The Fish Guru

Creating a Harmony: Keeping African Cichlids with Other Fish

African Cichlids are some of the most popular fish breeds for avid aquarists. With their colorful appearance and dynamic personalities, they add vibrancy and excitement to any tank.

The unique characteristic of these fish is that they can be quite aggressive, which puts them in a different category from other types of fish. This means that finding suitable tank mates and setting up the perfect environment becomes more crucial than ever.

In this article, we’ll explore two essential components of maintaining an African cichlid tank: Suitable Tank Mates and Tank Setup. Both of these elements are essential to the well-being of your fish and will shape their growth and behavior.

Suitable Tank Mates for African Cichlid Species

1.1: Red Tail Shark

The Red Tail Shark is an excellent choice for African Cichlid tanks as they are very territorial and can stand up against any aggressive behavior displayed by the cichlids. They enjoy hiding in caves, so ensure that you have plenty of hiding spots by using rocks and driftwood to create these areas.

Red tail sharks are easy to care for and appreciate warmer water temperatures ranging from 72F to 82F.

1.2: African Red-Eyed Tetra

The African red-eyed tetra is a peaceful community fish that can coexist with African Cichlids.

They are known for their ornamental appearance, and their preferred water parameters include an alkaline pH ranging from 7.0 to 8.2. These tetras enjoy feeding on live and frozen foods, but they will also eat plant matter. 1.3: Clown Loaches

Clown Loaches are easy-going bottom-feeders that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.

They enjoy mingling with other fish, which makes them perfect for a community tank setup. However, if given the right aquarium conditions, they can thrive perfectly in an African Cichlid tank.

Clown loaches are prone to disease, so ensure that they have plenty of hiding spots and the tank is kept clean. 1.4: Siamese Algae Eater

The Siamese Algae Eater is a peaceful fish that enjoys roaming curiously in the bottom of the tank.

They are excellent at controlling algae growth, which happens to be a significant concern for African Cichlid tanks. Siamese Algae Eaters require a balanced diet that includes algae and vegetable matter, but they also appreciate the occasional protein diet.

1.5: Flying Fox Fish

The Flying Fox Fish is another bottom feeder that works well in African Cichlid tanks. These fish are peaceful and appreciate plenty of hiding spots, so ensure that you incorporate rocks and plants into the setup.

Their diet should include both plant and protein matter, and they require stable water parameters. 1.6: Giant Danios

Giant Danios are strikingly beautiful and also thrive in community fish tanks.

They come in different sizes, which makes them perfect for African Cichlid tanks. Giant Danios can be active fish, so ensure that you have enough space in the tank to accommodate their fast-paced swimming.

They also require a varied diet that includes plenty of protein. 1.7: Synodontis Catfish

Synodontis Catfish are African Cichlid companions that are peaceful, hardy, and add an exciting touch to your tank.

These bottom dwellers appreciate hiding spots and a mix of fine sand and rocks to create the ideal tank environment. They are also known to have a pest control effect as they feed on other parasites like snails and worms.

1.8: Rainbow Fish

Rainbow Fish is a hardy breed that can survive in a wide range of water conditions. They enjoy swimming in the top and middle sections of the tank and require plenty of open space.

These fish enjoy feeding on a mix of live, frozen, and vitamin-fortified foods. They also appreciate a plant-heavy environment to thrive.

1.9: African Butterfly Cichlid

African Butterfly Cichlids are beautiful, peaceful fish that thrive in African Cichlid tanks. They are easy to care for and require minimal attention, but they appreciate an adequately decorated tank with lots of hiding spots.

They also enjoy a diet that includes both vegetable and protein matter. 1.10: Plecos

Plecos are bottom feeders that work well in African Cichlid tanks as they keep the tank clean by controlling algae growth.

They enjoy a well-decorated aquarium with plenty of hiding spots, and their diet should include algae, sinking pellets, and fresh vegetables. 1.11: Leopard Bushfish

Leopard Bushfish is an active and curious semi-aggressive fish that can coexist with African Cichlids.

They enjoy hiding behind plants and rocks, and their diet should include a mix of dry and frozen foods. Leopard Bushfish also require a well-maintained tank with adequate water movement.

1.12: Red Spotted Scat Fish

The Red-Spotted Scat Fish is a lovely saltwater species that can thrive in freshwater rivers with the right water parameters and compatibility. They are known to be jumpers, so ensure that the tank is well covered.

Red-Spotted Scat Fish enjoys a varied diet that includes protein and vegetable matter.

Tank Setup for Cichlids

2.1: Appropriate Tank Size

The rule of thumb for appropriate tank size for African Cichlids is one gallon of water per inch of fish. This means that you need to consider the size of the fish you want to keep and ensure that the tank setup can accommodate their growth.

It’s worth considering that most species can grow quite large, so ensure that you have ample space to accommodate this growth. 2.2: Tank Filtration System

African Cichlids require a clean and healthy environment to thrive, which means that your filtration system must be up to the task.

Choose a filter that can handle the size of your setup, and don’t forget to incorporate aeration to avoid pockets forming in the tank where stagnant water resides. 2.3: Proper Feeding

African Cichlids are omnivorous, which means that a balanced diet should comprise both protein and plant matter.

