The World's Largest Family of Diverse Aquatic Life, the Cichlids

Silver and black striped cichlid fish swimming in aquarium

The Cichlid family is one of the largest groups of freshwater suitable for aquariums at home. The fact that the rays on the front of the dorsal fin are spiky, like those of a sunfish or bluegill, is one of the traits that set this varied species apart, however this is not true of nearly all Cichlids. Freshwater habitats in the southern part of North America, Central and South America, Africa, and a few known species from Asia Minor and India are home to a wide variety of Cichlids. Many are regarded as ferocious tiny critters who enjoy fighting with other fish and damaging the plants in meticulously arranged aquariums.

How they are erroneously interpreted! In order to create a breeding place and entice a female, cichlids scrape up the vegetation. To once more entice a female, they fight with other fish in the tank in an act of territorial defense. These incredible fish frequently attract females and pair up for life. Even before they mate, certain members of the Cichlid family will aggressively defend their nest and territory. They will then look after their eggs together, hatch their young, and nurture them until they are independent. Some Cichlid species—like the rams and Kribensis—are calm, but others are maintained despite their unfriendly natures because their behaviors or colors are so intriguing.

There is no finer breeding project in the tropical fish hobby than the projects dealing with Cichlid pairs. This includes the Discus, angelfish, Kribensis, Egyptian mouthbreeder, and many others.


Pterophyllum scalare, sometimes known as the Amazonian or "the half moon fish," is one of the most well-known and popular Cichlid species that may coexist in a community aquarium. Not only for this species but also for Pterophyllum eimekei, a lesser species that closely resembles it, the name Scalare is frequently used. Even a single of these magnificent fish adds a magnificence that no other fish can match. They look fantastic in groups of six or more, swimming about the rock ledges of a well-planted big show tank.

The word "silvery" is not particularly evocative when used to describe fish, but the "common" angel, or Scalare, gleams with a clear and polished silver accented by the thin black horizontal bars that run the length of the body and into the silvery fins. The long, thread-like rays of the ventral fins, as well as the dorsal and ventral fins, are both highly developed. When viewed from the front, the fish seems to be a disc and is incredibly flat. The Scalare is a peaceful fish that gets along well with other fish. It will consume dry food, but it likes eating tiny crustaceans and worms, which it needs at least sometimes to stay healthy.

Since they are simple to breed in aquariums and have been for many years, angelfish have given the hobby a wide range of varieties, from the typical type with the long fineness veil tail to a variety known as "Koi" that is black, silver, yellow, and orange. Eggs are placed on either flat, long slabs of slate or the leaves of the Amazon sword. They may be taken out and hatched in a different tank, or they could be nurtured by the parents along with a healthy couple.


Other tranquil cichlids include the Symphysodon or discus fish, sometimes known as the Blue Scalare, Pompadour Fish, and now just as discus. Previously, these fish had to be hand-collected in the Amazon and sold for hundreds of dollars. Today, breeders in the United States make them and offer the distinctively shaped fish in a variety of hues.

Their shortcomings include the need for exceptionally clean water, strict requirements, and still being quite expensive. The discus is one of the most unique fish to breed for the seasoned tropical fish lover, but it is not for beginners. If you have a lot of patience and the right circumstances, you may witness one of the most amazing exhibitions of motherhood that can be observed by humans outside of nature! A tremendous delight to see as both parents lead their brood about the tank while the fry feed off them much like a dog or a cat, the young feed off the mucus released by the parents from under their scales. (Obviously, scientifically speaking, very different, but to the viewer, equally beautiful!)


A serene addition to any community aquarium are the adorable small German blue rams and golden rams. Despite being cichlids, they seldom ever bother other fish and may even be housed alongside guppie families without significantly harming the young fish. They reproduce in a secluded area or within a clay pot, protect and rear their young until they can survive on their own, and then reproduce once more. A thriving colony may have three or four distinct generations, all of which reside in a secluded area of the neighborhood aquarium.

