African Cichlid Care and Expert Secrets

Published: 14th October 2010
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African cichlids are beautifully colored fish that live in the lakes of Africa such as Malawi, Victoria, and Tanganyika near mountains and rocks. They are known for their beautiful patterns and array of colors that are not typical to most freshwater fish. African cichlids are one of the most aggressive freshwater tropical fish. They are extremely territorial and highly predatory. In the wild, they often live together in schools or groups of like species. Mature African cichlids guard their territory and they are not hospitable and may even behave aggressively to other fish, including cichlids of different species.

These fish are simply fascinating to observe and they will amaze you with their social behavior and the degree of intelligence they possess. The cichlids of east Africa are renowned for their proliferation. With very few exceptions, African cichlids, especially those from Lake Malawi, are among the easiest aquarium fish to breed. Cichlids readily adapt to captivity, and that is why many species are available in local pet shops. They are very hardy fish, which makes them relatively easy to maintain.

African cichlids are aggressive fish that take up territories in an aquarium. If you plan to house numerous cichlids in the same aquarium, giving them different territories and boundaries is a good way to keep them from harming one another. Another less than vital aspect of the aquarium setting, but still worthwhile if you want to create a safe haven for your fish.

This is because in nature, they establish territories to ensure their survival in these crowded conditions. With their own territory, they have a spot to graze and to prey on small invertebrates in the sand or mud. Fish which consume the same food are driven off for obvious reasons. Females are only allowed into a male's territory if she is willing to mate. And males of the same species are driven off because they are competiting for breeding with the females, in addition to competing for the same foods. By keeping your fish well-fed, you can control and manipulate their aggression. Or you could feed them less often, but a little more each time. (you can also curb aggression by heavily stocking your tank -- this way, not one fish takes all the damage, and cichlids tend to lose each other more easily in the crowd.

If you are going to heavily stock your tank, make sure your filter can handle to load. African cichlids will gorge themselves in captivity, which is carried over from their feeding behavior in the wild. In nature, most cichlids rely heavily on foods with lots of fiber, such as blue-green algae and organic detritus.

For more secrets, tips and expert advice on caring for your African Cichlids, please visit

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