Apistogramma paucisquamous

Apistogramma paucisquamis male Thanks to the Digital Fishroom for the use of this photo

Apistogramma paucisquamis (A 219) is a highly variable species that is a member of the bitaeniata group of Apistogrammas. Found in the Rio Negro drainage, Apistogramma paucisquamis exhibits significant differences in coloration between individuals. Prior to its scientific description by Kullander and Staeck in 1988, this fish was known in the hobby as Apistogramma sp. glanzbinden.  I have seen glanzbinden translated as “Shiny Banded”, “Bright Banded” and “Shiny Strip” and all of these names refer to the band of shiny scales found running along the lateral line.

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, Brazil 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 and, at the time, no one even knew what the female would look like.

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According to most sources, 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, white and orange which were originally noted by Schmettkamp when he first presented them.

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 1990s. 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 too common fish room mishaps, I lost the entire tank of females. The remaining males were superb specimens with flashy colors and great attitudes. Unfortunately, I could never secure females and eventually lost them.

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 its original popular name in Germany. Thanks to the Digital Fishroom for the use of these photos

I was quite excited to see them as wild imports a couple of times in the early 2000’s 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 turned out that the “dull” colored male was actually a female and I found myself with all females – the exact opposite of my previous experience with this fish!

I found another hobbyist who had surplus of 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. In one of those funny twists, the person I sent females to had several A. gephyra males but no females so now he had pairs. Fortunately, the original seller had a couple of spare males which he sent so I then had A. gephyra which I bred and distributed for several years. Of course, I never did get the A. paucisquamis that I was hoping for.

Apistogramma paucisquamis remains a fish that is high on my wish list. I’ll 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. IF this is a fish you are seeking you will have to contact some of the specialty fish sellers we have listed in Where to Buy Apistogrammas and Other Dwarf Cichlids

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


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.