How to Set Up an Aquarium for Cichlids

Set Up an Aquarium for Cichlids
Set Up an Aquarium for Cichlids (Image: carneyc)

Cichlids are a type of fish that are popular for home aquariums because of their bright colors. They are freshwater fish that are generally aggressive toward other fish. Cichlids come from Africa, Asia, South America and Central America. Cichlids are community fish that need a larger tank in order to accommodate their numbers, so their aquarium should be a minimum of 29 gallons.

Place a substrate at the bottom of the aquarium. The type of substrate is a matter of personal preference and can be sand, gravel or a mixture of both. Many cichlid owners use a monochromatic, light-colored substrate so that the bright colors of the cichlids will be more apparent.

Stack a few large rocks in the aquarium so that there are spaces in between them. This will allow the cichlids to hide. Many cichlids feel more comfortable when they have a place to hide. Pieces of broken pottery will also work as a hiding place. To create a pottery hiding place, knock a hole in a terra-cotta pot and place it in the aquarium upside down.

Install a power filter on the side of the tank. An aquarium that is 29 gallons or more needs to have a large power filter to keep the aquarium water clean. Power filters are installed at the top of one side of the tank according to the manufacturer's directions.

Choose a hood light that will show off the colors of your cichlids. The fish don't need a lot of light, but many owners choose a lighted hood to make the colors more vibrant.

Add water and treat the water with a chlorine remover. There are several brands of chlorine removers that are available in pet stores, including Stress Coat. The dosage of the chemical is described on the bottle and will be different for different size aquariums. Allow the water to settle and reach room temperature for at least two hours before adding the fish.

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