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Yellow Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma Borellii) Care

Planning to add more small fish to your community tank?

If you are a huge fan of fantastic coloration and peaceful behavior, then the yellow dwarf cichlid will be one of the most fantastic additions to your community tank.

The great iridescent coloration that enhances the beauty of the peaceful tank community is one of the significant advantages of having this fish in your tank.

If you are a yellow lover, you will want to follow this post until the end.

Species Overview

Level of CareModerate
Life ExpectancyBetween five and ten years
Size1 – 1.2 inches (2.5 – 3 cm)
Tank SizeA 10 to 20-gallon aquarium
Tank EnvironmentSlow-moving streams and rivers, mimicking still water areas.
Tank MatesSmaller and medium-sized tetras, and other non-aggressive tank mates

You can also call this fish yellow apistos or Apistogramma borellii. They are attractive, fun, and eye-catching. But they have a semi-aggressive temperament.

Although it is also one of the most interesting things you’ll see about this fish.

They have such a fun personality. Most of them are curious creatures. It is great to know that this kind of fish can interact with you.

Some fish are ignorant. But some are shy so that you can’t interact with them. While the other fish tend to hide, they will spot you when you first make contact with them.

That is one of the reasons why you could appreciate them as your closest pets.

They can be one of the most attractive fish on the market, not only because of their coloration but also because of their fun endeavors. They love to explore the territory and often interact with the other things they see on the other side of the glass.

The yellow dwarf cichlidae, as the name suggests, belongs to the Cichlidae family.

Natural Habitat

In the wild, experts found these fish all across South America. They are common species in the rivers and streams in the Amazon basin.

The domestication of fish started five decades ago. Now, it is much easier to find fish in shallow waters.


It didn’t take much time until the breeders bred these fish in captivity. Now you can enjoy these fish actions up close in your favorite aquariums.

Their fun personalities are indeed the most intriguing selling points of the fish. It is one of the most demanded fish species in the community of aquarists.

But caring for this fish is not for beginners. It can be tricky to take care of the specimens to survive and thrive for a long time.


Yellow dwarf cichlid’s average lifespan is around five to ten years, depending on how you care for your pets.

It is important to maintain the water conditions and tank environment to make the fish thrive.


The appearance of yellow dwarf cichlids can be different from those in the wild.

In the freshwater aquarium, we can consider this species the most vibrant fish around. Ones will enjoy their shades of yellow, blue, and red. These colorations are common for yellow dwarf cichlid fish.


The color patterns are also different from one specimen to another. That is also the reason it is always interesting to bring this species to your aquascape.

You can choose the fish whose color matches your personal preference. You can also choose fish with different colors so that you can make your aquarium more colorful.

Males are the ones who have more vibrant colors. Although females look duller, it is also because of the environment of the tank.


When they reach mature age, the size can reach around 3 inches in captivity. However, the range can be varied if you put a group of fish in the same tank. The range can be between 0.8 to 3.1 inches.

Yellow Dwarf Cichlid Care & Tank Setup Guide

The small cichlids can be a bit tricky to take care of. In this case, the yellow dwarf buddies that you are about to take care of require some effort to keep them healthy and well. But it is not wrong that raising these fish is a very rewarding experience for all hobbyists.

Tank Size

You can pick the most fascinating fish for you and add it to your community tank. It is not hard to pick them up from your favorite pet store in your location.

However, you must know that these cichlids do not grow more than 3 inches. And a small group of them can live in a 20-gallon aquarium.

Some fish are peaceful, but most often they are semi-aggressive. But you can be sure that they adapt very well to aquarium life. If you plan to tag along with the other tank mates in the same community, you will want to consider having a larger tank to provide space for the species.

If you keep them in a small group, then you don’t need to buy an expensive and large aquarium to start. You could keep a huge tank as well to keep everyone happy.

Some breeders have even succeeded with only 10 gallons. But I am not going to recommend that, especially if you’re adding the tank mates.

The balance is a must. The better idea is to give every species the ample space that they deserve. Keep in mind that yellow dwarf cichlids can be semi-aggressive, especially if their territories are threatened.

Tank Conditions

The best way to make them thrive for a long time in the future is to provide them with a habitat that is similar to their nature.

Water Parameters

The water conditions are also the key to your fish buddies’ health and wellness. It is important to manage the pH levels and temperature. They are very sensitive to changes in the water. Improper water conditions can make them stressed and sick. The neutral pH water is the important basis for your fish.

It is imperative to control the pH balance and stay on top of levels daily.

Every week, it is recommended to change 1/3 of the tank water to prevent the increase in ammonia.

The good temperature is around 72 to 86° Fahrenheit. The pH level should be from six to seven.

The hardness is from 2 to 15.

The water parameters can make or break your care. I suggest you get a good quality aquarium test kit that can help you to make an informed decision about your tank.


If it is a community tank that you are caring for, it is important to maintain a space that is natural and comfortable for all of the tank mates. Natural decorations will help your fish to thrive.

Let’s start by decorating the bottom levels of your aquarium. You could use a sandy substrate. The sandy bottom will be much better with decayed leaves as well.

You could add aquatic plants as well. The dense vegetation is important as well. The plants are their source of food.

The adequate numbers of plants will also provide natural shade and hiding places for the fish. I’d recommend you add Java Moss to your aquarium.

Don’t forget to add some rocks and driftwood. These are great for hiding and sheltering. Not all the fish in your tank like bright lights. So, you could add these plants to make the light dim.

If you are planning to breed them in your aquarium, you could provide caves and housing. The couples can use these for spawning.

For water flow, they prefer the slower one. But for breeding, the water should be standing still.

Tank Mates

Most dwarf cichlids are peaceful. But when it comes to the yellow dwarf cichlid, I can not say the same thing. Males are the real aggressors in the community. They often brawl over territory. But here is what the caves are for.

The caves, rocks, and houses can allow them to split the territories.

Cichlids can trigger fights in the fish community. But the dwarf ones rarely do it. The semi-aggressive buddies will keep the peaceful atmosphere as long as there are no aggressive species in your community tank.

It is important to give them ample space to swim around and explore.

The yellow dwarf cichlid fish occupy the bottom levels of the aquarium more often. Avoid any larger and more aggressive species for their tank mates.

Besides the fish of the same species, here are the other species of the tank mates:

Don’t try to experiment by yourself to find a new species for your tank mates. It is much better if you ask your breeders or experts to give you useful tips before making the decision.

Food & Diet

You can feed them a mix of high-quality foods twice a day. The most popular items are tropical flakes, colored flakes, granules, shrimp pellets, as well as cichlid pellets.

I’d recommend high-quality cichlid pellets to help them stay fit and healthy.

Add more brine shrimp and worms to make the diet more balanced.

Since they are bottom dwellers, they won’t mind if you give them the sinking pellets. After all, they won’t have to compete with the other fish to get their food.

Breeding & Reproduction

It is recommended to provide a separate tank for their breeding mission. Choose the healthy couple to be added to your community tank.

The eggs will be laid on a flat surface. After spawning, you could take the male back to the main tank since females can be pretty aggressive.

After the fry can eat by themselves, you will also want to move the mother back to the main tank. Move the fry to the main tank after they reach the size of an adult.