As far as a biotope set-up goes, that’s about all you need to know – sand on the base, covered by leaf litter with driftwood, logs and/or twiggy branches. If you want it that bit more authentic, you can use South American-specific botanicals, but native botanicals will offer the same feel without the cost.
Equipment doesn’t need to be high-tech at all. You can use an air-driven filter, or an internal, hang-on or external power filter, but just don’t use anything too powerful. Apistos enjoy a rather sedate flow naturally, so it’s best to try to replicate that.
Powerful lighting is best avoided, and no lights is fine as far as the fish are concerned.
When it comes to water parameters, soft and acidic is the way forward for Apistogramma. It’s not essential to keep them healthy, but it is essential if you want to get them breeding. Soft and acidic isn’t such a simple affair if you live in a hardwater area, as it means producing your own reverse osmosis (RO) water, buying RO water from a local aquatics shop, or collecting and treating rainwater. For those in soft water areas, the simplicity of adding a dechlorinator may be all that’s needed.
Soft and acidic is the way forward for Apistogramma. It’s not essential to keep them healthy, but it is essential if you want to get them breeding