Dwarf Cichlid Information Resources

With a quick look online it’s easy to find introductory posts and articles about keeping dwarf cichlids. Some of what you find may be misleading or inaccurate but should be adequate for hobbyists who don’t need a lot of specialized information to enjoy keeping them. However, if you fall for these fishes like so many have, you’ll want to learn a lot more about these fascinating creatures.

This guide to information resources includes online and print information resources is designed to help you discover where to turn for top-notch information. Although you can find a wealth of valuable information about dwarf cichlids on the internet it’s a lot easier when you know where to look. In addition to online sources, I believe that reading and owning printed books gives you information and insights you can’t get from a screen so be sure to check out the dwarf cichlid book listings below.

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Online Information Sources

Websites

There are quite a few websites that provide useful information about dwarf cichlids and many more sites that offer opinions and advice that may or may not be accurate. The sites listed below are included because I know they provide wide-ranging expert information. These are sites that I use personally and believe to be accurate sources of information. There are many other reputable sites and just because I don’t list a site here that doesn’t mean I don’t approve of them. This is just a list of sites I use.

Apisto sites – the home page of Tom C

Tom Christofferson is one of the world’s best-known Apsitogramma Hobbyists. His extensive collecting expeditions have allowed him to capture hundreds of known and unknown Apistos. He is the creator of the “D” numbers for naming new discoveries. His website is a great place to keep up with the newest discoveries. He posts detailed accounts of some of his collecting expeditions and generally provides the best expert information. This website is a global reference for information about naming and classifying Apistogramma, particularly through these three major reference articles written by Mike Wise.

Aqualog

The goal of this website is to “offer a photo and information about the care and breeding of every tropical fish.” This site is from the publishers of the Apistyogramma guidebooks Aqualog South American Cichlids II and Aqualog Extra the latest Apistogramma. They work closely with the German fish wholesaler Aquarium Glaser which imports many of the newest and rarest species. The result is a website with hundreds of species. Although this is a German website it is available as an English version. With hundreds of species finding the one you are looking for can be difficult. I just use the site search. Visit Aqualog

DwarfCichlid.com

DwarfCichlid.com is the site you are currently visiting. It’s been providing information about keeping and breeding dwarf cichlids for nearly 20 years. Although much of the information provided is based on personal experience and opinion, the advice provided is generally considered to be accurate and useful. In addition to information about all aspects of dwarf cichlids in the home aquarium, the site has detailed species profiles with personal observations of many different South American and West African fishes. Visit DwarfCichlid.com

Forums & Bulletin Boards

Apistogramma.com

Apistogramma.com is a forum/bulletin board that has been serving dwarf cichlid enthusiasts for 20 years or so. It’s an excellent international forum with expert members who gladly share their knowledge. Generally, the site is best for more advanced hobbyists. global authorities including Mike Wise, Frank Hattich, and Tom Christofferson usually monitor the site so if you have a significant problem you can usually find help.

Facebook

Facebook has multiple pages and groups dedicated to dwarf cichlids. I’m not a big Facebook user so I’m not familiar with all of the resources. However, there are two groups I follow regularly. The Apistogramma FaceBook Group is a great place to enjoy photos, videos, and discussions about all aspects of Apstogramma identification, care, and breeding. If you are a beginner with a question this might be a good place to ask. The Apistogramma International FaceBook Group is the place to find photos and videos of some of the most spectacular fish from around the world. Many Asian hobbyists post photos of fish that have to be seen to be appreciated. I also recommend the Live Food Cultures for Aquariums group.

Band – Apistogramma and Dwarf Cichlids

BAND is a social network similar to Facebook that allows the selling of fish on the site. The BAND Apistogramma and Dwarf Cichlid group features a mix of people offering fish for sale and discussions about whatever people post. This runs the gamut of aquarium care, breeding, feeding, disease, etc. If you are interested in joining a community of dwarf cichlid folks give BAND a try.

Dwarf Cichlid Books

Although it’s possible to find a lot of information about dwarf cichlids on the Internet, those who are seriously interested will want to own one or more of the books that have been published. These books contain a wealth of information that is easily accessible and very comprehensive. Unfortunately, it’s been years since any new dwarf cichlid books have been published and information about recently discovered species is only available online. Much has been learned about species identification since these books were published and some may have significant identification errors. However, the information they provide about known species, care, feeding, aquarium management, and breeding is timeless.

Almost all of the dwarf cichlid books are out-of-print and many can be difficult to find. Additionally, some of the best books are published in languages other than English and were rarely distributed in America. A few are discussed below. Since these books are not available from their publishers, I generally recommend Amazon as the best source to find them.

Each book has its strengths and weaknesses. All of them are more than 15 years old and most are over 20. Consequently, none are up-to-date with recently discovered species. Despite this, they are all worth having and I’ve placed them roughly in order of how I recommend them.

South American Dwarf Cichlid Books

Mergus Cichlid Atlas Volume 1
Author:    Dr. Uwe Romer      
Copyright 2000
English Edition 2002
1,311 pages – 1,448 photos
    This massive book has the most complete information about South American dwarfs. It covers identification, natural habitats, collection information, aquarium care and breeding, and much more. Some sections were taken from Romer’s doctoral dissertation and may be more than a casual hobbyist wants to read. With more than 1,300 pages of text, there is plenty of material for all readers! It’s been 20 years since it was first published so there are some problems with species names and there are hundreds of new discoveries not included. However, this is a must-have book. Learn more about this title at our complete Mergus Cichlid Atlas Vol 1 Book Review

South American Dwarf Cichlids
Author:    Hans J. Mayland & Dieter Bork                   
Copyright 1996                                                          
English Edition 1997
187 pages – 137 photos    

