Practical Information About Keeping, Breeding and Buying Dwarf Cichlids
Buying Dwarf Cichlids
The fascinating and beautiful dwarf cichlids you see on this site, other sites and in books and magazines are rarely found at the local fish store. Very few pet stores stock them on a regular basis and those that do often have few choices. Fortunately, there are options today that allow you to find many different species of dwarfs. You might not always find the fish you are looking for but you can often find something.
It is really neat to see all of the amazing dwarf cichlid species that have been photographed. However, you need to understand that very few of these species are available to the average hobbyist. If you think that you can find a fish you like on the Internet and then get that species you will likely be in for a big disappointment. Unless you are looking for one of the common staples in the hobby it is not unusual to have to search for many years to find a specific species. It's not at all unusual for a species to show up one year then vanish from he hobby for many more years. My advice - go ahead and build a wish list but buy what you can when you can get them!
Here are three different ways to find fish to purchase:
Pet Stores - The best way to find dwarfs is to see if a local independent fish shop will special order for you. More than ever, tropical fish wholesalers list dwarfs when they become available. Build a relationship with the shop and give them a firm commitment and they will usually ask until they find you some fish. The fish they find will be either wild or captive raised. If they are wild it is not unlikely that the identification is suspect unless they are one of the most common species.
If you have a pet shop order dwarf cichlids for you be prepared to receive something that is not quite what you were expecting. Sometimes this is great as you get a rare or newly discovered species, but other times you wish you had received the fish you were expecting. In either case I always recommend that you buy the fish that you ordered. It is not the fault of the shop that the exporter used the wrong name and it's really a good idea to make friends with a shop.
There are a few pet stores in the country that always stock dwarf cichlids and you should always be on the look out for these shops. Except for these few shops that really strive to stock these fish I have 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 pair 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.
Over the years I've visited some shops that always stock dwarf cichlids. When I travel I try to find out if there is a recommended shop and visit if I can. When I find dwarf cichlids for sale I try to buy some if I can get them home. It's vital to us all that we support the independent shops that work so hard to provide us with a wide variety of fish. Follow this link for a guide to the excellent retail shops that sell dwarf cichlids.
Internet Fish Suppliers - Hobbyists breeding a single species, breeders with extensive species lists, retail stores with mail order operations and full fledged Internet businesses are all selling fish on the net and each offers its own advantages. There are many reputable sources for dwarf cichlids on the Web but there is always the possibility for abuse. I recommend that any time you pursue a fish transaction you make sure that 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 is almost impossible to run a profitable business selling dwarf cichlids. Over the years there have been a lot of people try and it has been common to find dealers popping up and falling off. My recommended pet store list is an endorsement based on my experiences at the time I write this. There are always new folks offering fish on the Internet and there is no way that I attempt to track them all. Anyone who has followed this site over the years is well aware that a number of once prominent dealers are no longer in the business of selling fish and the sources I cite here may well be gone in the future. That said, here is a link to sources for fish that I can recommend.
Buy From Me
Note: Since mid-2009 I have significantly scaled back on my breeding program and typically offer few fish for sale. If I have anything at all for sale it will be listed at the link below. Check the Buy From Me link to see if I am currently offering any fish.