The Optimum Cichlid Aquarium Set Up

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The groups of fishes commonly referred to as Cichlids, comprise a large group of, generally larger and more aggressive fishes from Africa and South and Central America, with some species found in Asia. They offer a wide variety of vibrant colors, shapes and habits that have become one of the most common fish kept by hobbyists worldwide.

Such is the diversity of species, breeding habits and feeding that it becomes necessary to set up different groups of Cichlidsin different pools. Some of these include African Cichlids, American Cichlids, Dwarf Cichlids or Discus. It is generally advisable to keep these like minded fishes together and not mix them in general.

Selection and Placement of the tank

Always try to choose a tank with the large surface area and volume as most cichlids grow quite large. Make sure you always have a glass cover to prevent the fish jumping out.

Place the new tank to prevent the directsunlight hitting the aquarium for too long as this can cause excessive algae problems.

Choosing Gravel, Decor and Setting

Cichlids are quite territorial and the more holes, refuges and interesting "zones" can be done to create a community much more harmonized.

A good starting point is to put in the tank of a fund that can offer the realism and the natural environment that these fish will feel very relaxed and without stress Discover the cichlid mansion range from Aquarium +Reptile Rocks Inc if you want something extraordinary.

Next is the gravel we recommend a nice mixture of gravel as too coarse a gravel size allows food not consumed and waste accumulate in pockets between pebbles away from water flow that break down. There are several varieties to choose from. your gravel in small quantities in a clean bucket. Three or four rinses should be sufficient. Place the cleaned gravel into your tank with a bit 'of water.

Next to add some more "zones"You can add rocks and woods clean and place them. Triangulate your decorations to create a greater depth of field and provide an amphitheater where the fish can come together in a community setting. Try to slope your gravel slightly towards the rear and sides with rocks and logs to create layers and depth. The lightweight rocks from A + RR Inc like quartz rocks, north ridge, Barnacle, rock pool and charred wood make this fun and easy to do. When you have the major decorations in place,add a little 'water if this is a little' dirt from the gravel siphon this dirty water back into your bucket.

Next fill the tank. Avoid disturbing the gravel with a plate or newspaper in which you can direct the flow of water. Some coral sand is a good addition to an African tank, while white Rift Lake Sand looks great for Africans, but also can show up detritus badly. These issues will be discussed later.

Preparing your Tap Water

We must also consider our tapwater to remove harmful chlorine and ammonia. There are many products that will remove both, the best value is Amquel Instant water Detoxifier.

E 'must also be replaced as electrolytes, magnesium and potassium, making tap water.

The electrolytic aquarium salts are essential for the welfare of the fish. Not only provide anti-bacterial effect, but help fishes produce body slime to protect themselves from infection, and create a barrier so as not essential osmoticdehydrated. Make sure it is melted before adding to your aquarium.

There are also several products we can use to specific water conditions for African and Discus. To calculate water volume: consider 10cm x 10cm x 10cm = 1 liter. So length (cm) x width (cm) x Height (cm) divided by 1000 = Volume (liters).

The integration of biological filter

The best way to get crystal clear water is to pro-actively provide bacteria cultures as biological filter supplement. In our opinion WASTECycle is used in combination with one another or HBH-TERM the best way to improve your filtration and stay ahead of the game. People who use these products simply do not occur the same problems as people who take a minimalist approach (do not use a filter supplement) and they always respond to problems. These bacteria cultures help convert all organic wastes to ammonia then further to nitrite and finally nitrate. To establish your tanks bacteria populations can takeseveral weeks but is accelerated greatly by adding supplements. Do not overstock your new aquarium during this run.


All good filters provide ample filter media surface areas for the colonization of aerobic (oxygen breathing) denitrifying bacteria which break down fish waste. The greater the volume of the filter and the greater the flow, the greater the population of bacteria to keep your tank clean. This is biological filtration. All good filters shouldprovide some sponge as Mechanical filtration. Chemical filtration is important. We always use ammonia remover as a safeguard. Carbon is also helpful, but Purigen is higher. E 'battery and also removes stains from your tank log (ie if not used the charred wood from A + RR Inc). Remember to rinse loose particles out before adding to the filter.

Filter types

Freshwater Trickle filters offer the largest filtration seriously stockedtanks.

External Canister filers like the PRIME, EHEIM, Fluval or VIA AQUA are the best filters available on the market. They offer the largest volume of media and can be hidden from view. All these brands have a simple priming system and excellent taps to isolate water in the pipes, while the filter is clean.

Hang On styles like the Aquaclear AquaOne and are also very good. They may provide the best value if your budget does not allow a metal box outside. Simplefill in the filter box with water and light. Water is pumped through the filter and gravity flows back into your tank.