Although more than 25 years old, this is probably the best book for the average hobbyist. It gives good information about keeping and breeding many different species. It has top-quality information about housing, breeding, and all aspects of aquarium care. It might be very difficult to find this book in the USA. My only advice is to keep scouring the used book websites. Learn more about this title at our South American Dwarf Cichlids Book Review

American Cichlids I – Dwarf Cichlids
Author:    Horst Linke & Dr. Wolfgang Staeck
Publisher:  Tetra, Melle, Germany
Copyright 1984
English Edition 1994
232 pages -152 photos
    It’s been nearly 40 years since the first edition of this excellent book was published. The English version was revised and published a decade later but there have been many new species discoveries that are not discussed. However, this remains a good reference and used copies can often be purchased at very reasonable prices. For more information visit our American Cichlids I Book Review

South American Dwarf Cichlids
Author:    Rainer Stawikowski, Ingo Koslowski and Volker Bohnet
Copyright 2005
129 pages – 558 photos
    This is the most recent publication and is the best guide to identification and provides photos of every known species and form of Apistogramma that was known at the time. Published in Germany, the text of this book is in both German and English. While this is the best reference for species identification, it was never widely distributed in the USA and it’s really hard to find a copy for sale.   Complete Review

Die Buntbarsche Amerikas Band 2 Apistogramma & Co. 

Author:    Ingo Koslowski                                      
Copyright 2002                                                      
German Language / English translation available        
318 pages – more than 700 photos

    This is the best book there is for giving complete descriptions of every species known when it was published. This book has excellent information about keeping and breeding but it really shines in describing the fish. Hundreds of species and forms are discussed with photos and detailed info provided for each species. Most of the photos from this book have been republished in the 2005 DATZ book South American Dwarf Cichlids (see above). However, the new book only contains brief species descriptions. If you are really interested in Apistos this is a “must-have” book.
     This book is available only in German but Mike Wise has published an authorized translation.

Mergus Cichlid Atlas Volume 2
Author:    Dr. Uwe Romer
Copyright 2006
1,319 pages  
     This book is a follow-up to the excellent Volume 1 (see above) which was published in English in 2002. The first volume covered every species known to date and the second discusses every species discovered since the German edition of Vol. 1 was published in 2000. I wish I could report that this book is as good as the first but it is not nearly as important of a book for most hobbyists. Since this is intended to report on the newest fishes most of the species that hobbyists are likely to find are not in the book since they were covered in Vol. 1. However, for the specialist, this is another excellent volume that significantly advances our knowledge of Apistogramma. If you are serious you will want to own this book.

Aqualog South American Cichlids II
Author: Ulrich Glasser & Wolfgang Glasser
Copyright 1996
110 pages  465 photos
    This is the second of the Aqualog series of books and features only dwarf species. It is primarily a photo book of species and contains little text or information on care and breeding. For each species, a number of photos are provided with a series of symbols that provide very elementary info. The photos are top notch and many different species and forms are represented. Unfortunately, the lack of text makes this basically only an identification book and a number of species that were new at the time are misidentified. Still, it’s a book full of wonderful photos of many different species that is best for the serious dwarf cichlid fan.

Aqualog Extra the latest Apistogramma
Author:    Dieter Bork
Copyright 2005
48 pages  223 photos
    This book only covers the species and forms of Apistogramma that were discovered after the publication of the Aqualog II book described above. It follows the same basic format, meaning it’s a book of photos of fishes with virtually no text. There are many beautiful photos of unusual dwarf cichlids, but I don’t recommend this book for beginning dwarf cichlid keepers.

Amazon Basin Map
     The native waters of dwarf cichlids are often very remote and undeveloped. The Amazon basin is a huge area with very few roads. The major transportation corridors are often the rivers themselves. Most native peoples have little use for maps and there are very few good maps available. The best map I know of that covers the entire Amazon Basin is this one and includes portions of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, the Guyanas, Peru, Surinam, and Venezuela. By studying this map you can begin to visualize how vast the Amazon Basin is and why so many new species are still being discovered.

West African Dwarf Cichlid Books

The Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa
Author:    Anton Lamboj
Publisher:  Birgit, Schmettkamp Verlag, Bornheim, Germany
Copyright 2004
Binding: Hard Cover 2
55 pages    521 photos
    This comprehensive book is the best available on the fascinating and beautiful cichlids from West Africa. It covers all of the cichlids, not just dwarfs. It is the best reference available with information about identification, native habitats, and aquarium care. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of naming changes since it was published. For more information about this comprehensive book visit Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa Book Review

Amazonas Magazine Nov/Dec 2019 – Exploring Pelvicachromis

In 2014 Dr. Anton Lamboj led a group of ichthyologists that made a major revision within the Genus Pelvicachromis. Prior to their work, many very popular fishes were classified as variants of P. taeniatus. P. taeniatus was widely accepted as the proper classification and the books described above and below use it for their fish identifications. Today, many of their P. taeniatus are actually P. kribensis. This issue of Amazonas Magazine is the best source of information I know of to identify these very desirable fish. There is also an excellent article about keeping and breeding them in the home aquarium. I strongly recommend this issue to all West African enthusiasts.

Cover of Amazonas Magazine featuring Pelvicachromis

Cichlids from West Africa
Author:     Horst Linke & Dr. Wolfgang Staeck
Publisher:  Tetra, Melle, Germany
Copyright 1984
English Edition 1994
200 pages      
       A lot of species have been discovered and significant naming changes have been made since this book was published. However, it remains an excellent primer on the care and breeding of the West African Dwarf Cichlids. Although the book has been out of print for many years it remains widely available, often at reasonable prices. This is a good book for anyone interested in these fishes.