Can Cichlids Live in Brackish Water? Can They Tolerate It?

Cichlids are one of the most common freshwater fish with a lot of features that grace your aquarium. It is a very hardy fish and will require great care and attention, especially if you have more than one territorial male in the tank—cichlids are from the Cichlidae family with a colorful appearance.

Cichlids are euryhaline; they can tolerate a wide range of salinity in water. They can live in freshwater and will also thrive in brackish water. If you integrate them, well, they would be able to stay in saltwater with high salt concentration.

Can Cichlids Live in Brackish Water

What is Brackish Water?

Brackish water is an intermediate between saltwater and freshwater. Unlike freshwater, brackish water is salty, but it is not as salty as saltwater. It occurs naturally and can sometimes result from the mixing of freshwater and saltwater in estuaries, deltas, etc.

Brackish water contains about 0.5 to 30 grams of salt in every liter, depending on the water’s salt concentration. The salinity of the brackish water spreads over a wide range and is highly considerable.

There are several habitats of the brackish water. They are;

  • Estuaries : The most common brackish water habitat is the estuaries. An estuary is a place where saltwater and freshwater meets, creating slightly saline water, saltier than the freshwater and less saltwater. It mostly occurs when a river meets the sea through deltas.
  • Brackish lakes and seas : Some several lakes and seas are brackish. These water bodies also include aquatic creatures, but some have stratified layers of salinity due to the freshwater direction that flows into them. Most times, the water bodies with stratified layers have saltwater at the bottom and fresh water at the top.
  • Mangroves: Mangroves are also a habitat for brackish water in which the salinity changes with tides. This habitat includes several species of fish, reptiles, and aquatic animals. The salt concentration is not as much as the oceans and seas but can be much when the tide is low.

What Fish Can Live in Brackish Water?

There are various fish that can live in brackish water. Here are some of them;

  • Catfish : Catfish can tolerate a wide range of salinity. Some catfish naturally exist in saltwater, brackish water, or freshwater, while others migrate. You can also find some in moving waters while others prefer stagnant water.
  • Cichlids : Cichlids can tolerate a wide range of salinity as they can live in brackish water, salt water, or freshwater. Although they can tolerate a wide range of salt concentrations in water, they do not commonly exist in brackish or saltwater. Other species thrive well in freshwater, mangrove and breed in saltwater.
  • Tilapia : Tilapias can also tolerate a wide range of salinity in water. Most tilapia farming occurs in fresh and low salinity water. The tilapia’s degree of salt tolerance also showed that it could thrive in brackish and saltwater.
  • Mullet : Mullets also tolerate a wide range of salinity, and you can rear them in freshwater, brackish water, and saltwater. You can also polyculture them with several other fish like Nile tilapia, common carp, silver carp, grass carp, milkfish, etc. They are highly tolerant and very hardy,

What Snails Can Live in Brackish Water?

Aquatic snails are common in waters like rivers, oceans, seas, etc. Several types of snails can stay in brackish water. Here are some examples of snails that can live in brackish water;

  • Nerite snails : Nerite snails are popular aquarium snails that will thrive in saltwater, freshwater, and brackish water. They are relatively peaceful and will make good tankmates with other snails, fish, or shrimps. They also require saltwater before they can reproduce.
  • Malaysian trumpet snails : The Malaysian trumpet snail is one of the few snail species that you can acclimate into brackish or saltwater. They will thrive under a wide variety of saline conditions and make a good tankmate. They also will do a great job of cleaning your tank.
  • Ramshorn snail : Ramshorn snail will also thrive in brackish water, even though it is not their natural habitat. Several species of the Ramshorn snail have a varying degree of salinity tolerance. They also make good tankmates and will not prey on or disrupt live plants and other tank structures.

What Kind of Fish Can You Catch in Brackish Water?

Brackish water provides a relatively low but varying salinity allowing fish that live in it to have a high tolerance for varying salinity levels. Most fish in the brackish water can thrive in saltwater and freshwater. Fish you will find in brackish water include channel catfish, largemouth bass, striped bass, peacock bass, red drum, tarpon, sheepshead, snook, etc.


Cichlids can live and thrive in brackish water, but they are not commonly present in the habitat. Some cichlids live and breed in brackish water, but most species will prefer freshwater.