Cichlid fish – most beautiful fresh water aquarium fish

What are Cichlid Fish?

Cichlids are beautiful fish that have been inhabiting aquariums for many years. They are particularly popular because of their behavior, which is much more advanced compared to other fresh water types. They are also known to be one of the most intelligent fish around. They belong to the family of the Cichlidae and are fresh water fish, but some related species can also be found in salt water. Oscar, discus and angelfish are some of the popular species of Cichlid. The Cichlidae family is highly diverse and can be found in many different habitats and environments. Cichlids vary considerably in size, behavior and feeding habits.

African Cichlid Fish Tank

African Cichlid Fish Tank

Where do they come from?

Cichlid fish are most commonly found in Asian and African countries and also in some parts of Northern America. There are least 1,650 known cichlid fish species floating around in the ocean with an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 species that are unknown. This makes the Cichlidae species one of the three largest vertebrate families in the world. In terms of the number of species, the cichlid fish are second only to characins and catfishes. The reason behind their successful evolution and diversification is their anatomy. Cichlids have, in addition to their regular jaws, a throat jaw with teeth that makes them capable of eating any kind of food they wish. Their unique nature makes survival easy which is one of many reasons why they are excellent aquarium fish. Another aspect that has allowed them to thrive for so many years and evolve into so many different species is their reproductive and parental behavior. When it comes to reproduction, cichlid fish take proper care of their eggs, and depending on their species, they exhibit both monogamous and polygamous behavior.

Also Read: Betta Fish are Beautiful and Fascinating Fish.

Why a Cichlid?

The cichlid fish are immensely popular aquarium fish due to their sheer diversity in terms of size and color, and because of their behavioral patterns. Today, there are a wide variety of cichlids available to grace your aquarium. They are imported from both America and Africa. Some are sourced from the wild while others are artificially bred. Whatever their source, the beautiful multicolored fish come in various sizes, which gives you the flexibility to choose the one that best suits the needs of your aquarium. However, the cichlid fish makes a perfect resident for your aquarium for another reason; they are extremely easy to take care of as they are one of the strongest fishes around. They are normally large in size compared to other species and can be between 4 and 10 inches long. Cichlids don’t eat other fish, but they can prey on smaller fish if the situation arises. They guard their territories remarkably well and can become aggressive and even violent in doing so. This behavior of cichlids can make them trouble makers in the home aquarium.

What you need to know.

There are a few facts that will need attention if you intend to keep cichlids in your home aquarium. The most important fact is that even the smallest cichlid fish require a rather large space. You will need to buy a large aquarium if you want to keep a smaller cichlid and even a larger one if you plan to keep a large cichlid fish. You need to take special care while decorating the aquariums that are going to be inhabited by the cichlids, because in order for them to defend their territories, most cichlids uproot the plants and some are even herbivorous in nature. Keep plants or substrates depending on what species of chichlid you want to have. In order to keep their violent behavior under control, they are normally kept in bigger aquariums to allow them more space. Also, aquariums are fitted with plants, both artificial and natural, to provide shelter to those in trouble.

Top 10 Cichlids to Have as Pets

Zebra Cichlid

As you probably know, there is a very wide variety of Cichlid fish available as they are very popular fresh water fish. You may already have a Cichlid in your tank now and not even be aware of it, such as the popular aquarium fish – Oscars and Angelfish.

These fish are simply captivating to watch and they will stun you with their social behavior and the intellect and brilliance they possess. Below are ten of the best Cichlids to keep, but so many of them out there, the choice is yours; this list should get you started with some ideas.

  1. Oscars – If you do not already have this one you are missing out. These fish are smart, love plastic plants and have a playful nature. A great fish to watch and can grow large and will eat smaller varieties.
  2. Wolf cichlid – These are great if you can find them and have the space in your aquarium to house one. Males grow up to 30 inches and females slightly smaller. They are intelligent and playful but they do need space to thrive.
  3. Jaguar cichlid – Amazing colors and a great pet with a lot of character but again, these can get large and they can become aggressive. This is one of the few cichlids that can cope with being solo.
  4. Jack Dempsey’s– Named after a heavyweight boxer… know why? They are not community fish so, you need to keep them on their own but they can be very engaging with owners.
  5. Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid – Definitely one of the calmer of the species. These guys add a splash of color and have a calmer temperament than some of their larger cousins.
  6. Convict or Zebra Cichlid – It’s black and white vertical stripes give this fella his name. While not aggressive, it is a fighter and will take on fish more than twice its size, possibly winning as well. They are hardy fish and good for beginners.
  7. Blue Acara – A must have if you want a stunningly beautiful fish! These fish have their own personalities. Some are serene while others aggressive. They do not have a set personality, it’s down to the individual fish!
  8. Angel Fish – Probably the most popular Cichlid today. They come in a variety of colors and are usually sold when they are very small but these guys can grow so be aware you will need a large tank to house them.
  9. Sunshine Peacock – These cichlids are colorful and with a docile temperament. As long as you don’t house them with aggressive fish, these will do well for the both the beginner and experienced hobbyist.
  10. Rainbow Cichlid – Another sociable fish, these work well in pairs and will be sure to add a real splash of color to your tank.

