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Cichlids – species, requirements, behavior, breeding

Cichlids are handsome fish of various sizes. They can be up to half a meter in length. They are distinctive in appearance and often aggressive. However, they can be an irreplaceable decoration of the tank. Find out how to select and breed them.

Cichlids and their origin

As fish, cichlids belong to the suborder of wrasse. They are the only freshwater fish in this classification. They live mainly in America, especially South America, and less often in Africa. These are fish that require high temperatures. In the wild, small cichlids are caught for aquarists. In turn, large specimens are intended primarily for food, due to the very tasty meat.

Interestingly, cichlids are highly valued in the places where they occur. All because they are the natural enemies of mosquitoes. Due to the fact that they are eaten by the larvae that settle in the water, they also fight them themselves. This limits the spread of malaria, a serious problem in tropical countries.

Cichlid fish – appearance

First of all, the species influences what the cichlids look like. These fish are very diverse in terms of construction. In most cases their body is flattened to the sides, with a prominent back and stocky. Some cichlids have a very prominent skull, and most – unique, often bright colors.

Cichlid reproduction

A pair that is not aggressive towards each other can reproduce freely. Cichlids can lay up to 600 eggs in a single spawning season. The spawning tank should be at least 150 cm long. Cichlids take great care of their offspring, hence their Polish name. After the larvae hatch, they move them to a suitable, safe place. When the fry are swimming, they can feed on their own, specially fed food.

Cichlids – types

Cichlids are only the name of a very large group of species that have similar appearance and requirements. Check which cichlids in the aquarium will work best and what you can expect from them. It is worth noting that many cichlids are endemic. This means that they often only occur in one place on earth.

Cichlid – species

Cichlids are several different species. We are only talking about those whose name comes from the cichlids themselves. Some of them are more popular, and others – less. Cichlids are usually relatively aggressive, even towards their kin, which determines the way they are grown.

Here are some types of cichlids available for sale to aquarists:

  • lemon cichlid – with a prominent head, growing up to 35 cm in length. This species is also very aggressive towards its kin. At the same time, cichlids can learn tricks, which indicates their high intelligence. They are suitable for an aquarium with a minimum capacity of 240 l for one individual. Community aquariums should be at least 1000 liters;
  • Managuan cichlid – and in aquariums this species grows up to approximately 40 cm. They are very effective in terms of appearance – gold or silver, with dark markings and unusual, colorful accessories. Pilgrims are aggressive, periodically territorial, they can only live in pairs. They need a tank of at least 400 liters. They can live with other cichlids as long as they have an even larger aquarium;
  • blue-scaled cichlid, also known as spotted – smaller, growing up to 25 cm, extremely effective aquarium fish. This cichlid has a dark body and iridescent blue or turquoise spots. It can live with other fish, as long as they are large enough not to be eaten. With cichlids it can live only in pairs;
  • parrot cichlid – one of the most characteristic cichlids. This species of cichlids has an extremely deformed mouth, which often causes problems when it feeds. The fish grows up to 25 cm and looks a bit like a goldfish. It is an artificially derived species;
  • peacock cichlid – species growing up to 25 cm. It requires a very large tank, at least 400 liters per individual. It can be kept in pairs or with other, selected species. It has a characteristic golden-black color.

African cichlids – species

Among the various cichlids, there are also those whose names sound completely different. These are African cichlids, which include such species as, for example:

  • red-bellied pigment;
  • large-headed tilapia;
  • Congolese red.

Typically, they have in common that they require high temperatures in the tanks. Additionally, the aquariums in which cichlids live should also be sufficiently large. First of all, we are talking about the right size.

Cichlid fish and their requirements

Aquariums in which cichlids can live should be of sufficient size. Typically, a tank of 200 to 400 liters is sufficient for a single fish, depending on its size. For couples, the size of the aquarium usually at least doubles. It is very rare to keep cichlids in more than pairs. Usually this only applies to smaller and less aggressive species.

All cichlids require filters, and most of them also need sprinklers. A heater is required in virtually every tank. All because these fish usually expect very high temperatures, often exceeding 30 degrees. It cannot be obtained and stably kept at home without professional equipment.

The water in the aquarium should have a pH of about 7.0. It is very important to equip the aquarium with an appropriate number of hiding places and dense vegetation, especially in the background. This makes cichlids gaining places of seclusion. The bottom should be sandy.
Depending on the species chosen, the prices of cichlids may vary from a dozen to even several hundred zlotys. Much depends on the frequency of encountering a given color variety. Some cichlids can only be purchased from professional breeders. In this case, it is worth betting on an enthusiast who sells surplus from his own breeding.