Some notes on the more common species of Dwarf Cichlids

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Some notes on the more common species of Dwarf Cichlids

Postby Apistogramma » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:41 pm

I am going to put together a thread describing the more commonly found Dwarf Cichlids, their requirements in the aquarium and suggested tank mates.

(I'm not going to look at apistogramma in this thread because there are so many, perhaps they will be the subject of another thread, also in my opinion they are not really one for the general community tank.)

Please bear in mind that a 'community tank' is usually a totally unnatural situation for most fish as we tend to mix fish from different biotopes together in a way that wouldn't occur in the wild. I am going to group the fish together so that you can create a biotope tank if you wish.

Let's start with a more general definition of the Cichlid:

Cichlids are fish species belonging to the Family Cichlidae, an extremely diverse group. Cichlids inhabit a multitude of different environments. The different cichlid species have developed in order to fit their own specific niches and different cichlid species can therefore vary significantly when it comes to size, temperament, feeding habits, preferred water quality, etcetera.

Aquarists usually divide the cichlid species into three main groups: African cichlids, Central and North American cichlids, and South American cichlids. In Africa, the Great Rift Valley region is home to a wide variety of different cichlids that have been extremely popular among aquarists since the 1960s and a lot of the species are endemic to the lake where they live. Dwarf cichlids are sometime counted as a special group even though they technically belong to one of the African or American cichlid groups.

Dwarf cichlids are popular among aquarists since they do not require very large aquariums, but dwarf cichlids are more sensitive than their larger counterparts and crowding a small aquarium with dwarf cichlids simply because the “fit in the boxâ€
Last edited by Apistogramma on Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Apistogramma » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:12 pm

Your first cichlid aquarium:

I will try to suggest a setup that will be easy to maintain, interesting and beautiful to look at and will allow the fish to breed without feeling threatened or stressed so that you can observe and appreciate their fascinating behaviour.

The aquarium itself should be the largest you can afford, or fit in the house (if that means putting it in a different room then so be it)! See this article for more advice on where to position a tank.
I would recommend the tank be a minimum of 30 UK (36 US) gallons/120 litres.
*This is mainly because a larger aquarium is easier to maintain and easier to keep in good condition.
*Cichlids are aggressive, even Dwarfs. Some are much more aggressive then others but almost all cichlids are very aggressive when breeding and a larger aquarium makes it easier for weaker fish to avoid being bullied.
* The behaviour of the fish gets more interesting if you can keep more then one pair. This allows you to see how the fish interact and how the parents care for and guard their young.
(Cichlid Care 07)

The water quality must be the best you can make it (as it should be for any fish) and your tap water will probably dictate how large your water changes need to be to keep the nitrate content in the tank down to an acceptable level. A 25-30% change per week is usually adequate. Change the water once a week rather than over several days as this will ensure you keep the nitrates at the lowest possible level.

Cichlids come from habitats where there are plenty of plants for shelter and breeding. Therefore it makes sense to plant the tank at least lightly. See this list of plants that will survive in aquariums with low lighting levels. Many of these plants are also native to the natural habitat of the cichlids. Several will do well attached to bogwood, which will also add to the aesthetic value of the tank. Tank safe rocks will also benefit the tanks appearance and promote spawning. Substrate should be a fine gravel or sand and should be a dark colour.

Cichlids should be fed a varied diet of good quality food including flakes, cichlid pellets, some freeze dried foods as a treat (or live food) and the odd wafer or piece of vegetable (if they will take it).
(Various sources)
Last edited by Apistogramma on Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Apistogramma » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:58 pm

When cycling your tank it's best to use ammonia to 4ppm. When ready you can then introduce the full stock to the tank (apart from less hardy species which may need a mature tank) and reduce possible aggression caused by introducing new fish into the territory of others. ALL NEW STOCK MUST BE QUARANTINED BEFORE BEING INTRODUCED TO ANY TANK!

When stocking the tank it is important to take into account the territory that is available to the fish. This is where stocking levels must be combined with common sense to decide exactly how many fish can be kept in the tank. This will depend on whether they are mid or bottom dwelling fish and what kind of spawning site they prefer, wood, leaves, caves, pits etc.