This list is far from complete, but it will give you a starting point to help you define what you are looking for in a Cichlid.

Aquarium African Cichlids

Floating Cichlid fish

African Cichlids for sale are one of the most fascinating aquarium fishes for buyers.

Description of African Cichlids.

African cichlids are small very brightly colored fishes. Their homeland are three lakes in Africa: Malawi, Tanganyika, Victoria. There are thousands of various species of African Cichlids for sale. All of them are very attractive in their appearance. Some of them are blue with brown, violet fins. Others are multicolored combining green, yellow, pink, black and gray colors. Also there are fishes reminding zebra.

African Cichlids for sale and their aquariums.

When you are looking for African Cichlids for sale it is better to buy them together with aquarium. These fishes need a lot of space so a big aquarium is preferred to a small one. It should be no less than 33 gallons for smaller species and no less than 48 gallons for bigger ones. The best temperature of water where African Cichlids will live is 78 F. It is necessary to remember that higher water temperature can provoke aggression in Cichlids.

Without no doubt, african cichlids will be the best decoration of any aquarium, but you also can add there plants, rocks, flowerpots, shale etc. You should do everything possible to make an artificial habitat looking like a natural one. As substrate you can use crushed coral ( will keep the necessary pH level in the water) or sand ( will remind their natural environment). As I have already said, it is very good to use rocky constructions in the aquarium where African Cichlids will be able to hide and spawn.

African Cichlid Species List.

African Cichlids for sale and their feeding.

One of the reasons why African Cichlids for sale are so attractive for customers is easy feeding. It is enough to buy food suitable for this particular fish. It can be flake food or pellet. Ideal variant is sinking pellet as African Cichlids like to hunt their food while it is moving. It is such a fun to watch them doing it. It is enough to give food twice per day.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that African Cichlids can become your favorite pets.

How to choose cichlids

Pink Cichlid

 

Cichlids are one of the most preferred fishes when it comes to one’s aquarium.

Cichlids overview

It is impossible for anyone to know everything about Cichlids. Whether you are an ardent lover of aquariums or are an expert on fishes, you would fall short of understanding Cichlids in its entirety when there are presumably more than three thousand species of this tropical fish and more than thirteen hundreds have already been found and scientifically named. Cichlid is a fresh water fish that is mostly found in Africa and South America. However, different species of Cichlid is found all over the world. It is not at all difficult to find Cichlids for sale anywhere in the world.

Choise of cichlids for sale

Having said that one must note that some cichlids can grow as much as three feet in length and they are not the ones you would like to keep. The small cichlids that grow up to an inch to three inches are perhaps what you can look at while checking out cichlids for sale. Angelfish is the most preferred choice among species of cichlids and another one would be Oscars.

Cichlids peculiarities

Different varieties of cichlids would have different breeding and feeding requisites and you would have to check that out at the time of buying the cichlids you want. Also, different specifies of cichlids may not be advisable in one aquarium and there are also some other fishes that you cannot have in a cichlid’s habitat.

Having cichlids in the aquarium can be highly enjoyable. Some cichlids are very territorial and they would under no circumstances explore the whole fish tank. If you introduce some other fishes into the aquarium, the cichlids can get really possessive about their area and can turn a little hostile. There are a few species of small cichlids who love to explore the whole fish tank and these roam around in schools. With these varieties you would hardly find them stagnant at one place.

People who have owned cichlids look for more since they really feel and believe that cichlids can recognize the pet owner. Some even go on to the extent to believe that cichlids can distinguish between an owner and a stranger. While none of these have been scientifically proven, it is interesting to have such opinions since having cichlids as a pet or having an aquarium is something to be enjoyed.

