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Apistogramma cacatuoides Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid is a widespread species of cichlid that originated from the tributaries and Amazon river basin of Colombia and Tabatinga in Peru. Males are particularly colorful, boasting incredible bright orange coloration on the ample dorsal fin as well as the tail and anal fin. The body is typically a blue-violet sheen with a black horizontal stripe, which makes for a very distinctive and beautiful appearance. As with most dwarf cichlids, females are less colorful, but still have an attractive appearance and plenty of personalities.

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Features of Apistogramma Cacatuoides:

  • Apistogramma cacatuoides is sometimes known as the big mouth cichlid because of its large mouth
  • It inhabits shallow, slow-moving waters.


The Best Aquarium Size for Apistogramma Cacatuoides:

In most cases, the Apistogramma Cacatuoides can be kept in both small and large aquariums. If you have a smaller tank, these fish will do well in a community setting with other peaceful fish species. Rocks or plants can be used to create hiding spots for your Apistogramma Cacatuoides, and you should also make sure to include a good filtration system to keep the water clean.

We recommend providing a tank size of 60L for mature Apistogramma Cacatuoides. Tank size can vary greatly depending on how big or small the fish is and how many you plan to stock in the tank. The bigger tank is better for the health of your fish.

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Tank Mate Compatibility:

Apistogramma Cacatuoides can be kept with a variety of other fish species. Some good tank mates for them include smaller tetras, barbs, and danios. They do well in community tanks and will help to keep the other fish in check. They can also be kept with some of the more peaceful cichlids, such as angelfish and discus. It is important to avoid keeping Apistogramma Cacatuoides with aggressive fish though, as they may become stressed or injured.

Great tank mates for Apistogramma include:

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Feeding :

Primarily carnivorous and apparently feeds mostly on benthic invertebrates in nature. In the aquarium live and frozen foods such as ArtemiaDaphnia and chironomid larvae (bloodworm) should be offered regularly although most specimens will also learn to accept dried alternatives with pelleted products generally preferred to flake.

In Coburg Aquarium online, we stock a variety high quality fish food for your choice.

Search fish food in our High Quality Fish Foods collections.


Apistogramma Cacatuoides Tank Setup:

Aquarium Filtration

Filtration, or at least water flow, should not be very strong and very large water changes are best avoided with 10-15% weekly adequate provided the tank is lightly-stocked. A strong filtration system is absolutely necessary. Make sure the filter matches with your tank size.

Here are some great ones to consider:

Plants for Apistogramma Cacatuoides

The tank for these little cockatoo cichlids should be full of aquarium plants and plenty of hiding spots for them. Unlike larger cichlids, they won't dig up the plants in the tank. The darker the substrate, the more colorful the males will appear as well as make them feel more at home. They also like driftwood and plants with lots of roots above the bottom. The water should be clean and regular partial water changes are needed. Plants are beneficial in helping to maintain good water quality and adding enrichment to a fish’s diet. Prefers some dense planting with some floating plants and open swimming areas.

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Decorations for Apistogramma Cacatuoides

Ideal Ornaments for your fish tank:

After more nice quality decorations?  Check our Aquarium Ornaments.


Fairly dim lighting is recommended and plant species from genera such as MicrosorumTaxiphyllumCryptocoryne and Anubias are arguably best since they will grow under such conditions. A few patches of floating vegetation to diffuse the light even further may also prove effective.


Starting at the bottom of the tank, stick with fine sandy substrate. The rivers they reside in are usually littered with leaves. While you don’t need to replicate that in your tank, the fish will appreciate the sandy bottom. This species is known to dig every once in a while, so sand makes that possible without injury. Sand is also great for keeping live aquatic plants, which are a must-have for Apistogramma. 

A variety of Substrates are available at Coburg Aquarium. 

Additional Information

Fish Keeping Snapshot :

Preferred Water Parameters :

Aquarium Set-up Service:

Our design team enables us to create the tank you desire, install your tank where you wish to and provide a maintenance service to ensure everything runs smoothly. We can create almost any aquarium from the small home aquarium to large commercial aquariums for offices, hotels or restaurants. Coburg Aquarium, Australia's leading aquarium shop.

Please contact us if you need any custom tank services.