African cichlids are amazing kinds of fishes that belong to the Cichlidae family in the order Ciconiiformes. Cichlids are very diverse groups of fish, with many of their species finding their existence in Africa. There are over 1000 species of cichlids with many more species not yet discovered.
African cichlids need ideal water conditions to thrive. The temperature of the water should be around 75-850F, and the pH should be within 7.8-8.6. African cichlids prefer hard waters to soft waters and moderate lightning.
The behavior of African Cichlids
One characteristic you should take note of about African cichlids is their aggression. African cichlids are aggressive fish and can take advantage of weaker fishes. The aggression usually occurs during mating, which can lead to the death of the weaker fish.
As much as the African cichlids are aggressive, they are also very active and sensitive. When they sense any movement outside their tank, they follow the movement with the hope of getting fed at the end of the string. The fishes also jump out of their water when spooked or hyper.
Aside from being an active fish, the African cichlid also likes to feed uncontrollably. They are always on the look-out for food. This behavior would make you think they are hungry, making you overfeed them.
You should be aware of this behavior to be able to control their feeding and not overfeed them. You can create a metric for measuring the cichlid’s food to keep the fish from eating more than it needs.
Also, you might notice fights at intervals in the tank. You should not worry much about the display of aggression if you have enough hiding places in the tank to serve as an escape place for the weaker fish. It will also help the stronger fishes claim territory.
Just like most cichlids, African cichlids like to burrow into the ground in the wild and the substrates in captivity. They might dig up your decorations, but you should not worry if you have your decorations well-secured in the substrates.
Overall, African cichlids are active fishes and this makes them playful and fun to watch. The fishes provide quite a deal of excitement to watching.
Types of African Cichlids
There are different species of cichlids with unique behavior and appearance. There are also different types of African cichlids with specific features and behaviors.
Electric yellow cichlid: One of the major features of this cichlid is its bright yellow color. Unlike other African cichlids, the electric yellow cichlid is not aggressive. It displays aggression to fishes with similar body shapes and colors.
Do not assume the fish produces electricity as the name comes from the fish’s bright electric yellow coloration. The peaceful fish has fins with black tips and dorsal fins that start behind the head. A full-grown adult can grow into a length of 3 inches.
African butterfly cichlid: The African butterfly cichlid is a small cichlid that grows into about 6 to 8 centimeters. It is a very peaceful type of cichlid and doesn’t demand much to breed. It is a good breed to start with for amateur cichlid keepers.
The African butterflies have black vertical bars to blur gold on their bodies. Complementing the color is horizontal rows of spots. These spots come in different colors, like green or blue.
Orange zebra cichlid: From the fish’s name, you could vividly describe the fish. This cichlid is covered in a glamorous orange color with black tips similar to that of the electric yellow fish. The orange zebra cichlid is an aggressive fish best kept in groups of 4, consisting of two to three females and a male.
The orange zebra cichlid grows to a large size of about 5 inches. Experienced fish keepers should manage the cichlid’s aggression by picking the right tank mate for them.
Water and Tank Conditions for African Cichlids
There specific water and tank conditions that you have to follow to make your African cichlid thrive in the provided tank. These conditions include:
pH: pH is the measurement of the level of acidity or alkalinity of the water. The water for your African cichlid should be slightly alkaline. The pH of the water should be around 7.8 to 8.6.
Temperature: You should also consider the temperature of the water. African cichlids don’t thrive well in hot or warm water. The water should be cold and should be around 75°F to 85°F.
Hardness: Naturally, cichlids exist in hard water, so you should ensure the water in their tank isn’t soft. They wouldn’t thrive well in soft water. The water’s hardness should be around 4dH to 6dH.
Size of the tank: The tank’s size is also a very important factor to consider when keeping your African child. Cichlids are territorial fishes, which makes them like large spaces. Keeping cichlids in a confined space will only increase their aggressiveness, so you should keep them in a minimum of a 30-gallon tank.
Decorations: You should add some decorations to the tank to liken the tank to their natural habitat. Cichlids like to burrow, so you should make sure your decoration is perfectly mounted to prevent removal when burrowing. You can also get a heater and filter for the tank.
Can I Add Tankmates to my African Cichlid Tank?
African cichlids are territorial and aggressive fishes that might not accommodate other tankmates, aside from the advisable number of females in the tank.
However, you can add other fishes of different or same species in the same tank if you take some steps. You should not add smaller fishes to the tank as the cichlids might feast on them. You should always add larger species of different fishes that are less aggressive to the cichlids. If you intend to add more than two male African cichlids, you should increase your tank’s size to accommodate them all.
African cichlids are amazing fishes that need some hygienic and ideal water and tank conditions to thrive. As an aquarist, you should make sure the fishes do not lack any of the needed healthy and essential growth and healthiness factors.