The Colorful, Rambunctious Bumblebee Cichlid

Cichlid face

The Bumblebee cichlid is aptly named. It is yellow and tan and has black vertical stripes. It is also referred to as the Hornet cichlid or the Chameleon cichlid, the latter name being given to it because of its ability to rapidly change colors. Juveniles are the most brightly colored. Adult males tend to become darker in color and become nearly totally black when breeding. Males who are not breeding tend to be nearly as brightly colored as juveniles. This species is native to Lake Malawi in Africa. This large lake is home to a number of cichlid species. The Bumblebee cichlid is one of several species in the lake that makes up a group known as mbuna.

Cave Dwellers

Mbuna is a name taken from a tribal language often used in the area. It means “rockfish.” Some species in Lake Malawi prefer open water, or if they congregate near the shoreline they prefer a shoreline having a smooth sandy bottom. Those in the mbuna group tend to congregate in rocky areas near the shoreline where there are plenty of hiding places or caves. Those belonging to the mbuna group, which includes the Bumblebee cichlid, will be happier in a tank that emulates that rocky environment. That doesn’t mean that as a tank owner you need to fill it with rocks. Several inverted clay flower pots with openings will serve the purpose. If you are in an inventive or experimental mood, you can always create a 3-D background out of suitable material. Otherwise, pots will do fine.

While having places to hide can make these fish feel at home, you can and should use sand as the substrate in your tank, as these fish seem to enjoy burrowing. They are not strictly bottom-feeders, but are omnivores and will often dig around in search of tidbits to eat. A sandy substrate also has the advantage of being easier to clean than a substrate consisting of rocks or gravel. An even better choice if you can get it is crushed coral. Adequate filtration is very important. A tank for these fish should also include a high-circulation impeller to circulate water through any cracks or crevices and stir up detritus that otherwise might accumulate in caves or hiding places.

Tank Size and Population

A 30-gallon tank will usually suffice for juveniles of this species, but adults should be kept in a tank that holds at least 50 gallons, if not more. These fish are quite aggressive and sometimes rather rowdy, so they need some room to maneuver. Males will usually stake out a territory and fight off those who intrude on their turf. While overcrowding is generally something to avoid in an aquarium, it can be a good thing as far as these cichlids are concerned. When a tank holds a few more of this species than normal, there tends to be fewer altercations, presumably because a male will soon tire of constantly having to defend his spherical patch of turf. A dominant male will sometimes kill another male, and may even harass and kill females of the species from time to time. This behavioral pattern can often be avoided if a half-dozen or so of this species are purchased as juveniles and allowed to grow up together.

A Limited Number of Companion Species

The Bumblebee cichlid can coexist quite well with most other Lake Malawi cichlids and a few, but not all, African cichlid species. Other tank mates that will not bother this fish or be bothered by it include small sharks, catfish, and suckermouth catfish. Species you do not want to have in the same tank include pond fish, tetras, guppies, fancy goldfish, minnows, angelfish or betas. As a rule of thumb, this species is best kept with members of its own species or other aggressive cichlid species.

This species has a special relationship with some species of larger catfish, since it is a cleaner. In other words, it cleans parasites such as lice that often attach themselves to the skin of the catfish. The catfish seem to recognize these good deeds and allow the cichlids to go about their business of keeping them parasite free.

The Bumblebee cichlid is a very common freshwater fish and can be found in many, if not most, pet stores. There are several other mbuna cichlids that are also quite popular, including the Golden, Electric Yellow, Red Zebra and Blue Zebra species. No matter which species you choose, it will be an aggressive fish. While this can sometimes be a source of problems for a beginning hobbyist, these cichlids are in general easy care fish. They are quite hardy and quite active. Insofar as temperament is concerned, a male can change from being the mellowest fish in the tank to a super-aggressor in a nanosecond.

An Easy Breeder

The Bumblebee species is easy to breed if you give these fish the proper conditions for doing so. A mix of one male to between three and five females is ideal. Just have plenty of caves (or pots) available for females, particularly gravid females, to hide in. A flat rock should be placed in the tank. A female will deposit her eggs on the surface of the rock, after which the male will fertilize them. These fish are mouth breeders. The female will gather up the fertilized eggs in her mouth and carry them with her until they hatch. If you are breeding this species, you’ll want to capture the female, place her in a separate tank, and strip the eggs. Once hatched, the fingerlings will grow quite rapidly if they are properly fed.

A Challenge for the Beginner

Generally speaking, cichlids are not always the best choice for the beginning tropical fish enthusiast. Most species tend to be quite aggressive, though a few are not, and some can become rather large. Before purchasing one or more of these species, it would serve you well to learn something of their temperament as well as the size they will attain as adults. One of the major challenges will be to furnish the interior of the tank in a manner in which the fish will tend to get along more or less peaceably, although witnessing an altercation or finding a dead fish on occasion can never be completely ruled out.

