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FAQ – Keeping
What kind of African cichlids and how many should I put in my tank?
Personally I am partial to Malawi cichlids. They are fairly robust and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours. You can also add Victoria cichlids like the Astatotilapia species and some of the larger Tanganyika cichlid species like Cyphotilapia Frontosa to a Malawi cichlid tank. The most import thing you have to decide is what kind of tank you want to setup. Do you want to setup a species tank for breeding purposes or a show tank with a wide variety? If you want to setup a tank for breeding and become a cichlid breeder, please see the Blank Separator Iodotropheus Sprengerae
section on “How do I get my African cichlids to breed?” If you want to setup a show tank with a variety of species you need to keep in mind that with a lot of the species only the male is colourful and the females are rather dull in comparison. Males also don’t reach their full colour if there are no females present. This means you need to select more that one of a species to get the most colourful display. Usually 3 to 4 would ensure that there is at least one male and one female. Fortunately there are species where both the male and female have beautiful colour and from a very young age like Labidochromis Caeruleus, Metriaclima Callainos, Iodotropheus Sprengerae and Pseudotropheus Demasoni. The total number and size of fish in the tank also needs to be considered. They vary from 9cm to 30cm. The bigger the fish the more oxygen it takes out of the water. For small fish you can put in about one fish for every 5l of water. For large fish the figure is about one fish for every 10l of water. You may mix large and small but keep in mind that Malawi cichlids are predators and if a small fish will fit into a large one’s mouth it will be eaten. Personally I like to put in fewer species, but more specimens, in the order of about 10 to 15 of fish each species and only 4 to 5 species. There are some species of Malawi that are not just beautiful, but have function as well. Cyrtocara Moorii is a substrate (sand) feeder and helps by turning the substrate and keeping it clean. Pseudotropheus Acei has specialized flat teeth for eating algae and helps to remove algae from tank structures like rocks, logs and shipwrecks. The tank decoration is entirely up to your personal taste. Malawi cichlids enjoy having hiding places, but do not require them. They lay their eggs on
Labidochromis Caeruleus Blank Separator substrate in a nest they dig out. Personally I prefer only substrate in my show tank and breeding tanks and nothing else. It is the easiest to keep clean and to spot sick or dead fish. Rocks and shipwrecks are nice, but are places where a dead fish can lie out of site and poison the water in your tank. You may add plants to your tank if you want, just keep in mind Malawi cichlids are plant eaters too and will take a bite out of a plant leaf if they feel the need some greens.
What do I feed my African cichlids?
Most African cichlids are predators and will eat insects, larvae and even small fish. Cichlids in their natural habitat will also eat plant material and algae. Try to feed them different types of food. You can find quite a variety of foods at your local pet shop. Spirulina is great as an algae supplement for your fish and is usually found in a flake form (TetraPro Algae Flakes). Brine or other types of shrimp is also a good food for your fish and is also found in flake form (TetraPro Colour Flakes), pellet form (Tetra Cichlid Sticks or XL Sticks) or granule form (Tetra Prima Granules). For a show tank you need some food that will bring out the colour in your fish. Colour Blank Separator Tetra Products
enhancing foods usually contain both shrimp and algae (Tetra Cichlid Pro Flakes). To feed the small fish fry you can just crush the pellets or flakes very fine. Freeze dried bloodworms and daphnia are also available as small cubes from your local pet shop. The most important thing about feeding is that you should never over feed your fish. Rather feed them small amount of food more often than to feed them a large amount of food. If the food reaches the bottom of the tank you are over feeding them. Food that settles on the substrate (sand) will be broken down by bacteria in the substrate that produce ammonia. The ammonia can cause your fish to suffocate. Please see the
Tetra Products Blank Separator section on “Why do I have to change the water in my fish tank?” If you prefer to feed live food, you can hatch brine shrimp available at your local pet shop. You can also feed them mosquito larvae, just make sure they get all the mosquito larvae as they will hatch quickly in a heated fish tank and your peaceful evening sleep will be disturbed. Mealworm larvae, the kind you feed to reptiles and found at your local pet shop, are also a good meal once your cichlids are big enough to fit the larvae into their mouths. Live blood worms, daphnia and small brine shrimp are also good food for fish fry.
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Cichlid Warehouse is one of the biggest African cichlid breeders in South Africa and specializes in breeding and raising cichlid species from Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria as well as a few other species of cichlid from all over the world.
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Cichlid Warehouse FAQ Keeping