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Dwarf cichlid is a term used by fishkeeping hobbyists to describe an arbitrary assemblage of small-sized fish from the familiy Cichlidae. Although the grouping is widely used in the aquarium industry and hobby, the grouping has no taxonomic or ecological basis and is poorly defined. Dwarf cichlids are by definition small-sized cichlids, however, there is no accepted maximum length of a dwarf-sized cichlid. Some authors suggest a maximum of 10 centimetres (3.9 in.), while other suggest a maximum length of 12 centimetres (4.7 in.). The term is most frequently used to describe small South American or West African species which are suitable for soft, acidic (pH 4-7) densely planted aquariums, however, some aquarists and authors include within this "dwarf cichlid group" a variety of small-sized cichlids from the African rift lakes.
Dwarf cichlids prefer aquaria with plenty of hard-leafed plants. They are generally shy, except when they're breeding, and are considered ideal for community tanks, though should not be placed with other, non-dwarf, cichlids.