If you are looking to add some color to your tropical freshwater tank, African cichlids may be the perfect solution for your home. They are greatly available fish and feature individualistic temperaments.
On top of that, they are quite the hardy pets once you manage to get their basic environmental requirements up and running.
There are so many different types for you to choose from (around 500), so this is probably the hardest task you will face during the adoption process. To ease that on you, we have already selected the 10 most suitable.
1. Electric Yellow Cichlid
Also known as the yellow lab, this is one of the most popular choices in modern aquariums. As their name suggests itself, these fish feature striking yellow coloration and they definitely add some happy dose of sunshine to any tank.
They are quite small and never grow more than 6 inches in body size, and they are one of the shyest African cichlids species. Still, with plenty of hiding rocks and great water conditions, they can develop a territorial behavior over time. Therefore, the best is not to match this sort with other fish in similar colors.
Electric yellow labs are omnivorous, meaning that you should provide them both with tasty meaty treats as well as with greens. If you are looking to breed these amazing creatures, keep in mind that the females are mouthbrooders and require peace and quiet while brooding.
2. Electric Blue Cichlid
Keeping the electric feeling, this is an amazing variation for those who are looking to add some royal color to their tank. When compared to their yellow relatives, electric blue cichlids tend to grow to a somehow larger size and can sometimes measure up to 8 inches in length.
Therefore, a larger size will be required for this species. If you are looking to form a well-functioning group ideal for breeding, a 70-gallon tank should be enough to house around 7 females and a male.
This amazingly looking species is also omnivorous, but they seem to prefer live meaty snacks such as bloodworms or brine shrimp.
Additionally, they really like re-decorating tanks by uprooting the plants, so keep that in mind when it comes to the substrate type as well as the type of plants you wish to house in their tank.
Their females are too mouthbrooders, but fry does not come back after hatching if there is a danger in their vicinity.
3. Auratus Cichlid
The golden version of African cichlids is a dreamy addition to any tank, if you have the space. Even though this species is quite small and does not grow over 4 or 6 inches in length, they are extremely active and territorial, so require many gallons to thrive.
If you plan on keeping one male, 75 gallons should be more than enough. However, if you wish to add just one more male specimen, a 125-gallon home will be required.
These fairly active golden fish with amazingly bold black stripes are omnivorous by nature, but they actually prefer feeding on plant materials and low protein intakes.
Also, they are big fans of zooplankton meals. Spirulina is probably going to be your main feeding source for these amazing creatures, as this helps them greatly in maintaining their vivid colors.
4. Venustus Cichlid
This is a highly elegant and fairly large species and, depending on the sex of the fish you choose, you may be facing an amazing combination of vivid blue and yellow. They can grow up to 10 inches and require therefore a minimum tank size of 75 gallons.
Moreover, they need somehow higher water pH levels, so their substrate should be based on aragonite to maintain the needed alkalinity.
As most other cichlids, these are also omnivorous, but they really enjoy getting their daily dose of meat. You may also feed them on smaller fish occasionally.
5. Bumblebee Cichlid
Not the transformer you expect, but still a fascinating black and yellow addition to your tank. These peculiar cichlids feature a golden base coloration with some amazing brown or black horizontal stripes.
They can grow up to 6 inches and function best in combinations of one male with several females around. If you obtain a functional group, you may also add some other African cichlids at some point, as they make one of the most suitable options for community tanks (as long as you avoid same-colored fish).
These spectacular fish are omnivorous, and they love feeding equally on meat and plants. Therefore, choosing their meals will be a fun task.
Furthermore, they descend from super-deep parts of African lakes, so they need to have somehow higher pH values during their life in captivity, too. Ideally, these would be between 7,8 to 8,6.
6. Frontosa Cichlid
For all the cichlid lovers out there, here comes a fairly typical cichlid fish, with amazingly colored vertical stripes all over their bodies. They feature the well-known cichlid’s bump at the front head, and they are the biggest fish from our list so far.
Indeed, these beauties can grow up to even 12 inches. They also make a merely expensive choice, but these fascinating creatures can stick around your family for even 20 years.
They are strictly carnivorous and make one of the most amazing parents ever. The mothers, after mouthbrooding their eggs for almost a month, will regularly take care and protect their fry until they are grown.
7. Jewel Cichlid
Red is the ultimate love color, and who would not like to have some more around their home? These beauties can certainly brighten your days, not just thanks to their vivid colors but also to their extreme activity levels.
Indeed, this usually requires a larger tank, but also offers many fun moments while observing them doing their own thing.
These creatures do not tend to grow over 6 inches in captivity, but they are one of the most aggressive options available.
Therefore, lots of space and plenty of rocks are needed to avoid overly territorial behavior. They are omnivorous and not picky eaters.
8. Blue Dolphin Cichlid
Another cichlid typically resembling to the remaining family members is available in a magnificent blue color. This particular head-hump species can grow up to 8 inches or even more, so it does require massive tanks.
If you are looking to keep a group of a male and several females, as recommended, you will need a tank of at least 125 gallons.
These fish are essentially carnivorous, meaning that often live treats such as earthworms or prawns are necessary.
However, that means that you are welcome to plant all the greenery you wish to, as long as you do not plant them directly in the substrate. Blue dolphin cichlids will uproot them, but not eat them.
9. White Spotted Cichlid
When juveniles, these fish present a dark base color with tiny white spots all over their body. As they grow up, however, you will feel as having a completely new fish around your tank. Therefore, boredom is an unknown word with these guys.
They feed both on meat and plants, but their specialty is scratching plant matter from the rocky surfaces, as well as gathering zooplankton. They are fairly small and never exceed 5 inches in length.
10. Zebra Shell Dweller
Last but not least, here is a super-small African cichlid, and the only one from our list which can actually be safely placed into such small tanks as 10 gallons (for a pair).
They grow to a maximum size of 2 inches, they feature bold temperaments, and they feed on protein only.
As their name suggests, you should provide your zebra shell dwellers with plenty of empty shells.
Our list of the most pet-suitable types of African cichlids has come to an end. We hope you have managed to find the ideal one for your home, and we are sure that you will fall in love with these amazing aquatic creatures.