Starter fish

What are good fish to begin your journey into the world of cichlids? Good question. Fortunately, there are many options. Since I’m a dwarf cichlid fan, I’ll list a few good species of dwarves that make good starter fish. One aspect of keeping dwarfs, especially for beginners, is that they don’t require large tanks. This also means you don’t need larger heaters, filters, etc., which reduces your financial investment. However, if you expect to pay less for dwarves because they’re small, you’re going to be disappointed. Many dwarf species are move expensive than their larger brethren. These listed below are typically reasonably priced and, except for maybe the N. multifasciatus, should be pretty easy to find. Optimal water and tank requirements differ a bit for these, but all of them will generally do well in most municipal water. To get detailed information about them, you’re just a Google search away.
Cleithracara maronii (Keyhole cichlid) - This is a very peaceful little fish that gets along with its own species and other tank mates. At maturity, they'll reach about 4" in size. Photo is from The ZT2 Roundtable.
Laetacara curviceps - Like the Keyhole cichlid above, another peaceful cichlid from South America that will max out around 4". Photo is from Aquarioo.com.
Neolamprologus multifasciatus - These little guys are endemic to Lake Tanganyika in Africa (one of the rift lakes) and are often referred to as "multis". They're shell dwelling cichlids, so they're also part of the "shellies" group. They are quite small at maturity, ~2". Photo is from Plantedtank.net.
Pelvicachromis pulcher (Kribensis) - Kribs are very colorful cichlids from West Africa and generally won't exceed 5". Photo is from Seriouslyfish.com.

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