Top 10 Cichlids for Small Aquariums! - Fishly

Have you always wanted an aggressive yet striking fish for your aquarium? Well cichlids are just that!

However cichlids usually require big fish tanks but today we have listed cichlids that you can keep in smaller aquaria!


1. Bolivian Rams ( Mikrogeophagus Altispinosus )

Bolivian Rams are from the family Chiclidae and the sub family of Geophaginae. This means that they will like to sift through substrate as well as the usual cichlid behavior.

These fish are on the much smaller side of the cichlid family and only grow to be about 10cm at max.

You do have some options when it comes to how many Bolivian Rams you get. They can do well by themselves, in a pair or in a group of four or more. For a solitary fish a 40Litre aquarium would be minimum, for a pair a 60Litre is best and for a group of four or more an aquarium of at least 100Litres would be best. 

As for tankmates for these guys, they do great in community tanks as they have less aggression than other cichlids. They do well with mid water fish preferably a fast moving tetra, danio or rainbowfish. It is possible to keep them with bottom dwellers but is recommended bottom dwellers from the catfish family that can hold their ground. 

Food wise, most flakes will do but make sure you push the flake underwater as they aren't surface feeders. Pellets and wafers may also spark their interest if hungry.

For parameters these guys should have no Ammonia or Nitrite in the water which is achieved through having a cycled tank. A little Nitrate is ok as it is far less toxic. PH can range from 6.0 to 7.5 and their temperature ranges from 26 to 28 Degrees Celsius. 


2. Checkerboard Cichlid ( Discrossus Filamentosus ) 

The Checkerboard Cichlid is a dwarf cichlid from Brazil that hangs out at the bottom of aquaria.

It is very much a smaller cichlid growing only to about 10cm for male fish and 6cm for females. However lots of this size comes from the long fin filaments.

Keeping this fish in feminine based groups is desired unless trying to breed these fish. Although males may be keep as a solitary specimen or in groups. Feminine groups require at least an 80Litre aquarium whilst male groups need a aquarium of at least 120Litres to allow them to build territories.

Regarding tankmates this fish is commonly considered community safe. However its best mix them with robust community fish that won't eat them as they are still cichlids and can differ in aggression. 

Checkerboard Cichlids are carnivores and should have a diet that reflects this. So meaty foods are a must so choose your foods carefully. 

These fish have quite specific requirements. First off the aquarium should be dimly lit and have tannins in the water as well as lots of hiding places. They require quite acidic water ranging from 5.5 to 7.0 for casual keeping. When breeding them this PH is needed to be even more acidic! Temperature for this fish is quite warm so anywhere from 26 to 30 degrees Celsius will have to be achieved.


3. Lemon Cichlid ( Neolamprologus Leleupi )

Yellow is definitely a rare color variety when it comes to aquarium fish. However the Lemon Cichlid is a stunning yellow and it doesn't require a huge aquarium. 

They grow to a mere 10cm at max which is a great size for a smaller fish tank.

Grouping this fish is an option among others such as pairing them. A pair can comfortably fit in a 50Litre whilst a group will require around a 150Litre aquarium to spread aggression. To help with this aggression many hiding places should be made.

Tankmates include smaller cichlids from lake Tanganyika as they will be able to hold their own and balance aggression. Larger more robust catfish may be an option also. However community fish should not be keep with this species.

When feeding this fish flakes and frozen foods can be used. Making sure that they are foods that fit it's omnivorous diet. If this fish is wild caught when bought live food may be needed.

These fish require high alkaline conditions so a PH from 7.8 to 9.0 is essential for good health. Make sure to also keep there temperature in a range from 24 to 26 degrees. 


4. Angelfish ( Pterophyllum Scalare )

This unique fish has become very popular in the aquarium trade. It is one of the bigger fish on this list but their bigger tank requirement doesn't weigh down their beauty. 

Angelfish max out at around 15cm although some have been known to grow larger. It may not seem big but this size is both the size they grow to in length and height. 

Grouping this fish is an option but this shouldn't be done in anything less than a 215Litre. They can also be kept on their own and in pairs. Still this shouldn't be done in anything smaller than a 150Litre. A higher aquarium is preferred as of their body shape.

For tankmates most community fish like tetras, Corydoras and rainbowfish should work well. Although compatible when breeding, Angelfish get seriously aggressive and territorial so make sure any tank mates can hold their ground and or have lots of places to hide. 

They are omnivorous so many different flakes and granules will work well for this fish.

Parameters and temperature wise these fish are generally hardy. They can tolerate PH from 6.5 to 7.5 and a temperature range from 26 to 28 Degrees Celsius. 


 5. Gold Fire Dwarf Cichlid ( Apistogramma Agassizi Gold Fire )

This fish's colors are extraordinary and its size is good for people with minimal space. 

They grow only to around 8cm maximum with sizes varying between sexes. 

Grouping is most preferred when it comes to this fish as it will allow them to feel safe and thrive. Grouping should be either all females or one male to a group of at lest five females. To accommodate a group like this, a tank of around 80Litres is needed. 

