Best for Experienced Owners
Activity Level: Low-Medium
Cichlids are native to the rivers of Central and South America, Asia, and Africa. Cichlids are one of the most numerous and largest tropical fish families in the world; they have over 1,650 different species in their family. Cichlids are related to wrasse, damselfish, and surfperches. Cichlids are very common and popular tropical fish; however, they are best suited for experienced fish hobbyists.
Generally, Cichlids are territorial, semi aggressive fish; however, some species of Cichlids are more docile than others. Cichlids can usually safely cohabitate with other fish that are the same size and similar temperament as themselves. Cichlids should not be kept with smaller fish as they will eat them, unless they are a school of small communal fish, than some of the more placid species of Cichlids can be safely kept with them. Cichlids can share their tank with the larger species of cyprinids, pacu, Oscars, other species of similar sized cichlids, iridescent sharks, barbs, catfish, guppies, rainbow fish, and loaches. Cichlids are intelligent fish that quickly correlates their owner with food; they will often go to the surface of the tank to greet their owner. However, owners should be careful not to put their fingers in the aquarium since the larger and more aggressive cichlids are known for mistaking fingers for food.
An adult cichlid requires about 2 gallons of tank space per one inch of fish. The average adult cichlid can measure from 2-40 inches long so requires 4-80 gallons of tank space, depending on the species. The bottom of the aquarium should be covered with about four inches of gravel and include some hiding spots such as caves and plenty of plants. However, if the aquarium has any of the larger species of cichlid, the tank should not be too cluttered as the cichlid may get rowdy and knock things over. The aquarium should include a good filtration system to help keep the water clean and a heater. The water in the aquarium should be between 71-84 Fahrenheit depending on species, and the ph level of the water needs to be around 6.5 to 7.5. While cichlids are quite hardy to disease, they can die quite easily if the ph level or temperature changes drastically.
Appearance and Care:
When full grown, cichlids measure from 2-40 inches from nose to tail. Usually female cichlids are larger and heavier than male cichlids are. Cichlids come in a variety of colors and patterns; they range from bright colors like yellow or red and orange with black sports, to dark colors like black with dull grey markings.
Cichlids are primarily carnivores that are usually fed a diet of live food, canned fish food, and fish flakes. Depending on the species of cichlids, they can be fed guppies, shrimp, scallops, tetras, smelts, commercial fish flakes, blood worms and earthworms, tadpoles, and even canned tuna or salmon. Care should be taken when feeding live food to ensure all the fish are healthy and disease free. Cichlids that are solely fed a live fish diet often need a vitamin supplement to insure they get all the nutrients they need to be healthy.
Depending on the species of cichlid, their lifespan can range from 5-25 years. Usually, larger species of cichlids live longer than the smaller species, but the smaller species are more peaceful than their larger cousins.