Dwarf Cichlid – Types | Size | Tank | Aquarium | Care | Traits

Dwarf Cichlid

Dwarf cichlid – Any cichlid fish which doesn’t exceed 14 cm in size of their adult state in aquariums are referred to as dwarf cichlids. However, typically size is just not the one criterion, in addition to this, the fish ought to have a reasonably peaceable character (the power to get alongside even with smaller species), and never trigger severe hurt to the aquarium vegetation, don’t dig soil, and many others.

Cichlids are an unusually various group of aquarium fish, amongst which there are each actual giants and dwarfs.

We convey to your consideration the top 5 dwarf cichlids that may enhance any aquarium.

Neolamprologus Brichardi

Neolamprologus brichardi is also called Princess of Burundi or Lyretail Cichlid or Fairy cichlid and belongs to the genus Neolamprologus, however, she would undoubtedly prefer to be distinguished from the mass of kinfolk.

The cichlid is admired for its magnificence and attribute veil fins with pointed ideas. At first look, this fish doesn’t have a vivid shade, however, when you look carefully, you will discover many hanging particulars. The princess of Burundi can develop as much as 10 cm, the life expectancy within the aquarium is 7-10 years.

You can hold these fish in pairs in an aquarium of 60 liters. Be certain to offer the Princess of Burundi loads of swimming house and don’t litter the aquarium with decorations.

The species is extraordinarily peaceable and coexists nicely with even smaller kinfolk.


Julidochromis within the natural habitat inhabits the African Lake Tanganyika. This fish has an exceptional body form and shade, complicated them with different teams is extraordinarily problematic. The size of the fish varies from eight to 15 cm.

Unfortunately, adult julidochromis are usually not very tolerant of one another, so it’s higher to restrict yourself to at least one pair which is more than ample. With different commensurate cichlids, the Julidochromis get alongside significantly better.

To hold a pair of Julidochromis you’ll need an aquarium size of a minimal 100 liters or more.

Nannacara anomala, Golden dwarf cichlid

Nannacara anomala, higher identified to some aquarists as golden dwarf cichlid, are a dwarf cichlid species with stunning gold and blue coloring. Their small size, hardiness, and peaceable nature make them a great selection for newbies who’re in search of their first (dwarf) cichlid.

You can hold Nannacara anomala as a pair in at the very least a 20-gallon long aquarium (75L), though when you’ve obtained a bigger tank it’s additionally possible to maintain a harem: one male and a number of females.

Keep in thoughts that like most of their cousins Nannacara anomala can grow to be comparatively aggressive when guarding eggs, though this shouldn’t be an issue in case your setup is massive sufficient.

Like many different (dwarf) cichlids, Nannacara anomala prefers a comparatively densely planted tank and will certainly respect some driftwood or clay pots as a spot to cover and spawn.

Although they’re very hardy and can tolerate a large range of water values, they like softer water. Although some aquarists report difficulty with getting their Nannacara anomala to take dry meals you must attempt to supply a varied diet. They might be fed something from cichlid pellets to zucchini to stay meals.

German blue ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi)

A favorite for a lot of aquarists with regards to dwarf cichlids is Mikrogeophagus ramirezi or the German blue ram. This feisty quantity is appreciated for its spectacular coloration and attention-grabbing behavior.

A big aquarium is just not wanted when you’re considering retaining a pair of German blue rams. A 15 gallon (57L) long tank ought to do. The problem is in upkeep, not set-up.

German blue rams might be very delicate attributable to unhealthy breeding practices. Water high quality ought to all the time be pristine and you must keep away from overly assertive tankmates. Small, peaceable tetra species like neon tetras work higher.

Seeing a fish labeled as a German blue ram despite the fact that the colors are all off? It would possibly very nicely nonetheless be the species you’re in search of.

Mikrogeophagus ramirezi has been selectively bred into many alternative shade varieties. These include “electric blue” without the everyday markings in addition to a golden/yellow selection.

One fish that does look quite a bit just like the German blue ram and could be confused with it’s the carefully associated Bolivian ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus).

Though much less popular, the bigger Bolivian ram really makes a better option for many starting aquarists. It isn’t as fragile and does nicely in lots of communities.

Lamprologus Ocellatus

Lamprologus Ocellatus are residents of the African lake of Tanganyika. This group of fish is slightly heterogeneous, the size of the representatives varies from 2 to 12 cm. These are also called shell dwellers or shell dweller cichlid.

These Lamprologuses deserve particular curiosity and love from aquarists. These are species whose life cycle is inextricably linked with empty shells of lake gastropods.

Lamprologuses are very hooked up to their dwelling and go away it solely once they now not match on the old dwelling house. Often, skirmishes might be noticed if two people have chosen one shell.

