Text and Photos by Stan Sung
The day started out perfectly great. The golden afternoon sun was shining and we were pulling out an amazing assortment of aquatic gems from several plant – choked pools. We were in the far Northern reaches of Uruguay – a stone’s throw away from the border of Brazil. We were collecting magnificent Pyrrhulina sp, Hyphessobrycons, Simpsonichthys as well as Dwarf Cichlids of the genus Apistogramma. These little treasures glistened midnight blue and purple in the hot afternoon sun.
What could go wrong on such a day you may ask? Well …Fellow expedition member Jim Herman was collecting among the tangles of vegetation and gashed his knee horrendously on a razor – sharp piece of submersed rock. I looked up from my photo tank to see a look of horror in my friend’s eye … The blood was gushing out of his wound so quickly that everything below his knee was a wash of red. We knew we had to pack up quick and get Jim to the hospital at once. So much for the dreamy day collecting in perfect conditions and weather! There is a happy ending to this eventful day – and that is that. Jim was sewn up (no charge) at the efficient and well – run hospital in Bella Union.
APISTOGRAMMA BORELLII or UMBRELLA DWARF CICHLID
The males of this stately and colorful dwarf cichlid is can range from purple to sky blue – with a yellow tail. Females in breeding condition are striking in a suit of yellow and black. The Blue and yellow coloration of both sexes provide for a handsome little fish ideally suited for the home aquarium. In captivity, this is a durable and outgoing residents for the species or community aquarium. I placed eight wild caught individuals into an aquarium of 180 gallons along with other wild Uruguayan fishes. Species such as Characidium sp, Corydoras paleatus, Hyphessobrycon eques get along swimmingly with A. borellii. My specimens were constantly colored – up and bred repeatedly in this set up. These are not choosy fishes in regards to water chemistry or temperature. Basic neutral or even alkaline water of 72 to 80 degrees will suit them fine.
To properly duplicate their natural environment it is best to place them in an aquarium containing dense vegetation. Provide caves in the form of stones and roots. This species is a cave spawner. On a diet rich in frozen or live foods, these little cichlids will soon come into spawning condition. Up to 150 light red, eggs laid within a cave or crevice. The boldly colored females step up their aggression level at this point and will courageously defend the eggs and fry. The larger males will generally guard the immediate territory from any intruders. Eggs hatch in about five days and rearing them is straight forward as in any other small cichlid.
Finding quality stock of Umbrella Dwarf Cichlids can be difficult. Some inbred lines appear very slender and long – bodied. These usually have a washed out – light blue coloration in the males. Not at all like the stocky, richly hued males pulled out from the wilds of South America. Look for bright, outgoing, and interactive specimens of this and other Apistogrammas at your local fish store. I like to place a school of Serpae Tetras in my enclosures containing Apistogramma borellii – the red ruby coloration of the tetras, the blue and yellow dwarf cichlids compliment one another, and together they make a splashing display.