Egyptian Mouthbrooder

For someone new to the aquarium hobby, the Egyptian mouthbreeder, Haplochromis multicolor, is one of the most intriguing fish to see. The male Egyptian mouthbreeder has metallic blue, gold, and green in its scales as well as similar rainbow hues in its fins. The fish is a small, colorful species. But what has made it so well-liked among tropical fish hobbyists is its approach to taking care of the eggs and the young.

The Egyptian mouthbreeder may produce spawn without the use of a big tank, artificial oxygenation of the water, or even extremely high temperatures. The eggs are deposited in a depression in the sand, and following fertilization, the female takes the fertilized eggs and holds them in her mouth for the incubation phase, which lasts typically two weeks. The young survive in her mouth even after the eggs hatch for a few more days.

The female Egyptian mouthbreeder doesn't eat at any point during this time. If you bring a neighbor or a friend who is unfamiliar with the pair of fish to see this miracle of the nursery, the female opens her motherly jaws; the family of young Egyptian mouthbreeders, numbering anywhere between 10 and 50, comes swimming back inside; and all the squirming little ones are tucked safely away again. The babies are allowed to escape and swim about the tank after two or three weeks.

African Cichlids

There are several additional mouthbreeders, the majority of which are African Cichlids and have such vivid colors that you may mistake them for saltwater fish. They are not; they originate from the African Rift Valley Lakes. These African cichlids are among the nastiest cichlids, and even other cichlids should not be kept alongside them. Except for other African Cichlids, which you must be sure to only mix when necessary, they will kill everything without hesitation. A tank for African cichlids is one of the simplest and least maintenance-intensive settings you can maintain once it is constructed.

African Cichlids are virtually always reproducing, and if you provide them a huge reef with many of holes and crevices, you'll witness a lot of the growing young dart about the reef, snatching morsels of food and eluding their constantly hungry parents!

South American Cichlids

The old-style cichlids from Central and South America can no longer be effectively housed with other fish, although they may be kept together. Even the smallest Cichlids will kill whatever they can overpower and devour because the majority of them grow to be rather huge, up to 18 inches. They get along very great. In a sizable tank, you may start with all baby fish and watch them develop together.

In lakes, ponds, and streams, cichlids are essentially at the top of the food chain. In the wild, they feed on fish from community aquariums like guppies and zebras as well as bugs and their larva. Since this is a natural occurrence, cichlids are not harsh. The pastime of keeping freshwater tropical fish includes learning about nature, and this is nature at its most basic.

During the spawning time, even the "big guys" of the aquarium world would murder or severely hurt their tank mates. Unlike minnows, common tetras, barbs, and Danios, who breed every 20 days or fewer and lay hundreds or thousands of eggs, they are forced by nature to reproduce themselves. These big predators nurture their young for a considerable amount of time as a family, spawn in the spring often only once, and mate for life. To defend their young, they will do everything. Do you find that harsh? Cichlids are closer to you than you would imagine; who do you know who will murder to defend their young?

These include the Severum, Green Terror, Red Devil, Blood Parrot Fish, Jack Dempsey, Jewel Fish, Convict Cichlid, and many others. These fish start cleaning a spot, generally a smooth rock or terra-cotta pot, or sometimes even a spot on the tank edge. They deposit and fertilize many eggs shortly after that. They can reach thousands of eggs and fry in the bigger species, including the oscar and red devils. During this time of spawning, the parents guard the eggs and vehemently chase away anything that comes too close. Even the aquarist's hand will be bit if you approach the eggs.

To keep fresh, oxygenated water flowing over the eggs, the parents exert a lot of effort fanning them. The real fun starts when the eggs begin to hatch. The young may feed on food, including artemia that grows on the rocks and plants, as the delighted parents parade the fry about the tank. Anything that comes close to the eggs or poses a hazard to the young is ferociously repelled. The majority of these animals rear the young until they are able to fight and survive on their own and reach a decent size.