Tankmates for this species include armored catfish and tetras that can take a bit of aggression and can escape the Apistogramma Agassizi Gold Fire easily.

Being that they are carnivores a variety of meaty flakes, pellets and granules should be fed.

Ideal parameters are near to no nitrates and PH of 6.0 to 7.0. Temperature can range from 23 to 28 Degrees Celsius so they really are quite hardy. 


6. Fairy Cichlid ( Neolamprologus Brichardi )

The Fairy Cichlid is an amazing fish that is very easily found in New Zealand. 

They grow only to about 10cm maximum but they usually remain smaller in the aquarium. 

To keep these guys happy have them in a group of around six or more. To house this many on their own you will need at least a 100Litre aquaria. But if you are adding other tankmates a tank of at least 200Litres is needed.

When it comes to tankmates there are a decent amount of options. These cichlids are considered community safe. However this isn't entirely true and I would only trust this fish with its own kind and or robust catfish and fish that can hold their ground.

When looking at what food to feed make sure to keep in mind their omnivorous diet in mind. However most flake foods and pellets will do just fine as a staple.

Parameters for this fish aren't the usual so getting the next information right is crucial when keeping them is crucial. They require alkaline water of a 8.0 to 8.5 PH and a temperature of 14 to 26 Degrees Celsius. 


7.  Electric Blue Acara ( Adinoacara Pulcher )

Stunning colors and an awesome personality. This is the Electric Blue Acara, a fish that hails from Central and South America. 

They grow to a maximum size of 17cm with sizes differing in between sexes. 

Electric Blue Acara are best kept by themselves if aggression is to be minimized. Groups of them can be kept together but there will be more aggression especially when breeding. For a solitary fish a 120Litre fish tank is needed and for a group a much larger aquarium at least 200Litres in size.

Tankmates for these Acara consist of predominantly stronger and robust catfish and other robust community fish. As although considered friendly these guys are a bigger fish and any aggression at all would inflict more damage than a smaller aggressive fish would. 

Their diet is omnivorous but they should take lots of varying flake and granule foods. Bigger pellets may be eaten due to this fish's size.

The water parameters for these guys are as follows. PH of 6.5 to 7.5 and a temperature of 24 to 28 Degrees Celsius. Nitrite and Ammonia should not be present in the aquarium and minimal Nitrate should be present. 


 8. Kribensis ( Pelvachromis Pulcher )

Kribensis are a unique cichlid that are an stunning fish and a great introduction into breeding them, as these guys will breed in nearly any tank!

They grow to roughly 13cm although most remain smaller in the aquarium. 

These fish can be kept alone or in pairs. For both options a 80Litre aquarium would optimal. To tell a fish to be female look for a bulging stomach that is bright pink. Females also have a shorter dorsal fin that the Males. Males do not usually have this bulging stomach and are bigger with a longer dorsal that usually has long filaments. 

Tankmates for these fish are similar to others on the list. In the sense that the other fish need to have places to hide away from the Kribensis but also be able to stand their ground. Some examples are plecos or bigger tetras. 

They are omnivores so making sure they get a varied diet of flake foods and pellets is essential.

Temperature in a tank housing this fish should range between 24 to 28 Degrees Celsius. PH should be between 6.5 and 7.5 to keep this fish happy. Generally this fish is quite hardy and this information along with basic fishkeeping knowledge will allow you to keep them with ease.



9. Jewel Cichlid ( Hemichromis Bimaculatus ) 

The Jewel Cichlid is a beautiful cichlid that is perfect for someone with a smaller aquarium!

In the wild Jewel Cichlids are know to reach sizes of up to 30cm! However in aquariums most don't exceed 15cm.

The pairing of this fish is the best method of keeping them as it has the lessened chances of things going wrong. For a pair, an aquarium of at least 150Litres is needed.

Tankmates don't really exist for this fish. If your keeping a pair its most likely just going to be them and nothing else. Although cases of tankmates working this fish can be become extremely aggressive to others. If anything very robust fish preferably catfish would be your only safe options. 

Jewel Cichlids will eat anything from flakes to frozen food as long as their is a variety to cater for their omnivorous diet. 

The most optimal parameters for these fish are a PH of 6.5 to 7.5 and a temperature of 24 to 26 Degrees Celsius. 


10. Keyhole Cichlid ( Cleithracara Maronii )

 A unique and intriguing cichlid is a good description for this fish. 

They grow to a maximum size of 13cm. The males are usually the larger of the two genders. 

Keyhole Cichlids can be kept by themselves but preferably should be kept in pairs. The pairs mate for life which is a special thing to witness inside an aquarium. Single specimens should be keep in nothing smaller than a 60Litre whilst a pair require a much larger space of at least 215Litres. 

Tankmates for these guys consist mainly of larger catfish and tetras that are robust and are not small enough to be eaten.

They are omnivores so a varied diet is needed. This can consist of flake foods, pellets, granules and frozen foods.

Water parameters for these fish are a PH from 6.0 to 7.0 and the water should sit at a temperature of 23 to 26 degrees. 


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