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Apistogramma macmasteri KULLANDER, 1979


Order: Perciformes Family: Cichlidae


Known only from the Río Guaytiquía and Río Metica basins, upper Río Meta system, Colombia.

Maximum Standard Length

Male:? 5.5 cmFemale:4 cm

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Base? dimensions of 45 ∗ 30 cm? or more are acceptable for a single? pair? with a group requiring larger quarters.


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 (beech, oak or Ketapang almond leaves are all suitable) would further emphasise the natural feel and with it bring the growth of beneficial microbe colonies as? decomposition? occurs. These can provide a valuable secondary food source for? fry, whilst most populations will appreciate the tannins and other chemicals released by the decaying leaves. Leaves can be left in the? tank? to break down fully or removed and replaced every few weeks. If maintaining a? blackwaterpopulation? a net bag filled with? aquarium-safe? peat? can also be added to the? filter? or suspended over the edge of the? tank.

Fairly dim lighting is recommended and plant? species? from? genera? such as? Microsorum,? Taxiphyllum,? Cryptocoryne? andAnubias? are best since they will grow under such conditions. A few patches of floating vegetation to diffuse the light even further may also prove effective. Filtration, or at least water flow, should not be very strong and very large water changes are best avoided with 10-15% weekly adequate provided the? tank? is lightly-stocked.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 24 – 28 °C

pH: 5.5 – 7.0

Hardness: 0 – 90 ppm


Primarily? carnivorous? and apparently feeds mostly on? benthic? invertebrates in nature. In the? aquarium? live and frozen foods such as? Artemia,? Daphnia? and? chironomidlarvae? (bloodworm) should be offered regularly although most specimens will also learn to accept dried alternatives with pelleted products generally preferred to flake.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Captive-raised fish are the recommended choice for the? community aquarium. 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.


Substrate? spawner which normally lays its eggs in crevices or cavities among the décor. The female is responsible for post-spawning? care of eggs and? fry? and in smaller aquaria the male may need to be removed as she may become hyper-aggressive.

NotesTop ↑

This species is assigned the code A120? under the DATZ ‘A-number’ system, with a similar-looking, possibly conspecific population referred to as A122. The code A121 is used for the ornamental ‘red’ form.

The? genusApistogramma? 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. The? A. macmasteri? complex forms the? A. macmasteri? group alongside the? A. hongsloi? complex, for example. This combined group is additionally contained within the larger? A. regani? lineage.

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

Acarichthyini -? Acarichthys? and? Guianacara.
Crenicaratini -? Biotoecus,? Crenicara,? Dicrossus? and? Mazarunia.
Geophagini -? Geophagus,? Mikrogeophagus, ‘Geophagus‘? brasiliensis? group, ‘Geophagus‘? steindachneri? 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 “Satanopercaclade” comprising? Satanoperca,? Apistogramma,? Apistogrammoides? and? Taeniacara.
  • a “big? clade” with? Geophagus,? Mikrogeophagus, ‘Geophagus‘? brasiliensis? group, ‘Geophagus‘? steindachneri? 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? sisterto? 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? (diversification of a? species? or single ancestral? type? into several forms that are each adaptively specialised to a specific environmental? niche).

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