Home Guides

How to Choose African Cichlids

African Cichlids are among the most popular freshwater aquarium exotics. They fill freshwater aquariums with the diversity of colors and patterns often associated with saltwater aquariums.

Cichlids can range in size from four to nine inches. Breeds can be very different ranging from zebra stripes to giraffe spots to bright colors. Often the males are vividly beautiful and the females mutely colored. Some are even dichromatic with the males and females looking like completely different species.

With the right knowledge, these fish are not difficult to maintain and breed.

African Cichlids

Easy Care Breeds

Many cichlids are considered easy to care for. Among these are the ‘sunshine peacock’ cichlid and the colorful ‘Eureka Red Peacock’. Each grows to an average of 5.9 inches(depending on tank conditions). The males are known for their beautiful coloration, just like the bird of the same name. Another easy breed is the blue dolphin cichlid, which can grow to be 10 inches, and the ‘Afra’ or ‘dogtooth’ cichlids which grow to only 3.9 inches. The ‘Venustus’ cichlid is another easy care breed and has giraffe spots while in its juvenile state.

Eureka Red Peacock
Eureka Red Peacock

Rock Caves Needed For Some Breeds

One entertaining, easy-care breed is the gorgeous ‘electric yellow’ Malawi cichlid. This is a very popular breed among the Malawi Cichlids. To create the best living conditions, the aquarium should include rock caves where males are able to establish territories. Other rock cave dwellers include the ‘red zebra’, the ‘cobalt blue’, and the ‘johanni blue’. These fish are entertaining and social creatures.

Rock Setup

Snail Shell Dwellers

Several breeds of cichlids, such as the striped ‘neolamprologus similis’ and the neolamprologus multifasciatus’, are actually shell dwellers. They prefer to make their homes in an empty snail shell. To make them feel at home, the tank should have many shells and a sandy bottom. Plants should be well anchored because these cichlids like to bury the shells in the sand.
Dwarf Cichlids

Dwarf cichlids come in a variety of colors and patterns, just like their slightly bigger cousins. One of the most common is the ‘blue ram’ which is considered easy to care for. Other dwarfs need a higher level of expert care. These include the ‘checkerboard’, ‘two-stripe’, ‘three-stripe’, ‘panda’, ‘cockatoo’ and ‘zebra’ dwarf cichlids.

Dwarf Cichlid
Dwarf Cichlid


When choosing among cichlids, it is best to find out how aggressive the males of any breed will be. The ‘electric yellow’ Malawi Cichlids are known to be a pretty calm fish. However, mixing the wrong species together can cause severe aggression, so be careful when choosing your tank mates!

By following simple guidelines, you will be able to fill your aquarium with these exciting species and know that they will bring years of joy and entertainment.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here