African Cichlids

Types of African Cichlids: 14 Spectacular Species for Your Tank

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The continent of Africa is full of wonders, not least of which is its incredible and ample wildlife.

It is of avid interest for aquarists as African Cichlid is native to some famous lakes and water bodies. This fish species is fond of swimming around caves and rocks, diving into the sandy floor to forage meals.

However, more substantially, they are extremely appealing and look amazing in home aquariums. Of course, you should understand their characteristic traits and needs before keeping them.

In this article, we will introduce some popular types of African Cichlids, analyze their specific behaviors and requirements.

Types of African Cichlids

1. Demasoni Cichlid

Demasoni Cichlid
Demasoni Cichlid

The Demasoni Cichlid is well known for its stunning coloration, carrying a combined black, white, and blue coat to stick out in the tank. Aquarists love this fish as it’s relatively uncommon, found in a little-known area called Pombo Rocks.

The species grows in rocky environments, seeking food among socks and the sandy bottom. Therefore, it would be best if you simulated a similar habitat inside the aquarium, filled with rocks and caves, for them to hide.

Moreover, the water needs to get a high pH level, for which aquarists need to employ an aragonite substrate.

2. Venustus Cichlid

Venustus Cichlid
Venustus Cichlid

The Venustus Cichlid doesn’t get a flashy body coat, but the white and blue coloration forms an amazing appearance. The males are more appealing, featuring a blue face, yellow markings, and carrying a dorsal fin.

They need much room to swim around and prefer foraging through rocks and caves. Thus, you have to add these structures to the tank, making them feel comfortable as much as possible.

Additionally, it’s vital to use a sandy aragonite substrate to make sure that the tank has a high pH level. And you don’t need to change the water concentration too much because the fish are considerably susceptible to nitrates.

3. Electric Yellow Cichlid

Electric Yellow Cichlid
Electric Yellow Cichlid

The feature that distinguishes this fish from other African Cichlids is its beautiful yellow color. Further contributing to the visual attraction is the mature fish possess contrasting black stripes, making them a favorite for aquarists.

They can brighten up the tank like the waters of Lake Malawi. Plus, you can expect to experience similar territorial behaviors, making them become aggressive towards other species.

Moreover, you should put caves, rocks, and sandy surfaces in the tank, guaranteeing that they are happy and relaxed in a new habitat.

4. Krisbensis Cichlid

Krisbensis Cichlid
Krisbensis Cichlid

If you’re going to breed an African Cichlid, the Krisbensis Cichlid is a suitable choice. Native to Western Africa, these fish are perfectly kept in home aquariums, changing their colors as they grow up.

They tend to grow smaller than other Cichlids, getting them the name of Dwarf Cichlids because they grow as maximum as four inches. Therefore, you can raise them in a 50-gallon tank with a variety of rocks and caves to replicate their habitat.

One thing to note is that they retain their feisty temperament and might interact aggressively with other fish.

5. Peacock Cichlid

Peacock Cichlid
Peacock Cichlid

There are more than 20 species of peacock cichlids, all originating from Lake Malawi. They earn their name from the vibrant colors they show, reminiscent of a peacock’s tail.

And, similar to peacocks, the males have brighter colors, whereas females are drab.

These cichlids are suitable for both novice and expert aquarists. They love a lot of open space for swimming around, but they also require caves for sleeping, hiding, and breeding.

They are omnivores, but they tend to feed on the meatier end of the spectrum. You have to keep track of your tank water changes and substrate vacuum to catch up with the extra bioload. Plus, you need to monitor water conditions (especially ammonia), or else they will deteriorate.

6. Bumblebee Cichlid

Bumblebee Cichlid
Bumblebee Cichlid

This is another fish living in the depth of Lake Malawi – the Bumblebee Cichlid. Different from Peacock Cichlids, these species are often found in caves and carry a black, tan, or bright yellow color. Therefore, they have other names such as Chameleon Cichlids or Hornet Cichlids.

Bear in mind that they are a bit challenging to raise in home tanks because the water must be high in alkaline. Obviously, the use of laterite substrates can help keep water conditions proper.

In addition, you should include crevasses, rocks, and other structures to mimic their cave environment. This is because they might find it difficult to adapt to unfamiliar habitats.

7. Electric Blue African Cichlid

Electric Blue African Cichlid
Electric Blue African Cichlid

Electric Blue African Cichlids in the tank will catch everyone’s attention, thanks to its fascinating colors. Like other Cichlids, its sleek body improves the visual attraction of its remarkable blue coat, and it looks gorgeous while swimming around the aquarium.

Remember that they are significantly territorial and sour the perimeter of the tank, preventing any intruders. Thus, it is a good idea to raise them in a separate tank.

You must make sure the tank contains at least 70 gallons of water. You can also include rocks and artificial trees to generate a natural effect.

8. Frontosa Cichlids 

Frontosa Cichlids 
Frontosa Cichlids

Lake Tanganyika is home to magnificent wildlife, and it’s also the ideal place to look for Frontosa Cichlids. This African Cichlid possesses a big hump that grows in size when the fish becomes mature, giving them a decent appearance. 

Additionally, there are tan and white color patterns with black markings, making them one of the most stunning fish in the aquarium. If you offer them sufficient room, rocks, and a sandy bottom, these fish will harmoniously live with other fish. 

9. Red Zebra Cichlid 

Red Zebra Cichlid 
Red Zebra Cichlid

The interesting feature of the Red Zebra Cichlid is that they carry various colored coats in the wild, hence, being called by different names. Meanwhile, certain traits, such as their aggressive nature, are the same. 