More aggressive species do better when just one pair of that species are introduced to the tank while less aggressive species do better in a larger group, when they will interact with one another. There is usually little interaction between different species unless they are fighting, in a properly stocked tank this should rarely happen unless parents are protecting a brood.

I have listed below more common Dwarf Cichlids. Those that I have not included are either very rarely imported, very difficult to keep or I simply haven't researched the species yet! Please PM me with any additions you feel are relevant or have seen for sale locally.

South American Dwarf Cichlids:

Dicrossus filamentosus / Checkerboard Cichlid
Laetacara curviceps / Dwarf Flag Cichlid
Nannacara anomala / Goldeneye Cichlid
Microgeophagus ramirezi / Ram Cichlid
Microgeophagus altispinosa / Bolivian Ram
Biotecus opercularis

West African Dwarf Cichlids:

Anomolachromis thomasi / African Buttefly Cichlid
Hemichromis bimaculatus / Jewel Cichlid
Nanochromis parilus
Nanochromis transvestitus
Pelvicachromis humilis
Pelvicachromis pulcher / Kribensis
Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor multicolor / Egyptian mouth-brooder
Last edited by Apistogramma on Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby Apistogramma » Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:28 pm

The following information is the result of comparing several sources to create a reliable profile on each species.

South American Dwarf Cichlids:

Dicrossus filamentosus / Checkerboard Cichlid
Image
Size: 3"
Tank setup: Well planted tank. Inhabit the lower area of the tank.
Compatibility: Aggressive. Keep in pairs. Can be kept with a shoal of small tetras.
Temperature: 23 – 25°C
Water chemistry: Soft and acidic pH 5.0 - 7.0 dGH 5 - 8
Sexing: Males are large, more colorful and have more pointed fins. Females have been known to change sex if there are no males present.
Breeding: pH 5.0. Open spawners. Females are poor parents.
Feeding: A good quality tropical flake or granule plus frozen shrimp & worm foods, daphnia, beefheart.

Laetacara curviceps / Dwarf Flag Cichlid
Image
Size: 1.6-2"
Tank setup: Planted - bottom dweller.
Compatibility: Peaceful with family members and other species.
Temperature: 25°C
Water chemistry: Soft and acidic pH 6-7.8 dGH 0
Sexing: Male is larger and slightly broader. Female has slightly shorter dorsal extensions and pelvic fins.
Breeding: pH 6.8. Parents spawn on a flat surface or pit and raise the fry together.
Feeding: A wide variety of foods including flakes and the odd feeding of live foods.

Nannacara anomala / Goldeneye Cichlid
Image
Size: Males - 3" Females - 1.5"
Tank setup: Planted tank with bogwood and caves. They mainly inhabit the lower regions of the tank.
Compatibility: Peaceful, need to be kept in a ratio of several females to one male.
Temperature: 22 – 25°C
Water chemistry: soft and acidic pH 6.0 - 8.0 dGH 5 - 19
Sexing: Males are almost twice the size of females and exhibit more colour. Sub-dominant males will often camouflage themselves in female colours to avoid being harassed by the dominant male.
Breeding: 27°C Females care for fry aggressively. Males in breeding colour are an irridescent bluey-green. Females have a checkerboard pattern when breeding. This species is particularly easy for beginners to breed. The maternal instinct is so strong in the females that if they lose their own fry they have been known to take care of brine shrimp or the fry of other females as if they are their own.
Feeding: Carnivore - they prefer live food, such as black worm. However, they will quite readily accept flake and frozen bloodworm. Small earthworms can also be fed occasionally.

Microgeophagus ramirezi / Ram Cichlid
Image
Size: 3 - 4"
Tank setup: Planted tank with bogwood. They inhabit the mid and upper regions of the tank.
Compatibility: Peaceful, keep in groups or pairs. Aggressive when spawning.
Temperature: 23 – 30°C
Water chemistry: pH 5.0 - 7.0 dGH 0.0 - 12.0
Sexing: Males are less rounded and more colourful than females with longer dorsal spines.
Breeding: Spawning taking place on a flat rock or large leaf. They will clean an area and spawn, both parents guard the fry. Tank bred specimens usualy make bad parents.
Feeding: Flake/pellet, live or frozen bloodworms and brineshrimp.