Overfeeding can lead to health problems and pollution in the tank, so stick to a feeding schedule that incorporates the right amount of food to keep your fish healthy and happy.


African Cichlid tanks can be complex, but with adequate research and consideration, you can set up a tank that provides your fish with a healthy and stimulating environment. The combination of appropriate tank mates and tank setup is essential to the well-being of your fish, so take the time to create a balanced ecosystem that caters to their specific needs.

Remember to monitor water conditions consistently and make changes where necessary to ensure that your fish continue to thrive.When it comes to keeping African Cichlids, one of the biggest challenges facing aquarists is ensuring that all fish coexist harmoniously within the tank. These fish are known for their aggressive and territorial nature, and it takes a lot of consideration and planning to make sure that they don’t overly bully or dominate their tank mates.

In this article, we will explore the key issues that arise when keeping African Cichlids with other fish, including choices of suitable mates, groupings, and potential problems.

Temperamental Issues

3.1: Territorial and Aggressive Behavior

African Cichlids have territorial and aggressive behavior instincts, which makes it important when selecting suitable tank mates. While some species of fish can coexist with African Cichlids, others can’t due to their similar aggressive nature.

It’s important to research and understand the temperament of each fish breed to ensure that they are compatible with African Cichlids. This will help prevent unnecessary stress and confrontations within the tank.

3.1.2: Compatible Fish

When selecting compatible fish, it’s important to remember that African Cichlids are used to living in large groups. It’s, therefore, necessary to select a variety of fish that are capable of holding their own and standing up to the dominant Cichlid.

Bottom-dwelling fish that can hold their ground against Cichlids include Plecos, Electric Catfish, and Clown Loaches. Others include peaceful species like Tetras, Rasboras, and Barbs.

Cichlid Groupings

3.2: Peacock Cichlids

Peacock Cichlids are a popular African Cichlid species that require consideration when grouping. When introducing Peacocks to the tank, they should be coupled with a male-to-female ratio of at least 1:3, or alternatively 1:4, with females being kept to a higher ratio for population control.

Keeping them together in a group helps to diffuse aggression and dominate tendencies. 3.2.2:Dwarf Cichlids

Dwarf Cichlids are also an excellent choice for an African Cichlid tank.

This is because they are peaceful and friendly, and they enjoy associating with larger Cichlids, so long as the tank has sufficient space and hiding spaces. They also don’t require a specific grouping ratio, making them a versatile addition to an African Cichlid tank.

3.2.3: Electric Blue Hap

The Electric Blue Hap is another popular African Cichlid species that requires proper grouping when introduced to the tank. These fish are semi-aggressive and enjoy interacting with other fish of similar size and temperament.

Electric Blue Haps need plenty of open spaces to swim and exhibit their beauty, and they need at least two females to one male ratio in their grouping. 3.2.4: Blue Dolphin Moorii

Blue Dolphin Moorii is another semi-aggressive species that thrives when grouped with similar cichlid species.

It’s vital to ensure a proper male-to-female ratio when grouping Blue Dolphin Moorii, and a minimum of one square foot of water per fish should be provided to maintain a comfortable environment.

Potential Problems

3.3: Intolerance and Confrontations

When keeping African Cichlids with other fish, intolerance and confrontations can arise. These challenges manifest in the form of bullying, aggression, and competition for food and space.

It’s necessary to monitor the behavior of the fish and address any concerns accordingly. If necessary, remove the dominant fish from the tank to maintain a peaceful environment.

3.3.2: Solitude

Many fish species require solitude to thrive, and African Cichlids are no different. Ensure that each fish has its own cave or hiding spot where they can retreat in case things get too tense.

Providing enough space, hiding areas, and feeding solutions for all fish will help prevent aggression and fighting. 3.3.3: Creating a Horror Scene

When it comes to African Cichlid tanks, it’s essential to avoid creating a horror scene.

This includes preventing steps like overstocking the tank, mixing incompatible species and poor stocking ratios. If the rules aren’t followed to the letter, fish will behave unnaturally and cause damage to one another.

To avoid creating a horror scene, watch out for the welfare of the fish and prioritize their well-being and growth.


When keeping African Cichlids, keep in mind that they have unique personalities and robust behavior that can affect how they interact with other fish in the tank. Proper planning and consideration when selecting suitable tank mates, grouping, and addressing potential problems can help foster a peaceful environment and ensure that the fish thrive happily.

Being aware of the challenges of keeping African Cichlids with other fish can help you create an environment that is safe and harmonious for all inhabitants. In conclusion, keeping African Cichlids with other fish can be challenging due to their aggressive and territorial nature.

When choosing suitable tank mates, it’s important to consider the temperament of each breed to ensure compatibility and minimize confrontations. Proper grouping and ratio selection can also help diffuse aggression and encourage peaceful coexistence.

Additionally, it’s crucial to address potential problems such as intolerance, confrontations, solitude, and creating a horror scene. By keeping these main points in mind, aquarists can create a harmonious environment that promotes the well-being and growth of their African Cichlid tank.

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