Practical Information About Keeping, Breeding and Buying Dwarf Cichlids

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Apistogramma paucisquamis

      Apistogramma paucisquamis (A 219) is a highly variable species that is a member of the bitaeniata group of Apistogrammas (for information about A numbers and species groups see Apistogramma). Found throughout the Rio Negro drainage, Apistogramma paucisquamis is a highly variable species in terms of coloration. Prior to its scientific description by Kullander and Staeck in 1988, this fish was know in the hobby as Apistogramma sp. glanzbinden.  I have seen glanzbinden translated as "Shiny Banded", "Bright Banded" and "Shiny Strip" but all of these names refer to the band of shiny scales found running along the lateral line.

Apistogramma paucisquamis male
      Apistogramma paucisquamis male note the shiny band of scales above and below the dark lateral line. It is these shiny bands that gave the fish it's original popular name in Germany.
Thanks to the Digital Fishroom for the use of these photos
       Apistogramma paucisquamis has had an interesting and evolving history in the hobby. The first recorded import was to Germany in 1981 when a number of males were imported from Manaus along with Apistogramma pertensis and  Apistogramma gibbiceps. Schmettkamp introduced them in his book and described two different color forms; white and orange.  He was unable to provide any information about breeding as only males were received so no one even knew what the female would look like.

      In 1984 Linke & Staeck first published their book and they were able to provide additional information about the natural habitats and aquarium care. They maintained that they were problem free and could be maintained in neutral to slightly alkaline water. However, by the 1994 edition of the book they had significantly changed their opinion writing that breeding is not easy and that they require very soft acid water. Linke & Staeck report collecting three different color forms at a single location, emphasizing the variability.

      To sum up the remaining references, it is now commonly agreed that Apistogramma paucisquamis is among the more difficult of the Apistogrammas to successfully reproduce. They require very soft acid water and even then they often experience low fertility. Basic maintenance is much the same as with other Apistogrammas. They appreciate a fine substrate and need lots of cover. They have a very large range of colors ranging from rather drab to spectacular. It is now generally agreed that there are two primary color morphs, the same white and orange as noted by Schmettkamp when he first presented them.

Apistogramma paucisquamis male
    Apistogramma paucisquamis males are often spectacularly colored. This rare species is a real gem but has a reputation for being very difficult to breed.
Thanks to the Digital Fishroom for the use of these photos
      Most long time fish hobbyists have one (or many!) tales of woe about their fishes and for me Apistogramma paucisquamis is one of those stories. I was fortunate enough to acquire a half dozen beautiful wild fish of both sexes in the early 1990's. I really liked these fish and carefully separated the sexes for a couple of weeks to make sure I was ready in the spawning tanks. Unfortunately, in one of those all to common fish room mishaps, I lost the entire tanks of females. The remaining males were superb specimens with flashy colors and a great attitude. Unfortunately, I could never secure females and eventually lost them.

      I was quite excited to see them as wild imports a couple of times in the past few years and I was able to secure a wild trio. They settled in nicely and although the male was a little dull of color I was ready to go. This time it turns out that the "dull" colored male was actually a female and I now find myself with all females - the exact opposite of my previous experience with this fish! Update 8/6/2008 - I found another hobbyist who had surplus male Apistogramma paucisquamis and arranged to trade a few. I sent him a female and when he put it in a tank with another A. paucisquamis female it was immediately obvious that my fish was misidentified. Based on photos from both of us Mike Wise identified them as A. gephyra. Fortunately, the person I originally got them from had a couple of spare males so I now have A. gephyra and still have A. paucisquamis on my wish list. In one of those funny twists the person I sent the females to had a couple of A. gephyra males with no females so now he has a shot at propagating them.

      Apistogramma paucisquamis remains a fish that is high on my list. I will be scouting for them and will give them another try. If you have an opportunity to buy some and want a real fish keeping challenge don't hesitate to get some of these.

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