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African Cichlid Care Guide

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African cichlids encompass the largest genus of the cichlid family, with well over 100 species. Male and female African cichlids will live well together in the same tank; they'll do well also with other territorial fish such as green spotted puffers and Leopard ctenopomas. Catfish also make ideal tank mates and will aid in keeping your tank clean.


An African cichlid requires plenty of room to swim and grow, making a tank that is 55 gallons or larger a must. The water in the tank needs to be hardy like river water, so maintaining a pH between 8.2 and 8.4 is ideal. The pH should never be allowed to drop below 7.0. The water temperature needs to be between 74 and 82 degrees. Place plenty of decorations and plants in the tank to allow each fish hiding places, but be sure to leave plenty of open room for swimming. This is best achieved by placing plants and decor along the back and side walls of the tank.


An African cichlid enjoys a variety of food, and requires more than just vegetable based flake fish food for optimum health and coloring. They also digest food more slowly than other fish because they have longer intestinal tracts. Supplement the daily flake food with frozen blood worms and brine shrimp, allowing the food to thaw before feeding. Feed as much as the fish will eat with in 30 minutes two to three times daily. If leftover food is observed, decrease the amount given at the next feeding.


Each week, remove 10 to 20 percent of the water in the tank and replace it with fresh water. If algae appears on the sides of the tank, use an algae magnet to scrape the walls of the tank before changing the water. Always use water that is either totally free of chlorine and other chemicals, or allow tap water to sit in a bucket for at least 24 hours before adding it to your tank.


A healthy African cichlid will have clear eyes, a good appetite and even coloring. Some of the illnesses that may effect and Africa cichlid include fin rot, which is signified by redness at the base of the fins and disintegration of the fins, and ich, which is signified by white dots on the body of the fish. Other signs of illness include a loss of appetite, erratic swimming and loss of coloring.