The Apistogramma baenschi is a lovely and unique species of apistogramma that falls within the nijsseni complex. It looks a bit like the other members of the nijsseni complex, with a metallic sky blue wash as well as a bright orange ring around the edge of its tail. However, there is where the similarity ends, as the males of this species of dwarf cichlid have enormous fin extensions on their dorsal fin rays, and retain bright black vertical bands through their bodies, unlike other members of the complex. The shape of their tails is also different, with the top and bottom coming to rounded points rather than the typical oval tail. The females of this species of nano fish are also very striking, with gorgeous black, almost bee-like bands on top of a wash that ranges from a light yellow to a deep yellow orange.
Highly variable and beautiful, these fish were originally collected from the rio Huallaga in Peru, which is a tributary of the rio Marañon, which in turn feeds into the Amazon river in northern Peru. Where these fish are naturally found, there is plenty of leaf litter and branches rotting, bringing the pH down to the 4 to 6.5 range, so you should keep this in mind when housing these fish in your aquarium. The water hardness in the areas where they are collected is also undetectable, but our fish are currently European tank bred, and so they are much more tolerant of different water parameters than their wild caught congeners. These fish are perfectly happy in slightly acidic to neutral water, and with water hardness up to 200ppm. These South American dwarves would love to be in a planted tank. The addition of leaf litter and branches to make these guys comfortable will let them show off their best coloration, with the base coloration sometimes brightening up to brilliant flashes of blue, yellow, and even white.
In a community tank with smaller tetras or rasboras swimming around above them as dithers, these fish will thrive best. They will tend to be aggressive with other members of their own kind, so you should keep this in mind, and do not put too many in a space that is too small. Males especially will stake out quite a large territory to call their own. In this case, it also becomes more necessary to provide barriers of sight so that subdominant fish have a place to hide, as these fish do tend to get fairly aggressive despite their tiny stature, although this does tend to be a species that does well in a harem style setup. These fish ship individually bagged.
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