What To Consider When Picking Out A Cichlid Aquarium

Aquarium fish keeping has been around for centuries. It is believed that the ancient Chinese of the Song Dynasty were the first to have kept aquarium fish for ornamental purposes. We have come a long way since then. Nowadays, aquarium fish keeping is a scientific exercise attuned to the needs and requirements of the specific fish species.

You don’t just decide to buy a fish tank and some fishes. There is careful planning involved and there are steps to follow. They are not complicated but in order to be successful you are expected to adhere to the suggestions. Below are the most important steps to take before even purchasing your first stock of cichlids:


Before filling the aquarium, you need to select a permanent location where the aquarium will be easily viewed and be enjoyed not only by you but also by the people who will come to admire your handiwork. (However, be careful not to put your tank in a high traffic area.) Put it in an area where the light and temperature of the tank will not be affected by external sources such as windows and heater vents.

Make sure that the stand and the floor will support the total weight of your fish tank. You need also to have easy access electrical outlets for the use of lights and filters. You might also want to make sure that you are not far from the nearest water source.

Take note that larger tanks may need special furniture. You need to be quite sure of the quality of construction! Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid direct sunlight. Sunlight promotes algae growth and can cause overheating.
  • Don't set your aquarium too close to windows and doors, which create drafts and temperature changes.
  • Avoid areas frequented by too much traffic - constant movement near the tank causes stress to the fish.
  • Make sure you are close to electrical outlets and will not be overloading a circuit.
  • Your tank should be at a good height for comfortable viewing and easy to reach for maintenance.

Choosing the Tank

You must realize the responsibility involved in owning a cichlid fish tank. Having a fish tank is similar to having a dog or a cat when it comes to the amount of effort you will expend. You have to work at it. You will be involved in performing some kind of maintenance on the tank, do water changes, and feed the fish regularly. Setting up and running a fish tank cost money plus the recurring expenses as long as you keep your fishes and your tank.

You must decide on the aquarium size. Have a good idea of how many cichlids you want to keep. It may be a good idea to start with a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium setup and change to a larger one once you get the expertise in maintaining a fish tank.

Choosing the Stand

You must set up your fish tank and stand. Have your floor examined where you plan to locate your aquarium and stand. It should not give in under the weight of your body. Test to see whether the flooring is level and even. If a part of the stand is on a hard surface and the other part is on a soft surface, you need to check the level of the aquarium stand with some serious weight placed on it. Use a shim to make up for the difference, if it is not level. However, you can only do this for small aquariums. A non-level surface will make it impossible to fill your tank. It also places your fish and aquarium equipment at risk since such a stand is more inclined to tip over or spring a leak.

Cichlid aquarium setup is easy if you just follow my guidelines. Im going to show you the exact same procedures i follow when setting up one of my own cichlid aquariums at home. You will soon be the envy of all your friends and be the proud owner of an amazing cichlid aquarium simply by following my easy steps.
  • It seems pretty logical that when you purchase the aquarium, you want to setup for your cichlids the bigger the tank the better off you will be. A larger size affords you the luxury of keeping many fish. Something to definitely keep in mind when shopping around.
  • Also one needs to be aware that if you try and keep too many fish it can lead much aggression amongst your fish. It is best to add one type in a smallish group then when settled to ad another smallish group of the next type you would like to add.Avoid overcrowding your tank. This can lead to chaotic fighting amongst some Cichlids so just start out with smallish groups. Cichlids tend to grow at a rapid rate so take this into consideration when deciding on species.
  • To avoid cichlids launching themselves from the tank be sure to have reasonably heavy lid set in place.
  • When considering which species of cichlid you would like to keep it is a good idea to research the size they will grow to and at what rate. Some cichlids grow very large at a rapid rate so avoid having them outgrow the tank.

Preparing Your Aquarium..

  • When cleaning your tank it is OK to use a mild detergent provided you do a second rinse with just water to make sure any leftover toxins are removed.
  • To avoid adding any germs to the tank when adding one of the many types of substrate make sure it has been thoroughly cleaned.
  • Fill the tank with about a third of water so you can setup any under gravel system or filtration along with your substrate and then plants and rocks. Once this has settled you can then fill the tank to the required level.
  • Next you can go ahead and position your heater preferably somewhere towards the rear of the tank. Set the temperature to 26C. A good quality thermostat heater will provide the most optimal conditions.
  • There are some cichlids that prefer a pH below 6 and there are others that like it above 8 so be sure to research the correct pH level for the types of fish you would like to keep
  • In different parts of the world the water supply’s can be heavily treated with chlorine which is harmful to your fish. It is good to add water conditioner from your pet store to the tank and then let the whole thing settle for 24 hours or so. I like to use this period to make any last minute changes to the tank before adding any fish.

Aquarium Layout..

  • It is best to research the particular species original water conditions and then try to recreate the same environment in your tank.
  • To keep the general peace amongst your fish you will need to add as many hiding places and caves as you can. That way if any of your fish start bullying then the others will be able to hide. You can do this with rocks if you like or even petrified wood which also looks really good. You can purchase these at your local pet store but just be sure to give them a good clean before adding to the tank
  • Plants are a great addition to any tank and can really add life to a dull tank. When it comes to vegetation though once again it depends on the species. Some cichlids are notorious for ripping plants up whereas some are just fine. You should make sure any plants you add are weighted down properly. I like to use twisty ties with a medium size pebble just above the root base of the plant.
  • > If you have trouble with your fish ripping your plans up or eating them you can always consider using plastic ones.
  • Its very important that you not overfeed them in the first few days. You should always start small and build up to required diet because as with most fish if you keep feeding them they will keep eating.

Maintaining Your Aquarium..

  • Once a week it is a good idea to replace 1/4 of the aquariums water with fresh clean water. This reduces the amount of times you will have to clean the whole tank by heaps.
  • Get a good magnetic tank cleaner and clean the tank once every month
  • Depending on the filter type you have in place, when you clean the filter try and use the tank water where possible because the burst of chlorine in the new water can kill off any of the good bacteria that has built up which is good for the tank.
  • Following these tips will reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do by heaps/li>
  • If the first time around you have something go wrong do not be disheartened , if you stick with it your fish will soon be flourishing and you will have the perfect cichlid aquarium setup.

African Cichlids in your Aquarium.

Keeping African cichlids in your aquarium is generally trouble free as most of this type of cichlid can live happily with other fish. They require a well planted tank so go for it if you like plants in your tank. They will also require plenty of nooks and cranny’s to hide in and reproduce in.

Central American Cichlids in Your Aquarium.

Keeping Central American cichlids in your tank can be a little trickier.I generally start a tank with only 2 fish and monitor there behavior then add more fish in pairs. These can be very aggressive fish especially around mating time. These guys are well know for ripping up plants so i like to use plastic plants and setup lots of caves for them to escape into if needed. They reproduce very easily and tend to lay there eggs on rock and substrate.

Amazon Cichlids in Your Aquarium.

If you want to keep Amazon cichlids in your tank then you must start with at least a 200 liter aquarium because a lot of them get quite large in size. These guys are pretty easy to keep but take a little more work to breed. You will want to research the species as most of these fish are extremely aggressive and will not reside very well with other fish.
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