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Do Apistos Inter-species Breed?


  1. A. agassizi colour morphs
    by Pete Johnson <petej/> (Mon, 14 Oct 96)
  2. Interbreeding
    by Pete Johnson <petej/> (Mon, 26 Aug 96)
  3. Fwd: Re: interbreeding
    by wrisch/ (lisa wrischnik) (Tue, 16 Sep 1997)
  4. Re: wild-caught fish -Reply -Reply
    by "Kathryn Olson" <Kathryn.Olson/> (Tue, 17 Feb 1998)
  5. Cross Breeding In Apistos
    by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/> (Tue, 05 May 1998)
  6. A. uapesi
    by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/> (Mon, 20 Jul 1998)
  7. A. uapesi
    by Alysoun McLaughlin <alysoun/> (Fri, 03 Jul 1998)
  8. En: species, subspecies, strains, populations, races etc.
    by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/> (Thu, 25 Nov 1999)
  9. Dwarf cichlid question
    by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/> (Mon, 15 Nov 1999)
  10. [sacsg] Another Dwarf Cichlid and a Geophagus question
    by Alf Stalsberg <stalsber/> (Sat, 27 May 2000)
  11. Too many Apistos!
    by Fredrik Ljungberg <Fredrik.Ljungberg/> (Tue, 19 Jun 2001)

A. agassizi colour morphs

by Pete Johnson <petej/>
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 96
To: "apisto" <apisto/>

>got a couple of general questions that I'm sure have been discussed 
>before but I can't remember the answers.  Firstly will males and females of 
>different colour morphs mate with each other?  Secondly are the different 
>colour morphs due to different geographical locations or are they due 
>to breeding?  Finally I think I heard someone say once that wild agassizi 
>produce all the different colour morphs, is this true?

Different color forms of A. agassizi will mate with each other and 
produce viable offspring. I believe this is true even of the Rio Tefe 
aggies, which have very different markings.

The different colors do reflect different geographic areas -- A. agassizi 
has the widest distribution of any Apisto.

Uwe Romer, the source of much of my information about aggies, says that 
wild agassizi will produce all the different colour morphs. I suspect 
that domestic aggies will, too.

     If wishes were fishes we'd all have ponds.

Pete Johnson        San Jose, CA


by Pete Johnson <petej/>
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 96
To: "apisto" <apisto/>

Erik Olson asks:

>Question for the group, as I'm very new to this: will nearby species
>of Apisto interbreed? Is there a chance we'll end up with an ugly cross?

Uwe Romer says that interbreeding is very unlikely. Female Apistos select 
their mates and they are very particular that they match a specific 
species (or sometimes regional) set of criteria. Patterns play a part. So 
a female fish of a species in which males have distinctive markings in 
one region will not ignore a male of the same species but without the 
correct pattern.

On the other hand, A. agassizii, which has the broadest range of any 
Apisto, occurs in many color variations but Romer says these will breed 
with each other. He also says the fry will contain all the color 
variations -- they are selected out of existence in different areas as 
they grow older.

      If you want to respond to this message,
      send the response to
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     If wishes were fishes we'd all have ponds.

Pete Johnson        San Jose, CA

Fwd: Re: interbreeding

by wrisch/ (lisa wrischnik)
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997
To: apisto/

Hi all,
In regards to different aggie populations interbreeding, Bob said:

>I remember from my killie days that there are several species of Aphyosemion
>whose various populations and subspecies were occasionally incompatible as
>far as fertility, while other species in the genus were crossable with
>similar species.  Go figure.  Over time, isolated populations can develop
>differences in chromosome count, or differences in gene arrangement on the
>chromosomes.  How this happens, I don''t have a clue.  Maybe Dr. Uwe can
>handle the technical part of this answer.

Ed responded with:
>Some one on an earlier post mentioned that this is where the definition
>of "species" comes into play.  The definition of species has appeared to
>be a lot less clear-cut than my days in high school biology (long ago)
>when it was than members of the same species can produce fertile
>off-spring.  In recent years, I have heard that members of different
>species can conceivable produce fertile offspring but maybe not carry
>the fertility to the 2nd or 3rd generation (don't remember where I heard
>this).  Anyway--does anybody know what is the currently accepted
>definition of species?

