While there is great diversity in cichlids, there are common elements to their care. This page provides general information about caring for cichlids. It is always wise to understand the natural history of a particular fish and to know its environmental parameters (temperature, pH, hardness, etc.). Cichlid eating habits fall into two basic categories: grazing and gorging. Each of these topics are covered below.
If a particular fish we offer has unusual care requirements, we have provided a link from that fish’s page.
Cichlids for the most part require temperatures between 20°-30°C (68°-86°F). We have always found higher temperatures to be better provided adequate aeration is provided.
While some cichlids have exacting pH requirements for spawning, they are all very tolerant of pH levels. Even for cichlids that require low pH values (under 7, which is neutral) for spawning, the fry can be quickly converted to higher pH values and, in fact, seem to grow better and faster above pH 7. Many discus breeders spawn their fish at pH 6.5 (slightly acidic), but after the eggs hatch bring the pH up to 7-7.5 (neutral to slightly alkaline). Conversely, African Rift Lake cichlids, which prefers pH values of 7.5-8.5, seem to thrive even down to pH 6.5. We long ago gave up on modifying water parameters, but if you insist, marine salts can be used to harden to raise water pH values. Usually 6 ppt (6 g/L or 0.4 oz/gal) marine salt will suffice and is easy to apply during routine water changes.
Unless you are using incredibly soft water or rainwater, it’s not necessary to alter water hardness for cichlids. Although many cichlids could benefit by the addition of 6 ppt (6 g/L or 0.4 oz/gal) marine salt.
Cichlids are generally easy to feed. Most readily learn to accept prepared, commercial foods. Cichlids all into two feeding categories: grazers and gorgers. Here are links to how much to feed, how to introduce new foods, and a feeding chart that together cover feeding issues.