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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > South Central American Cichlids Nutrition and Maintenance

South & Central American Cichlids

Experience Level: Intermediate

South & Central American Cichlids

Nutrition and Maintenance


• Choose a flake or pelleted food of the appropriate size for your fish as its staple diet.

• Feed your fish as much food as they will consume in three minutes, twice a day.
• Vary the fish’s diet by including frozen (thaw first) or freeze-dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex worms and other foods.

• Avoid overfeeding, as this is a common cause of water quality problems and fish loss.


• Maintaining a healthy environment for your fish is an ongoing commitment. A newly set up aquarium requires more frequent monitoring with weekly water testing and changing if necessary. Once the water quality is stable, you can keep your aquarium in great shape with minimal effort by following this schedule:


 Maintenance Needs

Feed fish twice daily.

Check water temperature and general health of fish.


Remove 10% of the water and replace with dechlorinated water.

Test water quality in new aquariums.

Scrub glass to remove algae, if necessary.


Vacuum gravel and replace 25% of water with dechlorinated water.

Test water quality in established aquariums.

Perform filter maintenance (i.e., replace filter cartridge, replace carbon, rinse pre-filter, etc.).

Scrub algae from tank and prune live plants, if necessary.


Always add a dechlorinator or water conditioner to tap water before adding it to the aquarium. Do not use and soaps or detergents to clean aquarium or decor, as they are toxic to fish.  Always wash your hands before and after handling fish or cleaning the aquarium.