Sorry Ed, there really isn't a definitive answer here. I'm certainly no
expert, but I can tell you what I know.

What you are referring to is called the 'biological species concept', which
pretty much defines a species as a group of actually or potentially
interbreeding individuals. Note
the "potentially" here - it allows for separate populations that might not
ever come into contact to be considered the same species. The problems are,
of course, things like cross-breeding, so where do you draw the line? Some
people define species strictly on the basis of morphology (ie. a type
specimen), but this ignores natural variation in a population and has its
own problems. There are several 'schools' with their own way of defining a

So, species are often not clear-cut entities -
like the above killie examples. Look at what Sven Kullander has done in
splitting up the Cichlasomines - different taxonomists can classify
organisms in different ways depending on the
morphological/behavioral/ecological critera they use to do so or what
"camp" they fall into. So defining a species is somewhat at the whim of the
person doing it.  It is a very tricky situation sometimes.

Bob was fairly correct on his take on speciation, but it certainly doesn't
have to require the kinds of drastic chromosomal rearrangements he
mentioned (although it can - many plants speciate by changes in chromosome
no.). Accumulation of point mutations or small deletions/insertions within
the DNA will do, as long as it keeps the two populations reproductively
isolated (
mechanically, behaviorally, whatever). Mutation is occurring all the time,
from cosmic radiation, mistakes in replication (your DNA replication and
repair mechanisms are certainly NOT foolproof. Skin cancer is one example
where mutaions in a skin cell cause that cell to replicate indefinitely
into a tumor), chemical mutagens (again, not only artificial, but present
in high concentrations in 'organic' food - plants have to protect
themselves somehow), among other things.

I guess the gist of this is that populations of aggies could be speciating
or not, depending on gene flow between the various pops. It's certainly
possible  that while aggies that are 100s of miles apart are not directly
interbreeding, they are still sharing genetic information throught the
intervening aggie populaitons (sort of a bucket brigade, if you will). I
could imagine that
there are local differences in mate choice that affect what color male a
female aggie prefers, and this could slow down hybridization between color
morphs without precluding it. Will specific aggie color morphs only
interbreed with certain related colors or what? Has anyone seen
interbreeding between the different "locations" of
Pelvicachromis taeniatus, as another example? I bet most of us try so hard
to keep our similar apisto species (and other fish) separated that we don't
see much of this.

Well, I better stop before everyone hates me.....

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Re: wild-caught fish -Reply -Reply

by "Kathryn Olson" <Kathryn.Olson/>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998
To: apisto/

>>> William Vannerson <> 02/16/98=20
.................... There
was a thread several weeks ago about incorporating location codes into
Apisto naming convention.  Here's another reason to implement such a
standard.  Known locations of a species may be genetically different
enough to warrant separation and to preserve the gene pool.

- -------------------------------------------------------------------------=

Sorry, Quite late on a lot of reply's here....schedule has been horrific =
and haven't gotten to check email, so I have resorted to lurking and =
reading the list replys.  There were a few threads I thought I might=20

....on the locale issue it may become more critical for breeding some of=20
the more difficult apistos.  I believe it is mendezi that they now =
there are subpopulations that won't interbreed based upon the river=20
system.  With closer analysis I think this is based on the horizontal
and/or vertical stripe pattern on their tail....which varies based upon=20
collection locale (river system).

On other notes...there is a scientist (?Dr Chao) that has started a whole =
collecting and education system with the native people.  The goal is=20
actually to help the natives make money utilizing their natural habitat...i=
e collecting fish rather than destroying it by logging or burning for=20
farmland.  Also, one of the goals of the program was teaching proper fish =
collecting and storage techniques so less of the collected fish die.  Some =
of the natives were also taught to record local collecting conditions.  =
Quite impressive goals and from the latest news I heard it was working.  =
The natives even had a holiday celebrating fish where the local kids even =
had a parade with fish costumes/posters/etc.

....on the sex ratio's.  Uwe is quite good about quoting how many species =
and the total fish raised.  From what I recall it was over 150,000 apisto
fry (I could easily be wrong though I am recalling this from an old=20
conversation).  Now how many were from which species, I cannot recall. =
There were also a few that were reversed, in terms of the number of males =
and females.  So don't assume that at low pH and you will always get ___ =
sex.  It depends on the fish.  I wish I had my copy of his article here =
with me, but afraid it is at home and I won't see that for another 48 =
hours.  Hopefully somewhere in the article it will say how many of what =
species, if not I will ask Uwe next time I talk to him...but that may be =
awhile.  Perhaps Julio will have some of that info.