Microgeophagus altispinosa / Bolivian Ram
Image
Size: 2"
Tank setup: Fine substrate, planted with caves. Bottom dwelling.
Compatibility: Peaceful, keep in groups or pairs. Aggressive when spawning.
Temperature: 22 - 27°C
Water chemistry: Soft and acidic with a pH of 7.0 and a dGH of 0.
Sexing: Males are slimmer and not as stocky than females and also have extensions on the upper and inner rays of the dorsal and caudal fins. Another difference is the dorsal on the males is more pointed and elongated.
Breeding: Substrate spawning. Soft and acidic water. They are a pair-forming species and the bond can last indefinitely. 26 - 27°C.
Feeding: High-quality flake food with brine shrimp, bloodworms and live, meaty foods.

Biotoecus opercularis
Image
Size: 1.2"
Tank setup: Planted with bogwood, caves and a fine substrate. Mid to bottom dwelling.
Compatibility: Aggressive, keep in a group in a species only tank, once in a group do not introduce more fish as the dominant male may kill them.
Temperature: 29°C
Water chemistry: Soft and acidic pH 5.0 dGH 0.
Sexing: Males are slightly larger and will have very obvious extensions on the tip of the dorsal, and both corners of the caudal fin. The female will have rounded fins with a much plumper abdomen.
Breeding: The female digs a cave and lays the eggs on the roof. The male guards the territory while the female cares for the young.
Feeding: A varied diet high in protein, frozen and live brine, frozen bloodworms, live blackworms, frozen daphnia, and a good paste food.

West African Dwarf Cichlids:

Anomolachromis thomasi / African Buttefly Cichlid
Image
Size: Males - 4" Females - 3"
Tank setup: The tank should be heavily planted with roots, rocks, wood, and over-turned flowerpots to serve as hiding places. Use flat stones as resting places and potential spawning sites. Leave open swimming areas. Bottom to mid dwellers.
Compatibility: Peaceful. Forms strong monogamous bonds and later nuclear families. Territorial during spawning.
Temperature: 24 - 27°C
Water chemistry: pH 6-7.8. dGH 4-15.
Sexing: Females are smaller with brighter colors. When ready to spawn, females have rounder bellies.
Breeding: pH 6.1 - 6.5. dGH 4 - 8. Temperature 26 - 28°C. Provide large, flat stones and broad-leafed plants. Parents guard and raise fry in a pit.
Feeding: Live and frozen, flakes, pellets.

Hemichromis bimaculatus / Jewel Cichlids
Image
Size: 4 - 5"
Tank setup: Caves, sandy substrate, no plants. Mid level dweller.
Compatibility: Very aggressive, species only tank.
Temperature: 21 – 23°C.
Water chemistry: pH 6.5 – 7.5. dGH 4 - 16.
Sexing: Females are usually slightly smaller.
Breeding: Keep a group of juveniles together and watch for pairings. Keep one pair a tank. The male may kill a female who is not ready to breed. Providing hiding places can help. Both parents will work to clean a surface for the eggs, preferably a dugout area or flat rock with a 45 degree angle from the substrate. They are great parents.
Feeding: Flake foods, algae flakes and pellets.

Nanochromis parilus
Image
Size: 3"
Tank setup: Caves, sand substrate, planted. Bottom to mid dwelling.
Compatibility: Harem forming, males can harrass lone females.
Temperature: 22 - 25°C.
Water chemistry: Soft and acidic. pH5 - 6.5. dGH 0 - 8.
Sexing: Females are slightly smaller with a rounded dorsal fin and more colourful.
Breeding: Cave spawners, both parents care for the young. Females may devour young if disturbed.
Feeding: Live and frozen, good quality flakes.

Nanochromis transvestitus
Image
Size: 3"
Tank setup: Fine, sandy substrate, bogwood, plants and caves. Bottom to mid dwelling.
Compatibility: Peaceful, keep with smaller fish such as tetras.
Temperature: 25 - 28°C.
Water chemistry: pH 5 - 6.5.
Sexing: Male have an elongated dorsal and anal fin. Female anal fin, caudal and dorsal fin are black with white vertical stripes with a bright red belly.
Breeding: Cave spawners, both parents care for young.
Feeding: Live and frozen, good quality flakes.

