The Ideal Aquarium for African Cichlids

Getting the ideal size aquarium for your African Cichlid is not enough. You also need to consider how its natural environment should be. If you’ll answer yes to the following questions listed below, I’m certain your cichlids will grow healthy and free of any illness.

Does the water have a pH of 7.6 – 8.0?

Does the water have a hardness of 300 – 400 ppm?

Does the carbonate level have a hardness of 120 – 300 ppm?

Does the water have a temperature of 25 – 27 degrees in celsius?

Does the aquarium contain biological filtration for the prevention of ammonia?

Does the aquarium have sufficient water circulation ensuring oxygen saturation?

Is the use of airstone adequate to get rid of carbon dioxide?

Does changing water minimizes the build up of nitrates?

Certain materials in affordable prices can now be bought in local fish stores to help you determine whether your tank is a real haven for African Cichlids whether they are breeding or not.

Am I Ready for African Cichlids?

African Cichlids are popularly known for its extroverted personalities and pleasing appearances. You can immediately say “This is the fish for me, This is for me!” However, it’s not enough to say those words. It’s not enough to just pet any of these type of fishes considering there are certain considerations you need to get use to. First, you must have a room for an appropriate size aquarium. African Cichlids should be kept in a large aquarium that has plenty of rocks, substrates and hiding places, especially for spawning. The water quality, water temperature and the pH level should be consistently stable. The temperature of the water should not be up or down with this range: 72 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Second, ask yourself if African Cichlids are the most compatible fishes to your other aquarium inhabitants. One of the unique qualities of African Cichlids is its ability to recognize its mates and its owner. You can never fool them by just putting any type of fish inside their territory. They are not the type of fishes who easily make friends. Once they are uncomfortable with their mates, there is a constant competition of superiority.

Third, you must have a long-term commitment to providing proper care. As the owner, it’s your obligation to take care of these fishes. Create a schedule as to when you’re going to clean its aquarium’s filter, when to change the water and when to introduce them to new fishes.

Lastly, you must be a mature person who can provide primary care for the fish at all times. Of course, expect a lot of health issues every now and then. Once you recognize loss of color, loss of appetite, erratic swimming pattern and frayed fins, don’t second-guess it – it means they are ill. Improve the quality of water immediately or quarantine them until they are healed. Also, call a local fish doctor whenever you can.

The Art of Aquascaping Principle #11 – Maintenance

Aquascaping is completely a different field from maintaining your aquarium. Yet, it’s hard to achieve the fish kingdom you dream of if you’re not aware of the maintenance tips.

There are maintenance routines you should be doing daily, once a week and once a month. I bought my very first aquarium when I was twelve years old and my cousin quickly shared to me the four general maintenance tips.

First General Rule:
Never change about forty percent of the water aquarium at the same time.

Second General Rule: Never empty an aquarium while cleaning. This technique causes biological disturbances in the aquarium. Instead, change only half of your filter media.

Third General Rule: Never use detergent soaps when cleaning. Research what’s the best way to clean your aquarium without using those highly-poisonous soaps.

Fourth General Rule: Limit the times you put your hands inside the aquarium. The hands contain oils and it causes stress in fish.

Daily Maintenance Tips:

1) Perform a quick check on the cichlids. Make sure there no unusual patterns in their behavior.
2) Check the water’s temperature, the heater, the filter and the lighting.
3) Remove any dead fishes, plants and debris.

Weekly Maintenance Tips:

1) Perform a water change of about 5 – 10%.
2) Clean the lights.
3) Eliminate algae buildup.

Monthly Maintenance Tips:

1) Buy supplies (food, water conditioners, stones, etc)

The Art of Aquascaping Principle #10 – Fishes

The tenth principle in aquascaping involves fishes. Since this website is about African Cichlids, let’s talk about them.

These cichlids from the three largest lakes in Africa are well-known for their aggressive behavior. The males, especially, love to chase the opposite sex and they also love to dig.

This is simply a disaster, right?

To avoid this type of situation, better study how your cichlids behave. Read a book about them and watch a number of instructional videos before figuring out how you must design your aquarium.

You must only choose the right type of African Cichlid to buy. Start with only a few and small ones. Add new fishes in the coming weeks before deciding to have a community.

The Art of Aquascaping Principle #9 – The Leaves & the Color

The type of plants you put inside your aquarium affects its overall feel. You must not consider buying whatever plants are available in the fish store. You must also know what plants are compatible with African Cichlids. Also choose those that create more depth and add more openness.

For example, only buy plants with small leaves if the size of your tank is too big. Smaller leaves, as many fish hobbyists say, look bigger in big tanks.

The color of the plants plays a vital role. You must choose a plant that gives contrast from the rest of the elements. The color red is a stand out and it can be your focal point. People can immediately recognize it and will not anymore question your style in aquascaping.

A stone can also be a good focal point but it creates too much tension. As you look at your aquarium, you’ll easily recognize your eyes start to wander from one focal point to the other.

The Art of Aquascaping Principle #8 – Planting Order

To achieve the symmetry and balance of a cichlid aquarium, you must first plant your focal point before the lowgrowers, midgrowers and highgrowers plants.

You must learn how to plant densely. Aquatic species such as M. Umbrosum, Rotala Indica and Mayaca Sellowiana can easily be trimmed when they are close together.

During the initial stage, it is considered a wise strategy to cut only the tops and just replant the cuttings between the old plants. You just need to leave the rooted parts in the substrate for easy propagation. Expect new buds in a short time.

The Art of Aquascaping Principle #7 – Foreground, Midground, Background

Different plants must be planted in different areas of the aquarium. An expert once told me the foreground plants are being raised by circulating it into the short green carpet where there is enough space and time. They are called foreground plants because they are planted near the front of your aquarium. Anyone can easily recognize them despite of its slim and slight height. Examples of forground plants are Eichhornea Azurea, Glossostigma, Chain Sword, Spiral Val, Vallisneria, Hair Grass, Banna Lilies, Java Moss, Lilaeopsis, Anubius and Eriocaulon Setaceum.

Bachground plants are regularly stem plants. These aquatic species can easily be reproduced by way of cutting the substrate and have the potential to grow tall especially in good conditions. Examples of background plants are Java Fern, Foxtail, Vallisneria, Hydrilla, Baby Tears, Najas Grass, Wisteria, Dragon Flame, Bacopa, Tonina and Ludwigia.

Midground plants are called as such because they complete the visual transition from foreground to background. These plants are widely known for their large size and decorative foliage. Some background plants can be good midground plants but you must make sure they are regular pruned. Examples of miground plants are Banana Lilies, Java Moss, Flame Moss, Red Tiger Lotus, Amazon Sword, Anubius, Rotala Wallichii and Aponogeton Crispus.

Just make sure whatever plants you choose, these must be compatible with your African Cichlids. Cichlids from the three major lakes of Africa are freshwater fishes, therefore, only choose freshwater plants.