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What’s the Right Size Tank for Your Cichlids?

The article concerns the following question – What’s the Right Size Tank for Your Cichlids? A burning question in the minds of many “newbie aquarists”… how many cichlids can I fit into a XX gallon tank?

What’s the Right Size Tank for Your Cichlids?

I’ve seen a few different responses to this question and for someone brand new to raising cichlids, I could see how it can get confusing.

My goal here is to clear the air and to provide a really simple way to determine exactly how many cichlids you can safely fit in your aquarium.

But first… I think it’s important that you understand why there is a limit to how many you can safely fit in one tank.

Think about it. Sounds funny but put yourself in the position of the fish. Would you be comfortable living with twenty people all crammed together in one house? Doubtful.

It would get dirty, fast. Food would be scarce. There would be constant arguing and bickering. And, most importantly, the level of stress amongst the people living in close quarters would be tremendous.

Stress among fish can be deadly both directly and indirectly. in one tank (AKA overstocking) will cause a number of different problems. Poor water quality, more fish waste which means higher ammonia levels, illnesses in the fish and higher than normal aggression between the fish, just to name a few.

So, be sure to follow my simple outline below and keep your cichlids happy and healthy.

My Simple Cichlid Tank Size Formula

You should have no more than one inch of full-grown fish for every two gallons of water in your tank. It’s a weird, I know… but it’s the easiest way I’ve found.

Lets say you have, or want to buy, a 55-gallon aquarium.

As a sidenote, the bigger you choose, the better. African Cichlids prefer longer/wider tanks over taller tanks. They like to swim, hide and are very territorial. The more space you have, the lower the stress level will be on your fish.

So, if you had a 55-gallon aquarium and you wanted to fill it with African Cichlids… here’s how you would figure out the maximum amount of fish you could get.

For simplicity, lets use the Electric Yellow Cichlid. It’s maximum length can be close to 4″. For every inch of fully-grown fish, you should have no less than two gallons of water. So, a 4″ fish requires 8 gallons of water. So, you could fit close to seven of these fish in a 55-gallon aquarium.

This might seem crazy to you, right? I mean that big ‘ol aquarium for seven measly fish?? What gives? Unfortunately, that’s the game you have to play with Cichlids. They’re pick, temperamental, territorial, aggressive and finicky.

Like I said above, the bigger the tank, the easier it gets to raise more cichlids. I created a quick reference guide below that will help you figure out the best combination of tank size and cichlid type. Take a look…

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