Caring for Apistogramma Borellii (Umbrella Cichlid)
Apistogramma Borellii, also known as the Umbrella Cichlid, is a captivating and relatively peaceful species that can thrive in the aquarium environment. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to care for Apistogramma Borellii, covering their diet, behavior, cohabitation, breeding, aquarium setup, and interesting facts.
Feeding the Umbrella Cichlid
Apistogramma Borellii is primarily carnivorous, and it’s important to provide them with a suitable diet:
- Natural Diet: In their natural habitat, these cichlids hunt small insects, crustaceans, and mosquito larvae.
- Commercial Food: In the aquarium, you can feed them with high-quality commercial tropical fish food in the form of pellets or flakes.
- Variety is Key: To maintain their health and vibrant coloration, it’s essential to alternate their diet with live or frozen prey, such as vine worms or artemia. This variety not only stimulates their natural hunting behavior but also enhances their coloration.
Behavior of the Umbrella Cichlid
Understanding the behavior of Apistogramma Borellii is crucial for creating a suitable environment:
- Calm and Peaceful: The Umbrella Cichlid is generally calm and one of the more peaceful species of dwarf cichlids. They tend to swim peacefully in the lower part of the aquarium, always on the lookout for food.
- Territorial Behavior: While they are peaceful, they can become territorial during the breeding season. These fish will defend their living area and potential nesting sites. To minimize conflicts in a community aquarium, provide enough space for each fish’s territory.
- Timid and Shy: Apistogramma Borellii has a timid and fearful temperament. To alleviate their anxieties, consider heavily planting the aquarium and adding roots. These elements create hiding places and retreat areas that are highly appreciated by the fish.
Cohabitation with the Umbrella Cichlid
Choosing compatible tankmates and managing group size is crucial for a harmonious setup:
- Minimum Tank Size: For a single pair of Apistogramma Borellii, a tank with a capacity of less than 120 liters (26 Imp Gal or 32 US Gal) is acceptable. However, it’s advisable to provide larger tanks for groups or harems.
- Ideal Group Size: In a harem configuration, keep one male for two or three females. This setup allows for the establishment of a hierarchy, although minor clashes between individuals may occur during this process.
- Avoiding Male Conflicts: Never keep two Apistogramma males in a small aquarium, as males can be territorial and may not tolerate each other. This rivalry between males is a common trait among all Apistogramma species.
- Compatible Tankmates: When selecting tankmates, avoid bright, aggressive, or significantly larger fish, as these can cause stress and hiding behavior in the Umbrella Cichlid. Suitable tankmates can include Tetras, other Characidae, Neon, Cardinalis, Copella nattereri, and Otocinclus. It’s advisable to avoid keeping shrimp, particularly juveniles, as they may be consumed.
Breeding the Umbrella Cichlid
Breeding Apistogramma Borellii can be an exciting experience, even in a community aquarium:
- Pair Formation: When a breeding pair forms, the male may become territorial and chase other tank occupants away. The female is responsible for cleaning the chosen nesting area.
- Egg-Laying and Parental Care: The female releases her eggs, and the male fertilizes them. The couple will protect the eggs throughout the incubation period, which usually yields around 50 eggs. Once hatched, the female fiercely defends the fry against all tank inhabitants, including the male.
- Fry Diet: The fry can feed themselves in a well-balanced and established aquarium, as they have access to micro-nutritive fauna. You can supplement their diet with artemia nauplii.
Setting Up the Umbrella Cichlid Aquarium
Creating a suitable environment is essential to cater to the timid nature of Apistogramma Borellii:
- Planted Aquarium: Create a planted aquarium with numerous hiding places, including roots and rocks (non-limestone). Adding a vase or half a coconut can further enhance their comfort.
- Plant Selection: Choose taller plants that provide significant shade. Floating plants can help filter and sift the light, creating a more natural and comfortable environment.
- Water Parameters: Use peat filtration to simulate blackwater conditions resembling their Amazonian biotope. Aim for a pH above 7 to maintain their preferred water parameters.
Interesting Facts about the Umbrella Cichlid
- Color Variations: Apistogramma Borellii can exhibit various color variations based on their strain, often linked to their geographical distribution. These variations can result in brown/yellow or blue Umbrella Cichlids. The blue variety is referred to as Apistogramma Borellii Opal.
Caring for Apistogramma Borellii, the Umbrella Cichlid, can be a rewarding experience, and with the right care and environment, you can enjoy their natural behaviors and vibrant colors in your aquarium.