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3 Factors for Choosing the Right Cichlid for You

Blake B

Posted on March 30 2018

So, you’re thinking about getting a cichlid, but you know very little about them, and find yourself asking, “What’s the right cichlid for me?

As you may have already guessed, the answer to your question is not as simple as choosing the one with the prettiest colors. You’ll need to keep several variables in mind, when you make your decision.

We at RiftCichlids are obsessed with these fascinating and gorgeous fish, which is why we are happy to help you make the most informed decision possible.

Budget & Aquarium Size

Budget will be a primary concern for anyone considering a cichlid, especially if you’re a first-time owner. You have to consider your budget not just for the fish, but also what size of aquarium it requires.

Some cichlids, particularly the larger ones, require larger aquariums, and the bigger your aquarium gets, the more equipment and maintenance is required.

If you’re looking for a budget option, go for a cichlid that can live in a smaller tank. This can be a great way to get started, and then if you wish to upgrade to a larger aquarium later, you can certainly do so.

If you already have an aquarium, then you already know you just have to find a fish that is right for this environment.

Qualities of Cichlid Species

You also should consider what it is you’re looking for in your cichlid. For instance, do you favor a certain aesthetic quality, or do you foresee taking more pride in the rarity of your breed? Perhaps you are interested in their behavior and personality? Most likely, it will be some combination of these things, which means you’ll want to do some thorough reading about the type of cichlid you’re considering.

Try researching the eight subfamilies of cichlids, as a starting point. Learning first about the larger categories of cichlids can help you narrow down your options.  

Another extremely important consideration is temperament, and compatibility with other fish. If you get an aggressive cichlid, and put it in an aquarium with other cichlids or other fish, you may have a problem on your hands.

The last thing you want is to invest in an exotic fish, only to have it eaten or killed by an aggressive cichlid. It’s important to determine that your cichlid’s temperament matches the situation you’ll be placing them into.

Needs and Requirements

Some cichlids do have more stringent requirements for their water than others. Many also simply can’t live with other fish, even other cichlids, because of their behavioral tendencies, different water requirements, or differing diets.

If you don’t have the ability to pay close attention to your cichlid’s water parameters, maintain them, and respond if they should vary for any reason (such as a power outage), then you aren’t going to want one of the more delicate types.

If you have your cichlid in a tank with other fish which don’t eat the same type of food, it will be impossible to feed one without the other eating that food, and then possibly suffering ill health because of it. Therefore, your cichlid must have the same type of diet as any other fish that are in the aquarium.

Hopefully, this provides you with a good starting point for finding the right cichlid for you. It all ultimately comes down to research, and taking every variable into consideration. If you can do that, you’ll soon be ready to purchase a cichlid that uniquely fits your needs and interests.

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