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.
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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