If you want a tank full of colorful, active, hardy fish, then you want a tank full of African Cichlids ! Most of the African Cichlids we sell originate from two major lakes of Eastern Africa.  Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi have very hard water with a higher pH from 7.8 to 8.4. They also have a mix of unusual carbonate salts (Potassium, Manganese, etc) and trace elements. For hobbyists with soft, low pH tap water, manufacturers make specialized buffers and salt. These create a similar environment and help maintain the health of the African Cichlids.

The cichlids from Lake Malawi prefer to have lots of rocks and caves. They set up territories and vigorously defend “their” space during spawning. Additionally, they will not tolerate other fish that have a very similar color pattern to theirs. Generally you would want one male and several females. This cuts down on aggression and enhances the chance of breeding. Most of the Malawi cichlids are mouthbrooders. The female and male circle each other while spawning and the female releases an egg. The male moves in to fertilize it and then the female picks up the egg to incubate it for 10-14 days in her mouth before releasing the small fry. When females carry the eggs, they need a refuge to get away from the other fish in the aquarium. Ideally, females should be isolated as this allows her to eat well before getting re-introducing to the male. The fry grow very quickly in the first 2-3 months, and are large enough to eat ground up flakes and algae. We recommend to raise the fry in a separate aquarium or your tank will quickly become “survival of the fittest”.

In Conclusion

Lastly, Cichlids are also very active fish, constantly on the move exploring their environment. They are always up to something and fun to watch! Be aware that African cichlids have their own sense of feng shui. Cichlids love to constantly rearrange gravel in the tank. Place any rocks directly on the bottom of the tank or the fish will attempt to dig out the support, causing a landslide of rocks! Most live plants will not tolerate the abuse of the African cichlids.  Anubius species like the Onion Plant and Java Fern are some exceptions. Otherwise, use artificial plants for a lively tanks!

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