Apistogramma commbrae

Fish - 5Apistogramma commbrae are one of the rarer South American dwarf cichlids that are available in the hobby. You are unlikely to see these sold in a shop and only a handful of breeders keep these in UK.

So unsurprisingly, there’s very little information available about the species.

This beautiful cichlid comes from the Paraguay river system and it can also probably be found in southern Brazil and northern Argentina.

Fish - 7For the “species spec”, I have had the best of luck reading the original description from 1906[1] and the revision from 1982[2]. The types used for the species had a standard length of approximately 16-38 mm. Based on this and the size of the fish that I received, I would estimate standard adult sizes to be around 30 mm for a female and 40-45 mm for a male. The fish should be kept at 17-27°C (63-81°F), and ideally at 20-22°C[3].

As with most other Apistogramma, these are omnivores that benefit from small, live foods. My pair are currently on small bloodworm, daphnia, Aquadip cichlid flakes and Aquadip cichlid granules.

Both photos are of the same older juvenile/young adult female fish in stressed colours as they are not used to people yet.


[1] Regan, C.T. 1906, “Revision of the South-American cichlid genera Retroculus, Geophagus, Heterogramma, and Biotoecus.”. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Series 7) v. 17 (no. 97)::49-66
[2] Kullander, S.O. 1982, “Cichlid fishes from the La Plata basin. Part II. Apistogramma commbrae (Regan 1906)”. Revue Suisse de Zoologie v. 89 (no. 1): 33-48
[3] based on collection data, what Robert Wiltshire[4] of dwarfcichlid.com says and my own experience
[4] http://www.dwarfcichlid.com/Apistogramma_commbrae.php

Picking the species

By December, our schedules coincided enough to get some fish for the tank. I had wanted to find some Micropoecilia branneri as we live in a hard water area, but my search failed again. Instead, I decided to try our a very popular group of fish that I had not kept before. Being a complete beginner with killifish, I did my research, double and triple checking all the facts, but I failed to find guides to stocking in a “community” tank as most of the resources are aimed at breeders. On advice from some veteran killi-keepers from Seriously Fish, I found our that a 60 litre tank takes 8-12 Fundulopanchax gardeni ‘Innidere’.

The interesting thing about Fundolopanchax gardeni is that it is a very diverse species with many, many natural and cultivated colour morphs. I picked ‘Innidere’ based on mikev’s recommendation and as I had never seen a F. gardeni in person, that was good enough for me.

‘Innidere’ is usually attributed as a color morph of Fundulopanchax nigerianus. In reality, Fundulopanchax nigerianus has never existed. It is true that gardeni and nigerianum used to be considered two species, but this was a long time ago, when they were both considered to be in a different genus altogether, and were merged into one species in 1992, finally being named F. gardeni and F. gardeni nigerianus in 1996.

Nowadays, the correct naming is Fundulopanchax gardeni gardeni for what is traditionally considered F. gardeni and Fundulopanchax gardeni nigerianus for what is usually called F. nigerianus.

When I first started looking for this species, the breeder had some juveniles available. Unfortunately, by the time that I came around to buying the fish, they only had eggs. Fortunately, I didn’t read the description properly and bought eggs thinking it was the last pair of juveniles. Hatching these fish has proven to be quite interesting and easy.

Killifish eggSo unfortunately, I did not have the promised fish for the family on the day, but (again) luckily, I had also bought a pair of Apistogramma commbrae at the same time, which I have now let them borrow.