Off for another sleepless night,  but apisto dreams

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Cross Breeding In Apistos

by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/>
Date: Tue, 05 May 1998
To: apisto/


If you Whittley's (which I've never heard of) are in fact A. hongsloi or another
member of the A. macmaster-group, cross breeding is very possible.  In fact this
is how the original imports of A. macmasteri and A. hongsloi were lost in the
70s.  The females were so similar that hobbyists didn't realize that they had
different species.  The F1s were viable and moderately fertile.  The F2s were
mostly infertile and the resulting fry were weak and ugly (deformed fins and
scales).  I don't believe in mixing apisto species from the same species-groups.
Apistogramma sp. Orangeflossen, A. sp. Mariae are two hybrid species written up
in the hobby literature.  I've also seen A. commbrae X A. sp. Rotwangen
(caetei-complex) hybrids, so crossing is very possible.  Please don't do it.

Mike Wise
Tech. Ed
Apisto Study Group

Tim Ellis wrote:

> I know this was covered in an earlier thread, but..... The undescribed
> apisto(Whittley) has turned out to be a prolific spawner, so I added a
> pair of Macmasteri and the Whittley has paired up with the female
> Macmasteri and  the male Whittley appears to be gaurding a nest in a
> cave. I was told the Whittley is probably in the Hongsloi genus because
> of collection locale. The females of both seem near identicalin
> appearance. Any thoughts?
> Tim
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A. uapesi

by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/>
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998
To: apisto/


Yes, apistos do interbreed.  A. sp. Orangeflossen (now lost to the hobby) was
probably an A. agassizii X A. bitaeniata cross.  Koslowski mentions that in the
1970s species of the macmaster-group were accidentally crossed by aquarists who
didn't notice the subtle differences in females of different species.  Because of
this Macs and A. viejita were repeated lost to the hobby.  Römer wrote about an
A. commbrae X A. regani-group species called A. sp. Mariae.  I got some hybrid A.
commbrae X A. sp. aff. caetei (Rotwangen) from a well known apisto breeder once.
Soares told me that problems with breeding the first group of A. sp. aff.
agassizii (Rio Tefé) brought in were due to accidental crossings with females of
another agassizii-group species, probably A. agassizii.  All of these fish showed
irregular scale rows, especially in the caudal peduncle area.  Note that all of
crossings occurred in the aquarium, where breeder fish had no selection of
mates.  Male apistos, particularly those of polygamous species, subscribe to the
notion - "Any port in a storm".  He'll breed with any female who responds to his
overtures.  In the wild, males will find a wider selection of females of their
own species with which to breed.  Non-intraspecific females will be less willing
to respond, since they can find males of their own species.  It's very unlikely,
but not impossible, to find hybrid species in the wild.

Koslowski reports that A. sp. Schuppenfleck (Scale-spot), a macmasteri-group
species, has irregular scalation indicative of a hybridized species.  I, however,
was given a pair by a hobbyist who had gotten them from a local wholesaler.  He
said that when he got them they were small, pale, hollow-bellied, and breathing
heavily - all indications that they were wild-caught fish!  If so, then
hybridization has occurred at times in the wild.

As for the unasked question, "Did I get an A. uaupesi female?", I can only give
an educated guess, based on the limited description you gave.

Dicrossus filamentosus and cardinal tetras (= red neons) are found only in the
upper Rio Negro and upper Rio Orinoco.  This is the same area in which A. uaupesi
and its probable color morphs A. sp. Segelflossen (Sailfin) and A. sp. Blutkehl
(Cut-throat) come from.  The only other species of the pertensis-group (which A.
uaupesi belongs to) with heavy females, and that come from this area are A.
iniridae and A. sp. Vierstreifen (Four-stripe)/Puerto Ayacucho.  The abdominal
bars on A. iniridae will easily differentiate it from A. uaupesi.  A. sp.
Vierstreifen/Puerto Ayacucho females show a caudal peduncle spot clearly
separated from the lateral band.  Since Hans' female has a lateral band that runs
into the tail, it can't be the Four-stripe Apisto.  Based on how quickly the
female responded to the male, it appears that she recognized him as belonging to
the same species as herself.  Considering that pertensis-group species are highly
monogamous, they would be extremely picky about a mate of the same species and
probably would ignore any suitor of a different species.

