Borelli’s pygmy cichlid

Borellis Zwergbuntbarsch
© Gordon Axmann, Apistogramma borellii, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Borelli’s dwarf cichlid comes from South America, more precisely from the Mato Grosso and La Plata areas, and belongs to the cichlid family. The cave-breeder, whose scientific name is Apistogramma Borelli, is also called yellow dwarf cichlid. It used to be called Reitzgis dwarf cichlid(Apistogramma Reitzgi). A breeding form of the Borrelis is the Opal Apistogramma.

What distinguishes the Borrelis dwarf cichlid?

The Borrelis dwarf cichlid is up to 4 years old. From southern Brazil to northern Argentina it inhabits clear, stagnant or slowly flowing waters with many plants and breeds in caves, where it carries out the intensive breeding care typical of cichlids.

There it prefers to live under floating plants or roots. The Borellis dwarf cichlid is one of the most popular dwarf cichlids next to the butterfly cichlids, but when keeping it, it should be noted that it is particularly territorial in pairs.

The appearance of Borelli’s dwarf cichlid

Apistogramma Borelli grows between 4 and 6 cm tall, the male being larger and more splendid than the female. Its body is not very elongated and flattened at the sides. Particularly striking are the turquoise-greenish shimmering spots on the gill caps and under the eye and the yellow colouring of the head, which runs down over the belly to the anal fin.

Opal colour shape:

© Guido Studtrucker / Opal Apistograms with young fish

Housing conditions of the Borelli’s Dwarf Cichlid

In a smaller tank you should keep the fish in pairs or one male with two females. It prefers a fine substrate, many plants and hiding places. Caves contribute to the well-being even without breeding desire.

Because it is not too large and peaceful, the Borellis dwarf cichlid is well suited for community tanks. A socialisation with small characins and armoured catfish is possible. Since the dwarf cichlids are in the lower part of the aquarium just like the catfish, you should take care not to use too many catfish.

  • in pairs, or 1 male and 2 females
  • fine substrate
  • many plants and hiding places
  • well suited for community pools

Gender differences

The males grow up to 6 cm, while the females remain smaller with 3 – 4 cm. The males have longer and pointed dorsal and anal fins. As with most mating fish the females are less conspicuously coloured. They are of a yellowish ochre colour with a black longitudinal sting.

Water values for the Borellis dwarf cichlid

The Borellis dwarf cichlid is very sensitive to unsuitable water values and medication. The fish, which occurs in nature in nutrient-poor areas, is also very sensitive to too high a nutrient content in the water, for example due to excessive feeding.

  • Temperature: 22 – 27°C
  • PH value: 6 – 7.5
  • Total hardness: 5 – 19 dGH
  • Carbonate hardness: below 10°

Food and nutrition for the Borellis dwarf cichlid

In nature, the omnivore feeds on zooplankton and accepts both frozen and live food with pleasure. From time to time he also enjoys water fleas. Although artificial food is also eaten, the fish only retain their intense colouring when given frozen or live food.

The ideal aquarium for the Borellis dwarf cichlid

A tank for the Borellis dwarf cichlid should be from 55 – 65 L, be densely planted and offer sufficient hiding places such as roots and caves. It is important not to feed too much in order not to provoke a deterioration of the water values.

Special features of the Borelli’s dwarf cichlid

If several males are kept together, a ranking takes place. Males with a lower ranking take on a paler colour, which resembles that of the females. By this they try to become uninteresting for the dominant males and to escape attacks. This practice goes so far that some males even move into breeding grounds that are otherwise only used by females and simulate brood care.

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