Apistogramma geisleri

Photo of yound male A[istogramma geisleri, also known as sp. smagrad

Apistogramma geisleri (A58 – A61) is a nondescript Apistogramma species that is rarely found in the American hobby. The few imports that have arrived have not been widely distributed. They are not impressively colored fishes but, they are an interesting and very rare Apisto.

Essential Articles About Apistogrammas
The Genus Apistogramma
Apistogramma Aquarium Care
Breeding Apistogrammas
Understanding Apistogramma Classification and Identification
Live Plants in the Apistogramma Aquarium
How and Where to Buy Apistogrammas and Other Dwarf Cichlids

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General information about A. geisleri

Apistogramma geisleri is a highly variable species with at least four known variants (thus, 4 different A numbers). Apistogramma geisleri has been distributed as A. sp. smaragd, A. sp. Parantins, A. sp “Emerald” and A. sp. Brazil. While each of these forms has minor unique characteristics they’re currently all placed into A. geisleri.

Photo of mature male Apistogramma geisleri
This is a mature male A. geisleri

There are very few defining characteristics of this member of the Regani complex of Apistogrammas (for more info on A numbers and Apistogramma complexes see Apistogramma identification, classification, and naming). Various forms have exhibited markedly different body characteristics when captured in the wild. However, these body shapes do not pass on to future generations when kept in aquaria. Thus we can only wonder if the differences in body shape are environmental or of some significance.

A. geisleri in the wild

Apistogramma geisleri are found in the lower Amazon River in Brazil. They first became known to hobbyists when they were imported into Germany in 1967 and were formally described in 1971. When first introduced to the German hobby these fish were successfully bred and distributed, Unfortunately, no one maintained the species and it appears to have been absent from the hobby until the 1980s and 1990s which saw a few introductions.

Apistogramma geisleri female in neutral coloration
This female A. geisleri shows the neutral colors and pattern that is typically shown. They are a brownish-gray to slightly yellow color depending on mood.

Aquarium Care and Breeding

They are undemanding in the aquarium and seem to do well in moderately soft water with neutral to slightly acid pH. As with most Apistos, they prefer live foods but will eagerly take frozen foods and will eat high-quality flakes or pellets. They do best with sand as a substrate and a complex habitat is important. Given good food, water, and habitat they are easily bred in typical Apistogramma fashion.

I acquired Apistogramma geisleri as Apistogramma sp. “emerald alenquer” at the 1997 American Cichlid Association Convention in Chicago and kept them for 7 or 8 years. They were easy to breed and the variety I had was one of the smallest Apistos I’ve ever kept. This differs from some written accounts that describe the species as being fairly large. I found them to be rather unremarkable fish with the exception of sparring males. The dark pigmentation that is expressed in these agitated males is very attractive but rarely visible and never sustained.

I have to admit that I never gave Apistogramma geisleri a prominent place in my fish room. I always had them around and spawned them often enough that I raised six or seven generations. However, I never set them up properly in a species tank to really get to know them. I consider this to be my loss.

Female Apistogramma geisleri showong brood care colors
This female is in her brood care coloration and shows the row of spots down her side that can aid in communication with the fry and the male. Although she is a yellower color than normal, she does not develop the bright vibrant yellow that many species exhibit.

Where to Buy Apistogramma geisleri

Apistogramma geisleri is not a common import but you might find them on a list if you look hard. However, it’s been years since I remember seeing it offered. It’s unlikely that you will run across this rare dwarf cichlid in a local pet store and if you do they will probably be mislabeled. However, they are a good dwarf with interesting behavior that is fairly easy to keep and breed. If you ever have the opportunity, I can recommend them. For more information about buying this or other species read the Guide to Buying Apistogrammas.


Most of the information I provide on this website comes from books and websites. While I don’t provide specific citations, these are the sources for most of my information.
South American Books:
Mergus Cichlid Atlas Volume 1 & Volume 2 by Dr. Uwe Römer
South American Dwarf Cichlids by Rainer Stawikowski, I. Koslowski and V. Bohnet
Die Buntbarsche Amerikas Band 2 Apistogramma & Co. by Ingo Koslowski, Translation by Mike Wise
South American Dwarf Cichlids by Hans J. Mayland & Dieter Bork
American Cichlids I – Dwarf Cichlids by Horst Linke & Dr. Wolfgang Staeck
West African Books:
The Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa by Anton Lamboj
African Cichlids I – Cichlids From West Africa by Horst Linke & Dr. Wolfgang Staeck
Apisto sites – the home page of Tom C – Global authority for identification and classification of apistogrammas
Apistogramma.com – An excellent international forum with expert members who gladly share their knowledge.
Much more information is available in our complete exploration of dwarf cichlid information resources.