I'd suggest letting them breed.  If successful, carefully examine the offspring
for irregular rows of scales in the tail region.  If everything looks normal then
everything should be fine.

Mike Wise

> From: Hans <>
> I don't know how to put my quetsions in the list. I wonder if you could do
> it for me or tell me how to do it. I have an additional question as well,
> wether someone has any experience with keeping and breeding A. inridae,
> pulchra, trifasciata, diplotaenia or sp. "four stripes". Maybe I can be
> thinking of getting another species so that's why. I need to know that I
> don't absolutely need to sink my pH from 6.5 to 4 and the dGH from 8 to 2 or
> something like that. At this moment I can't afford the amount of time and
> money required to do this, it must stay a hobby!

The only species in this group that will spawn in your water as it is now is A.
trifasciata.  All of the others are black water species.

> I've kept a male A. uaupesi for some time (saved it from a feeding fish
> tank!) and I have been on the lookout for a female. My dealer saw them once
> ,but didn't buy immediatly so they were gone. Now he had a tank full of
> Dicrossus filamentosus and I noticed a small A. specimen with them. It was
> rather similar to A. uaupesi, but not quite.I checked the location at which
> Dicrossus f. is found and it is mighty close to the Rio Uaupes (from which
> also the red-nose tetre haul). So I got the fish nearly for free. Ii is
> certainly a female, and is in overall appearance and the extension of the
> longitudal stripe in the caudel fin very similar to the male. It is just
> smaller (3 cm), fatter and at times more yellowish than the male. As soon as
> the female was introduced, the world championship synchronised swimming
> started and all other pairing rituals like head and tail fin shaking, Mating
> rituals for sure. The male used to be a rather quit fish, chasing only if in
> a faul mood and not taking any interest in an A. agassizi female (the male
> died some time ago), but is now very active and hostile. Now I wonder if the
> fish can make a mistake. Would they pair if this was the only available one
> of the opposite sex even though from a different species? I mean, there are
> certainly some other species, which are related to A. uaupesi with similar
> looking females and might share a great deal of behaviour and color
> patterns. So is it likely that fih do not recognised their own species?
> cheers,
> Hans van den Bosch
> Amsterdam, the Netherlands
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A. uapesi

by Alysoun McLaughlin <alysoun/>
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998
To: apisto/

Just a note on the cross-breeding possibilities; a friend who is on this
list but shall remain anonymous for her/his own safety had a female A.
gephyra spawn with a male agassizii in a community tank.  I don't think
the eggs made it more than a couple of days (red-tail shark got 'em) but
it definitely happened!  On another unrelated note, does this offer any
insight as to which complex the gephyra should be "assigned"?  I noted
in Soares' article on complexes that gephyra wavered back and forth
between the agassizii and pertensis groups.

Andrew & Alysoun

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En: species, subspecies, strains, populations, races etc.

by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999
To: apisto/


I know of no one doing DNA work on apistos. Kullander had a graduate student
considering this project about 5 years ago, but apparently it didn't happen. The
major problem is supplying the needed material. From what I understand it would
require going to the type localities to collect new material. This is because
most type material is either too old to retrieve reliable DNA or was fixed in
formalin before being preserve in ethanol. It seems that formalin destroys DNA
for research purposes. Then think of the number of DNA tests that would be
needed. Koslowski presently recognizes over 150 different species. Add to this
the many different color forms or populations of these species and you can see
the process would be very expensive. If this is ever started, I'd expect that it
would be done only on a single species-group at a time. Right now the scientific
community doesn't see a lot of need to do such work on such a large (number-wise)
genus. If anything such work would be done on "end-species" that show links to
other fish genera (steindachneri-group to Gymnogeophagus, A. elizabethae to A.
(Taeniacara) candidi and commbrae-group species to A. (Apistogrammoides)
pucallpaensis). If I had a voice in it, I'd suggest trying to find the links
between the personata-, trifasciata- and cacatuoides-groups/complexs.

