Because of their beautiful colors and active nature, cichlids are a popular species for aquarium hobbyist, but you will find that caring for them requires careful preparation. Although there as cichlid species from many parts of the world, African Cichlids are some of the more popular varieties available.
What is a Cichlid Tank?
Cichlids are freshwater fish that grow larger than many other species of aquarium fish. They range in size from as small as 3 inches to as large as 8 inches. When designing a tank set up for cichlids, you should keep in mind that cichlids are from more tropical climates, so they thrive in warm water. You will need a heater to maintain your cichlid tank water temperature in the 77 degree to 82 degree range, and larger tanks may need two heaters to sufficiently warm the water.
Due to their territorial nature, you will need to stock a cichlid tank with lots of rocky hiding places which provides them with an environment similar to their natural habitat. This is also the reason why cichlids are not a good choice to cohabitate with more docile species.
How Big Should a Tank be for Cichlids?
Another key component to consider in a tank set up for cichlids is aquarium size. In comparison to a tank for typical tropical fish, your cichlid tank must be larger because cichlids grow larger and produce more waste. In addition, African cichlids and cichlids from other regions are known to be aggressive and territorial fish, so a roomier tank helps to create a calmer environment.
The minimum acceptable size for your cichlid tank would be 30 gallons for smaller species (around 3 inches), while tanks of 50 gallons or more might be a better choice for larger species. Good filtration will also be important for a large tank, so you should look for dual filtration systems or systems that can process at minimum 3 times the tank capacity each hour.
African cichlids thrive in water with a pH in the in the range between 7.5 pH and 8.5 pH, but be sure to find the ideal pH for the species you are purchasing. While most cichlid species share common traits, it is also important to pay attention to what type of diet and tank environment that is preferred by the specific cichlid species you are considering.
Cichlids enjoy a long life span, with most living around 8 years. Although they require a bit more work than your typical fish tank, taking the time to create a well-stocked cichlid tank can provide you with a colorful and robust focal point for years of aquarium enjoyment.
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