GROUPS OF CICHLIDS
South American Dwarfs
These are small cichlids (up to 10 cm/4 in) from still or slow-moving streams and pools in rainforests and savannahs east of the Andes; their range, and consequently general biotope conditions, coincides to a large extent with= that of the larger species covered above. All are seasonal substrate brooders; most are strongly sexually dimorphic in size, coloration, and finnage, with the male the larger, showier fish. All are vulnerable to preda-tion on account of their size, and are nervous in captivity unless plenty of cover – plants, caves, bogwood – is provided and lighting is moderate. The use of “dither fishes” – shoals of small characins which help instil confidence that no predator is in the vicinity — is recommended.
Soft, slightly acid (pH 6.5) water is suitable for maintenance of all species, though some may require greater acidity for breeding. A few species have become acclimated to hard alkaline water, but high pH is best avoided. Water quality should be excellent and the temperature 25-28°C (77-82°F). A fine substrate should be used to permit the minimal digging essential to breeding in some species. All species feed on invertebrates and relish pond foods when maintained in captivity.
Apistogramma, Taeniacara are cave brooders. A “dwarf community” is possible,but as territorial requirements (38- 50 cm/15-20 in diameter per pair, 25-30 cm/10-12 in per female in Apistogramma harems) would restrict its population to a small number of small fishes, these peaceful nondestructive cichlids can instead be housed in the general community. Males are often very competitive so one per species per tank is a good rule. Fry of some species are tiny and may need infusorians as their first food