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African Cichlid Care Guide: Lifespan, Nutrition and Create Healthy Environment

African cichlids are a diverse group of fish that are native to the freshwaters of Africa. There are over 3000 species of African cichlids, making them one of the largest groups of freshwater fish in …

blue african cichlid

African cichlids are a diverse group of fish that are native to the freshwaters of Africa. There are over 3000 species of African cichlids, making them one of the largest groups of freshwater fish in the world. African cichlids are popular aquarium fish, and many species are bred in captivity.

African cichlids are members of the family Cichlidae, which includes all the cichlid fishes. This family is native to freshwater habitats in Africa.

African cichlids are small to medium-sized fishes, with most species growing to between 4 and 6 inches (10-15 cm) in length. They are typically brightly colored, with males often being more colorful than females.

cichlid african in front of rock

African cichlids are omnivorous, and their diet consists of both plant and animal matter. In the wild, they feed on algae, insects, and small crustaceans. In captivity, they will accept a wide variety of foods, including pellets, flakes, and live foods.

African cichlids are social animals, and they typically live in groups. In the wild, these groups can be quite large, with some consisting of hundreds of individuals. In captivity, African cichlids should be kept in groups of at least six fish.

They are relatively easy to care for, and they make a great addition to any freshwater aquarium. They are hardy fish, and they can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. African cichlids are also relatively disease-resistant, making them a good choice for beginner aquarists.

If you want to know more about African Cichlid care, read our article.

Are African Cichlids Easy to Keep?
If you are thinking of getting a freshwater aquarium, you may be wondering if African cichlids are easy to keep. The answer is both yes and no. Yes, they are relatively easy to care for and are great fish for beginners. However, they are also very territorial and can be aggressive, so you should do your research before adding them to your aquarium.

Species Summary

Scientific name:Pseudotropheus sp.
Common names:African cichlid
Distribution:East Africa
Size:2–12 inches
Life expectancy:6–10 years
Color:Various colors including blue, yellow, pink, green, red, and purple, with spots or stripes
Breeding:Egg layer or mouthbrooder, depending on the type of African cichlid
Care level:Moderate

Where do They Come From?

African cichlids are native to the freshwater lakes of Africa. The three main lakes that are home to these fish are Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Victoria. Each of these lakes is home to a different species of cichlid, and the fish in each lake have their own unique coloration and patterns.

How Long do African Cichlid Live for?

African cichlids are also known to be very hardy fish, which means they can live for a long time in captivity. The average lifespan of an African cichlid is between 6 and 10 years, but some individuals have been known to live for 15 years or more.

How Big do African Cichlid Grow?

African cichlids can grow to be very large, with some species reaching up to 12 inches in length.

The Different Types of African Cichlid Fish: Appearance

There are many different species of African cichlids, each with its own unique appearance and behavior.

african cichlid swim


African cichlids come in a wide variety of colors. While the most popular African cichlids are brightly colored, there are also many that are more subdued in color.

The most popular African cichlid colors are yellow, orange, and red. These colors are often found in the same fish and are very eye-catching. Other popular colors include blue, green, and black.

African cichlids that are yellow, orange, or red are often called “flame cichlids.” These fish are very popular because of their bright colors. Flame cichlids are often found in the same fish tanks as blue cichlids, as their colors complement each other well.

African cichlids that are blue, green, or black are often called “peacock cichlids.” These fish are named after the African peacock, which has similar colors. Peacock cichlids are not as popular as flame cichlids, but they are still sought after by many aquarium enthusiasts.

African cichlids come in a wide variety of colors, and each color has its own beauty. Whether you prefer the bright colors of the flame cichlids, or the more subdued colors of the peacock cichlids, there is an African cichlid out there that is perfect for you.

orange and yellow african cichlid


There are many different types of African cichlids, and they can be distinguished by their patterns. The most common pattern is the zebra cichlid, which has vertical stripes running down its body. Other patterns include the leopard cichlid, which has spots instead of stripes, and the peacock cichlid, which has multicolored scales. Each type of cichlid has its own unique pattern, and these patterns can help to identify the different species.

African Cichlid Care Sheet & Tank Requirements

Minimum tank size:30 gallons
Temperature:75–85°F (24–29°C)
Hardness:12–30 dGH

The Best Aquarium Size

If you’re considering an African cichlid aquarium, you’ll need to choose the right tank size. African cichlids are some of the largest cichlids, and they need plenty of space to swim and explore. A small tank simply won’t do.

The best aquarium size for African adult cichlids is at least 30 gallons. This size tank will give your cichlids plenty of room to grow and explore. African cichlids are also very active fish, so a larger tank is even better.

When choosing a tank size for African cichlids, it’s important to remember that these fish grow quickly. They can reach up to 12 inches in length, so you’ll need to accommodate their size.

fish in an aquarium


What Water is Best for African Cichlid?

There are a few things to consider when determining which water conditions for cichlids. The first is the hardness of the water. African cichlids prefer water that is on the harder side, so if your tap water is on the softer side, you may want to consider using a water hardener.

