Moods of Apistogramma cacatuoides
Few weeks ago, I purchased two pairs of Apistogramma cacatuoides that are now completely settled down in my aquarium. South American dwarf cichlids in general and apistogrammas in particular are some of my favorite tropical fish.
Apistogramma cacatuoides has been established in aquarium in 1950s, and comes in variety of color morphs. Obviously, it is the spectacular look of the males that attract most attention. The first several rays of the male’s dorsal fin are greatly elongated and are often carried erected. They use their fins to interact with other individuals, to court the females, and to threaten other males. As with other apistogramma species, females are rather blunt in color and shape, but they too do have their charm and personality.
I’ve been observing my A. cacatuoides for a few days now, and I managed to squeeze few photos of males as well. It is very interesting to observe their behavior and the way they react in different situation. Although, I still wait for a killer shoot of a one of the males flaunting for the females, here are few interesting situations I captured.
Dominant male erecting its dorsal fins as he prepares to chase another male away. This behavior is very common and occurs regularly as the males try to establish their dominance. Same behavior can be observed in other situations, especially during feeding, when they also try to chase other fish away.
Apistogrammas are known to make some wild gapes, and cacatuoides are certainly no exception. In some cases, this behavior can be predictable, as apistogrammas tend to pick up some gravel and they open their mouth wide as they spit the gravel out. Other times they gape without apparent reason. The whole thing usually lasts second or two, so in order to photograph it; you have to be ready to press the shutter as it happens.
In order to provoke threatening behaviour I have placed a small mirror inside the aquarium. As the male sees his own image in the mirror, he slowly approach with gills erected and fins clamped. Few moments later he attacks his own reflection in the mirror and try to bite it.
Close up shot of male Apistogramma cacatuoides few moments before he attacks his own reflection in the mirror.