10 Best Cichlids for Beginners

I assume that you already have some experience with keeping fish, as cichlids are not exactly for beginners. If you have recently started out, then there might still be a thing or two you need to learn. In that case, I recommend you to get a simple fish tank first and keep some Danios, Platies, Bettas or Swordtails.

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In the meanwhile, start learning about cichlids in general. If things go well, then you can start with a cichlid or two in a separate aquarium. Don’t get me wrong, it is not rocket science at all, but keeping a fish healthy is not always as straightforward.

The difficulty really depends on where they come from, their temperament, breeding habits and such. Nevertheless, I tried my best to compile a list of cichlids that are the easiest to take care of. Without further ado, let’s see what we have here!

1. Angelfish

The Angelfish has got its name thanks to its long upper and lower fins that almost look like wings. This species is further decorated with its two long bristles that nicely swing back and forth in the water. What I like the most about the Angelfish is that there are so many color varieties to choose from.

With this species, you can set up a community tank that flourishes in some wonderful colors. All you need to do is to ensure that they have enough space to swim and meet some basic needs. Although you could keep only one Angelfish, I still recommend keeping them in a school of 5 or 6.

Contrary to many other smaller cichlids, this species is not aggressive at all.

2. Bolivian Rams

Bolivian Rams can flourish in many different colors that are striking to the eye. What all of them have in common are the few black patches and stripes that decorate their body and upper fin. They are one of the smaller cichlids on the list and are also very easy to take care of.

The Bolivian Ram is basically the beginner’s German Ram, as the two have similarities. The difference is that the colors of the Bolivian one are not as vivid as of the German one. German Rams are also more sensitive to water conditions and require some extra attention.

The reason why I love this species so much is the way the male courts the female when the time comes to breed. I recommend watching them closely, as the male is going to rapidly shift up and down while moving its head back and forth.

3. Kribensis Cichlid

The sight of a Kribensis cichlid is simply breathtaking thanks to its wide variety of colors. On top of that, this fish is not demanding at all. I can only recommend you keeping this small cichlid species in your aquarium as a beginner.

The Kribensis prefers to live in small groups, which is a great reason to keep more than one of these gems in your fish tank. They are constantly on the move, preferring caves, plants and other decoration as temporary hiding spots.

Although they are easy to keep, breeding them is not so simple. If you aim for that, then I would recommend you to skip the Kribensis and go for a different cichlid. Breeding them would require you to specifically adjust the water conditions.

4. Parrot Cichlids

The Parrot Cichlid is really a mix of other cichlids that come from Central America. This artificially bred species is rather popular because of the unusual shape of its mouth, head and body overall. Besides the Blood Red variety, they are available in a wide range of other colors and are all oval in shape.

They prefer aquariums with a sandy substrate and hiding places such as caves, rocks or even plants. The color of Parrot cichlids is not as striking in their juvenile period but it always intensifies as they age. I think you are going to have a lot of fun with the Parrot as it is one of those species that are particularly responsive to people.

5. Firemouth Cichlids

With the Firemouth cichlid, you can bring some bright red color into your home aquarium. The red color runs at their bottom side, while they are mostly light blue above it with a few black patches. This species is absolutely beginner-friendly. They are not sensitive to water conditions and breeding them is really simple too.

I especially recommend the Firemouth for those who are looking for a cichlid that spawns at a slow pace. Their fry slowly populates the tank instead of popping out all at once. If you want to add tank mates, you need to avoid fish with a peaceful temperament.

The tank mates of the Firemouth have to be at least semi-aggressive central American cichlids, otherwise, they will be bullied. I also recommend matching their size, as it will reduce the risk of conflict in the aquarium.

6. Dwarf Cichlids

The Dwarf Cichlid is a great addition to any beginner aquarium with its bright yellow coloration. In my experience, keeping this tiny peaceful gem can be quite enjoyable. Once you have a few plants, rocks and caves in the aquarium, they are completely fine.

We are talking about a hardy species that basically has no specific needs. With a Dwarf Cichlid, your only job is to maintain ideal water conditions and clean the tank on a regular basis. They are also forgiving if you make a mistake because they can adapt to quite a wide range of water conditions.

7. Yellow Labs Cichlid

This little lemon-like beauty comes straight from Lake Malawi. The bright yellow color this fish brings to the aquarium is essential for any colorful community aquarium. You really can’t imagine such an innocent-looking fish to be aggressive and it really isn’t.

If you are looking for a cichlid that has no temperament issues whatsoever, then this is one I can absolutely recommend. It is an outstanding choice for beginners who are looking to establish a diverse community tank. Many other Malawi cichlids are great tank mates for this little beauty.

One thing to keep in mind is to keep a lot of females and only one male in the tank. Males tend to chase females a bit too much when it is breeding time so that’s why it’s better to keep more females.

8. Multies

The natural habitat of Multies in Lake Tanganyika, which is one of the African lakes where many other exciting cichlids come from. What makes this fish unique is the dense horizontal line pattern on its body. Multies fall into the category of the tiniest cichlids that come from that lake.

In the aquarium, the most important role of this fish is being a shell dweller. Shells are a huge part of their lives, as they provide a place for them to hide, live and breed at. Therefore, I recommend you getting some nice shells for this one as Multies always appreciate it.

9. Electric Blue Acara

The Electric Blue Acara has kind of a metallic color which will make it stand out in your aquarium. It is one of those cichlids that I think always looks better in person than on the photos. While it might look fancy, I’m sure that you will have no issues at all taking care of it at home.

Electric Blue Acaras are from Central America and they will be a rather peaceful addition to your fish tank. Even if this one is going to be the first fish you keep at home, it is going to be rather straightforward.

Don’t shy away from adding plants and various décor to your tank because this species needs to have plenty of places to hide at.

10. Oscar Fish

The Oscar fish is highly appreciated among both experienced fish keepers and beginners. With its interesting pattern and unusual colors, it often looks like a swimming football. Although the Oscar is the last fish on my list, I would risk saying that it is the most undemanding one.

Now, you are going to need a relatively big aquarium for an Oscar fish if you really want things to be easy. Then, it is going to require little to no effort from you to keep the water conditions stable. Fish keepers often compare them to puppies because they share a lot in common when it comes to behaviors.

In my opinion, the fact that they welcome you when you arrive home and their way of showing excitement is simply amazing.

Wrap Up

To be clear, there are surely other families of species that are easier to take care of than cichlids. I have compiled this list for those who have a clear interest in cichlids and have little to no experience in fish keeping. Although keeping them in a home aquarium might require you to do some research, it is definitely worth it.

At least it is going to be a bit of a challenge to take care of a few of these beauties. Believe me, it is going to feel awesome when you manage to meet all their needs and you watch them cheerfully swim around in the tank.

The best thing about cichlids besides the fact that they flourish in wonderful colors is that they are also interactive. Hopefully, this article has answered your question and you are going to end up with one or more cichlids that you are going to have a lot of fun keeping.

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