Mike Wise

Scot Gillespie wrote:

> On a more apisto point, do you know of anyone doing any DNA work on our
> dwarf finned relatives ;-)
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Dwarf cichlid question

by Mike & Diane Wise <apistowise/>
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999
To: apisto/


I doubt that the Rams would breed in the same tank with A. cacatuoides unless it
was very, very large > 8 feet long. Males of highly polygamous species like A.
cacatuoides have been reported to defend tanks over 2 meters long. Rams really
don't like a lot of disturbances when breeding or they will eat their eggs/fry.
Being smaller than male cacatuoides, and much less aggressive they wouldn't do
very well and definitely be out competed in every way. I'd try A. cacatuoides
with a dwarf Laetacara or maybe Bolivian Rams.

Mike Wise

Walter Igharas wrote:

> I am very curious and interested in the butterfly Ram and Cuckatoo.
> I was wondering if it is possible to have a pair of both species
> in a single tank. If it is possible what would be the minimum required
> tank
> size be? Also what types of plants are suitable for the both species to
> feel comfortable?
> Thanks.
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[sacsg] Another Dwarf Cichlid and a Geophagus question

by Alf Stalsberg <stalsber/>
Date: Sat, 27 May 2000
To: sacsg/

Hi Ken,

For many years ago I was afraid about the problem you mention, but after collect Apistogramma in SA I'm no longer consern about it, as long as there is both females and males. If there was only one male and one female of two differnt Apistos, then, I would not do it, but as long as there is both females and males, they know who is who. 

In Colombia I collect in a restwater pond in Caño Bocon six or seven different Apistogramma, they was to small to say what it was and what was male and females, but as they grow up they got the right partner.

So I don't think there should be any problems as long as you have both sexes of all the fish you want to keep there.

PS. I have not seen many plants in the biotops I have collect Apistogrammas.

Together with Geophagus there is not easy keeping plants, because the fish is sifting the sand all day long and the plants will float.

I would recommend Gymnogeophagus too, they are not so big, they are nice fish, BUT, remember to keep them cool, the low twenties 22 degree celsius to keep them alive long.


At 19:54 27.05.00 -0000, you wrote:

>     I am in the process of re-doing my 125g tank.  I want to do a 

>nicely planted, biotope type tank with S.A. dwarf cichlids and plants 

>found in their general habitat.  My question is, do the Apistogramma 

>species hybirize?  Will any apisto spawn with another apisto?  I

>would like to put 3 or 4 species in the tank, but I don't want to 

>create mutant fish should spawning happen.  I currently keep all of


>apisto's isolated in their own 15 and 20 gallon tanks, so I have not 

>been too concerned with this.

>     I have searched the internet and books but can not 

>find any information about this.  Any experiences, thoughts, or ideas 

>from the great minds known to frequent here would be greatly 


>     Another, unrelated question...Which species, if any, would do 

>well in a 55g tank?  Geo. jurupari is the most commonly available 

>in my area.  I really like the Geo. gymnogenys, but have never seen 

>them anywhere but books. I live about 2 hours south of where the 

>ACA convention will be this summer and am looking for "new" fish to 

>try and would like to try the Geophagus sp. Depending on the advise 

>I receive, I'll will probably wait and see what I can find there 

>this July. All of the discussions that were going on here regarding 

>those species have made me curious.  I am considering giving them a 




>Ken Roese

>AKA Cichlids1


>P.S.  Congratulations Tomasz on your recent article for TFH =)




>Find long lost high school friends:




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Too many Apistos!

by Fredrik Ljungberg <Fredrik.Ljungberg/>
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001
To: apisto/

No. I have yet to see even closely related species courting or spawning
I am not overly concerned that A. gephyra/gibbiceps/pertensis will
As for separating species it isn't so difficult if you have both species
in the tank. I once found A. gephyra and A. paucisquamis mixed in a
tank and you could definitely tell them apart. Due to a limited amount
space I often raise Apisto-fry from different species together and have
had any problems with that at all. It is a lot easier to tell species
if you have bred them and watched the fry grow up to adults.


salS wrote:
> Aren't you afraid of hybridization?  I know that I (except for a few
> species) have a tough time telling the females apart. Even though I agree
> with you that it's very satisfying watching the different species interact
> with each other, I constantly fight the urge to do so because I don't want
> any interbreeding.
> Good luck
> sal

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