R. L. Honeycutt, M. L. J. Stiassny and K. O. Winemiller, 2005 - Zoologica Scripta 34(6): 627-651
    Morphology, molecules, and character congruence in the phylogeny of South American geophagine cichlids (Perciformes, Labroidei).
  5. Römer, U., 2006 - Mergus Verlag GmbH: 1-1320
    Cichlid Atlas: v. 2
  6. Wise, M., 2011 - World Wide Web electronic publication, http://apisto.sites.no: Accessed on 13.02.17
    Apistogramma Species List By Species-Groups/Complexes.

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