Dwarf Cichlids

Dwarf Cichlids

Apistogramma borellii "Opal"
Apistogramma borellii “Opal” – Picture by Dornenwolf

Dwarf cichlids are small members of the cichlid family.  Generally, dwarfs are considered to be 3 inches and under, but each individual has their own opinion and exceptions to the rule. Some varieties such as the Apistogramma and Pelvicachromis are almost universally accepted as dwarfs.  When looking from a wider perspective, there are numerous species of “dwarf cichlids”. Ex: Nanochromis, Dicrossus, Mikrogeophagus, Nannacara, Laetacara, etc.

Dwarf cichlid types

Below you can get an introduction to some of the most common types of dwarf cichlids. The information below is very general and is meant to be an introduction to dwarf cichlids in general.  Different species do however have very different requirements, and I highly recommend that you read our article on the species you want to keep.  The information provided below might not be correct for your species.  You can learn more by reading our species profiles.

South American Dwarf Cichlids

South America is home to many of the most popular dwarfs such as Apistogramma and the German ram.

African Dwarf Cichlids

The very popular Kribensis cichlid is from Africa.


Different species of dwarf cichlids have very different care requirements.  Some species are very hardy and suitable for beginners.  Other species require specialized conditions and are most suitable for experts.

What is the easiest dwarf cichlids to keep?

kribensis - a popular dwarf cichlids
Kribensis – picture by Justin Kraemer

Many different species are easy to keep. The easiest species that is commonly available in the aquarium hobby and suitable for a community aquarium is the Kribensis cichlid.  The Convict cichlid and Sajica (T-bar) cichlid are other small species (although not always considered dwarfs) that are very easy to care for but these two species can be very aggressive and unsuitable for keeping with community species.

What do they eat?

Most dwarf cichlids are predatory and feed on small insects, shrimp, and fish fry.  Some species prefer a diet containing more vegetable matter.

Tank size

The optimum tank size varies between species.

Can you keep dwarf cichlids in a community aquarium

Some species do well in community aquariums others do not.

Dwarf cichlid tank mates

Apistogramma bitaeniata dwarf cichlids
Apistogramma bitaeniata – Picture by Britzke

Choose species that have similar preferences and that are non-aggressive but hardy enough not to be bullied by the cichlids.

Dwarf cichlids & Angelfish

We often get asked if you can keep dwarfs and angelfish together. This can work very well provided you choose the right species and provide an aquarium that is decorated with both species in mind.  The same is true if you want to keep them with discus.

Dwarf cichlids with tetras

Many species of tetras are suitable to be kept with dwarfs as long as you chose species with similar requirements.

Plants & Pets Network

This website is a part of a network of websites featuring information about pets and different types of plants.  We run both English and Swedish speaking websites.  Our leading Aquarium website is AquaticCommunity.com.  A general aquarium website.  Our most popular Swedish website is Trädgårdsväxter.com.  A garden guide.