Cichlids Tropical Fish Care Guide

Freshwater Tropical Fish Care Guide for Cichlids

Cichlids are a freshwater tropical fish species that belong to the family Cichlidae. Some of the most well-known cichlid species are Angelfish, Gouramis, Oscars, and Discus fish. Cichlids are part of an extremely diverse family and inhabit a multitude of different environments. They can also vary significantly when it comes to size, temperament, feeding habits, preferred water quality, etc.

Cichlids live in fresh, brackish waters (mostly in large lakes) and can be divided into three main groups: African cichlids, Central and North American cichlids, and South American cichlids. Cichlids are efficient feeders that capture and process a very wide variety of foods, which is thought to be one of the reasons why they are so diverse. There are now more than 2000 described cichlid species and this number is on the rise.

Even though different cichlid species look and act very differently, they all share some common characteristics. Cichlids have a single nostril on each side of the forehead (instead of two) and have teeth in both the upper and the lower jaw – and in the throat! Here are a few popular cichlids.

Dwarf Gourami Cichlids Tropical Fish

Cichlids Tropical Fish Profile: Dwarf Gourami

  • Size: 8cm (3 inches)
  • Life span: 3 – 4 years
  • Temperature: 25°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: Middle to top
  • Origin/Habitat: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
  • Breeding: Can be difficult. They build bubble nests for their eggs.
  • Temperament: Mostly peaceful and hardy. Good fish for beginners.
  • Diet: Will eat flakes, freeze dried and live foods. Best to vary their diet.
  • Gender: Easy to determine. The male is more colorful while females are usually more gray in colour.

Originating in the warm waters of India, the Dwarf Gourami is not only beautiful but can be particularly hardy as well. They are generally peaceful creatures and make a great addition to a fully cycled community tank and are easy to care for.

Paradise Fish Cichlids Tropical FishCichlids Tropical Fish Profile: Paradise Fish

  • Size: up to 10cm (4 inches)
  • Temperature: 16°C – 26°C
  • Tank Region: Top and middle
  • Origin/Habitat: Korea, China, Taiwan and Malaysia.
  • Diet: Prefer live foods but will eat flakes, frozen foods and brine shrimp.
  • Temperament: Fairly peaceful. Males may be aggressive towards one another.
  • Gender: Males are vibrantly coloured and easy to identify by their thick swollen lips.
  • Breeding: Similar to Siamese Fighting fish. The male will build a bubble nest to house the eggs during spawning.

Paradise fish are a beautiful and territorial species that are popular choices for the home aquarium. They come in a variety of colours but their beauty demands that they be given consideration and their needs are met. A varied diet will help improve their colouring, but this tropical fish looks most impressive when it flares up against other semi-aggressive fish of similar size. Dwarf Gouramis are perfect tank mates for Paradise fish, as both will have beauty contests and show their true colours without harming one another.

gold-gourami-cichlids-tropical-fishCichlids Tropical Fish Profile: Gold Gourami (Three Spot Gourami)

  • Size: 15cm (6 inches)
  • Life span: 4 – 6 years
  • Temperature: 22°C – 29°C
  • Tank Region: Middle to top
  • Origin/Habitat: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
  • Breeding: The Gold Gourami is a bubblenester and easy to breed.
  • Diet: Flake food, slow sinking granules, brine shrimp and bloodworms.
  • Temperament: Generally peaceful although larger males may be aggressive.
  • Gender: Males have longer, pointed dorsal fins, females: shorter, rounded fins.

The Gold Gourami is an impressive looking and hardy fish that does very well in a community aquarium. They are generally peaceful creatures that don’t grow too large or harass other fish if given enough space. They enjoy the company of other Gourami species and like to hide among plants. Like many cichlids, they are interested in their surroundings.

angelfish-cichlids-tropical-fishCichlids Tropical Fish Profile: Angelfish

  • Lifespan: 8 – 10 years
  • Size: Up to 15cm (6 inches)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 29°C
  • Tank Region: Mostly middle
  • Origin/Habitat: Amazon River
  • Breeding: Egg layers. Fairly easy to breed
  • Gender: No noticeable difference except when breeding
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful, but can be aggressive eaters and may become territorial while breeding.
  • Diet: Usually very good eaters, they will take flakes, pellets, freeze dried (blood worms, brine shrimp) and especially live foods.

The freshwater Angelfish is a very popular tropical fish because of its unique shape and their interesting personalities. Angelfish are aggressive eaters and will go to the top of the tank when they see you approach. Angelfish are curious about their environment but can become very territorial at times.

blue-ram-cichlids-tropical-fishCichlids Tropical Fish Profile: Blue Ramirez (Blue Ram)

  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 5 – 6 cm (2.5 inches)
  • Temperature: 25°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: All over the tank
  • Origin/Habitat: South American Rivers (Columbia and Venezuela)
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Will gladly accept flakes or pellets but supplementing their diet with frozen foods such as blood worms or brine shrimp is recommended.
  • Breeding: Breeding Blue Rams is typically easy. Males and females will often pair up, especially when they grow up together in the same tank.
  • Gender: Males tend to have a longer, more pointed dorsal fin. Females tend to be smaller in size and have a red or orange hue on their pelvis.
  • Temperament/Behavior: Peaceful and a bit on the timid side. Can be safely kept with other Rams or non aggressive community fish such as silver dollars, Plecos, Corys or Tetras.

The Ramirez is both a colourful and characterful little fish. They are typically on full display with all their fins up and can bedazzle one when caught in the sunlight. The bonds that form between male and female Rams is something special if you wish to breed Blue Rams. Provide lots of vegetation for your Rams to feel safe and secure (as they can be quite shy) and you’ll notice them getting braver and embarking on bigger explorations around your tank.

pearl-gourami Cichlids Tropical FishCichlids Tropical Fish Profile: Pearl Gourami

  • Size: 13cm (5 inches)
  • Temperature: 25°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: Middle and top
  • Breeding: Bubble nest builder
  • Lifespan: 3 – 4 years and longer
  • Origin/Habitat: Asia, Thailand, Indonesia
  • Diet: This is not a picky fish. They will eat flakes just as quickly as they’ll eat live and frozen foods.
  • Temperament/Behavior: Mostly peaceful but they may scrap with other Gouramis. Males seem to be more aggressive than females.
  • Gender: Relatively easy to determine. The male has a longer dorsal fin and will develop a red breast, which becomes more visible at spawning time.

Pearl Gouramis are a very attractive fish with tons of tiny white ‘pearl’ shapes dotting its body and a horizontal black bar that runs down its length. Pearls also have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breath atmospheric oxygen. The labyrinth organ evolved in fish species that frequently found themselves in low oxygenated water. You will frequently see Gouramis come to the surface for gulps of air.

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