The Beautiful Blue and Yellow Acei Cichlid

Yellow Cichlid

Its scientific name is Pseudotropheus acei (Msuli), but it is better known as the Yellow-tail acei or the acei cichlid. This fish, which has become increasingly popular among hobbyists, has a dark, silvery-blue to purple body with a yellow tail and dorsal fin. The bodies of some of these fish take on an almost violet color, but most of the time they are advertised as having a vibrant blue color. There is a closely related variety – Pseudotropheus acei (Ngara) – which is similar in most respects except for the color of the tail and fin, which are white. The Musli variety, the variety discussed here, is the more common of the two. It has what is sometimes described as a mildly aggressive temperament, but in general it is considered a good tank mate for other species, especially other types of cichlids.

When this species does do battle, it tends to be more of a mock fight than a biting fight. It will sometimes bully other species, and other species will sometimes bully it. For the most part, though, it coexists peacefully with other types of fish. It is an herbivore, its main food supply being algae that grows on wood. One reason for its popularity is that it will spend much of the time cruising about in the upper half of an aquarium tank instead of spending its time near the bottom or in hiding places.

A Need for Room to Roam

Cichlids make up a family of fish consisting of numerous species, some of which can become fairly large and a few of which can be quite aggressive. While this particular species is not that large, it does need room to roam in order to do well in captivity. A 50 gallon tank is generally considered the minimum recommended size. Even though it spends a good deal of time in “open water,” its tank should feature numerous rocks or hiding places. For caves or hiding places, limestone or some other inert type of rock is a good choice. An even better choice is a rock or rocks that will help keep the pH level high. A native of Lake Malawi in the African nation of Zambia, this species does not particularly care for bright light, a factor that should be taken into account when choosing a site for its tank.

An Easy Breeder – If You Get the Sex Right

Often the best or only way to distinguish the male from the female is by behavior. The male tends to be slightly more aggressive, but this alone is usually not enough to be able to sex these fish. A better way is simply to observe their day-to-day behavior. A male will often swim ahead of a female and wag its tail as if trying to attract her attention. If she does not respond, he will often chase after her around the tank. Males are said to have a slightly deeper color than females, but this is not always an accurate means of determining the sex.

It is not all that difficult to breed the acei cichlid. One of the main problems is to distinguish the male from the female, as they are nearly identical in appearance. Ideally, a male should be placed in a tank with two to three females to have the best chance for spawning. If a second male is mistakenly introduced, there will likely be more fighting than spawning. A female will generally not place her eggs in the tank’s substrate, preferring to place her eggs on the surface of a flat rock. She will collect the unfertilized eggs in her mouth and follow the male until he releases his fertilizing sperm. The female will babysit the eggs by keeping them in her mouth for about three weeks until they hatch. Once the eggs hatch, the fry tend to grow quite rapidly and will nibble at small pieces of crushed fish flakes within a few hours after they are born.

Blue Cichlid

As a breeder, you want the eggs to hatch in a different, smaller tank, since the young fry will likely become fish food if there are other species in the tank. Since the female will be carrying the eggs in her mouth, the challenge is to catch her. This is not always an easy task. Once caught, the female is taken to another tank where the fertilized eggs are gently stripped from her. The eggs need to be kept in a heated tank which has a substrate consisting of a mix of sand, gravel and small rocks, the latter being there to give the fry a place to hide during the first month or so of their life. If carefully looked after, the fry will grow to about an inch in size in roughly six weeks.

Algae Is Best, But Vegetarian Fish Flakes Will Do

In its native habitat, this cichlid prefers an area with a sandy bottom, numerous rocks and a few sunken logs or trees. These fish often gather in schools of up to 50 or more and tend to congregate near sunken trees or logs, where their primary food supply is found. You can search for tree-borne algae to feed these cichlids, with wood from a certain African species of tree being best. Since this usually proves to be too much of a challenge and can involve quite an expense, the next best food supply consists of dried seaweed or any plant-based flake food.

When it’s time to change the water in the tank, the usual rule applies: never change out more than about a third of the water at once. In addition, the water temperature should be kept between 72ºF to 82ºF and the pH should be between 8 and 9. These fish prefer water within the hardness range of 5º to 15º. Avoid giving one of these fish a diet consisting of too much protein, or they are apt to be affected by what is known as the Malawi bloat.

This is a species that was little-known in the United States 10 to 15 years ago and was considered quite rare. Now they are easy to find in the tropical aquarium trade. They are not particularly expensive and can often be purchased for under $10.

