Small African Cichlids Ideal for Aquarists

Hecqui Shell Dweller

Small African Cichlids Ideal for Aquarists

Prized for their bright colors, African cichlids are amongst the most common aquarium fish. Despite their popularity, they aren’t an easy fish to keep. They have aggressive tendencies and some grow to be quite large. If you’re considering adding cichlids to your aquarium, dwarf cichlids stay small, so you won’t have to worry about them destroying the ecosystem you’ve established in your tank.

African Shell Dwellers

Lamp. SignatusFound in Lake Tanganyika these fish are one of the smallest African cichlids, growing to only 2 inches. They take their name from a behavior exhibited in the wild, where they seek out shells to serve as a home. Happy shell dwellers will readily mate and won’t be fussy about eating. They prefer to live near the bottom, so a long and shallow tank works best for them.

Shell dwellers are fascinating fish to keep if you can meet their demands which include:
-hard water
-high pH balance
-shells for housing
-fine sand for digging

Tropheus Starry Night

Tropheus Cichlids

Growing up to four inches and also found in Lake Tanganyika, these cichlids get quite aggressive. The males are especially temperamental, as they constantly exhibit the need to breed. Housing these fish in an aquarium is a tall order since they need to be kept in a group of at least ten.


Demasoni CichlidDemasoni Cichlids

This cichlid is a zebra-type whose stripes are immediately eye-catching. Demasoni are amongst the smallest African cichlids and don’t grow larger than 3 inches, but they need to be kept in a large school to stave off unwanted aggression. Like other cichlids, they require water with a high pH and need regular water changes.


Kribensis Cichlid


A favorite of many aquarists, these fish are a great choice if you’re just starting out with cichlids. Kribensis aren’t aggressive and don’t require strict water conditions like others. They also make good tank mates and get along well with other non-aggressive species.


Ruby Green CichlidRuby Green Cichlids

One of the more reserved cichlids, these are one the easiest cichlids for aquarists to keep. Ruby Green Cichlids don’t demonstrate the aggressive mating behavior of other cichlids and often produce prolific broods of up 40 fry. They get their name from the male’s vibrant green coloring, which attracts females for mating.

Keeping African cichlids is a rewarding experience, but you have to be up to the task. Their aggression makes them a challenging fish to deal with, so precaution and research are required.

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