The fascinating and beautiful dwarf cichlids you see on DwarfCichlid.com and other websites are rarely found at local fish stores. Very few pet stores stock them on a regular basis and those that do usually have a limited selection. Fortunately, there are options that allow you to find many different species for sale. You might not always find the species you’re looking for but you can usually find something exciting.
Where to Buy Dwarf Cichlids
If you look online you’ll find photos of many amazing dwarf cichlids. Unfortunately, very few are available to the average hobbyist. If you find a photo of a species you like you will likely be in for a disappointment when you try to find them. Unless you are looking for one of the common staples in the hobby you may have to search for many years to find a specific species. It’s not unusual for a species to be available one year and then vanish from the hobby for many more years. My advice is to build a wish list that you are always looking for and in the meantime, buy the species you can when you can get them!
Here’s my suggestions for finding dwarf cichlids for sale:
The best way to find dwarfs is to see if a local independent fish shop will special order them for you. If you build a relationship with a shop and give them a firm commitment to buy they can usually find you some fish. Keep in mind that all they will know about the fish is what the wholesaler tells them. The fish might be wild or captive-raised. If they are wild it’s possible that the identification is suspect unless they are one of the most common species.
If you order dwarf cichlids from a pet shop they might turn out to be a different species than you expected. Sometimes this is great and you get a rare or newly discovered species. Other times you wish you had received the fish you were expecting. In either case, you should be prepared to buy the fish that you ordered. It is not the fault of the shop that the exporter/wholesaler used the wrong name and it’s really a good idea to make friends with a shop.
There are a few pet stores that try to always stock dwarf cichlids so be on the lookout for these shops. Except for these few shops that really strive to stock these fish, I’ve found shops with everything from well-stocked selections of captive-bred fish, to a few tanks with assorted South American imports, to shops with one or two pairs of large adult breeders. Keep your eyes open and be prepared to buy whenever you find something. If you live near a shop that stocks dwarfs be sure to encourage them with your business. I used to maintain a list of suggested stores on this site but I no longer make recommendations.
Whenever I travel I try to find out if there is a shop in that area that carries dwarfs which I visit if I can. If I find dwarf cichlids for sale I try to buy some if I can safely get them home. It’s vital that we support the independent shops that work so hard to provide us with a wide variety of fish.
Internet Fish Suppliers
Today it’s easy to order fish online and have them delivered right to your door. There are hobbyists with a single species, breeders with extensive species lists, retail stores with mail-order operations, and full-fledged Internet businesses all selling fish online.
- Hobbyist breeders are usually passionate fishkeepers and will often advise you about keeping their fish.
- Breeders with extensive lists usually have high-quality fish with reliable identification and sex selection.
- Retail stores selling online vary a lot and most aren’t dwarf cichlid experts, however, they can be a source to check.
- Internet fish businesses are usually well run by owners who have a serious passion. They often have long lists of wild and captive-bred species.
There are many reputable sellers on the Web but there is always the possibility of abuse. Any time you pursue a fish transaction you make sure you have a very clear understanding of what you expect to get for your money and what recourse you have if there is a problem.
It’s almost impossible to run a profitable business selling dwarf cichlids. Over the years numerous people have tried and it’s been common to find vendors popping up and falling off. The following recommendations are based on my personal experience with these sellers as of 2022.
There are always new folks offering fish on the Internet and I don’t track them all. Over the years I’ve seen Apisto sellers have come and go and the sources below may be gone in the future. Most fish sellers are excellent people and would make my list if I had personal dealings with them So if they are missing from my list, it doesn’t mean they aren’t great. That said, here are some sources for fish that I can recommend.
Aquatic Clarity – Jeff Michaels has been selling top-quality aquarium fish online for years. He sells all types of rare fishes and always has a large stock of Apistogrammas and other dwarf cichlids. I’ve purchased from Jeff many times at: www.aquaticclarity.com
JD Aquatics – Jacob at JD Aquatics specializes in Apistogrammas. He usually has a mix of domestic tank-raised, imported tank-raised and wild imports. He posts his availability lists on the JDAquatics Facebook Page. I’ve been very pleased with the fish, the packing, and the shipping when I’ve ordered from him.
There are several other individuals who are supplying quality dwarf cichlids. However, most are pretty new and I want to wait until they have a bit more of a record before I recommend them.
The Wet Spot – With a retail store in Portland, OR, a large wholesale operation, and a significant mail order business, The Wet Spot has all the bases covered. They always have dwarf cichlids available in the store and online. While visiting the store is a real treat, they usually have more species available online than in the store. The Wet Spot website
Rehoboth Aquatics – Although they primarily operate as a wholesale business, Rehoboth Aquatics will sell to individuals at times. They are by far the best source for West African dwarfs but they carry South American fish as well. They don’t have a website but there is a Rehoboth Aquatics Facebook page. For inquiries, they prefer email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Imperial Tropicals – Their primary business is as a wholesale supplier to pet stores but they also have an online mail-order business. They always have an assortment of Apistos as well as other South American dwarf species. Imperial Tropicals Website
Auction and Social Network Websites
Aquabid.com – This auction-based selling site is a good source for buying dwarf cichlids. They include all aspects of the aquarium hobby. Their Apisto category always has at least a few species for sale. Aquabid is a reputable site that has been around for many years. As with any auction site, it’s up to you to make sure you are comfortable with the seller. Aquabid.com Website
Apistogramma and Dwarf Cichlid BAND Group – BAND is similar to Facebook but it allows the selling of live fish. The Apistogramma group is a great place to find both common and rare species. Some of the individuals listed above post their availability lists on BAND
Apistogramma and Dwarf Cichlid Band Group Website
Buy From Me
I used to keep and breed up to 15 species at a time but in 2009 I significantly scaled back on my breeding program. Today, I typically have just a few species for sale. Check Dwarf Cichlids For Sale to see my current list.
Everything on this page and the entire DwarfCichlid.com website is based on personal experience and personal opinion. If you believe I’ve made a factual error I welcome all corrections.