10 Apistogramma Dwarf Cichlid Tank Mates

Cichlids are one of the most wanted fish pets on the planet. This is mostly thanks to their stunning coloration and unusual body shapes, but also because of their individualistic personalities.

Indeed, most cichlids are considered to actually being quite the aggressive fish. However, this is not exactly the case with dwarf cichlids or Apistogramma.

Apart from being fairly small in size and featuring a quite long lifespan, they are also one of the most peaceful cichlid sub-species. Therefore, planning some tank mates for these colorful beauties is not a mission impossible.

In order to get it right though, you will probably want to select the other species very wisely. Large and aggressive species are a big no, but those which are quite peaceful can be a good choice.

Especially if those love spending most of their time towards the mid and top levels of the tank, as your Apistogramma will prefer sticking towards the bottom.

Neon Tetras

Neon tetras are always a magnificent choice for community tanks, except for some special cases. They are super-small schooling fish which can perfectly adapt to the presence of any fish in a captivity tank. As long as they have their safe group, they should be bothering no one.

They can thrive into medium-pH water conditions, which work best for the dwarf cichlids. Additionally, they love having plenty of aquatic greenery just as the Apistogramma do, which is another great advantage.

That said, plants are always an excellent way of providing some safe hiding spots across any tank, so they are definitely helpful across community tanks like these.


Even though Corydoras love spending time towards the bottom of the tank just as dwarf cichlids do, they still make an excellent life companion for them. Indeed, cory catfish are well-known for being one of the most peaceful pet fish ever, and they make a suitable tank mate to every smaller fish species.

Their water requirements are a good match, and they should not get into each other’s way, even when being at the bottom of the tank. There are several cory catfish species types available nowadays, but they all share the same requirements and temperaments.

Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose plecos are another bottom-dweller fish species that can live in harmony with dwarf cichlids. They are related to catfish so are extremely peaceful.

Furthermore, if an Apistogramma does happen to develop a somehow territorial behavior sometimes and to attack them, these fish are naturally equipped with bony armor. This certainly makes them well protected and the risks of injury are kept to the minimum levels thanks to that.

These tank mates will mostly feed on an herbivorous diet, so there is no concern for them competing with dwarf cichlids over occasional tasty live meat treats.

On top of that, bristlenose plecos are great cleaning helpers, so having them around can certainly be great for you. They will greatly contribute into cleaning unwanted algae off the substrate as well as the glass surfaces.

Otocinclus Catfish

Continuing our list with amazing little tank cleaners, the otocinclus catfish are one of the most popular algae removers on the planet. Also, thanks to their overly friendly temperament, they can easily be added to any tank which is safe for them.

Dwarf cichlids should make a good match to these guys. Even though they can become slightly aggressive from time to time, dwarf cichlids rarely exceed 3 inches in body size, so they make a safe enough combo for otocinclus catfish not becoming their meal.

As long as you provide them with great hiding spots such as decorative tunnels and caves, there should be no issue at all. Even if they like spending time at the bottom of the tank, they are agile and super-fast swimmers, so they easily get away from conflicts when needed.


Rasboras are one of the first choices for any community tank. They are tiny schooling fish that feature extremely peaceful and docile temperaments. Often, the issue with them is that they may become someone’s meal from time to time, but this should not be the case with dwarf cichlids, as they too are small.

As long as you keep them in a happy school of at least 6 specimens, there should be no issue at all. Moreover, rasboras love spending most of their time along the middle levels of the tank, so they should basically never get into the way of each other.

On top of that, they too add a nice coloration to any aquarium, and observing them while schooling is pretty fun.

Ram Cichlids

Combining a cichlid with another cichlid? Why not? This is surely possible, as long as the first is a dwarf and the other is a ram. Indeed, these two are known for being the most docile and peaceful cichlid species among them all.

The only thing you need to be incredibly careful about is providing them plenty of safe and hiding spots. These can include tunnels, caves, but also all sorts of aquatic plants.

If these are not present across their captivity tank, ram cichlids can develop aggressive behavior pretty soon, and they may quickly transform into a not-so-friendly pet. Apart from that, however, both species should get along well.

Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf gourami fish are usually an amazing solution for community tanks with small and peaceful fish. Ideally, bottom dwellers, as they are the ones which like occupying the middle levels.

Therefore, dwarf cichlids should be a suitable companion. Even though there may sometimes occur a conflict between them, this should be easily evicted with the help of hiding areas across the tank.

Indeed, dwarf gourami fish are also vividly colored fish, and male specimens may occasionally mistake another colorful species for their own rival over a female.  

Nonetheless, both species are generally peaceful, and they should get along pretty well together. Also, they share similar feeding requirements, so you can basically share their meals.


Moving on with slightly larger fish, angelfish can often make a good solution for your community tank with dwarf cichlids. However, you should be quite careful about a few things in order for their relationship to function properly.

First of all, angelfish too belong to the cichlid family. That means that they may sometimes feature aggressive behavior, especially during their breeding times. However, this is mostly related to their own species, so your dwarf cichlids should be safe from them.

Alternatively, however, smaller specimens may become an angelfish meal. In order to avoid such unpleasant situations, please ensure to provide them with lots of refuge spots across the tank. And finally, angelfish are fairly large fish and require therefore somehow larger tanks.

This is essential not just for ensuring your fish the opportunity to thrive, but also to keep their territorial behavior at minimal levels possible.


Who would not like to add some adorable, super-small and easy to care for fish to their favorite community tank? Guppies have been one of the first choices as ideal tank mates for years now, and they basically function in harmony with any fish. They are fairly active, playful, and love interacting with their mates.

These cute splashes of color like spending most of their time towards the middle and upper parts of their captivity tanks, so they surely will not be bothering your dwarf cichlids at all.

Moreover, they are schooling fish, so can stay well entertained with their own kind. And you should always adopt them in functional groups of at least 4 to 6 specimens, or you may otherwise be risking excessive fear and stress.


Depending on the type of platy fish you wish to add to your community tank, it should get along more or less well with your dwarf cichlids. They are adorable, exceedingly small, easy to care for and extremely hard pets.

Also, they feature very pleasant characters and love hanging around together, even if they are not strictly categorized as schooling fish. Therefore, please do plan on adopting at least a few of these beautiful tiny pets.

They will not require much space, food or care, but they will offer mesmerizing sites in return. Indeed, they are extremely active and love fooling around their tank.

Last but not least, platies have an affinity for swimming around the mid-levels of their aquarium, so they should not get into the way of your dwarf cichlids. To keep them happy and protected, feel free to plant as much greenery as you like.

Wrapping Up

After going through our selection of the best tank mates for dwarf cichlids, we cannot decide on the favorite among them all. And what about you?

There is just something about small colorful fish that makes them irresistible to many modern keepers. So, if you have space, why not matching more of those adorable species together?

These beautiful splashes of color, along with their friendly nature and funny swimming choreographies are certainly an amazing addition to any living room.

Apistogramma Cichlids   Updated: July 6, 2021
avatar Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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