To keep Lamprologus, you’ll need an aquarium from 40 liters (for big species – from 100 liters). Fish are nicely suitable with calm, proportionate species.

Apistogramma cacatuoides (cockatoo cichlid)

Apistogramma cacatuoides, also called cockatoo cichlid, is a dwarf cichlid named after the male’s vivid coloration and enormous fins, which might range from yellow to red.

Although these fish aren’t absolutely the most peaceable dwarf cichlids round, particularly when coping with eggs or fry, they may cohabit nicely with peaceable backside dwellers and education fish like rasboras.

They are appropriate for newbies attributable to their hardiness and skill to adapt to a large range of water values.

A male/feminine pair of Apistogramma cacatuoides might be stored in at the very least a 20 gallon long (75L) aquarium. You also can hold a harem in bigger aquariums.

A planted tank is most well-liked, and when you’re considering breeding these cichlids it’s additionally a good suggestion to offer some sort of cover within the type of flowerpots or cichlid hides, which might be used to put eggs in.

When it involves tankmates, as with most cichlids it’s greatest to keep away from different (dwarf) cichlids, particularly in smaller setups. Small education fish is a significantly better thought and will normally be left alone.

Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Starting off with my personal favorite, Neolamprologus multifasciatus is a shell-dwelling Tanganyika cichlid. Though not as colorful as the opposite dwarf cichlids mentioned right here, they make up for that in some ways.

For instance, they are often stored in harems as a substitute of pairs even in smaller setups, as they’re very tiny and solely require a minimal of round 15 gallons (57L). They can even tolerate most peaceable tankmates.

Their most attention-grabbing trait, although, is the truth that they type small territories around snail shells! This makes them very fascinating to maintain and undoubtedly totally different from different small cichlid species.

To imitate the natural habitat of your Neolamprologus multifasciatus, use a sandy substrate and remember to present loads of snail shells (you should use meals protected ones that should be used to present edible snails in, like these). Two shells per fish is an effective place to start; remember to unfold them across the tank.

As with all cichlids from these areas, more durable water with a higher pH (neutral or higher) is preferable.

Kribensis Cichlid

Kribensis Cichlid is a fish that’s frequent in tropical areas of Africa. This is a variegated colored cichlid, which reaches a size of 10 cm. This fish is available in varied colors like brown, cherry, golden, and different shades.

This is likely one of the brightest colored dwarf cichlids. Scales on the edges at totally different angles of view shimmer with purple and azure colors.

True, for this, the fish must be stored in appropriate situations – in the event that they really feel uncomfortable, then the color will flip very pale. For colorful appearances and a slight bend of the muzzle (like a beak), Kribensis Cichlids are referred to as “parrots.”

An aquarium with a quantity of 40 liters might be sufficient to maintain one pair of fish; if there’s a want to make a number of pairs, then the quantity must be elevated, in addition to delimiting the territory with the assistance of decorations.

In common, Kribensis is a peace-loving fish, nevertheless, it’s higher to not choose sluggish swimming fish or these with veil fins as their tank mates. The aggression of those cichlids is very pronounced through the spawning interval.

Natural Habitat

N. multifasciatus are native to the world’s longest lake, Lake Tanganyika, positioned in East Africa’s Great Rift Valley. These tiny fish have dark-gray vertical stripes on a cream-colored body with grey fins.

They make their houses within the discarded shells of Neothauma tanganyicense, a freshwater snail additionally discovered within the lake.

The lake ground is sandy, and the water may be very exhausting. Multis stay in comparatively peaceable shell colonies, which is likely one of the causes they’re really easy to maintain within the residence aquarium.

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Dwarf Cichlid Feeding

N. multifasciatus are usually not choosy eaters. In the wild they eat predominantly small invertebrates, however, they may eat absolutely anything within the residence aquarium.

For a primary upkeep diet, I exploit a staple granule. The males will eat on the floor however dominate the females there, so I want sinking granules. They appear to offer the females more alternatives to feed without having to compete a lot with the bigger males.

Multiscan even eat stay or frozen meals, resembling bloodworms and brine shrimp, however, these aren’t necessary until you are attempting to get them to breed.

If you present a chunk of meals a lot too huge for them to eat, the little cichlids will assault in a pack, tearing the meat to items. When they’re feeding this manner, you may actually see the potential of these very sharp teeth. Within a couple of minutes, all of the meals might be gone.

Living Space

My colony is stored in a 20-gallon high tank. Like many different cichlids, they do higher when they’re just a little overcrowded. Due to their small size and shy nature, they don’t compete nicely for meals, particularly with different bigger cichlids, so they’re greatest stored in a species tank.