Five Enticing Reasons to Own a Firemouth Cichlid

Albino Cichlid

Albino Cichlid

Known to scientists and fish enthusiasts as the Thorichthys meeki, the firemouth cichlid is a species of colorful tropical fish native to Central America. The rivers of Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula are teeming with this particular species. As they prefer shallow and slow moving currents, many can be found in underground cave systems. As with many other fish within the Cichlid family, one way to tell the difference between the males and females is to observe their color and size. The males are generally larger and boast a brighter coloration than females. The male’s dorsal and anal fins are also more pointed.

What Is a Firemouth Cichlid?

These little fish have been known to live up to eight years in captivity. Their relatively long lifespan makes them the perfect marine pet to have. Additionally, the males do not grow longer than 15 cm and the females are generally a little smaller. Their compact size makes them ideal to be kept in a tank. Also known as the Red Breasted Cichlid, they co-exist just fine in schools and are compatible with larger tetras which also originate from Central America. Some examples of good tank mates are fish from the Barb family such as Tiger Barbs.

What Is So Special About It?

As with other species of marine animals, these cichlids boast special characteristics that no other fish have. Not only are they beautiful, their unique traits make them the perfect addition to an aquarium.

  • Beautiful Colors

One of the most noteworthy traits of this cichlid species is the fact that they are so beautiful. This fish has a base color that is an almost translucent turquoise. The accents of red colorations under its belly and throat give it a very vibrant look. It also has a series of black marks all along the sides of its body starting from the corner of its eye to the base of the caudal fin. Its fins have bright blue spots all over and its dorsal fin has a tinge of red along the outer edge. There are some differences in coloration depending on the exact origin of the animal, but generally they look similar and are easy to spot amidst other species.

  • Relatively Territorial

Firemouth cichlids are territorial only when they are spawning and aggression tends to happen against their own species. On any regular day, they tend to keep to themselves if the size of the tank is in proportion with the number of inhabitants in it. They do tend to get aggressive toward smaller fish so if you have plans to add them into a tank with an existing ecosystem, ensure that they are the smallest of the bunch or that all the other fish are generally the same size. Interestingly enough, this Cichlid is a rather nervous animal and they have been known to play dead when stressed out or frightened. Sudden movements and loud noises will set them off in a swimming frenzy around their aquarium. Also, when threatened the male Cichlid will inflate its red throat and gills to scare off curious tank mates. You will be able to enjoy these displays of aggression rather often during breeding season.

  • They Make Good Parents

Unlike other aquatic animals, the firemouth cichlids mate for life. They tend to settle into a monogamous relationship and nurture very strong family bonds. One of the best things about this fish is how simple it is to breed them. Each time the female spawns she is able to produce up to 500 eggs. These eggs will be deposited on and around rocks or wood that has been thoroughly cleaned by both parents beforehand. After three to four days, the eggs will hatch and the young fry will be led into pits where both parents stand guard over them. If you intend to breed them, place several small overturned pots into the tank to serve as the pits. These fish display and carry out conventional gender roles. The males are usually the ones responsible for protecting the nursery while the females keep busy by raising the fry. However, both parents take turns when it comes to foraging for food.

  • Unique Tank Conditions

In their natural environment, many firemouth cichlids can be found living in shallow, underground cave systems, so when you set up your tank, ensure you provide them with plenty of hiding places. Rocks, small pieces of wood and hardy water plants in the tank are very important. Keep in mind that because these fish tend to dart around the tank when they are stressed, avoid decorative items with sharp edges as they may hurt themselves. As it is a digger, the substrate at the bottom of the tank should be a mix of medium-sized gravel and larger grade crushed coral. The pH level of the water should range between 6.5 and 7.8. These fish are generally alright with fluctuating pH levels so long as these changes are not too drastic. Because they come from a tropical environment, the tank water has to range between 74 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The water hardness should range from 8.0 to 15 degrees of hardness (dH). Ideally, you should replace 15% of the tank’s water every week. Every month, change the filter on your tank to avoid the risk of infection and water toxicity. Although these cichlids are quite hardy, they are not immune to common freshwater fish diseases.

  • Not Picky Eaters

This species of Cichlid is omnivorous. They are not picky when it comes to food and will eat everything ranging from pellets to frozen food to ocean plankton to flake food. It is advisable to feed your Cichlids pellet food devised especially for them. You will be able to get these pellets from pet and aquarium shops. This will give them a balanced diet and ensure they are getting all the necessary vitamins and nutrients needed to flourish. Remember not to keep them in a tank with much smaller fish as they will attack and eat them when given the chance.

