Can You Put Catfish With African Cichlids?

It might be an issue of trying to check out if catfish and African cichlid can stay together in the same tank. These two fishes are abundant species of their kind. Knowing that African cichlids are aggressive fish, there is a need to be careful while choosing tank mates for them.

Can You Put Catfish With African Cichlids?? African cichlids are aggressive fish, they can dwell in the same tank with catfish. You can add catfish to the same tank with your African cichlid, but to maintain peace, you have to feed them regularly and individually. Unlike African cichlids, catfish are not very aggressive.

Can You Put Catfish With African Cichlids

Factors to Consider While Selecting Tank Mates for African Cichlids

Aside from catfish, other fish can stay with African cichlids in the same tank. These fish need to exhibit some specific features and behaviors for them to cope.

One of the features to consider is the size. They should be large enough to avoid the cichlids eating them. The cichlids love to prey and feed on any small fish that are unfortunate enough to stay in their tank.

Another feature they should possess is non-aggressiveness. You can’t have two captains in a ship, so you should not have two aggressive fish in a tank.

The cichlid is an aggressive fish, so any fish you introduce to the tank should not be as aggressive as the cichlid. However, they can be aggressive enough to defend themselves.

It is advisable to add a fish that do not feed the same way or eat the same thing as cichlids. It will reduce the level of competition between the two fish, hence reducing the rate of aggression.

You can also add fish more massive than the cichlid. But this fish should be a very peaceful one so it won’t attack the cichlid. And the cichlid, on the other hand, won’t attack the fish because of its size.

You can also add bottom dwellers to the tank. They will serve as good tank mates as long as they are large and aggressive enough to defend themselves. Fast swimmers will also make good tank mates as they can outrun the cichlids in times of trouble.

It isn’t advisable to add another species of cichlid to the same tank as the African cichlid unless the tank is significantly large, although it will be at risk.

Some of the fish you can add include; plecos, rainbow fish, Synodontis catfish, Rafael catfish, etc.

Behavior of an African Cichlid

African cichlids are susceptible fish. They are sensitive to the extent that whenever they hear any sound outside their tank, the cichlids will follow the sound, thinking they are about to be fed.

They feed as much as they can without having a gauge and will always move towards you for food whenever you are near the tank. However, you should be careful not to overfeed them. Even if the fish are okay, they will still eat more.

Cichlids are active swimmers. They can even jump out of the tank when something spooks or provokes them. They are territorial fish, and they exhibit traits of aggression, especially during mating.

Their aggression can lead to the death of weak fish in the tank. Cichlids like to dig up decorations on the floor of the tank, either scavenging or hunting.

Appearance of an African Cichlid

Male African cichlids appear more colorful than females because they need to be attractive to females during mating. Their bright colors appear when they are healthy. The colors become brighter during times of aggression and mating.

Cichlids regenerate their teeth to replace damaged ones. They do this every 100 days to help them maintain a decent and robust set of teeth. Some cichlids bite while some don’t; you have to understand and study your fish.

African cichlids can live up to 15 years, depending on the way you bring them up. They can grow up to 3 to 8 inches in size. They also come in different colors, and most of the colors are beautiful.

Water Conditions for African Cichlid

African cichlids thrive well in cold waters with a temperature of about 75°F to 85°F. Putting them in warm water or water with a temperature that exceeds the range can affect their health.

You should also keep track of the pH of the water. The water should be a bit alkaline; cichlids prefer alkaline water to acidic and neutral ones. The pH should be around 7.8 to 8.6.

Africa’s great lakes feature hard waters, and since African cichlids are native to Africa, you should also put them in slightly hard water to make them thrive. The hardness of the water should be around 4 to 6dH.

Tank Conditions for African Cichlid

To ensure the healthy living and successful thriving of your cichlid, you should keep the proper tank conditions. The tank conditions you keep should be suitable for your cichlid.

You should make use of a large tank to accommodate your cichlid. Some cichlids require 20 gallons tanks, while some require 50 gallons. On average, 30 gallons is an ideal tank size for your African child.

It would help if you always had in mind that the larger the tank, the lesser the aggression among the cichlids. Your tank needs to have a filter and a heater powerful enough to work in the tank of your preferred size. The filter should be able to process the water in the tank within 3 to 5 hours.

You make use of an under-gravel filter, but you will have to use larger grains on them and be on the lookout for your cichlids. You can add rocks to your tank and place plants in the tank to increase its resemblance to the cichlid’s natural habitat.


African cichlids will thrive in the same tank as catfish and some other fish if you take the due steps and procedures. You have to be sure of any fish’s compatibility with the African cichlid before adding them to the tank to avoid losing either of your fish.

You should also provide a large tank for your cichlid and other fish. This way, there would be much space for the cichlid to claim territory and enough places for the other fish to hide in days of trouble.


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