Despite normally being sold as such M. altispinosus is not recommended for the general community aquarium since it requires pristine water quality and is a poor competitor, although that is not to say it must be maintained alone.
Groups of peaceful, open water-dwelling characids or similar are particularly recommended tankmates since the presence of small schooling or shoaling fishes appear to be considered an indicator that there is no immediate threat in the vicinity and therefore can help reduce shyness.
Peaceful bottom-dwellers such as Corydoras spp. catfishes can also be included and many smaller loricariids are also suitable.
Be sure to research your potential choices in depth and avoid territorial or otherwise aggressive fishes, including most other cichlids, and those requiring harder water.
M. altispinosus is a relatively gregarious cichlid and should ideally be maintained in a mixed-sex group of 6-8 or more.
Mikrogeophagus spp. are benthophagous by nature, normally taking mouthfuls of substrate which are sifted for edible items with the remaining material expelled via the gill openings and mouth, although they will also browse solid surfaces and snatch items directly from the water column.
In the aquarium they should be offered a variety of live and frozen fare such as bloodworm, Artemia, Daphnia, grindal worm, etc. supplemented by good quality, sinking dried foods of a suitably small size. Wild fish may initially refuse the latter but normally learn to accept them over time.
Home-made, gelatine-bound recipes containing a mixture of dried fish food, puréed shellfish, fresh fruit and vegetables, for example, also work well and can be cut into bite-sized discs using the end of a sharp pipette or small knife.