Must-Know Tips for Raising an Oscar Cichlid

Cichlid fish

The oscar cichlid is a very popular species of freshwater aquarium fish. Its official name is Astronotus ocellatus, but you may have also heard it referred to as the “tiger oscar,” “velvet cichlid,” or “marble cichlid.” This species is easily found in the wild, particularly in areas like Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador which are native territories for this type of fish. Oscars can also be found around parts of Australia and China, although these colonies have been introduced by man and are not naturally occurring. In fact, there is a bit of sport to be had in fishing for oscars in South America, especially seeing as their unhindered growth in the wild allows this species to reach lengths around a foot and a half. However, since you are here reading about tips to successfully raise a cichlid then the only trophy you are interested in will likely be a miniaturized living oscar in your home aquarium!

This species has an exotic appearance that is very attractive to potential owners. Oscar cichlids come in a variety of colors and many are multi-colored with spots or a marble-like design. These eye-catching fish are sure to add an impressive air to your home aquarium but there are a few things that you should take into account before committing yourself to becoming an oscar cichlid owner. The sections in this article will explain the most important factors that will influence your job as a cichlid owner as well as provide great tips for successfully raising an oscar.

Prepare the Aquarium Before Bringing the Fish Home

To the dismay of many first-time aquarium owners and those trying a hand a raising less hardy fish species, many fish added to a new aquarium will die within the first month. The reason this occurs is because the aquarium needs at least a month in order for a healthy amount of flora and fauna to develop. Believe it or not, fish have a hard time tolerating squeaky clean water because it lacks the bacteria and algae that fish need in order to flourish. Although it is definitely a good idea to make sure that the water isn’t murky or riddled with excessive amounts of excrement, you have to be able to find a water balance that is neither too clean nor too dirty. The best way to ensure that your cichlid investment makes it through the transfer to his new home is to establish your aquarium a month before you plan to actually bring the little guy home.

Your chosen aquarium should be of suitable size for an oscar cichlid. The general rule for tank size is that you should allow an absolute minimum of 30 gallons for a single oscar – and this does not take into account the amount of space required by any other fish you intend to keep in the same tank. Ideally you should opt for a larger tank such as a 40 or 50 gallon aquarium as this size will offer your cichlid plenty of room to swim and provide your fish with hidey-holes to which he can retreat. You will also need to prepare yourself to maintain a tank of this size. Add gravel or rocks to the bottom of the tank and provide plenty of dark places for your cichlid to hide. Logs, caves, castles, and other decorative but functional pieces work well for this purpose.

Oscars are very messy fish and as a result you will find that your aquarium’s water becomes dirty very quickly. You should expect to perform a 10 percent water change about once each week or as much as a 15 percent water change on weeks when your cichlid has been particularly filthy. In order to do a partial water change you will need a syphon, a clean bucket (that has never come into contact with chemicals such as cleaning products), monthly water treatment, and weekly water treatment. Begin by using the syphon to empty about 10 percent of the tank’s water into the bucket and dispose of the dirty water. Rinse and refill the bucket with clean water. Apply the monthly water treatment to the bucket in the dosage recommended on the packaging. This product will add beneficial algae (a thin, slimy substance) to everything inside your tank which will help to replenish that which has been removed from the aquarium during the partial water change and neutralize any elements that may be unsafe for your cichlid, such as chlorine. Now add the amount of weekly water treatment indicated on the packaging.

This treatment will balance the pH of the water so that your aquarium’s delicate balance is not thrown off by the water change. If the packaging on the weekly or monthly water treatments indicate that you should wait a specific amount of time before adding the water to your aquarium then adjust your schedule to do so. Liquid products like Aquasafe (monthly) and Easy Balance (weekly) by Tetra require no wait once they have been added to fresh water. Once the water has reached room temperature you may add it to your aquarium.

You will also need to purchase an electric pump (or two, depending on the size of your tank) along with filter cartridges for your chosen model of pump. There are typically two types of filters that are necessary for a pump: the “bio” filter and the standard sponge/carbon filter. The bio filter contains biological flora and fauna that are vital to the health and happiness of marine life. This filter should only be changed every two to three months. Be sure to never replace the bio filter and the sponge filter at the same time because this causes a loss of biological material which means that your aquarium would require another month to rebuild an adequate amount of bacteria. The sponge filter usually needs to be replaced every two to four weeks, but you can extend the life of your aquarium filters by doing weekly partial water changes and rinsing the sponge filter with cool water as needed. Also, consider adding live vegetation which will help to oxygenate and purify the water.

