Cichlids are probably the most numerous fish family on the planet, with more than 1500 species fully discovered until now, and several others still waiting to being fully defined. And the African versions of cichlids are certainly the most colorful of them all.

Therefore, a mesmerizing addition to any private aquarium. Additionally, these peculiar fish are mostly rock dwellers, meaning that they require lots of rocky openings around their tanks. And, consequentially, constructing such castles makes tanks resemble to little crafts of art.

All in all, these fish make a highly wanted option among modern aquarists. If you are looking to join the club, you will first have to setup a proper home to your newest pets. To help you out, here comes the complete guide on African cichlids tank size requirements.

Minimum Tank Size

There are different species of African cichlids available, and they are all quite popular in the aquarium hobby. Larger species obviously require larger tanks, too. However, if we want to define a very minimum size for a starting tank, this should be at least 30 gallons.

An electric yellow cichlid usually never exceeds 3 inches of body length, so it should be quite happy inside a 30-gallon tank. But with every next specimen you add to such tank, more water should be provided.

Ideal Tank Size

Non-depending on the size of the African cichlid fish you wish to take care of you should aim to start with a 55-gallon tank whenever possible. Especially if you are an inexperienced keeper. Tanks of such size can allow a larger water volume.

Consequentially, this ensures that you can keep the water parameters across your tank much more stable. And the bigger the tank is, the easier will it be to keep it constant.

Adding to that, larger tanks offer a better basic predisposition for ensuring a peaceful living area for your fish. More space means more freedom, but also more safe hiding spots around the tank.

As a consequence, fish can feel unstressed and safe, and this should ultimately bring to a harmonic environment.

How Many African Cichlids in a 55-Gallon Tank?

Now that you have found the ideal size for your tank, it is necessary to calculate how many African cichlids can you actually keep in there. Well, this depends a lot on the species you wish to adopt, but as a general observation we could state that a group of around 15 fish should fit into a 55-gallon tank.

If we consider the size of yellow lab cichlids, which is a maximum of 3 inches during their adult phase, a 55-gallon tank should present a more than a comfortable home for 15 fish.

However, if you wish to adopt larger species such as giraffe cichlids, which are one of the largest types available and can grow to a fairly big size of either 10 or 11 inches, you will definitely need a much larger tank in order to being able to house a group of 15 fish.

As a universal rule, you should be adding around 3 gallons of water volume for each smaller sized African cichlid you wish to amplify your collection with.

Can You Keep African Cichlids in 10 Gallon-Tanks?

Aquarium tanks which can hold up to 10 gallons of water are fairly small, and they should only be used to provide home to extremely tiny fish species, or single specimens.

When it comes to African cichlids, a 10-gallon tank is certainly not a suitable home, as it allows not enough space but also because waste particles released by your fish can cause serious ammonia and nitrite spikes without allowing you the time to stop them. Larger tanks are by far a better option to house these colorful fish.

You may use your spare 10-gallon tank to provide a temporary home to your fish fry, that is for sure. Additionally, you can use it as an occasional isolation tank for situations when some of your fish become sick. But as a permanent home, not really.

Filtration is Key

A good filtration system is key to a healthy group of fish, and especially when it comes to cichlids. Indeed, these particular fish are well-known for producing quite a lot of waste, so processing their water at least 3 times in 1 hour is vitally important.

It is suggestable to always allow some extra power to your cichlid filter. For instance, if the manufacturer swears that its filter is suitable for 55 gallons, try going a step above and purchasing one which is suitable for 70- or even 100-gallon tanks.

This will ensure that your tank water is processed fast enough and there are no parameter oscillations.

The filter choice is up to you, but it is required to use both a biological filter media and a mechanical filter media, preferably in a combo variation to maximize the benefits.

And finally, if you are not sure what kind of filter would suit your African cichlid tank, our verified suggestion is the Fluval 07 Series Performance Canister Filter.

Canister products like these are incredibly powerful and of excellent quality, but simultaneously not presenting too much of an investment for your household and being the fairly smart energy savers.

They are strong enough to suit most common sizes of tanks, and they will definitely do their job greatly, leaving you more time to actually enjoy observing your African cichlid pets.

Wrapping Up

If you are tired of dull and uniform aquariums and wish to add some greatly vivid coloration inside your mini eco-system, African cichlids are an amazingly simple way of obtaining that.

They have great looks, and they are quite the hardy pets once you get to know them. And, on top of that, their exigence of having rock implantations towards the tank bottom will certainly make you decorate their home in a fantastic way.

In order to provide your colorful pets a large and clean enough environment, tank size is vital, so please do not disregard the importance of ensuring them a fair aquarium.

Written by Fabian

Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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