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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: About 3 weeks ago my male died, and not long after, one of the females started to change coloration, and the fins started to grow. Is it possible for the apistos to change sex?

A:You describe a frequent and a very typical phenomenon amongst Apistogramma.

Subordinate males ("sneaker males") camouflages themselves as females to avoid the dominant male, this helps the subordinate male to survive in an enclosed space. In nature this occurs when low water season sets in, and the small streams dry up to small ponds. Or for some other reason, their habitat is overcrowded.

Males that grows up together with one (or more) Alfa males, can show less developed fins, reduced size, and almost the same coloration as females. The body form and fins will sometimes indicate a difference, but it can be very well camouflaged

The dominant Alfa male is often fooled by this; it happens that "sneaker males" can camouflage themselves so good that they get  access to a Alfa males territory, under the cover of being a female. And in many cases mate with the females, before the Alfa male gets his chance.

When the Alfa male disappears, when he dies or for other reasons is gone, the subordinate male will have no reason to camouflage itself anymore, and he will develop natural male coloration and male fin shape.

Sex change has not been proved with Apistogramma. Some ( Koslowski is one of them) claim that they have observed this with Apistogramma wapisana ( formerly known as Apistogramma sp. "Balzfleck (Courting-Spot)" and Apistogramma borelli, but it has, to my knowledge, never been proved.

- Tom C -