The second thing to consider is the pH of the water. African cichlids prefer water that is slightly alkaline, so if your tap water is on the acidic side, you may want to consider using a pH adjuster.

blue fish in an aquarium

Tank Water Temperature

Water temperature is a critical factor in the care of African cichlids. Most species prefer water that is between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that is too cold can cause health problems, and water that is too hot can be deadly. African cichlids are tropical fish, so they need warm water to thrive.

The best way to heat your African cichlid tank is with an aquarium heater. Heaters come in a variety of sizes and styles, so you can find one that suits your needs. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before installing your heater.

African cichlids are sensitive to changes in water temperature, so it is important to monitor the temperature of your tank. A good quality thermometer is an essential piece of equipment for any African cichlid aquarium.

Best Water Flow for African Cichlid

There are many factors to consider when determining the best water flow for African cichlid tanks. The size of the tank, the number of fish, the type of fish, and the plants in the tank all play a role in how much water flow is ideal. In general, African cichlids prefer moderate to high water flow.

One of the benefits of high water flow is that it helps to keep the water oxygenated and clean. This is especially important in African cichlid tanks because these fish are particularly sensitive to water quality. Good water flow also helps to keep the tank tidy by preventing waste buildup and promoting healthy plant growth.

African cichlids are also known to be active swimmers, so a tank with too little water flow can make them sluggish. If you have a lot of fish in your tank, you may need to increase the water flow to keep them all healthy and active.

Whatever water flow you choose for your tank, be sure to monitor your fish closely to make sure they are all thriving. If you notice any fish struggling, it may be time to adjust the flow.

small orange african cichlid

pH — Water Acidity & Alkalinity Levels

African cichlids prefer water that is slightly alkaline, with a pH between 7.8 and 8.6. They also prefer water that is hard, with a hardness of 12-30 dGH. African cichlids are tolerant of a wide range of water conditions, but these are the ideal conditions for them.

Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrates

Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all important compounds in the African cichlid aquarium. Ammonia is produced by the fish and other animals in the aquarium and is also present in fish waste. Nitrite is produced by bacteria that break down ammonia. Nitrate is produced by bacteria that break down nitrite. All of these compounds are necessary for the proper functioning of the aquarium ecosystem.

Ammonia is toxic to fish and must be removed from the water. Nitrite is also toxic to fish, but is much less so than ammonia. Nitrate is not toxic to fish, but can build up to levels that are harmful to the aquarium ecosystem. All of these compounds must be monitored and controlled to maintain a healthy aquarium.

African cichlids are particularly sensitive to ammonia and nitrite. It is important to keep these levels as low as possible in the aquarium. The best way to do this is to perform regular water changes and use a good filtration system. A protein skimmer can also help to remove these compounds from the water.

Nitrate is not as toxic to fish as ammonia and nitrite, but it can still build up to levels that are harmful to the aquarium ecosystem. Nitrate levels can be controlled through water changes and by using live plants in the aquarium. Live plants help to remove nitrate from the water and keep the levels low.

two yellow fish


One of the most important things to consider when setting up an African cichlid tank is filtration. African cichlids are messy eaters and produce a lot of waste. A good filtration system is essential to keeping the water clean and the cichlids healthy.

There are a few different types of filtration systems that can be used for African cichlids. Canister filters are a good option because they are powerful and can be customized to the size of the tank. Hang-on-back filters are also a good choice, and they are less expensive than canister filters.

Whichever type of filter you choose, be sure to get one that is powerful enough to handle the size of your tank and the number of cichlids you have. It is also a good idea to get a filter with a built-in heater to keep the water at the correct temperature for the cichlids.

African cichlids are sensitive to changes in water quality, so it is important to do regular water changes to keep the water clean. Water changes should be done weekly, and the amount of water that is changed should be at least 10% of the total tank volume.

When doing a water change, it is also a good idea to vacuum the gravel to remove any built-up waste. This will help keep the water quality high and the cichlids healthy.

an aquarium with a clean water system


If you are keeping African cichlids, then you will need to provide them with the right kind of lighting. African cichlids come from a variety of habitats, so you will need to research the specific needs of the fish you are keeping.

In general, African cichlids need bright lighting to bring out their colors. If you are keeping African cichlids in an aquarium, then you should use full spectrum lighting. Full spectrum lighting will provide the necessary ultraviolet light that African cichlids need.

African cichlids also need a lot of light to help them see their food.

Light system for the aquarium

Plants and Decorations for your African Cichlid

To create a natural and visually appealing environment for your African cichlids, include a variety of plants and decorations in your aquarium design. Live plants are a great way to add color and interest to your cichlid tank, and they also provide important benefits for the health of your fish. Decorations such as rocks, driftwood, and caves provide hiding places and territories for your fish, which can help reduce aggression and stress.

When choosing plants and decorations for your African cichlid aquarium, be sure to select items that are safe for cichlids and that will not damage their delicate fins. Avoid sharp edges and toxic materials, and research each plant species to make sure it is compatible with cichlids.

With a little planning and care, you can create a beautiful and healthy environment for your African cichlids that will bring you years of enjoyment.

aquarium with plants in the middle

What’s the Best Substrate for African Cichlid?

