Are Cichlids Aggressive? How To Reduce Aggression

Cichlids are one of the most common fish in the aquarium. Cichlids are incredibly popular because of their beautiful colors, interesting behaviors, and ease of breeding. Individual factors and conditions can either mitigate their aggressiveness or aggravate it.

Cichlids are generally temperamental and aggressive. They might cause a lot of trouble in the tank if you keep them with other aggressive fish. Cichlids will also bully other fish if you keep them with timid and smaller fish. 

Are Cichlids Aggressive

How Do I Stop My Cichlids From Being Aggressive

Cichlids are known to be aggressive. They will engage other tank members in a territorial battle until they kill or knock out these members.

However, you need to note that you can take steps that can either aggravate or mitigate the fish’s aggressiveness. Consequently, you can take certain precautions that will help you reduce the hostility of cichlids.

Stop My Cichlids From Being Aggressive

One of the proven steps that will help stop your cichlids from being aggressive is providing a spacious tank.  Most aggressiveness of cichlids results from territorial battles. Providing them with spacious tanks will allow each tank member to establish their territory without interfering with each other’s activities.

Another way to stop your cichlids from being aggressive is by keeping them with relatively peaceful fish and those with smaller size. Keeping them with fish that occupy different levels in the tank will also be helpful.

You can also stop them from being aggressive by keeping them with fish of different colorations and patterns. This method will work because cichlids are more aggressive toward fish of similar color patterns.

Adding decorations and live plants to the tank will mitigate the cichlids’ aggressiveness because it will provide cover. It will also offer them hiding spots.

Avoiding overcrowding in the tank, proper sexing of cichlids, and ensuring adequate fish will reduce your fish’s stress level and make them feel comfortable. Consequently, it will stop the fish from being unnecessarily aggressive.

How To Stop Cichlids Bullying Other Fish

Bullying is one of the significant downsides of cichlids. They will bully other fish, primarily because of territoriality, as they will like to keep and protect their territory.

Cichlids will bully fish of similar or smaller sizes. And because it is more appropriate to keep cichlids with smaller fish, it is essential to protect them from bullying.

First off, you must ensure that you have enough space for each tank member to go about their business without harmful interference. It allows each member to establish their territory and limit the possible occurrence of bullying.

The provision of live plants will also provide a place for your smaller fish to get away from the bullying act of cichlids. Likewise, it will offer spots for the smaller fish to hide and get some rest.

Ensuring proper feeding of all the tank members is also essential in stopping cichlids from bullying other members. If there is enough food to go around, there will be no reason for the cichlids to grow aggressive during feeding.

Rearrangement of tanks and keeping cichlids with fish that dwell at a different tank level will also reduce the probability of bullying.

Will Cichlids Kill Other Fish

Yes, cichlids will kill other fish, mainly the smaller fish. They will snack on smaller fish and make a meal out of them as long as they can fit into the fish’s mouth. Some of them even have dentition that allows them to catch and snack on their prey easily.

Will Cichlids Kill Other Fish

Therefore, it is often not advisable to keep cichlids with fish that can fit into their mouth. Fish that are 4 inches or below are often vulnerable to getting killed by cichlids. Nevertheless, this does not mean the bigger fish are safe.

Cichlids do not only kill fish by eating them. They can also kill fish by bullying them to death, out-competing them for food, and stressing them out.

Besides, all these factors, particularly stress, will make your fish vulnerable to diseases and other health complications that will reduce their lifespan. It might even cause outright death in extreme cases.

What Are The Most Aggressive Cichlids

Cichlids have unique personalities, especially when it comes to their behavior. They are generally believed to be temperamental and aggressive. They will fight off, bully, or snack on any other fish they find in their territory.

Despite the general belief that this family of aquarium fish is aggressive, the aggressiveness level varies with individual fish.

The most aggressive cichlids will find it difficult to live with other fish. They will make the tank uncomfortable by bullying other members and eating the smaller ones.

