When it comes to keeping an aquarium, not much beats being able to observe the active Cichlid as it explores every inch of its home. That being said, a few Cichlid care rules are important to follow to keep your fish happy and healthy.

If you are considering Cichlids as a potential addition to your home or office, you probably have quite a few questions. Starting with; which breeds are most recommended as pets? What kind of tank set-up will they need? How warm do Cichlids like their water? What should they eat? Can you keep other fish with them?

Well for starters, let us tell you that Cichlids have the potential to be some of the most awesome aquatic pets around; as long as you do your research, select them carefully, and tend to their unique needs and environmental requirements. Cichlids are typically eager to greet their owner, which is a big selling point in their favor amongst enthusiasts such as ourselves. They’re very responsive, impressive, and make a fantastic display in an appropriate sized aquarium.

That’s why we decided to put this general overview and guide together for fellow aquarium enthusiasts who are looking to learn about a previously unfamiliar fish. We love these aquatic creatures and we’re sure that you will too once you’ve learned a bit about them.

Types of Cichlids

There are three general categories for these fish; the African Cichlid, the South American Cichlid and the Central American Cichlid.

Each area contains some truly exceptional fish; in both manners and appearance. We’ll go over the different types of Cichlids in more detail throughout the site, but here is a quick list to give you an idea of which of the thousands of different Cichlid variations make the most rewarding pets:

South American Cichlids

  • Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus)
  • Blue Acara (Aequidens pulcher)
  • Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
  • Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus)
  • Yellow Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma borellii)
  • Green Terror (Aequidens rivulatus)
  • Midas or Devil Cichlids (Amphilophus citrinellus or labiatus)

Central American Cichlids

  • Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)
  • Salvini cichlid (Nandopsis Salvini)
  • Texas Cichlid (Hericthys cyanoguttatus)
  • Jack Dempsey cichlid (Rocio octofasciatum)
  • Red Devil (Amphilophus labiatus)

African Cichlids

  • Electric Blue ( Melanochromis johanni)
  • Peacock Cichlid ( Melanochromis johanni variegation)
  • Demasoni (Pseudotropheus demasoni)
  • Obliquidens (Astatotilapia latifasciata)

While there are some general rules for each of the categories, it is important to remember that each fish is different and has a unique personality all their own. That’s part of what we love about them!

Tank Mates

As a general rule, you probably won’t want to keep more than one cichlid in a tank. There are of course some exceptions to this rule.

  • Non-aggressive Species Larger than Your Cichlid’s Mouth- There are a number of species that can hold their own in an aquarium with a Cichlid. They won’t ever necessarily be friends, but they can coexist with several fish that have naturally defensive anatomy. Pleco fish for instance, make excellent tank mates for Cichlids.
  • Other Cichlids- Some species are more tolerant than others, and may be housed with one another. For example, many of the African Lake and River Cichlids coexist relatively peacefully with their nature-neighbors.
  • Breeding- If you want to breed Cichlids, obviously you’ll need to keep at least 2 together. Once the babies arrive, you’ll be housing anywhere from 50-250 Cichlids together temporarily. They’ll thin themselves out considerably just as they would in nature, but you shouldn’t keep them this way long-term.

Tank Requirements

While not all Cichlids are picky about their water conditions, it is important to research the specific environmental preferences and requirements of your particular fish.

You want them to feel at home and be able to move and live comfortably. There are a great number of important factors to consider when setting up your Cichlid’s new home. They include but are not limited to the following-

  • Tank Size- Size matters quite a bit when it comes to keeping fish in an aquarium. The general rule of fish keeping is that you should never have a higher ratio than 1 inch of fish per 1 gallon of water. The majority of male Cichlids grow to be between 7-12 inches long, while females typically grow to 4-7 inches long. You have to consider their overall mass, not just their length.
  • Temperature- Different species of Cichlid prefer different temperatures, but the general range is between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending upon where you live, you may need a heater or cooling system.
  • pH Balance- Cichlids generally prefer a pH level between 7.8 and 8.5.
  • Décor- Your choice of décor for your tank should depend entirely upon the species that you choose to keep. Many Cichlids will stubbornly move objects and plants around no matter how well anchored. They just like to dig them out and move them around. Most Cichlids eat any live plants kept in their tank. Some species are shy, and need good nooks and crannies to hide out in.
  • Substrate- Species such as the Oscar and Jack Dempsey should be housed with a substrate of sand. They dig in their substrate constantly looking for bits of food and debris, and if they have rocks or gravel they cut their faces.

Tank Maintenance

Cichlids are generally a high maintenance fish as far as tank upkeep goes. Their diets vary greatly, and as a result their waste can be rather plentiful. Even the best filters require regular cleaning in order to maintain a healthy balance within the tank. The glass surface will require a good regular cleaning as well, unless their tank mate is a heavy duty algae eater such as a Pleco – they can help out on that job.

Common Cichlid Diet

Most Cichlids eat both plants and meat and very happy if kept on an omnivorous diet in captivity.

Feeding should last for roughly 30 seconds, and any amount left is considered either waste or excess food Some of the healthiest options that are amongst the average Cichlid’s favorite meals are-
• Blood Worms
• Frozen or live feeder animals such as Brine Shrimp and Crayfish
• Fresh green veggies such as spinach, asparagus, lettuce, etc…
• Fruits such as bananas, peaches, melon, etc…


Cichlids are an amazing species of fish to have an observe. While they do require some specific methods of care, you’ll enjoy all the action and entertainment they have to offer.

Remember to create a home for your fish that plays to their natural tendencies. Cichlids love their caves and open space for roaming.

To finish it up, here’s a recap of everything you need to do in order to buy and raise healthy fish.

● Choose your species: African or Central/South American
● Inspect fish for abnormalities before buying
● Buy all your fish at the same time to avoid aggression
● Set your aquarium up with the right specs
● Decide what to feed your Cichlid, and follow a routine schedule
● If you opt for a variety of species, choose others that can withstand your Cichlid’s assertive and territorial nature.