Internal motorized filters like the crystal, RIO, and EIHEM are popular for smaller tanks or as a secondary filter for extra movement in a large bowl. Internals usually do not interfere with top glass or hoods. These can be subjected to one of your lightweight rocks.

Air Operated filtration is often not sufficient for cichlids. Highly recommended airbubbled into tanks of cichlids. Be sure to use a check valve so that water can not flow back into your pump if power goes off.

If you have a Cichlid Mansions or Amazon background from A + RR Inc you can conceal a lot of plumbing from view which makes for a very attractive set up.

Change the water

Although nitrate (residual waste) is relatively harmless, the levels will accumulate and become dangerous if regular partial water changes are not performed to dilute nitrates. Cichlids arebig fish that eats a lot, so nitrates accumulate quickly. PH is also pulled dangerously lower by organic waste accumulation. Therefore, no matter how good your filtration is, you still need to change the water regularly. We recommend a 1 / 3 – change the water every two weeks and a half to keep the pH above neutral and nitrates low.

The best tool to help with water changes is a Lee's Gravel Vacuum. They allow you to remove the dirtiestwater from all over the gravel and replace it with clean, treated tapwater. This task is easier to do a better job done if you have lightweight rocks and d├ęcor. We recommend you test pH and nitrate weekly to ensure your water changing maintenance is sufficient to maintain this balance. PH can be maintained with PH, but the only easy way to remove nitrate from water is changing.

An important tip when changing. Rinse the filter media in your old aquarium rather than under a tap, such as chlorine in tap water will kill the preciousantibacterial filter that live in the foam and other media. If you follow these procedures you should never have to break the tank down to clean it.


If you want to keep Cichlids you will need to heat them. A good guide is approximately 1 watt of heating per liter of water. Higher wattage heater than necessary is often a good choice because they can be used on larger aquariums. Place the heater in a back corner a 45 degree angle so that heat is notincrease directly on the thermostat. Make sure there is good water movement around the heating element is to ensure that the heating. Large cichlids can get quite boisterous, so a heater guard will stop your heater to be broken. We believe it is necessary to install a thermostat to control heating. The stick on types are the best, in our opinion as the suction cup type soon do not stick and require replacement.


Lighting is required to view your fish at night. Toachieve this it seems better to illuminate your tank from afternoon until bed, when people can more easily enjoy their tanks. Lighting left on all day will undoubtedly cause excessive algae problems. For best results with plants we recommend high intensity full spectrum light white. We like to use Aquastars, s Arcadia 'or Power Glo's.

The African Cichlid Tank

The African lake cichlids from the lakes of the Rift Malaqi, Tanganyika and Victoria have become a popular variety of fish forpeople who want dramatic color, size and movement in their tanks. African cichlids are very aggressive and fast moving and should be kept in tanks set up for a community of African cichlids.

Natural Habitat

African Cichlids inhabit the rocky shorelines of lakes in the Rift of Africa. The water of these lakes is quite hard and alkaline. large schools of fish graze algae from the rocky cliffs. Among the algae, small crustaceans which also constitute part of the diet ofAfrican cichlids.

The lake bottom is sandy. Innumerable caves formed between the boulders offer protection to small fish and brooding females. Check out the Cichlid mansion and Amazon range of backgrounds if you want realism and something special. Most species from Lake Malawi are mouth brooders and constitute a large percentage of species available in the hobby. A lot of the Tanganyikan species form pair bonds and protect their young lives, while others are also mouthincubators.

Rift Lake Water conditioning

To recreate the hard alkaline water required by these grim fish, shells or coral sand should be added to your gravel or used exclusively for the fund. African Rift Lake Sand is becoming popular, but can show up detritus badly. Good quality African Cichlid water conditioners, such as Seachem Rift Lake Salt and Buffers are a real advantage in creating the right water conditions.

There are many products that will remove bothchlorine and ammonia, but the value is better …. Amquel Instant water Detoxifier.

Setting up African Rift Lake Cichlids

As African cichlids come from rocky shoreline areas of lakes, we suggest that intricate rockwork form the basis of the set-up arranged to form an area with numerous caves. The rockwork should be predominantly built around the back and sides to leave a city amphitheater where all interactions and show place. A + RR Inc has a wide range of rocksthat are extremely attractive and offer plenty of hiding places. Plants are not essential for your African community tank because African Cichlids, being omnivorous, will eat the plants, except for one thing as Anubias. One possibility is to cut some holes in the rock barnacle, which allows the green to be seen but protects the base in the gravel from the fish. Plastic plants instead make a good addition.

Adding African Rift Lake Cichlids

Try to crowd your African cichlidswithout overloading the filter and change management. This stops individuals from becoming too dominant and harassing others.

For us it is better to start with small and medium-sized fish of several species in groups of four.