This warm water cichlid has little tolerance for cool temperatures so it naturally tends to be found in areas where the water temperature doesn’t drop below 72 degrees Fahrenheit or exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You need to be able to reflect this type of climate in your personal fish tank. For this you will need a water heater which can either be set to run at a specific temperature or one that is pre-configured at an appropriate temperature range. Place the heater in a centralized location of the tank so that it can evenly warm the water.

Understand the “Oscar Personality” Before Committing Yourself

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In order for your tiger cichlid to be happy (and to prevent the unnecessary death of tank mates) you need to cater to this fish’s reclusive nature. This breed is not a schooling fish and typically does not get along well with others of its own species. This fish has the stereotypical “loner” personality and rates fairly high on the aggressiveness scale. Once your little guy has found a cozy nook in the aquarium that he wants to call his own, he will exhibit hostile behavior in order to defend it. Any other fish that approaches this area will be nipped-at and chased away. Your fish likely won’t be the bullying sort who prowls the aquarium picking on all of the other inhabitants, but it will defend its territory whether or not the other fish pose a threat.

On a more positive note, this species of cichlid is considered to be very intelligent. Although you might be fascinated by watching your fish swim around the tank, he will be equally interested to view what’s going on in the world outside the aquarium. It is not uncommon for this variety of fish to recognize their caregiver and to acknowledge this person when he or she approaches the tank. There have even been instances in which these aquatic beauties have been trained to swim into/eat from a caregiver’s hand! Yours will definitely have his own personality which you can enjoy by closely watching his movements. At feeding time he will likely swim around with anticipation and happiness. When upset, usually by a water change or another disturbance that he doesn’t care for, your oscar may mope around in his territory or refuse to come out of a hiding place for a while.

Choose Only Suitable Tank Mates

As mentioned earlier, this particular aquatic species is aggressive by nature and if other fish are going to be put into the same tank as a cichlid then they need to have the personality and physical strength/agility to handle aggressive outbursts from the tiger cichlid. In reality, you are probably better off if your oscar is the sole inhabitant of the aquarium, but if you simply can’t resist the urge to get more aquatic buddies for the tank then consider getting other species of cichlid. Semi-aggressive species are ideal because they are able to defend themselves against territorial aggression but won’t necessarily pick on other tank mates without good reason. Tiger oscars tend to act as though they are prey to no one, when in fact they can be bullied by much smaller (highly aggressive) fish. It’s important to avoid aquatic varieties that are larger or more aggressive than this species to ensure that your little guy won’t live a life of fear and physical abuse. On the other hand, tank mates should be longer than five inches in order to avoid being eaten by the oscar. They should also be fast swimmers so that they can compete for food during feedings. Silver dollars, catfish, Jack Dempseys, and convict cichlids are possible contenders to consider.

Provide a Proper Diet for this Carnivorous Creature

In the wild this species will pretty much dine exclusively on meat, including smaller fish and insects. In captivity there are a lot of ready-made products that make feeding this hefty fish a simple process. Although your guy may readily accept flake foods, this really isn’t the ideal diet for a carnivorous creature. Instead, try searching the wares at your local pet store for meaty treats that will really get your oscar growing. Crickets, worms, brine shrimp, beetles, spiders, mussels, and even beef heart can be offered to your “river dog.” Some of these items are available in dried or pellet forms but they can also be purchased frozen, which on a scale of tastiness comes in second after live fare. Be warned that this fish will likely act like as if he is starving when meal time comes around, but you really only need to feed him once each day. Your little guy will eventually calm down once he knows that he can depend on your routine, so try to offer meals at the same time each day.

Tips on Caring for the Green Terror Cichlid

Green Cichlid

The Green Terror cichlid has a name that carries with it some frightening implications. Owning one would seem to require placing it in a tank all its own so as to keep other species of fish at a respectful distance. In truth, this colorful tropical fish is often a rather peaceful fish as long as certain conditions are met. It can sometimes turn violent, however, and has a tendency to prey on smaller fish. It can also become somewhat territorial as it matures, but the same can be said of many other species as well.

Habitat and Description

This cichlid is one of the New World species of cichlids (there are also African cichlids) and is found on the Pacific side of the South American continent. It is a freshwater fish and is also known as the Gold Saum. It is not green in color when young but once it matures it is quite a striking fish. Each scale has a sparkling green or blue-green color with darker green markings on the body that have a stripe-like appearance, although the stripes are not solid. The underside of the fish is pink or brownish or somewhere in-between. On the upper part of the body along the back of the fish there are four or five golden stripes alternating with the dark green stripes. The golden stripes appear as solid stripes. The fins and tail also have decorative markings. Some of the variants of this species feature yellow or white edges on the dorsal fin and the tail.

