Are African Cichlids Tropical Fish?

African cichlids are native to Africa’s rivers and lakes, where the water temperature is always elevated. African cichlids are tropical fish and thrive in warm water temperatures.

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In this article, we will dive into the definition of tropical fish and what are the requirements for African cichlids in particular. So if you want to keep your African cichlids healthy and happy and want to make them live a long life, continue reading.

What Are Tropical Fish?

The tropics or tropical regions, tropical belt, the tropical zone is the geographical area extending from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Cancer. The equator runs through the middle of the tropical zone.

The designation is not a taxonomic classification, but rather a general designation for fish that live in tropical waters around the world, both in captivity and in their natural habitat. The designation is usually used to describe the warm temperature of the water.

Currently, there are three distinct categories of tropical fish: freshwater, saltwater and aquarium.

The most common is the freshwater variety, both in the wild and in the aquarium. This is mainly because freshwater provides them with an easier lifestyle and better reproductive support. These specimens have now mastered the art of artificial reproduction, while their marine counterparts have found it very difficult to do so.

In most cases, they do not manage to do this, and the specimens to be placed in the aquarium are collected from their natural habitat, but this results in them being much more expensive and harder to obtain than their freshwater counterparts.

This is one of the reasons why in aquariums, freshwater tropical fish are generally preferred. Also, we need to mention that tap water is more easily available to fill the tank than saltwater and its production.

To achieve the right temperature in aquariums, water heating is necessary to support these fish species.

Tropical fish are also often known for their special colorful, spectacular appearance, which is due to their pigmented and iridescent cells.

Are African Cichlids Tropical Fish?

They are mainly found in freshwaters of tropical areas. They are characterized by a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes, although all are characterized by a strong body shape. Some can even grow too large for the average pool size.

Almost all individuals have the ability to change their coloring and patterning rapidly and to a large extent depending on age, environment or state of excitement. It is also very common for them to have a typical coloration in certain conditions.

Although most of them do not have special requirements as regards water composition, some dwarf forms prefer soft water. However, they prefer temperatures between 74-82°F for their daily habits. With this in mind, they should be classified as tropical fish.

Where do African Cichlids Live?

In their natural habitat, they are found in Central and South America, Africa, Asia and parts of the United States. They are mostly found in tropical and subtropical areas. They occur in freshwater as well as brackish water.

Can African Cichlids Live in Cold Water?

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Although some individuals can survive in normal temperatures, cold water will lead to poor long-term outcomes.

But what is normal? And what is still livable for them?

It is important to be aware of these numbers before deciding to keep these fish.

As mentioned above, the required temperature for these specimens is 74 – 82 °F. Once the temperature drops outside of this range for an extended period, signs will be observed very quickly in our pets.

They will begin to become stressed and their metabolism will gradually slow down. One of the main signs of this is that they become inactive as if they have forgotten how to swim properly.

Next, their immune systems start to weaken, making them susceptible to a range of diseases that can quickly lead to their imminent, unexpected death.

In addition, the right temperature also affects their behavior. Specimens living in colder than usual water often exhibit more aggressive behavior, with a high chance to resulting in the death of their mates.

It is therefore very important to always try to maintain the right water temperature for them. This does not mean, of course, that you should be nervous during a power cut, but remember to monitor your fish and turn your water heater and water filtration back on as soon as you can.

A brief heat flashback, although it may cause some stress, is unlikely to cause them any serious problems.

Can You Put African Cichlids in a Tropical Community Tank?

Although their aggressive behavior has led to a widespread belief in public hydrology that they are unable to co-exist peacefully with other fishes, this is not true. They are very social creatures.

And their socialization is not limited to their own species. It is safe to mix your African Cichlids with other tropical individuals, as long as your tank is of a suitable size and you ensure that the other group is predominant.

This is necessary to protect the smaller tropical fish from African Cichlids grouping together and attacking and displacing other individuals from their territories in gangs.

Of all the African Cichlids, the South American individuals are the least prone to violence, so they are the ones to consider when thinking about a community tank.

However, it should be remembered that these fish will eat anything they can fit in their mouths, so it is important to only associate them with species that are similar in size and lifestyle.


So we can conclude that, because of their origin and lifestyle, African cichlids are indeed tropical fish. However, this should not discourage anyone from keeping them.

With a little care and preparation, these beautiful, brightly colored creatures can easily become a showy treasure in your aquarium.

Be careful and take due care. Follow all instructions and be patient. This is how we can ensure that we have our little tropical wildlife in the comfort of our homes.

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