Practical Information About Keeping, Breeding and Buying Dwarf Cichlids

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Apistogramma hoignei

      Apistogramma hoignei (A 116, 118) is a rarely seen dwarf cichlid that comes from the Orinoco basin in Venezuela. A. hoignei is one of a number of species found throughout a broad swath of landscape. In addition to the two forms that are identified as A116 & A118 the very similar Apistogramma cf. hoignei "Arauca" has
been designated A117. In 2011 several new species were described that are obviously closely related to A. hoignei however, to the best of my knowledge, as of 2015 none of these are in the hobby.
more information about A numbers and Apistogramma groups see our section on Apistogramma)

Male Apistogramma hoegneiMale Apistogramma hoignei. This male does not exhibit the extended dorsal lappets that some populations possess. The yellow colors on the face and anterior portions of the body are typical. However, the diagnostic colored margins on the top and bottom of the caudal are not prominent on this fish.

       Apistogramma hoignei is in the macmasteri complex within the A. macmasteri group. Like the other macmasteri complex members, Apistogramma hoignei is a fairly robust apisto. The species was first described by Meinken in 1965 from what he believed were a pair of fish. It turns out that they were not a pair but that is only part of the tale.

       The story begins in the spring of 1964 when the fish collector Leo Hoigne captured the fish from the Rio Apuré in the Venezuelan state of Guérico. Hoigne then shipped the fish to Albert Klee who was the prominent American editor of the well known The Aquarium magazine at the time. Klee subsequently preserved the ?pair? and sent them to Meinken who honored the collector by naming them Apistogramma hoignei. 

2 male Apistogramma hoignei sparring    These two male Apistogramma hoignei frequently spent hours sparring with each other. Although they often put on amazing displays they never did damage to each other.

      As part of his 1979 revision of the genus Apistogramma Kullander reexamined the original "pair" upon which Meinken based his description. Kullander discovered that the fish were not a pair, but actually two females. Females of the macmasteri complex are very difficult to tell apart but, through careful examination, Kullander was able to establish that A. hoignei was a valid species. However, it was not recognized as a fish in the hobby at the time and it was the mid-1990s before the species became more available.

      As should be expected of a fish that inhabits a large geographic area with lots of habitat types and has numerous similar species and forms, Apistogramma hoignei exhibits a lot of variability in coloration and finnage. Male A. hoignei are usually identified by their caudal fin (tail) which usually sports distinctive colorful edges on the top

Apistogramma hoignei maleApistogramma hoignei male
and bottom of the lyrate shaped fin. Solid red or black edges are common and some populations sport a combination of the red and black. In addition to their distinctively marked caudal fins, the males of some varieties of A. hoignei sport high-flowing serrated dorsal fins. In some individuals these dorsal extensions can rival those of more celebrated high-finned apistos.

     Apistogramma hoignei has never been a common species in North America. In fact, it is often many years between times when the species is offered. It seems that it should be a good species for long term maintenance as it is fairly undemanding of water and easy to feed. The species has been collected in a variety of water types and I have seen breeding accounts that describe success under a wide variety of conditions. In my experience, the species is easy to keep and breed. Follow the basic instructions in our Aquarium Care section and you should have

Apistogramma hoignei tailThis close-up of an Apistogramma hoignei tail shows the black and red upper and lower margins as well as the slight lyrate shape
few problems with Apistogramma hoignei. 

      I kept A. hoignei for a number of years. The population I had exhibited a lot of yellow colors on the males and only faintly colored bands on the edges of the caudal. In addition, my strain only exhibited minor dorsal fin extensions and only slightly lyrate caudal fins. However they were a great fish, attractive, not too aggressive and undemanding of food and water. Unfortunately, I failed to keep my population going but I will be sure to get this species again if I have the chance.



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