Cichlid Guide

New to the hobby and not sure what to do?  This guide should help you get a basic understanding on keeping African Cichlids.  If something isn't clear or you have more questions please contact us at

Tank Size:

Whether you plan on having one or multiple cichlids, a general rule of thumb to follow is to have 2 gallons of water for every inch of fully grown fish.

Water Requirements:

Lake Malawi is in Southern Africa and is exposed to limestone.  This means that the cichlid's natural environment is warm and alkaline (high pH).  Your tank's temperature can range from 72-78°F with a pH no higher than 8.6.

Fish Compatibility:

It should be noted that fish behavior is not entirely consistent in every situation.  Here we outline some general information that should be taken into consideration and is by no means a guarantee of how fish will behave.

  • The best way to reduce aggression in cichlids is to raise them small and together, allowing them to mature at the same time.  When adding new fish to an established tank, adding more than one will greatly increase survivability of the new fish.  We suggest adding at least three new fish at a time.

  • Male dominance is a reality at the forefront of cichlid ownership.  Males that appear similar and/or the same species will target each other.  Adding other colorful cichlids and providing places for fish to hide can help to distract similar looking males.

  • Mbunas: These small and colorful cichlids are the most aggressive, despite being herbivores.  It is recommended to keep Mbunas with other Mbunas.  They can be kept with Haps and Peacocks though, as long as they are introduced when small and given places to hide.

  • Haps & Peacocks: These cichlids are both free swimmers and require more of a protein-rich diet.  Generally speaking, Haps and Peacocks can be kept together but will need ample space and hiding spaces to limit aggression.