Most cichlids come from Africa, but they are also found in Central and South America. They are found in many different kinds of waters, such as rivers, lakes and ponds. There are many different cichlid species and many different color variations.
In your cichlid tank, you must provide places for them to hide, such as large pieces of driftwood or rock caves. If you have a large species of cichlids, it is best not to put plants in their aquarium because they tend to dig up substrate materials. Other species, like the angelfish and discus prefer a planted tank.
Most cichlids like to be in water temperatures in the mid seventies. The Discus species prefers slightly higher temperatures. The staple food of your cichlid’s diet should be a large flake food, but you should also feed many different types of live and frozen foods. It’s good to have variety in their diet. If you have a large cichlid, it can even be fed earthworms and crickets.
Cichlids are very territorial which makes them aggressive. You must watch out for this aggression. If you have a mating pair, the male will usually drive away the female after mating. There needs to be somewhere for her to hide or else she can be killed. Because they are so aggressive, you should only keep them with other large fish that can stand up against them.
If you carefully select the fish, cichlids can be kept in a community tank. Dwarf cichlids work extremely well for this. They can be kept together pretty easily with schooling fish like Characins. If you keep cichlids in a tank together just make sure there is enough room for them to claim their own territory.
Large cichlids should only be kept with fish of the same size and temperament as themselves. Do not keep any large cichlid with a small fish because they will probably make them a meal.
If you decide to breed cichlids, you need to realize that there are two different types of breeders. Substrate brooders lay eggs out in the open on a surface or hidden in a cavity. They will fan the eggs to increase oxygen supply and after they hatch, the fish will look after the young until they are eating on their own and free swimming. After that, the parents will still protect the young against predators. The parents will be extremely aggressive during this time.
The other type of breeder is called a mouthbrooder. They put the eggs and larvae in their mouths. They keep them in their mouths until the young are free swimming. Most mouthbrooders stop looking after the young once they are free swimming, but others do continue to care for them by letting them go back into their mouths when there is danger.
Cichlids are really fun fish to own. There are so many different kinds of cichlids and some of the colors are truly stunning. Before you get cichlids, just try to do as much research about them as you can.