Cichlids are one of the pet fish with the most diverse family. They are common in freshwater, and they have very high selectivity when it comes to their choice of tank mates. Cichlids are aggressive; hence, there is a limit to the type of other fish that can live together with them in the same tank.
Only fish from the same continent can live together in the same tank. Don’t mix African cichlids with South American cichlids because species from one region can make the other sick. Although it is not impossible to keep cichlids from a different continent, it can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t take precautions.
Cichlids are very territorial and selective in their choice of tank mates. This territoriality and aggressive behavior account for why it is best to keep only the same species of cichlids in the tank. Also, cichlid from the different regions has different immune systems; consequently, it might be challenging to care for them all together.
General Behavior of Cichlids
One of the important things that attract aquarists to cichlids is the fact that they are very active. They are fascinating to watch and engage because they move whenever they sense any movement outside their tank. This active movement probably explains why they are always looking for food because they expend so much energy.
Cichlids are also excellent swimmers, and they are also perfect jumpers. They are capable of jumping so high that they can jump out of their tank. However, cichlids don’t just jump unnecessarily; they only jump so high and out of their tank when they are provoked or spooked.
Cichlids are very territorial and can also be very aggressive. They become even more territorial during mating, which can be very disastrous in extreme cases. Weaker fishes might not survive the aggressiveness of more energetic members during these mating periods.
They are also diggers. Cichlids can dig substrate in their tank both as a scavenger and as a hunting strategy. This digging act is why you should ensure that all the substrates in the tank are safe for cichlids to consume. They can also result in digging up decoration in the tank.
Finally, you should ensure the cichlids’ tank is big enough for each fish to maintain their territory to avoid excessive fights. You should also include plants in their tank to provide hiding and resting places for weaker fish.
Cichlids That Can Live Together
Cichlids have a large, diverse family. It is essential for aquarists, particularly beginners, to note that not all cichlids are compatible. Different cichlids from various continents differ slightly in their characteristics and general behavior. While some are very territorial and aggressive, others are not.
One of the most prominent examples in the case is the incompatibility African and Central American cichlids. These two types are not compatible because they are both aggressive; hence, they find it hard to tolerate each other.
Cichlids from other regions, like the South American Cichlids, are less aggressive than most other members of the cichlid family. They are often called shy fish because of their gentle behavior. However, they can eat up other fishes that are not their type but do not consume those that are of their kind.
Overall, it is crucial to avoid the occasion of having two aggressive species of cichlids in the same tank. This combination can be explosive, especially in relatively small containers where each member cannot hold up their space.
Likewise, you should only keep cichlids that occupy different areas of the tank in the same container. For instance, you can mix cichlids that dwell in the bottom of the tank with those that are free-swimming. This varying preference will prevent any interference when it comes to securing their territory, and consequently, limit fights.
Similarly, you should only mix cichlids that have similar sizes to avoid bullying of the smaller ones. Even if you want to introduce a new fish to the tank, make sure you are adding a fish that has a similar size with the ones already existing in the tank.
Other Species Of Fish Can Live With Cichlids
Aside from fish of the same species or the same continent, some different types of fish are also compatible with cichlids. It is however important to do severe evaluation and consideration before making your decision.
You should consider the size, behavior, preferred tank area, mode of feeding, as well as their tank requirement of each member before keeping them together. You should also have it at the back of your mind that cichlids are aggressive and highly territorial.
Let’s have a quick overview of the different types of cichlids and the types of fish that they are compatible with in the same tank.
Central American Cichlids: This species of cichlids can comfortably live with Plecos, Mexican tetra, Rainbow fish, as well as Blue-eyed Penque.
South American Cichlids: one thing you should know about this species is that they eat smaller fishes. Consequently, they are compatible with only bigger fish like Bristle-nose, Hoplo catfish, and large-sized plecos.
African Cichlids: African cichlids are very aggressive. Therefore, you should only keep them with less aggressive fish like larger Rainbow fish, Rafael catfish, Plecos, as well as Synodontis catfish.
Dwarf Cichlids: Dwarf cichlids are not usually very selective with their choice of tank mates. They are generally compatible with most other fish species, including plecos and tetra.
Raising cichlids in aquariums can be very fun because of their bright colors. They are not extreme with their tank requirements except for tank mates. It is crucial to identify the behavior of the cichlid species existing in your tank before deciding on the suitable tank mate to add.
You should consider several factors like size, aggressiveness, and territoriality. Serious consideration is crucial because larger cichlids can feed on smaller ones, and more aggressive cichlids can bully smaller ones and less aggressive ones.
It is, however, essential to ensure the general cleanliness and adequate space in the tank.