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The copyright of the article How to Care for African Cichlids in Freshwater Fish is owned by Douglas DuHamel. Permission to republish How to Care for African Cichlids in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

How to Care for African Cichlids
Water Conditioning, Aquarium Decorating and Reducing Aggression

African cichlids are hardy fish and will remain healthy in a freshwater aquarium if the PH value and water hardness are higher than what is required for most other fish.

The Cichlid is one of the largest species in the world with over 1,000 to 3,000 species. Cichlids can be found in Africa, South America, Central America and Europe. New species are being discovered annually.

Approximately 85% of all African Cichlid species are found in the Great Rift Lakes of East Africa, which include Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria, and Lake Edwards. These lakes are among the largest in the world.
Aquarium Water Conditions for African Cichlids

The best way to optimize water conditions in the aquarium is to replicate what is found in the Great Rift lakes. Each lake houses its own species lakes so it is advisable to not mix cichlids from different lakes. In addition each Great Lake has different water conditions.

Lake Malawi, Lake Victoria and Lake Edwards have a high pH value, ranging from 7 to 8.2. Lake Tanganyika also has a high pH value, ranging from 7 to 9.

The water hardness of Great Rift Lakes can range between 18 and 20 on the DH scale, which makes the water hard. The temperature of the wilderness lakes is normally between 74°F and 84°F.

The hardness and pH required for African Cichlids may not be present in household water; therefore, the water must be treated with coral, buffers, and salts which are all available at pet stores. Levels can be checked with a pH and a DH test kit.

When keeping African Cichlids in an aquarium, the water must be well filtered. The more filtration used in the aquarium, the better. An example of this would the use of a submersible filter along with a hanging filter. A well-filtered aquarium will keep cichlids healthy and in turn, they will show off better colors.
Decorating an Aquarium for African Cichlids

When creating an African Cichlid aquarium, it should contain rockery. The rocks need to be arranged in such a way to create caves. These rock caves provide hiding spots, spawning sites and places where fish can go when bullied.

Large PVC pipes or flowerpots placed on their sides can also be used. Driftwood provides both shelter and decoration in an aquarium. Cichlids will mark their territories in their chosen hideout as soon as they are placed in the tank.

In addition to sheltered areas, African Cichlids need open areas in the aquarium for free swimming. Most African Cichlids destroy plants, so plastic plants or hardy, potted plants should be used.
Feeding African Cichlids

Most African Cichlids are not picky eaters so feeding them is never a problem. They will eat flaked food, freeze dried food, and pellets. Cichlids will also eat live foods such as bloodworms, white worms, earthworms, and baby brine shrimp. Vegetables should be included in their diet so pieces of lettuce or zucchini can be floated in the tank. Vegetable flakes are available at pet stores and many of them contain spirulina, which is very good for African Cichlids.
Controlling Aggression in African Cichlids

Some African Cichlids are aggressive. Before buying any fish, research is required in order to determine the temperament and compatibility of each species. Usually fish from different lakes and fish of different sizes do not get along. Male cichlids may fight for domination so it’s best to limit the number of male fish in an aquarium or have a higher number of females. Usually a ratio of two or more females to one male is recommended.

African Cichlids need hard water, good filtration, hiding places and compatible tank mates. If these conditions are met, they will live a long life and show off beautiful colors.

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