Apistogramma gephyra

Photo of Ap[istogramma gephyra male

Apistogramma gephyra (A231 – A233) is very similar to Apistogramma agassizii in both appearance and behavior. Several characteristics differentiate it from agassizii, especially its much rounder caudal fin (tail). While not regularly popular in North America it does occasionally appear on fish availability lists.

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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Apistogramma gephyra basics

Photo of male Apistogramma gephyra
This mature male Apistogramma gephyra has markings on his caudal fin that look like A. agassizii. However, A. gephyra don’t develop the sharp spade-like tail shape.

Apistogramma gephyra was described by Dr. Sven Kullander in 1980. It’s a member of the agassizii group of Apistogrammas and looks very similar to Apistogramma agassizii. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between Apistogramma gephyra and Apistogramma agassizii.

Apistogramma gephyra are smaller and more slender than agassizii and generally less colorful. All gephyra have a red edge to their dorsal fin and only a few agassizii forms have this. Apistogramma agassizii males have a very pronounced spade-shaped tail while those of gephyra are much rounder with a white submarginal band. In his original description, Kullander thought that there were several features that made A. gephyra similar to Apistogramma pertensis and the Greek word gephyra means bridge which Kullander used to indicate that he considered it to be a bridge between agassizii and pertensis. While we may have problems separating the species, the fish have no trouble at all. Collectors report both species are mixed together at places in the wild and each species remains distinct from the other.

photo of Apistogramma gephyra male facing toward the camera

Apistogramma gephyra in the wild

The full distribution range of Apistogramma gephyra is unknown but they are found in the Rio Negro and Rio Branco drainages in Brazil. They are also reported from the main Amazon and may be found in other waters in the middle Amazon area. Most collection reports have them originating from very soft and very acid waters, both clear and black. Many collection reports document waters with pH values below 4.5.

It’s unknown when A. gephyra were first introduced into the hobby since the earliest imports were probably considered to be a form of Apistogramma agassizii. After they were scientifically described in 1990, the first known German import was in 1981. Since that time they’ve been in the North American and European hobby where they are often imported together with Apistogramma pertensis, Apistogramma gibbiceps, and Dicrossus filamentosus.

Apistogramma gephyra female in neutral colors
The neutral coloration of Apistogramma gephyra females is a grayish-brown to dusky-yellow color. The more vibrant yellow and black markings are adopted during brood care.

A. gephyra aquarium care and breeding

Caring for A. gephyra is standard for Apistos. They do best in a tank with a complex habitat that includes secluded get-away spots along with multiple suitable breeding locations (caves). Sand is the preferred substrate but gravel is acceptable. Standard feeding applies, live and frozen foods are eagerly taken while prepared flakes and pellets are accepted. As with all Apistogrammas, aggression can be a problem but, in my experience, their aggression level is only average.

A. gephyra can be kept in pairs, trios, or harems depending on tank size and fish availability. They are typical cave-spawning Apistogrammas with the female taking responsibility for the eggs and developing fry. Most A. gephyra are wild fish and may be more demanding of water conditions. Often the pH will need to be reduced to 5.5 or lower to achieve success. However, fish from some collection localities are less demanding. You will have no way to know with your fish so start with good clean water and work from there.

Joint parental care is not uncommon and I’ve had males participate fully in caring for fry. However, the female will generally stay closest to the fry leaving the male to handle the outer areas. Apistogramma gephyra fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, micro worms, or any small food. Care is typical and they present few problems to the experienced breeder.

Photo of female Apistogramma gephyra in brood dress with a single fry near her face
This female Apistogramma gephyra is caring for her fry. Her yellow brood care colors are quite different from the non-breeding neutral colors.

We have complete information about all aspects of keeping and breeding Apistogrammas in these two articles:

Apistogramma and Dwarf Cichlid Aquarium Care

Breeding Apistogrammas and Other Dwarf Cichlids

Where to buy Apistogramma gephyra

Most of the Apistogramma gephyra offered for sale are wild imports as there are few hobbyist-supplied fish. If this is a species you are looking for keep searching as they will be around at times. If you happen to find them in a shop don’t hesitate to buy them. Give them good food, good water, and good habitat and you will find they are a great fish to keep. There is a lot more information in our guide Where to Buy Apistogrammas and Other Dwarf Cichlids


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.