The Only Good Tank Is a Large Tank

The Green Terror will usually leave other cichlid species of about the same size alone, the reason being cichlids are quite often aggressive or at least do not like to be bullied. It can definitely be a bully at times but will usually back off if a tank mate its size decides to return the favor.

With this cichlid, size matters, which is to say the size of its tank matters. It can grow to a foot in length, although finding one of that size is rather uncommon. If you purchase one and care for it properly, it will most likely grow no larger than 6″ to 8″. It is a very active fish and one that likes plenty of room to roam. It is an omnivore and is both a surface and a bottom feeder. What all of this means is the tank you choose should be no smaller than 50 or 55 gallons and preferably larger, especially if you plan to have more than one of these cichlids or intend to provide your fish with tank mates.

Youngsters can be kept in a smaller tank for a time, a 35-gallon tank being about optimum, but will need to be moved into a larger tank once they reach a length of about 5″. Whatever the size of the tank, it should be longer than it is wide if for no other reason than this species seems to prefer it that way. Most aquarium tanks meet that requirement anyway so you shouldn’t have to spend very much time looking for a nice, long tank.

Decorations and a Place to Burrow

If you like to decorate your tanks, that will be fine with this particular species. It likes to have some vegetation and particularly likes to have a few rocks to hide behind or caves to hide in. Like many species of tropical fish, the Green Terror needs a place of privacy it can retreat to from time to time.
It was mentioned earlier that this fish is both a bottom feeder and a surface feeder. In fact, it will eat food anywhere in its tank it can find some. Being somewhat of a bottom feeder means this fish likes to burrow in the substrate, which in turn means that any plants you place in the tank should be placed in pots and properly secured. You might want to settle for a few floating plants or plants that can be secured somewhere else besides in the substrate. The fish will usually leave plants alone, especially if it is given its normal food regularly. If you plan on having one or two other species of tank mates, it would probably be best to select species that are not plant eaters.

Breeding – A Flat Rock Makes the Best Nest

Breeding this species is generally considered to be moderately difficult, which means you can’t simply place a male and a female in a tank and expect “Little Terrors” any time soon. For one thing, a male and female won’t necessarily decide to pair up, especially if both are adults. For whatever reason, younger, not fully mature cichlids of this type are much more apt to pair up. Sexing these cichlids is not too much of a problem as the male has a distinctive hump on its forehead whereas the female does not.

Even when two of these fish appear to have paired up, they sometimes need to be coaxed into breeding which can, at times, become a bit difficult. To coax a pair into breeding usually requires increasing the water temperature a few degrees above room temperature, in the neighborhood of 80º F. The pH needs to be kept constant while doing so. A flat rock needs to be placed in the tank as a female won’t simply deposit her eggs in the substrate but requires a “nest,” which in this case is a flat rock. Once the eggs have been deposited and fertilized, both of the parents will stay near the nest and guard the eggs, of which there may be several hundred. The eggs or larvae are in no danger of being eaten by the parents who, in fact, may try to kill any other fish that approach the eggs or the larvae too closely.

Once the offspring are ready to swim about on their own, typically about 2 weeks after the eggs have hatched, they can, of course, become potential prey if there are any other fish in the tank. For that reason these cichlids are usually bred in a separate tank.

Suitable Tank Mates

There are actually quite a few species that make good tank mates for the Green Terror including the Red Terror cichlid. The main thing to be concerned about is making sure all the fish have plenty of room as they are more apt to become aggressive if they feel crowded. If you have several species and they all seem to be getting along, you’re likely to still notice that it more or less rules the tank. Even if you make excellent choices for tank mates, there will still likely be times when a species has to be removed if the cichlid hasn’t already done the job for you.

A few species that do make good tank mates are the Red Terror cichlid, the black shark, the red-tailed black shark, the red devil, and several African and South American species of cichlid. The Convict cichlid and several species of tetra often work well too. If you plan to add one or more other species of cichlid, it would be best to do a little research first. Some species work out fine while the introduction of others could turn your aquarium into a war zone.

While it may require a little more care than some other species of tropical fish in terms of tank size and the selection of potential tank mates, the Green Terror cichlid is a relatively easy keeper. Even if one should become excessively aggressive and violent, which can happen, it poses no danger to humans.

Keeping American Cichlids: Green Terror.

How to Set up an African Cichlid Tank – Step by Step Guide.

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