Pelvicachromis humilis
Image
Size: 4"
Tank setup: Sand substrate, rocks and bogwood. Bottom to mid dwelling.
Compatibility: Aggressive towards conspecifics, keep pairs ony, will tollerate larger tetras.
Temperature: 24 – 26°C.
Water chemistry: pH 6.0 – 8.0. dGH 5 - 12.
Sexing: Male is larger and more colourful with poined anal and dorsal fins.
Breeding: Pair-bonding cave spawners.
Feeding: Live and frozen, good quality flakes.

Pelvicachromis pulcher / Kribensis
Image
Size: Males - 4" Females - 3"
Tank setup: Fine, dark gravel, planted with caves and bogwood. Bottom dweller.
Compatibility: Keep in pairs, very aggressive when spawning. Do not keep with slow moving fish or bottom dwellers.
Temperature: 24 – 25°C.
Water chemistry: pH 6.5. dGH 8 - 12.
Sexing: Males are larger, longer and thinner with fins that end in distinct points. Females have a broad yellow band across the top of the dorsal fin and a bright red belly when breeding.
Breeding: Provide caves, both parents care for young.
Feeding: Live and frozen, good quality flakes.

Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor multicolor / Egyptian mouth-brooder
Image
Size: 3"
Tank setup: Dark substrate, densely planted tank with caves. Bottom to mid dwelling.
Compatibility: Aggressive, keep one pair in a species only tank.
Temperature: 20 – 24°C.
Water chemistry: pH 6.8 – 7.2. dGH 10 - 14.
Sexing: Male is much more colorfull, female lacks red spots in the caudal tail.
Breeding: After digging a pit and spawning female gathers fetilised eggs in her mouth and holds them for up to ten days. Fry return to mothers mouth for protection. Males very aggressive after spawning should be removed as they and can kill the female.
Feeding: Live and frozen, good quality flakes.
Last edited by Apistogramma on Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Postby Wolfgirl » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:09 pm

Well done, Becky. AF has made this sticky for you. :)
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Postby markee » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:45 pm

Nice one Becky, there's some good stuff there :wink: not sure if you know already but the img tag on 'Biotoecus opercularis' doesn't work & there is no pic on 'Laetacara curviceps' (but that might be my comp!)
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Postby Apistogramma » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:54 pm

Aha...thank you both - I'm very proud to have two sticky's. :D
Sorted the problems Mark - thanks for letting me know.

Fixed it Andy - turns out it was apisto panduro. What was I thinking? Not much obviously... :roll:
Last edited by Apistogramma on Sat Jan 19, 2008 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby markee » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:17 pm

It was worth fixing, 'Laetacara curviceps' is a stunning cichlid :wink:
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Postby dw » Sat Jan 19, 2008 8:38 pm

That pic isn't Laetacara curviceps, it's Apistogramma nijsseni, should've spotted that one Becky :wink:
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Postby alip01 » Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:07 pm

lol becky got something wrong for once :cheeky:
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Postby Sashmosis. » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:39 pm

What about blue rams cause Im planning on 6-8 of them for a new tank :?: .
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2 Pearl gourami (pair)
1 Common Plec (getting bigger)
5 Golden tetras
3 Black Neon Tetras
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Postby Apistogramma » Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:18 pm

Sash: Microgeophagus ramirezi is the fourth profile on the list.
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Postby Sashmosis. » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:30 am

I know that but what about the one on your banner :?: or else
that profile suits all rams :?:
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1 Common Plec (getting bigger)
5 Golden tetras
3 Black Neon Tetras
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Postby calsonic » Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:32 pm

what about cockatoo chiclid's? maidenhead aquatics @ cambridge have some nice ones im considering getting them
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Postby Apistogramma » Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:57 pm

My banner shows a Microgeophagus ramirezi - it's the same as the one on the profile. :mrgreen:

What do you want to know about cockatoooo's Calsonic? And don't say everything... :roll:
They are one of the hardiest of the apisto's.
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