Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 6, 2022

Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid (Apistogramma agassizii) is a beautiful and popular freshwater fish that is perfect for beginner aquarium enthusiasts.

This species is relatively easy to care for and is very peaceful, making them a great addition to any community tank.

They are also very prolific breeders, so if you’re looking to add some fry to your tank, this is the fish for you!

In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid care. From tank size and diet, to breeding and common problems, we’ve got you covered.

Species overview

Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid (scientific name: Apistogramma agassizii) is a species of freshwater cichlid that’s native to the Amazon basin in South America.

They are a very small fish, only growing to be around 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) in length.

Despite their small size, Agassiz’s dwarf cichlids are very aggressive fish. They are known to be very territorial and will often fight with other fish, even those of their own species.

Because of their aggression, it’s important to only keep one Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid per tank. They should also be kept with other fish that are of a similar size and temperament.

Agassiz’s dwarf cichlids are popular aquarium fish because of their bright colors. They are usually a yellow or orange color, with black stripes running down their body.


Agassiz's dwarf cichlid

The Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid is a beautiful little freshwater fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are relatively easy to care for and are very peaceful, making them a great addition to any community tank.

These cichlids are named after the hump on their head, which is called a nuchal hump or kok. This hump is more pronounced in males and can change size depending on the fish’s environment and stress levels.

The body of the Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid is long and thin, with a slightly compressed shape. They have a small mouth that is located at the tip of their snout.

Their dorsal and anal fins are both large and begin about two-thirds of the way back on their body. The caudal fin is forked and relatively small in comparison to the other fins.

The Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid is a very colorful fish, with a dark body that is covered in bright orange spots. The fins are translucent and have a yellow or orange hue.


The average lifespan of Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid is around 5 years. However, there have been reports of these fish living up to 10 years in captivity.

As with any other fish, the lifespan of Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid can be impacted by a number of factors. Poor water quality, for example, can shorten their lifespan significantly.

These fish are also quite sensitive to stress. So, if they’re constantly being harassed by tank mates or if the tank is too small, their lifespan will be reduced.


Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid grows to a maximum length of 4.5 cm (1.8 in).


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for Agassiz’s dwarf cichlids is at least 20 gallons. A 20-gallon tank is the minimum size we recommend but, like most cichlids, they will do best in a larger tank if possible.

As with most fish, the larger the tank the better. A larger tank will provide more stability and allow you to keep a larger school of fish.

Water Parameters

Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid is a freshwater fish that is found in the waters of South America. These fish prefer to live in slow-moving waters that have a neutral to slightly acidic pH level. The ideal water temperature for Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid is between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The water hardness for Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid should be between 5 and 15 dGH, and the alkalinity levels should be between 4 and 8 dKH.

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up their tank you’ll want to provide them with plenty of hiding spots.

That might mean using pieces of driftwood, caves, or even plants.

Agassiz’s dwarf cichlids are territorial by nature so they need some places to retreat to when they feel threatened.

The substrate you use is also important. These fish like to dig so you’ll want something that won’t irritate their delicate skin.

We recommend a sandy substrate since it’s soft and won’t hurt them if they decide to go on a digging spree.

As for plants, you can use live or fake ones. Just make sure that the plants you choose can withstand a little bit of abuse since these cichlids are known to uproot them from time to time.

Common Diseases

Agassiz’s dwarf cichlids are a pretty hardy bunch. They don’t get sick often, and when they do it’s usually because of something that could have been prevented (like poor water quality).

However, there are still a few diseases that you should be on the lookout for. The most common one is ich. This is a pretty common freshwater disease that appears as white spots on the body of your fish.

If you notice this, the best thing to do is to raise the temperature of the water in your tank. This will speed up the life cycle of the ich parasites and make them easier to get rid of.

There are a few other diseases that can affect Agassiz’s dwarf cichlids, but they’re not as common. Things like hole-in-the-head disease, swim bladder disease, and bacterial infections can still plague these fish from time to time.

As always, the best way to prevent your fish from getting sick is to maintain a clean and stable tank. This will keep the water quality high and reduce the chances of your fish getting ill.

Behavior & Temperament

Agassiz’s dwarf cichlid is a peaceful fish that is perfect for a community aquarium. It is a shy fish that likes to hide among the plants, but it will come out to feed.

This cichlid is a substrate spawner, which means that it will lay its eggs on the bottom of the tank. The female will then guard the eggs until they hatch. Once the fry are free-swimming, the parents will lose interest in them.

Tank Mates

Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlids are best kept with other peaceful fish that occupy different areas of the tank. They are not overly aggressive, but they will defend their territory if necessary.

Some good tank mates for Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlids include:

  • Neon Tetras
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Guppies
  • Platies
  • Mollies
  • Swordtails


Agassiz’s dwarf cichlids are mouthbrooders, which means the female will carry the eggs in her mouth until they hatch. This process usually takes about two weeks.

The female will lay her eggs in a pre-dug pit or on a flat surface. Once the eggs are laid, the male will fertilize them. Then, the female will pick them up in her mouth and carry them around until they hatch.

During this time, it’s important to not disturb the female. If she feels threatened, she may spit out the eggs.

Once the fry have hatched, the female will release them. At this point, you can start feeding them baby brine shrimp or other small live foods.


Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid care is not difficult, but there are a few things you need to be aware of.

First and foremost, these fish are very sensitive to changes in their environment. This means that you need to be extra careful when making changes to your tank.

Secondly, they are also very territorial. This means that you need to be careful about adding fish to their tank.

Overall, we think that the Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid is a great fish for people who are willing to take the time to learn about their care. They are a beautiful fish that will add a lot of personality to your tank.