Apistogramma macmasteri: A Comprehensive Guide

Apistogramma macmasteri: A Comprehensive Guide

Apistogramma macmasteri, commonly known as the Macmaster's Dwarf Cichlid, is a striking and colorful freshwater fish renowned for its vibrant hues and interesting behavior. This guide provides detailed information on Apistogramma macmasteri, including its natural distribution and habitat, dietary needs, tank mates, and spawning practices, with a special mention of the Red Neck Gold color form.

Distribution and Habitat

Apistogramma macmasteri is native to the Meta River basin in Colombia, South America. They are found in slow-moving, shallow waters with dense vegetation, leaf litter, and submerged roots. These environments are characterized by soft, slightly acidic water and ample hiding spots.

Size and Appearance

Apistogramma macmasteri typically grows to a size of about 2.5-3 inches (6-7.5 cm). They exhibit a stunning range of colors, with males displaying bright hues of blue, red, and yellow. The dorsal fin is elongated and edged in red, while the body features intricate patterns.

Red Neck Gold Form: The Red Neck Gold form of Apistogramma macmasteri is a selectively bred variety, created through careful breeding to enhance specific color traits. This form is characterized by its bright gold body and the striking red coloration around the neck and head area. This vibrant color form is especially popular among aquarists for its unique and eye-catching appearance.

Water Parameters

Maintaining optimal water conditions is crucial for the health of Apistogramma macmasteri:

  • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)
  • pH: 5.0-7.0
  • Hardness: 1-10 dGH

These fish thrive in well-maintained aquariums with stable water conditions and good filtration to mimic their natural habitat.

Tank Mates

Apistogramma macmasteri are relatively peaceful and can be kept with other similarly sized and tempered fish. Suitable tank mates include:

  • Tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Corydoras
  • Small peaceful cichlids
  • Dwarf gouramis
  • Livebearers like guppies and platies

Avoid housing them with larger or aggressive fish that might intimidate or harm them.


In the wild, Apistogramma macmasteri are omnivores, feeding on small invertebrates, plant matter, and detritus. In captivity, they thrive on a varied diet:

  • High-quality flakes or pellets formulated for cichlids
  • Live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia
  • Blanched vegetables like spinach and zucchini

A varied diet ensures their vibrant coloration and overall health.


Apistogramma macmasteri are active and engaging fish, often seen exploring the tank's substrate and decorations. Males can be territorial, especially during breeding, so providing ample hiding spots and territories is essential. They are best kept in pairs or harems with one male and multiple females to reduce aggression.


Breeding Apistogramma macmasteri in captivity can be achieved with the right conditions. Key points include:

  1. Conditioning: Feed the breeding group a high-protein diet, including live and frozen foods, for several weeks.
  2. Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank with caves, plants, and other hiding spots to provide suitable spawning sites. For better results I suggest lowering pH to around 6.0
  3. Spawning Process: Perform regular water changes with slightly cooler water to stimulate spawning. The female will lay eggs on a flat surface or inside a cave, which the male will then fertilize. The female will guard the eggs while the male defends the territory.
  4. Hatching: Eggs typically hatch within 3-5 days, and the fry become free-swimming after another 5-7 days. Feed the fry infusoria or liquid fry food until they are large enough to consume baby brine shrimp.

Fun Facts

  • Apistogramma macmasteri are known for their stunning coloration and dynamic behavior, making them a favorite among cichlid enthusiasts.
  • They are intelligent and can recognize their keepers, often interacting with them during feeding times.
  • These fish are highly territorial during breeding, requiring carefully planned tank setups to manage aggression.


Apistogramma macmasteri, with their brilliant colors and intriguing behavior, make a delightful addition to any freshwater aquarium. By understanding their natural habitat, dietary needs, and care requirements, aquarists can ensure these charming fish thrive in captivity. Whether you're a novice or an experienced fish keeper, Apistogramma macmasteri offers a glimpse into the world of dynamic and interactive freshwater fish.

Looking to add Apistogramma macmasteri to your aquarium? We recommend purchasing from trusted suppliers like The Wet Spot Tropical Fish and Dan's Fish for high-quality, healthy fish. These reputable retailers offer a great selection and expert advice to ensure you find the perfect fish for your tank.