Traits & behavior
This means they eat mostly animal matter, including fresh, frozen and freeze-dried foods.
You will see your cichlids swimming in the middle of your aquarium. To create a beautiful environment, be sure to add some top and bottom swimmers as well. Ask a PetSmart associate to help you choose.
They are generally peaceful with fish of the same size and temperament, but may eat any fish small enough to fit into their mouths. They may also be territorial and aggressive to others of their species.
There are many species of African cichlids, including the rock-dwelling cichlids from Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika.
Things to remember
Whether you're just starting your aquarium or introducing new fish to your tank, don't forget to add only 1-3 at a time.
Safety & cleanliness
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit disease to humans. Keep your pet's home clean and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and the infirm or elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with the pet or its habitat. Consult your doctor for more information.
Choose a cichlid flake or pellet food, or freeze-dried fish foods. Feed according to the directions on the packaging.
Cichlids enjoy fresh or frozen bloodworms, adult brine shrimp and glass worms. Always remember to thaw frozen foods before feeding.
Supplement the diet with a food containing spirulina, a nutritious type of algae.
For optimum health, feed your cichlids as much food as they will consume in 1-3 minutes, twice a day. You can alternate between regular staple diet feedings and 2-4 meals per week of a specialty food.
Signs your African cichlids are healthy:
- Eating vigorously and swimming actively
- Clear eyes, smooth, clean skin and fins free from any lesions or inconsistent colorations
- Calm, steady gill movements
Things to watch for:
- Lying on bottom of aquarium
- Poor growth or weight loss
- Inflamed gills, skin or fins
- Fins clamped to sides
- Scraping body on rocks
If you notice any of the signs described above, check your aquarium water quality and consult a PetSmart Aquatics Specialist.
Use a 29-gallon or larger aquarium. A good rule of thumb is one gallon of water for every one inch of full-grown fish.
Line the aquarium with a sandy substrate, and provide plenty of rockwork with caves and cracks for hiding.
African cichlids should be housed in a semi-aggressive or cichlid-only community aquarium with fish of similar size and temperament.
Test water weekly to assess water quality. It is recommended that 10% of your aquarium water be changed per week. At the very least, 25% of your aquarium water should be changed per month.
African cichlids require a tropical aquarium with water temperatures ranging between 75-82° F. Use an aquarium heater to maintain water temperature.
Place your aquarium in a low-traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts.
The aquarium stand will safely support the weight of your filled aquarium.