How to Set Up a Cichlids Fish Tank?

You may have always wanted to have cichlids swimming around in a particular corner in your living room, playing around with them, and feeding them.

The love for aquatic life us just the first step towards acquiring and ensuring the safety and survival of the fish. One of the most important things you need to do is set up a cichlid tank.

A cichlid tank is basically a container filled with a substantial amount of water, where the fish live. There is a lot that goes into making and setting up a cichlid tank. In essence, the process is not as simple as it sounds.

How to Set Up a Cichlid Fish Tank?

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How to Set Up a Cichlid Fish Tank?

I know, at this point, you may feel like giving up on having fish as pets, but do not; we have a solution. Here we will give you step by step guide on how to set up a cichlid tank and everything related to it.

Water Parameters and Tank Requirements

For you to successfully ensure the survival of your cichlids, there are specific requirements you need to fulfill. In this case, we will focus solely on your water and tank requirements.

First of all, the amount of water you intend to use depends mainly on the size of your cichlids. The tank you intend to use, on the other hand, depends on the number and size of cichlids you plan to put in the tank.

Water Requirements

Let us start with the water requirements. The most important thing you need to know is that cichlids are freshwater fish; therefore, the water you put in the tank should be fresh.

Placing the fish in salty water (water from the ocean/sea) could lead to a lot of issues and possibly kill them.

As earlier stated, the water you intend to use should be measured according to the size of the cichlids. Numerous formulas are available on the market that people use to determine the “right” amount.

A simple method you can use is adding two gallons of water to the tank for every inch of a fully grown cichlid you put.

Tank Requirements

The tank is supposed to handle every cichlid, and by handling, I mean that every cichlid should be able to feed, move, procreate and do other things freely without any problem.

That is why the size of your tank should be directly proportional to the number and size of cichlids you want to have in your home.

Equipment You Need For Cichlids Tank

It is vital to have a little background knowledge of cichlids, what type of environments they thrive in, the water requirements, the tank requirements, and an overall idea of what is going on.

Now here is where you get to acquire all the tools that will be used in setting up the tank, and they include;


There are different types of tanks, but the most common tanks are either made of glass or acrylic. Each of them comes with benefits and drawbacks. When you look at the glass tank, one of its advantages is that it is cheap to acquire.

Another advantage is that it is hard to scratch, meaning retain its appealing nature even after a long time. One advantage of using an acrylic tank is that it is very tough. Another advantage of using an acrylic tank is that it is much lighter than the glass tank.

A huge disadvantage of using a glass tank is that it is more expensive to purchase as compared to the acrylic tank. On the other hand, one significant problem of using an acrylic tank is that it scratches easily.

You can choose any tank you want in any size or shape. In this particular case, we are going to use a tank that measures 48.5 inches by 12.75 inches by 21 inches.

This type of tank is set to hold water of about 55 gallons. If this is what you wish to go by, make sure you make the appropriate calculations for the size and number of cichlids you want.


When you want to place fish in a tank, you need to ensure that there are filters to prevent any form of contamination from occurring.

There are three types of filters, each of which plays a vital role in the tank.

  • Biological– they decompose ammonia produced as water by the fish.
  • Mechanical– they trap particles like uneaten food so that they can be removed from the tank easily.
  • Chemical– they remove substances like ammonia, heavy metals, and dissolved organics through adsorption (chemistry).


For the decent living of the fish, you need a heater in the tank. Having a heater ensures that the temperature of the water in the tank remains steady throughout the year.


Cichlids are known to be colorful fish. Therefore, you need to have a light in the tank so that highlights and show off the colors.

Having light in the tank also provides energy for the plants in the tank to photosynthesize.


The fact that you have a fish tank in your house does not mean it should just be a container for the fish to swim in. You can enhance its overall outlook and make its spice up your place.

One of the ways of doing so is having cichlid tank decors. Decors, in this case, can include a wide range of things, from plastic anchors to little pebbles and plastic castles.


In cichlid tanks, the substrate refers to the material that is placed at the bottom part of the tank. Be careful to choose the right materials, as substrates affect filtration and the well-being of the cichlids.

Setting up the Fish Tank

After you have acquired the proper equipment and have everything in order, you can proceed to set up the tank. Here is how you will do it:

Find a Location

Where you place, the cichlid tank plays a vital role in determining whether or not your fish survives. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that fish tanks should not be placed in an area that is exposed to direct sunlight.

Make sure that it is near a power supply as many of the functions are controlled using electricity.

Set Up the Equipment

Once you have found an appropriate location for your cichlid tank, you need to start adding the components, setting up the equipment and make sure everything is in order.

The first thing you need to do is add the substrate and make sure you set it up properly. After adding the substrate, you can fill up the tank with water.

Once the tank is full of water, you can install the entire set up. The setup, in this case, includes the lighting, filters, heater, and every other necessity. After that, add decorations into the tank.

Cycle the Aquarium

After you have finished setting up the tank, you need to be patient and wait until the tank is cycled before adding any cichlid.  This process is known as the Nitrogen Cycle. So what does cycling mean?

Cycling is a process that allows bacteria to build up in the tank’s biological filter. The process is critical and cannot be overlooked as it is essential for the health of the fish you will place in the tank.

There are two main ways of cycling, and the choice you go for depends on the type of water you are using. Since we are using freshwater, we are going to use ammonia. You can get ammonia at any pet store. Follow the instructions on the bottle, and you are good to go.

There may be instances where you may need to hasten the process, and there are two effective ways of doing so. One, you can speed up this cycle is by increasing the temperature of the water in the tank. You can also use an air pump to increase oxygen levels.

Add Fish

I know this is probably the most exciting part of this entire process, and the one stage you have been waiting for all this time. When adding the fish, you need to do this slowly and over time.

You need to look at your tank and introduce fish in there, depending on its size. You can start by adding cichlids of one-inch and below per every 10 gallons.

You can continue that way until you have paced all the fish in the tank.


Cichlids are lovely fish to have in your home. Although this is an exciting thing, before getting there requires a lot of preparation.  The first thing you need to understand is that cichlids are freshwater fish.

Therefore, one of the essential water requirements is that you use only freshwater in the tank. When you are talking about tank requirements, you need to make sure that it matches with the sizes of the cichlids and the number you wish to put.

With that in mind, you need to know the equipment you will use in the cichlid tank. In this case, you will need a heater, lighting, substrate, filtrate, décor, and the actual tank/container.

After you have everything in your hand, you just find a proper location and set up the equipment. Everything should be placed appropriately, each of them serving the work it is supposed to.

Thereafter, you cycle the tank and then add the fish slowly over some time.

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