How to care for Cichlid fish- African and South American Cichlids

How to keep cichlids in a community tank| How to care for cichlids| African and South American cichlids

The Cichlid community of fish is probably one of the most popular fish breeds in the aquarium hobby. Whether it be African cichlids with more vibrant colours or huge cichlids from the South American region, both have their personality and presence, and watching these amazing fishes in aquariums resembling their natural habitats is just amazing.


Convict Cichlids
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Cichlids come in all sorts of colours, shapes, and sizes. Normally cichlids are considered quite hardy and easy-going but do not be mistaken as some cichlids can be very challenging to keep and it could turn out to be a nightmare if you do not take good care of them. 

Having a cichlid community tank is another challenge as some of them are so aggressive that your tank could soon turn into a battleground. Although I would not recommend cichlid to a beginner who has never kept a fish as each of the cichlid fishes have unique requirements of their own. Still if one decides to set up his first cichlid tank, here are some of the most important key points which a hobbyist has to consider before even thinking of getting cichlids from a breeder or pet shop.


Mbuna Cichlid

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Cichlid- The Breed 

There are around 1800 different varieties of cichlids and more are being discovered every year. Each of these has unique traits, appearance, and behaviour and so is their requirement to live in an artificial environment such as an aquarium. One has to be very specific while choosing the breed as some are difficult to keep and breed especially breeds like discuss which can only thrive in suitable habitat. 


Yellow Regal Peacock Cichlid

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Also if these are kept in a community tank with other cichlids, our aquarium could turn into a battleground as these are quite aggressive and also disturb the aquascaping. A few of the most popular breeds of cichlids are Oscars, Convict, Angel, Flowerhorn, Discuss, Firemouth, Green terror, Jaguar cichlid, Texas, and other African cichlids.

Tank Size 

Apart from Dwarf cichlid, most of the cichlids grow to quite a huge size some even reaching more than 12 inches in length, so having a large aquarium would be very much needed which should be atleast 4 foot in length. A thumb rule of keeping cichlids is that 55 gallons are needed at least to house 10-12 fishes. 


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Furthermore the aquascaping should be such that it should not have any sharp edges and corners as these tend to explore their surroundings and would also disturb or uproot plants if kept in a planted tank, so it would not be a good idea to keep these in a planted aquarium. 

Water parameter and Filtration 

Cichlids are mostly tropic fish and would thrive in a warm environment, so having temperatures between 24- 28 degrees Celcius is considered optimum for cichlids, and choose a 5-watt heater for each gallon of water to maintain temperature if needed. 

For efficient filtration, the most important aspect is that the entire volume of water in the tank should be filtered 5 times an hour. Like if one has a 5 gallon of water in the tank, so the filtration should be able to circulate 25 gallons of filtered water in an hour for better results and better water quality. The absence of proper filtration can lead to ammonia build up in the water which could also be fatal for the fish if left unchecked.

Cichlid – feeding 

While there is a huge list of commercial fish food available in the market and some claim to be especially prepared for cichlids, but one should always look for the ingredients present in these. These fish food alongwith some nutrients such as protein, also have some chemical components which may be harmful to the fish. 


Frontosa Cichlid

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To be on the safer side and to give the best nutrition to cichlids, various homemade food options are available and easy to prepare which are very beneficial for cichlids. Some of these are prawns, bloodworms, veggies such as lettuce and peas, soya chunks, and many more. 

Not only the type of food but also the method of feeding the fish determine its health. One should always feed the amount of food to fish which it can finish in a few minutes and should not overfeed as the leftover food in water will deplete the water parameters.

How to keep cichlids in a community tank| How to care for cichlids| African and South American cichlids