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Apistogramma pantalone ROMER, ROMER, SOARES AND HAHN, 2006

Pantaloon cichlid (A186)

SynonymsTop ↑

Apistogramma sp. “Leierschwanz 1”

Apistogramma sp. “Lyretail 1”

Apistogramma sp. “Lyretail panduro”

Apistogramma sp. “Gabelschwanz”


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.

pantal0ne: The name given to a character in Commedia dell’ Arte. The character was an aged, clumsy looking gent who constantly pursued young women with whom he was infatuated, often unsuccessfully. This is in reference to the unique yet clumsy courtship display shown by this species.


Known only from the Rio Nanay, Peru. The type locality lies 130Km West of Iquitos.


Found in shallow streams. The water is lightly tanned and hyper-acidic. Surrounding area is heavily forested and both the substrate of the stream and the forest floor are composed of a mat of leaf litter. Interestingly, the biotope a number of small characins which could be potential predators of fry and eggs. This may be one reason why A. pantalone has developed as a facultative mouthbrooder.

Water values of a stream near the Rio Tigre were measured at 25.0°C/77.0°F, with a pH of 4.54

Sympatric fishes included Pyrrhulina brevis, Crenuchus spilurus, Hyphessobrycon sp. “super red line”, Gymnotus sp. Apistogramma martini, Nannostomus mortenthaleri and a juvenile Erythrinus sp.

Maximum Standard Length

Male: 5 cm

Female: 4 cm

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

A 60 x 30 x 30  tank will suffice for a pair or even a small group, so long as plenty of hiding spaces are provided.


Unlike many species in the genus, A. pantalone does not fare well if water parameters deviate far from nature. Therefore it is advised that this species be kept in a tank which emulates natural conditions closest.

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

Temperature: 21 °C26 °C

pH: 46.5

Hardness: 0 ppm54 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. Apistogramma pantalone rarely accepts dried alternatives. Recent imports are even more picky, with live foods being a necessity. Tubifex make a good “acclimatisation food” for this species.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

A very peaceful fish, Apistogramma pantalone settles well into a calm community aquarium, with small characins, rasboras and Otocinclus spp. making ideal tankmates. Unlike many congeners, A. pantalone can be maintained as a group.

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

Apistogramma is generally a very heavily sexually dimorphic genus. However, A. pantalone may be a little more difficult to sex. the sexes can only be reliably determined in fully grown adults. Females show a pure white belly, whilst males spots or darker pigment in this region. Females will also show black on the anterior side of the ventral fins. In larger specimens, the peduncle spot travels further into the tail with the male and extensions much grow longer too.

Unlike many other species, the females show a strong yellow colouring most of the time, as oppose to only during courtship, breeding and broodcare.


Substrate spawner which normally lays its eggs in crevices or cavities among the décor. Depending on temperature the eggs hatch in 36-72 hours with the fry free-swimming after a further few days.

As a facultative mouthbrooder, Apistogramma pantalone may breed in the standard fashion among the genus or will take fry into the mouth shortly after hatching, as with A. barlowi and megastoma. A. sp “D50” and “D10” also show mouthbrooding behaviours.

The courtship process of this species is very longwinded, often lasting several days or weeks. The courtship itself is led by the male, who begins by repeatedly swimming towards the female with jerks of his head. The female will often avoid these advances, eventually resulting in a retreat, which will be pursued. The male will then attempt to cut off the escape of the female with a zig-zag shaped pursuit. In the final phase, both fish enter the cave and perform a courtship dance not dissimilar to Pungitius pungitius. Such a display has not been recorded with other Apistogramma spp.

Due to the nature of the courtship and breeding methods of this species, it is unclear whether harem spawning takes place or not.


NotesTop ↑

Unfortunately for hobbyists, due to the highly sensitive nature of Apistogramma pantalone, successful imports are rare and captive bred specimens even more so. It is important that all imports are treat with utmost care with regards to water quality and feeding.

Apistogramma pantalone is very similar to and should not be confused with  the closely related A. martini.

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 pantalone belongs to the A. nijsseni group within the A. trifasciata lineage,

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


  1. 636-660, Romer, U. - Cichlid Atlas 2: Mergus
  2. Apistogramma pantalone, Christoffersen, T. - http://www.tomc.no.default.aspx: Apisto Sites
  3. Apistogramma pantalone, Torres, Armi G. - https://fishbase.se/search.php: Fishbase

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