(4 Electric Blue, Electric Yellow 4, 4 venustus, 4 Red Empress)

Fishes of Lake Malawi, the most common species are zebra, Pindani, Lombardoi and others. People often start with these species because they are cheaper and show color while stillyoung people. Many hobbyists progress to the group a bit 'more expensive and spectacular' Haplochromis', as the electric blues, Red Empress and the Peacocks where only males have the most amazing color as they mature. Take Tanganyika fish are generally a bit 'more expensive and include some of the most sought after species like Frontosa, "Lanprologus and Trheus.

Feeding Africans

Power African Cichlids the right type of food is very important. African cichlids are extremelylong intestinal tracts, like omnivores, which means that foods (meat, worms etc.) will have much time to digest. unsuitable food will rot in the stomach causing bloating, sickness and sometimes death. For this reason foods with a high proportion of spirulina and vegetables are the best. Our favorite, HBH VEGE or Cichlid flakes and pellets are perfect. Super Bits are also eagerly taken but we do not like to feed Super Bits exclusively, but in combination with Spirulinabased foods. Frozen bloodworm and brine shrimp are also good for most species, but meats and live blackworm are definitely no-no.

The American Cichlid Tank

American Cichlids are larger growing and slower moving than their African cousins. They are also far more predatory and are happy with a protein than Africans. For these reasons it is advisable to keep American and African cichlids together. Of course there are always exceptions.

Natural Habitat

L 'natural habitat in Central and South American cichlids is quite different from that of Africans. Trunks and branches in general replace rocky outcrops still having a background that can provide secure safe havens are important. We feel darker gravel such as the Red Gravel blend suits reflective colors of Americans, compared to lighter substrates that form a breeding pair bond. Spawns can produce hundreds of fry, the parents seek to protect and nurture their babies instinctively.It is not unusual for a couple of fish to spawn in the community tank, although it is unlikely that parents will be able to protect children from the crowds. Most American cichlids were also into the hobby for much of Africa. Species like Oscars and Red Devils have become household names.

Water Conditioning

American Cichlids are quite tolerant of water conditions, but a pH close to neutral and low nitrates (regular water changes) provide a comfortable environment.Always treat new tap water well with XXXXXX XXXXX and as with all fish.

Set for American cichlids

abundant use of wood. Soak some rocks in the substrate structure and add higher … Do not worry about the color too much from new logs as this will become less with regular water changes. You could use the charred wood from A + RR Inc here as well. plastic plants attached to small crack rock will provide a touch of color. Of course you can use one of the Amazon or CichlidBackgrounds building that will create a great base for you to look into.

Adding American Cichlids

Try to create a variety of juvenile fish to grow together. This gives you much more compatible large fish when they grow up. Our favorite species are Oscars, Red Devils, Texas, Firemouths, Severums etc. Give them plenty of room to grow. People often ask, "What can I put with my large Oscar who has lived alone for a year?" If you put another single fish, there isany possibility that the new inhabitant will be killed. We suggest that it is better to trade in large fish and start with a community of smaller Americans.

Feeding the U.S.

cichlids Americans consume a wide variety of foods. HBH make a series of American specific cichlid foods. Advance the size of the pellets as your young fish grow. A wide variety of frozen foods are recommended in combination with live foods including feeder fish. They supply fish only as a pleasure, otherwisebecome fussy to accept prepared foods.

Dwarf Cichlids

The most popular dwarf cichlids are the Apistogramma and Microgeophagus (Rams) from South America and Pelvicachromis (kribensis) from the Congo river system in Africa. These dwarf cichlids are popular community fish that can spawn in a community tank and the exercise of parental care over their young if there is sufficient coverage. They prefer a good varied diet of frozen foods and live.


Discusesare a popular group of cichlids kept by enthusiasts all over the world. Many say Discus are the "king of fish". Discus are definitely a fish that require some experience, even though they may be kept in a community tank. The main requirement for keeping Discus is also a good water management and better food. Discuses seems to metabolize quickly and need to be fed often with high quality food prepared and frozen. The best are Tetra Bits with daily frozen food like Beef Heart and Liver andDiscus Dinner. Once Discus are feeding well they are competitive and Hardy.

Discus are usually happy in low nitrate water with pH slightly acidic and fresh water is very warm 29-32 degrees centigrade. Discus for reproduction, the fish should be well provided the best foods. The best range of water conditioners for Discus are the Seachem range of Discus buffer.

The major problem with Discus is their susceptibility to parasites like gill flakes as well as intestinal worms andflagellates. We recommend regular treatments for parasites with General Cure or Worm-Rid, especially after Discus are newly purchased or moved. Intestinal worms are best treated with Worm-Rid and flagellates with Octozin. A book is cheap, but very good is the Barron's Discus Fishes.

Enjoy the configuration of the tank and we love to receive your product photos from A + RR Inc (Aquarium + Reptile Rocks Inc).