The Apistogramma nijsseni is known in the hobby as the Panda Dwarf Cichlid, and originates within the Amazon Basin of South America. The male of this species has a yellow coloration, which turns into blue as it progresses to the rear of the fish. The caudal fin is rounded and outlined in red. The female of this species is almost entirely yellow in coloration with three or four black spots on its side. This fish will change coloration depending on its mood.
The Panda Dwarf Cichlid should be kept in an aquarium that is 30 gallons minimum, with densely planted groupings. They require plenty of open swimming areas but also need hiding places. A fine gravel to sand substrate is recommended. Although a semi-aggressive fish, they are also timid and should not be housed with large, aggressive fish. They require good water conditions, and regular water changes are a must.
The Panda Dwarf Cichlid is an egg layer that prefers to spawn within a cave. Once the female has laid her eggs, the male will follow to fertilize them. After fertilization, the male then leaves the brood for the female to tend to. The fry will be free swimming within seven to ten days, at which time they should be fed newly hatched brine shrimp. They are a fast growing species, and the fry will reach sexual maturity in about five months.
The Panda Dwarf Cichlid is a carnivore, and will consume a wide variety of foods. Freeze-dried bloodworms and tubifex, flake food, and both frozen and live brine shrimp and worms will make excellent food for these fish.