Your First Cichlid Aquarium
By William Berg of Sweden, for http://www.aquaticcommunity.com
So you're thinking about trying cichlids. A good choice. In this article I shall try to give a few examples of good cichlid aquariums that are suitable for beginners. I've tried to suggest set-ups that will be beautiful and easy to maintain, and species that are easily bred so that you might observe this fascinating side of cichlid behaviour.
This article targets those who haven't that much experience with aquariums in general and cichlids in particular. If you are a more experienced aquarist who is just new to cichlids these set-ups will still be good, and you have a lot of other options as well since you are probably capable of keeping more sensitive species than those suggested in this article.
Aquarium: It is possible to keep some cichlids, such as Lamprologus ocellatus, in very small aquariums. However, for your first cichlid aquarium I would recommend a larger aquarium of no less than 30 gallons/120 L. There are several reasons for this:
- A larger aquarium is easier to maintain and easier to keep in good condition. - Cichlids are aggressive. Some cichlids are much more aggressive than others, but almost all cichlids are aggressive and a larger aquarium makes it easier for weaker fish to avoid this hostility. - Cichlid behaviour is usually more interesting if you can keep more than one isolated pair in an aquarium. For example this may allow you to see parents guarding their young.
Water conditions: Which water conditions you should have depends on which cichlids you want to keep since their preferences differ greatly. For your first aquarium I recommend keeping species that are less sensitive to water conditions, and if you choose to try species I recommend in this article you normally won't have to think about water conditions. I don't recommend keeping cichlids from great African lakes as your first cichlids if you are an inexperienced aquarist, since they have more specialised demands.
Feeding: The cichlids I recommend accept all kind of food, however I would recommend giving them a diverse diet consisting of pellets/flakes, frozen food and occasional live food.
Species: Now to fun part: choosing fish species to your new aquarium. I will give three examples of possible aquariums. The first one has its origin in African rivers and is more friendly, while second one features cichlids from Central America. I will also give a suggestion for a composition that has its origins in Amazon. However this composition is a little bit harder to get to breed and requires a larger aquarium. I would recommend at least 50 gallon/ 200 L.
1. African cichlid aquarium (30 gallons) 1 pair of kribs (Pelvicachromis pulcher) 1 pair of African butterfly cichlids (Anomalochromis thomasi) 1 pair of Egyptian mouth-brooders (Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor) 4 Ancistrus (plecos)
2. Central American aquarium (30 gallons): 1 pair of Archocentrus sajica (T-Bar cichlid) 1 pair of convicts (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) 2 Hypostomus (plecos)
3. Amazon aquarium (50 gallons): 4 angelfish ( Pterophyllum scalare) 1 pair of Aequidens curviceps 1 pair of Aequidens maronii (Keyhole cichlid) 6 Ancistrus (plecos)