Virtually all hobby cichlids are tropical freshwater fish from lakes in Africa and South America. Relatively hardy, cichlids are not especially challenging to look after. That doesn't mean you can just plop them in a tank and feed daily. You need to establish specific water quality parameters and maintain them diligently.
Learn the correct levels for the water in your cichlid aquarium. These levels may vary slightly, according to the species you own, but most cichlids thrive in water with pH between 7.8 and 8.6, general hardness between 160 and 320 parts per million, carbonate hardness between 180 and 240 ppm, and temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll need a water heater to keep it at this temperature.
Attach a filter to your cichlid tank to maintain the quality of the water. Use a hang filter for smaller tanks, of under 75 gallons, or a canister or box filter for larger tanks, of 75 gallons or more. Under-gravel filters aren't recommended for these fish.
Change 20 percent to 30 percent of the water in your tank each week. First, turn off all filters, heater and lights in your tank. Siphon out the water you want to change and discard it. Replace the water you've taken out with tap water that you've treated with a commercial aquarium water conditioner and heated to the same temperature as the remaining water in the tank.
Clean the algae off the walls of the tank using an algae scraper. Do this when you're changing the water in your tank, either weekly or whenever you notice algae growth.
- If you notice the water levels in your aquarium drop, it could be due to evaporation. Top it up with water that's been heated to the correct temperature and treated with a water conditioner.
- Always leave your fish in the tank while you change the water. Not only is it stressful, moving them into water with different levels could be fatal.