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Cichlid Compatibility in Aquariums

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Cichlid Compatibility in Aquariums

What Fish Not to Mix in Your Freshwater Tank

Blue Zebra – dreviljeff@morguefile.com
A fish tank can become a disaster area if you don’t know the traits of cichlids.

Cichlids (pronounced SICK-lids) range from one to two inches all the way up to over one foot. Their birth methods differ greatly. Some species mouth brood their young. Other cichlids lay eggs in open pits or in caves. These fish do not have special dietary requirements and can be fed inexpensive fish flakes.

Cichlids are popular because of their outstanding colors and their resilience to disease (especially in the African species). Hobbyists are intrigued by the interesting ways cichlids interact and the unique personalities of each fish.

Rules of Cichlid Compatibility

The most important rule of compatibility; do not mix cichlids with anything that is not a cichlid, such as tetras or guppies. Cichlids are very aggressive fish and most likely within a week, they will beat or kill anything else you have put in with them.

Only mix cichlids from the same area. Once in a while you will see mixed cichlids in an aquarium. Sometimes it works and other times it does not. If it is working, most likely the tank is overcrowded and the fish have no territory to fight about. Overcrowding is not recommended. You want to enjoy the fish, and allow them to develop their personalities and behaviors.

Most fish you find in a store come from South America, Central America and Africa. There are less common breeds from India and the Middle East. By keeping fish from the same area, you are helping cut down on the number of cross breed fish that are slowly creeping into our pet stores. Cross bred fish can be very colorful but there are consequences when bad traits of two species are mixed together.

Do not mix baby cichlids with adult cichlids. Wait until the babies are at least 3 inches long (or even longer if possible) before introducing to an adult tank. Unfortunately, babies are a live meal to adults.

Aquarium Size for Cichlids

Cichlids are usually very large fish; therefore, try to use the biggest tank you can. A rule of thumb is one fish per gallon of tank. So, if you have a 33 gallon tank, the maximum number of fish should be thirty-three. Even though the baby fish are small and you think the tank looks empty, remember they will get big very soon.

Cichlid Tank Decoration

Aquarium gravel along with rockery and driftwood are ideal decorations for a cichlid tank. If you are planning to breed cichlids, you need to accessorize the tank according to their birth method. Because cichlids are aggressive, it is good to give them hiding places by piling up the rocks. It also keeps the fish entertained by exploring around the rocks and driftwood. Plants are not a good idea because the fish seem to destroy them. One trait of cichlids is digging so expect to see a lot of redecorating. It can be frustrating to see all your decorating work rearranged but watching cichlids in action is part of the fun of owning them.

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