South American Dwarf CIchlids
A large number of the home aquariums kept by aquarists are smaller community aquariums. Along with the very popular smaller peaceful fish, many people are becoming attracted to the South American Dwarf Cichlid. These have many of the same character traits that their larger cousins in South America display. These include interesting spawning rituals, pair bonding for extended periods and strong parental behavior characteristics. Normally they are not as aggressive and can be kept in the smaller aquariums often relegated to community fish tanks. We recommend a tank of at least ten gallons but preferab le double that for many of these colourful additions. I found a very good introductory article about these fascinating fish
Dwarf Cichlids are popular as they display much of the colour and behavior of their larger counterparts but can be kept in much small aquaria. Another benefit is that they are usually non-aggressive and make great additions to community aquaria.
Taxonomy and Distribution
‘The term ‘Dwarf cichlid’ usually refers to any cichlid that is under 10cm (4″) when it is fully-grown. It is often attributed to species from South America and West Africa which are suited to soft acidic conditions, although the term is actually only used within fishkeeping. It is not recognized in science and as such has no taxonomic or ecological grounding making it poorly defined. In order to understand their taxonomy, one must look at the taxonomy of the family Cichlidae (from which they originate) as a whole.
This is a good foundational article on a very popular type of cichlid. The South American Dwarf Cichlid as a group are quite small when compared with most others in the cichlid family, and often quite peaceful towards most other occupants.
South American Dwarf Cichlids should be added after the tank matures
Just be aware they make poor fish to add to a brand new aquarium, they are often timid and can become shy in the face of many smaller and faster fish that flash by. I have found most to prefer the bottom of the tank and enjoy being offered a very heavily planted tank with some open spaces to perform spawning.
I took my “handle” from one of these fish, the Blue Rams – when it was called Microgeophagus ramirezzi. It has gone through a number of name changes over the past few years – including Papillochromis ramirezi, but has had its name reinstated in the past few years. No matter what these beautiful South American Dwarf Cichlid fish are called, they will always be a favourite in my book!