These fish are highly territorial and might turn on other species if the tank fails to replicate their natural habitat. You have to create a lot of room with structures like crevasses, rocks, and pyramids so that they can have their own territory. 

Another unique attribute is that the Red Zebra variants are matriarchal. Though not uncommon, it’s scarce to look for matriarchal families in the animal kingdom, making your fish tank a specialty. 

10. Duboisi Cichlid 

Duboisi Cichlid 
Duboisi Cichlid

Another exceptionally striking fish is the Duboisi Cichlid, which is found in the waters of Northern Lake Tanganyika. Uniquely, they change colors across their lives, beginning with white spots on a black body. And when they grow up, the black color contributes to a bluish face. 

You can raise a maximum of six individuals in one aquarium because they are extremely aggressive towards each other. A 50-gallon aquarium would be nice, provided it has the proper amount of pH, gained by adding an aragonite substrate. 

What’s more, you can include rocks and caves for them to discover the different aspects of their territory. 

11. Acei Cichlid 

Acei Cichlid 
Acei Cichlid

Lake Malawi is the habitat for numerous African Cichlids, and the Acei species inhabit its northwestern frontier. It is easy to recognize, with its slender body, blue coat, and yellowfins. 

It’s important to raise them in a big aquarium when they require much room to swim and play around. Besides, the aquarium should include rocks and caves to mimic their actual living environment. 

Importantly, remember that Acei Cichlids hate bright lights; therefore, it would be great to bring dark gravel to the tank floor, helping decrease glare. 

12. Brichardi Cichlid 

Brichardi Cichlid 
Brichardi Cichlid

The Brichardi Cichlid is highly common because it’s one of the few albino species found in the wild. It’s undeniable that the fish looks amazing in home aquariums and carries an elongated tail with dorsal fins, standing out from the crowd. 

You need to offer the right water conditions, maintaining sufficient hardness and alkalinity, as they are intensely susceptible to changes. Moreover, do not bring real plants to the tank since the fish are tenacious diggers. 

Furthermore, they are likely territorial during the mating period but otherwise peaceful members of the scape.

13. Kenyi Cichlid 

Kenyi Cichlid 
Kenyi Cichlid

Kenyi Cichlids are tiny yet feisty, well known for their aggressive characteristic. Hence, think twice before adding other fish because they may attack intruders. 

They inhabit the rocky environment of Lake Malawi, which aquarists need to simulate in the aquarium. That said, there should be plenty of holes and rocks for them to hide. And thanks to their small size, you can house them in a 50-gallon aquarium without any hassle. 

They possess a breathtaking coat, with females featuring black bars on a blue body, while males will be yellow over time. 

14. Jewel Cichlid 

Jewel Cichlid 
Jewel Cichlid

Jewel Cichlids have 11 species for you to select from, so you certainly find a pattern of colors to add to your fish tank. 

These fish love digging, so you should give them a sandy substrate that won’t hurt them in their excavations. 

They tend to be extremely territorial, so it’s necessary their sightlines with rocks and decorations to avoid excess aggression toward other fish.

Make the diet as varied as possible if you want to achieve the most of your Jewel Cichlid’s color. They will take almost everything you feed them. 

Bear in mind that Jewels are known to nip, so be careful if you keep other species with flowing fins. 

How to Set Up a Tank for African Cichlids

Generally, the area you take your fish from will give you a clear idea about your tank size and water conditions. Make sure you verify your fish’ requirements before bringing them to your tank. 

African Cichlids have some specific requirements, including:

  • Temperature: 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH: 7.8 to 8.6
  • Water hardness: 4 to 6 dKH
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: less than 40 ppm
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm

African Cichlids appreciate water flow in their scape.

The outflow of your filter should do the trick, but if you choose a species from a river region, you should include an air pump for a little more current. 

Moreover, these fish also jump, so ensure you have your tank covered. 

African Cichlid Breeding

Even peaceful fish become territorial during the breeding time. If your keep weaker fish – even if they are the same size – they might be harassed or attacked. 

Adding caves for hiding and a lot of territory for your African Cichlids will help ease the tension. 

All African Cichlids lay eggs. Some protect their eggs in caves, while others will use mouthbrooding. That means they put their eggs in their mouth before hatching.

Females will watch the babies for two weeks, and then they’re on their own. 

Hardiness & Diseases

Provided that you keep track of water quality and don’t fall prey to their begging habits that may lead to overfeeding, you African Cichlids should avoid serious health problems.

There are common fish illnesses, including:

  • Cottom Wool Disease: Low-quality water conditions cause this fungal disease, leading to white growths.
  • Hexamita: Another parasite appearing due to poor water quality. Fish will develop lesions, and their appetites will decrease.
  • Ich: This parasite is the bane of aquarists. You notice the stereotypical white spots.
  • Gill Flukes: Flukes are parasites, which coat the gills in slime, disturbing your cichlid’s breathing.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: Poor nutrition or physical injury from other fish species results in your fish failing to remain submerged.
  • Malawi Bloat: This disease can result in abdominal swelling, causing kidney and liver problems.
  • Tuberculosis: You never want to have this in your aquarium. It’s fatal and contagious. You will notice this nasty disease by white blotches on the scales and loss of appetite. 

Final Words 

That’s all information to know about African Cichlids. Hope that now you can make the right decision. 

African Cichlids are distinct from other species. It’s an appealing challenge and includes a touch of exoticism to your home aquarium. 

You can be assured that these lovely fish will brighten up the space with their attractive colors and splendid slender body. Besides, the addition of elements mimicking their natural environment makes the aquarium an exquisite ecosystem. 

You will relish observing the fish play around, hiding among rocks and caves, and changing colors when they grow up.       



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