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African Cichlids aquarium





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1.Wash tank , and anything that will be in it your African Cichlids aquarium , with HOT  water. NO SOAPS. 

        Have 3 or 4 large plastic containers on hand to separate the rock into small, medium,  and large stones. This

        part of the step will make placement easier when putting it in  your tank.

2. Wash your lace rock  until the water running through it is clear as well.

3. Place the rock from step 2 into the tank.

       Larger stones in the back, medium-sized in the middle, and the smallest in the front

       of the tank. ( This process takes a little time, but the end result gives your African Cichlids

                              aquarium  greater feeling of depth when looking at it).

4. Place the lace rock into your tank with larger and taller pieces toward the back , and the smaller shorter pieces

     toward the front of your aquarium, creating caves for your African Cichlids .

5. Place your air curtain at the back of your African Cichlids aquarium, behind the lace rock, so you can’t see it when

     viewing your aquarium from the front side.

6. Install the rest of the equipment that will go into the tank.     Heater, filter, thermometer.

7. Attach air tubing to your air curtain and air pump.

8. Fill your tank with COLD  tap water.

     Let your tank sit overnight to be sure that their are no leaks.

9. Treat the water with tap water conditione and cycle, as recommended.

10.  This is the hardest step.  Be patient.  The water in the tank needs to cycle . Balance itself .  During this  process,

        your water will turn cloudy.  This is normal, indicating that bacterial growth is taking place. The water will clear up

       as the bacteria, “settle into”, the filter media and rock work.  This process will take between 2-4 weeks.   Again, be

       patient, the time and efforts put forth in your African Cichlids aquarium system will give you back years of pleasure,

       enjoyment, and relaxation!


11. This is a good time to to make sure everything with the system is functioning properly:

         Check your thermometer to be sure the temperature 76 degrees F, adjust  if necessary. Check your filter to be sure

         it’s functioning properly.

             remove the filter basket,  take the charcoal filter bag out and rinse it out in a plastic container previously filled with

            COLD tap water.

                 repeat the same process with the sponge filter.

12.  Purchase a pH test and an ammonia, nitrate, nitrite test kit.

         pH should be around 8.0

             * The first test for the ammonia, nitrate, nitrite test should be done no earlier then 2-3  weeks after

               system set-up. 

13.  Replace any evaporated water with COLD tap water. Should have a couple of plastic 1 gallon containers set aside for

       this purpose only.

              * Not used for anything else .The water in these will be going into the tank.

                    be sure to keep the caps to put back on the containers when not in use to keep them clean inside.

14 After 4 weeks, no sooner, test the water for ammonia, nitrate, and nitrites.  All 3 parameters should be  near, “0”,

        or safe enough by this point to add a couple of fish.  This is an exciting day!  Go to a reputable fish store and purchase

        your first African Cichlids. Purchase a pair.

15.  Acclimate your cichlids to their new home before adding them to your tank. Have another plastic container on hand. 

       A plastic ice cream bucket works perfect.  Place the fish bags in this and add about 4oz. of  water from the tank to the

       bags. Repeat this about every 15 minutes, for 1/2 hour.  This lets your cichlids gradually adjust  to the aquarium water

       reducing stress.

      After 30 minutes, net the fish from the bags and introduce them to their new home!  Place the net in the water and let

      the fish swim out on their own. Wash the net out in hot tap water.

16.  Patience is now critical. Your African Cichlids aquarium water needs to adjust to its new inhabitants.  Your fish also

        need time to adjust.  Two weeks.  Better safe then sorry.  During this time, decide on what color of African Cichlids to

        have in your tank.

17. Decide the number of fish that can occupy the tank.

         Guideline.  Every inch of fish requires 1 gallon of aquarium water when full grown.

           Example:   A 100 gallon tank  will have about 90 gallons of water available for fish.  Rock in the your displaces 10

                               gallons 90 gallons of available water = 90 inches of fish that can safety inhabit you tank.

                                 On average, adult  African Cichlids are between 4-6 inches in length.

                                   5 inches makes it easy to figure out the number of fish.   90÷5=18 fish.

    Purchase your African Cichlids in “trios”, 1 male, 2 females. The reasoning behind this is that the male will be

        aggressive to get the female attention. 2 females reduces stress on the female and helps to keep the male, “occupied”,

        and in full color.  18 fish ÷ 3 trios = 6 trio pairs for the tank.

18.  After 2 weeks, purchase another trio. ONLY IF ALL IS WELL WITH YOUR WATER AND FISH

           Follow step # 15 to introduce the fish to the tank.  2-3 weeks later, purchase another trio. Follow this process until you 

            have purchased all of your African Cichlids. 





19. Enjoy your African Cichlids aquarium system


     Follow these steps and your system can look like this


African Cichlids aquarium African Cichlids aquarium        African Cichlids aquarium







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1.  The right sizedtank.  55 gallon is the recommended minimum size.

  •   The larger your tank, the better.                                                                                              
  •   Long and skinny for greater water oxygenation.                                                                      
  • The more water available, the more stable the water environment.

2.  Decoration. Rock

  • This is the second most important element when setting up your African Cichlids aquarium system.
  • African Cichlids are aggressive, territorial fish and require areas in the tank they can claim as, “their
  • turf”.
  • The use of this rock, better known as, “lace rock”, provides them with natural caves and
  • holes.

3.  Substrate.  More commonly known as, “gravel”.

  • African Cichlids show up great against this medium because of the natural   earth
  • tone colors.

4. Aeration.  The purpose of this is two-fold.

  • First, it provides the water with oxygenation to help maintain a healthy
  • environment within the tank.
  • Secondly, it provides an eye-catching visual effect as a wall of air bubbles rise to the
  • water surface.


  • Flow rate.   Gallons per hour, (gph).  The water in the tank should “turn over”, a minimum of

             3-4 times the volume of the tank.

  • Example:   If you have a 100 gallon tank, the filter needs to have a flow rate between 300 –
  • 400 gph.

6. Heating  Minimum wattage should be 3-4 watts/gallon.

  • Example:     100 gallon tank requires between 300-400 total watts.

7. Air Pump.

8.  Lighting. 

9.  Top.`


11. Stand

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Before pursuing the art and science of African Cichlids aquaria concentrating on tank setup and maintenance, it was important to become knowledgeable on the subject.   Following is what I learned over the past  17 years since  I setup my first African Cichlids  tank, and still holds true today.

They are prized for beautiful coloration.  Difficult to find another freshwater fish that are more colorful.  It is also a challenge to find a saltwater fish more colorful for more money.


They are very hardy animals, and easy to maintain.  African Cichlids require alkaline water. These animals can tolerate a wide range of pH levels, whereas most freshwater fish will “belly-up”, if this water parameter varies more then .5.

These fish are also popular because of their energetic personality, one of the easiest freshwater fish to breed, and range in size from 4-6 inches.

African Cichlids do cost more then other freshwater fish, however, that is a positive because you will be getting more, “fish for you’re dollar”.  The average life span is between 4-10 years in age.

1,200 species have been identified, and only about 1/3 are available to the enthusiast  What this represents is the opportunity for more of these cichlids to be readily available for enjoyment.

Because of their size, they do require a large aquarium.  This is a favorable aspect as well because the larger the aquarium, the easier it is to maintain a stable environment in the tank.

Feel free to leave a comment with your experience on this topic.  As a courtesy to your fellow African Cichlids enthusiasts, please comment on the subject at hand.

Feel free to visit the following link for additional  information.

Feel free to leave a comment with your experience on this topic.  As a courtesy to your fellow African Cichlids enthusiasts, please comment on the subject at hand









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