Some cichlids are more territorial and aggressive than others. Other cichlids have a mild temperament and aggressiveness, while others will only exhibit this trait when triggered. Some of the most aggressive cichlids include;

  • Red devil Cichlids
  • Black nasty Cichlids
  • Mini Dovii Cichlids
  • Motaguense Cichlids
  • Hornet Cichlids
  • Instlanum Cichlids
  • Salvini Cichlids
  • Cuban Cichlids
  • Trimac Cichlids

What Are The Least Aggressive Cichlids

While cichlids are famous because of their aggressiveness, there are still a few exceptions in the pack. Some members of cichlids are not so aggressive. In fact, some of them will not even show any form of aggressiveness, except they are triggered.

These cichlids are relatively easy to keep in the tank alongside other fish. You might not need to worry over their stay together if you make the tank comfortable for all members. Some of the least aggressive cichlids include;

  • Bolivian Ram Cichlids
  • Keyhole Cichlids
  • Blue Acara Cichlids
  • Yellow lab Cichlids
  • German blue ram Cichlids

What Kind Of Fish Can You Put With Cichlids

Although cichlids are aggressive, this does not mean you cannot find a way to keep them with other fish in the same tank. All you need to do is understand the fish’s temperament and take all precautions to ensure peaceful coexistence.

First off, you should ensure that the behavior of any fish you are keeping with cichlids complements each other. Likewise, the size of a suitable tank mate must not be too small to avoid the occasion of the cichlids snacking on them.

It would be best to consider other critical factors such as the tank size, feeding habit, water parameters, and other essential elements. Following all due considerations, some of the ideal tank mates for cichlids include;

  • Plecos
  • Leopard Bushfish
  • Red Tail Shark
  • Giant Danios
  • African Red-Eyed Tetra
  • Rainbowfish
  • Synodontis Catfish
  • Clown loaches

These fish species will cope well with your cichlids. Nevertheless, you must have adequate space for all members of the tank. Likewise, you should ensure a regular and proper diet.

Why Are My Cichlids Chasing Each Other

If you see your cichlids making any movement, it is either they are flirting, or they are making threats. However, you have to make a proper observation if you want to tell the difference between the two because it is relatively tricky.

Chasing across the tank in no precise dimension is a sign of aggression. It will be evident in the way the cichlids would charge at the other fish. They will force them to run relentlessly across the tank. And this type of chase is often short-lived.

Alternatively, cichlids can chase each other as a sign of flirtation. In this case, you will find them shimmying and shaking their fins.

You will also observe a circular pattern of chase accompanied by kissing and nipping. The kissing here means the two fish will grab each other’s mouth before mating.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Below are the frequently asked questions on cichlids.

Do Cichlids Have Teeth? Yes, cichlids have teeth, which is one reason they can quickly kill and eat other fish. However, the teeth of each species vary depending on the type of diet. Some cichlids have fang-like teeth that allow them to catch and snack on smaller fish. Others have a smaller row of teeth for scraping off algae from substrates.

Will Cichlids Bite You? Generally speaking, a cichlid will not bite you regardless of how triggered they are. The only exception to this case is when you have a very aggressive or fearful African Cichlid in your tank, and they are excessively triggered.

Can Angelfish Live With Cichlids? Cichlids are generally known for their aggressiveness, while Angelfish are not very aggressive. You can keep both of them together if you take the necessary precautions. Angelfish will live comfortably with small Cichlids like Krib’s Cichlid, keyholes, Bolivian Ram Cichlids, and German blue Ram Cichlids.

Can You Mix Cichlids? Yes, you can mix cichlids without any problem. However, this process might be too complicated for beginners. You can start with mixing cichlids of similar sizes to avoid predation, but you can vary the mix’s size with time. The best you can go is mixing cichlids with at least two-thirds of the tank size to guarantee survival.

Can Cichlids Live With Guppies? It is undeniable that cichlids are very aggressive, and you need adequate precaution to keep them with guppies. However, you can comfortably keep small and dwarf cichlids like Bolivian Ram Cichlids and German blue Cichlids with guppies.