The best substrate for African cichlids is a dark, sandy substrate. African cichlids prefer to live in water with high mineral content, so a substrate that is rich in minerals is ideal. A dark substrate will also help to bring out the colors of your cichlids.

African cichlids are also known for digging and sifting through the substrate. A sandy substrate is perfect for this behavior, as it is easy for the cichlids to move around and dig in. A substrate that is too fine or too coarse can be difficult for cichlids to move around in and can cause them stress.

Food & Diet

Below you will learn how to feed African Cichlids correctly for their long and happy life.

What Can You Feed Your African Cichlid?

They are hardy fish that can adapt to a wide range of water conditions. African cichlids are also relatively easy to feed.

There are a variety of commercial foods available that are specifically designed for African cichlids. These foods usually contain a mix of pellets and flakes that provide the fish with all the nutrients they need.

African cichlids will also accept most live and frozen foods. Brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia are all good choices. It is a good idea to offer a variety of foods to ensure that the fish are getting all the nutrients they need.

In general, African cichlids are not picky eaters and will accept most foods that are offered to them. It is important to remember that these fish are carnivores and need a diet that is high in protein.

pelleted fish food

How Often Do African Cichlids Need to Be Fed?

When it comes to feeding African cichlids, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The frequency of feedings will vary depending on the species of cichlid, the size of the fish, and the water conditions in the aquarium.

As a general rule of thumb, African cichlids should be fed 2-3 times per day. This can be increased to 4-5 times per day for very young fish or fish that are actively growing.

It is important to remember that overfeeding can be just as harmful as underfeeding. Be sure to watch your fish closely and only offer as much food as they can eat in a few minutes. Remove any uneaten food before it has a chance to sink to the bottom of the tank and decompose.

If you are unsure of how much to feed your African cichlids, it is always best to err on the side of caution and feed them a little less than you think they need. It is better to underfeed than overfeed, as overfeeding can lead to water quality issues and potentially harm your fish.

daphnia in a test tube for feeding fish in an aquarium

How Long Can an African Cichlid Go Without Food?

African cichlids are hardy fish and can go without food for a week or more. However, it is not recommended to do this as it can lead to health problems. If your cichlid does not eat for a few days, check the water quality and make sure there is no ammonia or nitrites present.

If the water quality is good, try offering a variety of foods to see if the cichlid will eat. If the cichlid still does not eat, consult a veterinarian.

Watch the Following Video on Beginners Guide to African Cichlid Care

Behavior & Temperament

African cichlids are also known for their aggressive behavior, and they are often involved in fights with other fish in the aquarium. African cichlids are not recommended for beginners, and they should only be kept with other aggressive fish.

Good Tank Mates

There are many different species of African cichlids, so it is important to research what species you have and what their specific needs are before adding any fish to your tank.

Generally, however, these fish do well with other cichlids, catfish, and loaches. It is best to avoid mixing African cichlids with fish that are much smaller or much larger than them, as these fish can become aggressive and territorial.

Unsafe Tank Mates

Here are some examples of unsafe tank mates for African cichlids:

  1. Angelfish – Angelfish are peaceful fish that don’t do well when kept with aggressive cichlids. They are likely to be nipped at and chased by the cichlids, and could even be killed.
  2. Guppies – Guppies are another peaceful fish that is not a good match for African cichlids. The cichlids will see the guppies as easy targets and will bully them mercilessly.
  3. Neon Tetras – Neon tetras are very small fish, and African cichlids are known to eat small fish. The tetras will be seen as nothing more than a snack by the cichlids and will be quickly eaten.
  4. Goldfish – Goldfish are not a good choice to keep with African cichlids for a few reasons. First, goldfish are slow-moving fish that cichlids will chase and nip at. Second, goldfish produce a lot of waste, and this can pollute the water and lead to problems for the cichlids.

small orange african cichlids

FAQs on How to Care for African Cichlid Fish

Can You mention the available types of Cichlids?

There are many different species of cichlids, and they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Some of the more popular species include:

  • African cichlids
  • Central American cichlids
  • South American cichlids

Can You suggest the best cichlids for newbies?

One of the best cichlids for beginners is the convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata). This species is relatively small, reaching a maximum size of only about 6 inches. They are also relatively peaceful, although they can be territorial with other cichlids.

Can African Cichlid live alone?

While they can technically live alone, it is not recommended, as they are a social species that does best in groups.


The African cichlid is a freshwater fish that is native to the rivers, lakes, and streams of Africa.

The African cichlid is a popular fish in the aquarium trade and is kept by fishkeepers all over the world. The African cichlid is a hardy fish that can live in a wide range of water conditions and is relatively easy to care for.

The African cichlid is a voracious eater and will accept a wide variety of food items. The African cichlid is an aggressive fish and is best kept with other cichlids of a similar size and temperament.


  • Cichlid (Wikipedia): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cichlid
  • Nitrates: challenges for the water environment (www.gov.uk): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nitrates-challenges-for-the-water-environment
  • How to Raise pH in Aquarium: The Best Method for Your Tank: https://japanesefightingfish.org/how-to-raise-ph-in-aquarium/

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