African Cichlids - General Knowledge

African Cichlids are one of the most popular and well-known aquarium fish because of it extroverted personalities, hardy nature, exciting behaviors and the most attractive thing about them is their colorful combination which makes them look really beautiful. The Cichlids aside having a beautiful color, possess a loving and friendly behavior which makes people love them the more. African Cichlids takes their root from lake Victoria, lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika in Africa.

The physical characteristics of African Cichlids:

  • They exist in a variety of body shapes and are most common in an ovate form which is laterally compressed, although other species exhibit a compressed or cylindrical and elongated body shape.

  • They are in different sizes depending on the species, it can either be around an inch which is around 2.5cm to three feet long.

  • They are popular for the bright, colorful patterns, almost all colors that are found in fish all over can also be seen in some species of Cichlids.


In the wild, Cichlids possess a unique feeding ability and food types which includes benthic algae, phytoplankton, fish scales and fins, molluscs, higher plants, insects, and lots more. The location of their jaws and teeth makes it easy for Cichlids to live in a variety of habitat and feed on different types of food. In captivity, they are easily transitionable to flake food.


Their living areas include tropical and subtropical waters in Africa, Central American and in some parts of India, Iran and Sri Lanka. Cichlids are a large family of freshwater fish which are mostly found in three (3) lakes within the eastern part of Africa, and they are lake Victoria, lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika. An estimate of over 500 species is found in lake Malawi.

Cichlids are found in waters where the temperature is above 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) and can also live in open waters, shallow areas in lakes, sand, mud, rock or plants bottoms and streams.

A lot of African Cichlids are mouthbrooders, the females are made to hold the fertilized eggs, and they keeps growing until her mouth is not wide enough to hold them. She goes through this period without eating. Other species like the substratum spawners, which are found in the central and southern America, lay their eggs within a prepared environment, and they stand guard to look after the egg for three months.

Some male species exhibit complex propagation behaviors in which they develop a castle of sand of up to four feet high and seven feet wide to attract females. Meanwhile, other species make use of intense coloration in their courting.