Should Know This - If You're About To Add A Cichlid In Your Tank??

Should Know This - If You're About To Add A Cichlid In Your Tank??

Written By: Arpita Published In: Fish-Blog Created Date: 2016-12-06 Hits: 285 Comment: 0

Cichlids are the fishes from the family of Cichlidae in the order Perciformes. Cichlids are members of a suborder known as Labroidei, along with the wrasses (Labridae), damselfishes (Pomacentridae), and surfperches (Embiotocidae). This family is both large and diverse. At least 1,650 species have been scientifically described, making it one of the largest vertebrate families. New species are discovered almost annually, and many species remain mistify. The actual number of species is therefore unknown, with estimates varying between 2,000 and 3,000. Cichlids are also popular freshwater fish kept in the home aquarium.

Cichlid Behavior:
Rift lake cichlids have a rather complex behavior, primarily expressed through color and movement. Although they are nearsighted, they have good color vision within a couple meter ranges. Most cichlids come to recognize who feeds them and often refuse to come out when unfamiliar people approach the tank. My 155 gallon is in an office environment, so they are used to a variety of people and will swim to the front of the tank for just about anyone. They tend to be more timid on weekends when no one is around.

Rift lake cichlids express timidness and dominance through color. A pale fish is a stressed or timid fish, whereas a very dark fish is a dominant or aggressive fish. The dominant male will have deep vibrant colors or possibly be almost entirely black.

Cichlids span a wide range of body sizes, from species as small as 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in length to much larger species approaching 100 cm (39.37 in) in length. As a group, cichlids exhibit a similar diversity of body shapes, ranging from strongly laterally compressed species to species that are cylindrical and highly elongated. Generally, however, cichlids tend to be of medium size, ovate in shape, and slightly laterally compressed, and generally similar to the sunfishes in morphology, behavior, and ecology.

Selecting Compatible Cichlids:
All rift lake cichlids are more aggressive than tropical community fish. However, some species are significantly more aggressive than others. When selecting species for a single tank, care should be made to not select fish which will kill each other when they mature. The most aggressive species of cichlids of Lake Malawi tend to be from the genus Melanochromis (eg: M. chipokae and M. auratus) or the genus Maylandia (eg: M. crabro). These fish are extremely difficult to keep as adults without breeding them to replenish the population. The males will slowly but surely kill each other in territory battles. Fortunately, there are numerous mid-aggressive species (eg: zebras, P. socolofi or M. johannii). The most mild-mannered species include Labidochromis caeruleus (Electric yellows) and Iodotropheus sprengerae (Rusty cichlids). These mild-mannered species should be kept in peaceful tanks with Tanganika cichlids or by themselves. When selecting species, you should avoid keeping species of differing aggressiveness in a single tank. Also, aggression primarily occurs between fish of the same species. The more distantly related the fish, the less likely they will behave aggressively towards one another.

Non-cichlid Tankmates:
While rift lake cichlids are certainly attractive, most aquarists want more variety than a cichlid-only tank provides. However, most tropical aquarium fish require softer, more acidic water or are too peaceful to withstand cichlid aggression. The goldfish on the below lasted a only few months with these juvenile cichlids from Lake Malawi. Fortunately there are compatible species to choose from. Most Moors and Scats can coexist with cichlids as long as they have been acclimated to brackish water. There are also a variety of brackish water catfish to choose from. Many people use to keep Network Synos (Synodontis eupterus) and Raphael Talking catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons) with cichlids. Silver-tip/Columbian sharks (Arius seemani) can be kept with African cichlids as juveniles, but quickly require additional salt. By the time they mature they require almost marine water. These fish seem to tolerate the water conditions if the PH is around 7.5.

Rift lake cichlids are primarily algae eaters. As a result, most of these fish should be fed low-protein diets (look for the min 35% protein foods). Many people use to prefer Hikari algae wafers and Hikari cichlid staple pellets. Avoid "meaty" foods such as bloodworms and tubifex worms as they may contribute to Malawi bloat, a fatal condition similar to dropsy where the fish inflates and looks like a pine-cone. Some species such as Melanochromis chipokae can tolerate these foods since they supplement their diet in the wild with catfish eggs and small invertebrates.
Care should also be taken not to over-feed cichlids. They will eat as much as you feed them! Obese cichlids lose their brilliant colors and die young. It has been found that feeding adults once a day works well. You can feed juveniles twice a day to promote growth, but taper off feeding once the fish reach maturity. Don't worry about the begging. If your fish aren't begging for food, either you are over-feeding them or they are sick.

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