I exploit full-spectrum florescent lights and a nutrient-rich plant substrate, which fits their need for a small-grain substrate and in addition permits me to plant Java fern and Cryptocoryne wendtii.

Both plants are hardly sufficient to deal with the fundamental pH, and C. multifasciatus have little interest in consuming them.

Dwarf Cichlid Hiding Places

To present hiding locations, I buy escargot shells from my grocery retailer and rinse them in aquarium water before sinking them within the tank. Any retailer that has a gourmand meals part is more likely to have escargot shells, and so they make great houses for the multifasciatus.

You also can use empty shells from apple snails or thriller snails that you could be discovered at your native fish store, however generally these are fairly small. Hermit crab shells and even small seashells that you just decide upon the shore would work offered you clear them very nicely in aquarium water before use.

I want escargot shells as a result they’re huge, which makes it simpler to see when there is fry within the shell opening.

There isn’t any need to rearrange the shells in any particular means within the tank as a result of the fish won’t go away them the place you place them anyway.

If you can’t discover ample shells, small PVC elbows will do, however, cap one end to make them more shell-like.

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Water Requirements

Multis need water temperatures of 75° to 81°F with a pH of seven.8 to 9.0, and the water must be exhausting. They additionally need a sandy substrate and loads of shells.

Males might be as much as 2 inches in size. Females are smaller at about an inch. A 10- or 20-gallon aquarium is ample for his or her wants.


Over time the hardness of the water will deteriorate the leaves of the Java fern, however, I nonetheless like so as to add vegetation to a cichlid aquarium.

In addition to creating it look good, they may assist keep the water high quality. I pull any leaves which have eroded at any time when I do a water change. The vegetation proceeds to supply new growth regardless of the cruel situations.

However, if you wish to have a more authentic-looking natural tank, you must use aquarium sand and miss the vegetation.

Regardless of what small-grain substrate you select, be sure it’s at the very least 2 inches deep—these little fish are diggers. If you don’t have sufficient substrate, they may go away naked patches on the underside of your tank.

Dwarf Cichlid Behavior

Perhaps one of the best purposes to maintain multifasciatus is to look at their fascinating antics. They are very explicit about their setting and are continuously sculpting it to go well with their wants.

They dig by scooping up mouthfuls of the substrate after which spitting it out. They can utterly change the panorama of a tank in a single day.


Unlike different shell dwellers, N. multifasciatus don’t bury their residence shells, however, they push them and transfer them around.

They dig a lot within the substrate that any spare shells within the tank typically end up utterly buried. Their fixed digging is why it’s so vital to make use of a small-grain substrate.


Males set up territories, very tiny territories to make certain, however territories nonetheless. At my home, 6 p.m. is territorial dispute time. At around that point each night, the males will be placed on territorial shows.

They swim around one another, chase one another, and infrequently even lock jaws. I’ve by no means lost a fish and even had one injured throughout this type of behavior, however, presumably it might occur contemplating they’ve very sharp teeth.

Sharing with Snails

My multifasciatus share the tank with Malaysian trumpet snails. The males don’t just like the snails venturing into their territories.

If a snail will get on one of many multifasciatus residence shells, a big male will pull the trumpet snail off and swim it to the opposite aspect of the aquarium and drop it.

This is just not an insignificant feat, since the trumpet snails are virtually as huge because of the cichlids.

Of course, essentially the most well-known behavior of those small fish is their quick escape into the shells. It’s wonderful how shortly they will all disappear when startled, leaving what seems to be an empty tank.

Dwarf Cichlid Breeding

Getting N. multifasciatus to breed is just not troublesome. All that’s required is a male, a feminine, a shell, and high-quality contemporary or frozen meals. I exploit frozen child brine shrimp. My starter colony of six multifasciatus grew to thirty in a short time.

When I need to decelerate their breeding attributable to aquarium size constraints, I simply cease the brine shrimp and go back to the granules. You will nonetheless see occasional fry, however not practically as typically. It is so simple as that.

N. multifasciatus lay their eggs within the shells so you’ll not know if breeding has been profitable till you see the tiny fry seem on the mouth of the shell. Like most cichlids, multifasciatus make good parents.

They shield their younger and stand guard on the mouth of their shells once they have a brood. The tiny females shouldn’t have massive broods.

Since they lay their eggs contained in the shell, it’s troublesome to inform if the small broods are attributable to not laying many eggs or a low charge of egg viability.

A typical brood in my tank consists of three to 6 fry. The fry keeps very near the shell till they’re over a centimeter long however even then, like all multifasciatus, they don’t enterprise removed from the home. Read more about ornate-bichir-polypterus-ornatipinnis.

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