How to Care Cichlids at Home

Caring Cichlids at Home

Cichlid is a significantly active spiny finned tropical fish that can be housed in aquariums.  When these species are schooled together you will notice them traveling through every inch of your aquarium continually providing your tank with constant movement within.  Every fish species have their own little personalities.  Cichlids are very territorial and aggressive species.

 to Care Cichlids at Home

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You will need a 50 gallon tank with a covered hood to keep cichlids at home as these species can grow pretty big.  For the substrate choose large pebbles for this makes maintaining your fish tank much easier.  Get a good strong heater for your aquarium and maintain the temperatures between 75-80 degrees.  The pH level should ideally be leveled in the range of 6.5 to 7.5.  Add any branded tank water conditioner to remove chlorine content.  Install a canister filter to filter out water impurities.  Leave the aquarium lights on for approximately 8 hours a day to encourage algae growth within the tank.  Add some aquarium salt into the tank water which will keep diseases at bay.  Recycle 15% tank water on a bi-weekly basis with complete water change once a month.  You can add some fake plants made either of silk or plastic, and fake rocks again made either of plastic or ceramic – the choice is yours.  This can be done to enhance the appeal of your fish tank as well as to shelter your pets when they develop the urge to hide.

If you are setting up an aquarium for the first time to house any fish species, it is vital to get your aquarium cycled to prevent ‘new tank syndrome’ in your pets.  The best way to achieve this will be to keep some tiny local fish varieties (you can catch these from water bodies closer to your home) in your tank that will provide nutrients essential for bacterial growth in your aquarium.  Keep them for a month or so and then transfer them back to their natural habitat.  Now you can add your whole bunch of pets at once.

As mentioned earlier cichlid fish are very territorial.  The aquarium should contain many habitants providing your fish very little room to establish its territory.  If a cichlid claims a territory it can attack a fish fiercely to the extent of killing it when trespassed.  They are also very aggressive hence your aquarium should be dedicated to cichlids only.  Once you have decided to house cichlids in your aquarium, choose a school of fish that are all of approximately the same size.  Smaller weaker ones will often be the target of aggression displayed by more active members in the aquarium.  The transit from pet store to your house will stress out your chosen pets and weaken their immune system to a certain extent.  Give your pets some recovery time.

When the aquarium is fully cycled algae formation will begin to occur.  To clear this, an algae eater may need to be introduced into your tank.  Snails are a better option as their hard shells will protect them from these aggressive fish species; or a thick skinned plecostomus that own a sharp spine is a good option.

Feed your pets with a sinking pellet fish feed as cichlids are ground swimmers, you will find your pets swimming around the bottom of your aquarium.  Supplement this with spirulina or frozen fish feeds and most of cichlid’s dietary needs will be covered.  Feed your pets twice in a day with 1 fasting day in a week to regulate their metabolism levels.  A seaweed treat now and then will be enjoyed by your pet fish.

A common disease among these species is Malawi bloat characterized by abdominal bloating.  This can occur when you do not keep up with the tank water changes or end up overfeeding your pet.  Feed your pet with anything that is taken in within a minute or two.  If you notice your pet not eating like a glutton, cease feeding for at least 2 days, then resume feeding every alternate day.  Once it is back to its normal intake, feed it daily.  Along with this maintain cleanliness levels within the aquarium.  Consult a vet who has prior experience in dealing with aquatic species if the condition still persists.

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How to Breed Cichlids at Home

How to Breed Cichlids at Home

Fish keeping is a popular hobby but choosing which to keep will require in-depth research.  If cichlid is your choice even they come in distinct varieties displaying different temperaments.  However, keeping cichlids in your aquarium enhances the beauty of your otherwise dull looking living space for cichlids come in an array of vibrant colors.

 Breed Cichlids at Home


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Even if your only interest is to successfully keep cichlids alive, when you have pairs of both sexes present in your fish tank, when all adequate environmental requirements are in place, and they are all healthy and active, it will eventually result in breeding.  Your cichlid aquarium should be large even if you have no plans to breed them.  These aquatic species are very territorial, so to maintain peace in your aquarium provide each pair with enough room to spawn leaving the rest with ample space for free movement.  Only healthy cichlids will develop an interest in breeding.  Thus it is vital to keep your cichlids healthy if you have an interest in breeding them.  Diet plays an important role here.  Feed your aquatic pets with spirulina flakes supplemented with brine shrimp, blood worms, and krill in minimal quantity to avoid the development of Malawi bloat disease condition in your cichlids.  Feed them with only what can be consumed within a minute or two.  A protein rich diet will provide them with enough resources essential in making eggs.

Along with nutritious feeds the tank should be installed with a good filtering system; water cleanliness maintained with regular water changes; lighting, temperature, and water chemistry kept within the desired levels.  Your cichlid pairs should have enough secret areas to mate and deposit eggs hence the aquarium should have rocks, caves, and tunnels providing each cichlid mate sufficient hiding place called their own.

The ratio should preferably be 2-3 females for every male.  This will keep the stress levels down among the female cichlids.  When it is time to mate, you will notice the male digging the substrate to form a small pit.  This is his way of securing his own territory and will display some aggressiveness.  This is followed by a soft tremulous dance to lure a female.  When the chosen female moves away, the male will block its path by continuing to dance in front of her.  After enough chasing around is done the female will eventually show her interest.  The female will hide herself and lay eggs which will be fertilized later by the males.  Once fertilized, the female will pick the eggs in her mouth.  The female mouth brooders do not eat during the incubation period which lasts anywhere between 3 to 4 weeks.  This makes them thin, weak and an easy target for other cichlids when out in the open.  Female cichlids thus will conceal themselves behind rocks or within tunnels as a way of protecting themselves from such enemies.

Carry out a 50% water change when mating occurs as cichlids will need relatively clean water conditions during this time.  Provide an alkaline water condition and maintain water temperatures in the 76-78 range to help in hatching of eggs.  Once the term is complete, the fry will be spitted out by the mother to resume feeding.  Provide a nutritious feed for the female allowing her to restore her health back.  To prevent hatched cichlid babies being eaten by their own mother or other tank members, transfer them to a separate tank.  The first few days of life, baby cichlids will survive on a yolk sack found surrounding their bodies.  Once the sack is eaten off baby brine shrimp or liquid fry feeds can be given to them.

Returning the babies back to your main tank may lead to overcrowding.  You can either give them to your friends or relatives who are interested in fish keeping or sell them.  What you may have started off as a hobby can eventually turn into a small-time business.

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