The african cichlid is one of the most satisfying fish to keep for a number of reasons. Obviously, the colors are the main attraction but also the sleek shape is most pleasing to the eye. Another reason they're so pleasurable to keep is the variety of cichlid fish that are available.
Actually, these fish come from many regions of the world, not just Africa, though it's the main country of course. The African varieties come from several of the lakes including: Lake Malawi; Lake Victoria; Lake Tanganyika. There are also varieties from Central and South America and Asia.
Here's a youtube video of my cichlid tank which has mbuna's (algae-grazing cichlid) of which my favorite is the Electric Yellow (Labidochromis caeruleus)...
Other cichlid fish in the tank are the Labidochromis sp. "Hongi" (hiding at the back) and the Labidochromis pallidus.
The water conditions vary for the many types of cichlid though most African types prefer slighlty alkaline, hard water conditions which most resemble their natural habitat. Similarly, they like the water temperature to be between 75 - 85 degrees.
It is said it is best not to mix cichlids from different lakes with the exception of Lake Malawi and Lake Victoria as the ph level requirements can be too different.
Although "overcrowding" can be used as a technique to stop your African Cichlids from becoming too aggressive, it is a general rule of thumb to keep about one adult fish (approximately 5" in size) for every 5 gallons of water. If you go beyond this you need to consider more carefully your filtration and water change schedules.
Did you know that cichlids can grow up to 20 cm? That's quite big, and now you can see why a tank can become very congested in short time! If you look after their environment a cichlid can live to be 20 years old. But you have to be switched on in terms of looking after their environment. But don't you agree, they deserve it?!
You can see some great examples of many type of
african cichlid here...
The cichlid is often regarded as a more "highly evolved" fish than many other fish types because it demonstrates a high degree of parental care for its young when breeding. Cichlids breed in a variety of ways but many of the African types are "mouth-brooders". They also require different food sources as cichlids range from vegetarian to omnivore to carnivore. Most manufacturers produce pellet food (both sinking and floating) which caters for the peculiar needs of some types of cichlid.