Getting pet fish can be fun and exciting, but first, you have to prepare a little before you begin. You will need to decide what type of fish you would like to have, and learn how to properly care for the tank and the fish. A Cichlid aquarium is a good start and twenty-gallon starter tank is a good choice, especially if this is your first time.

Cichlid Aquarium Requirements

Basic Requirements

Most pet supply stores will have the complete setup, which should include

  1. The tank
  2. Substrate
  3. A filter
  4. Air pump
  5. Heater
  6. Lighted cover.
The scale of cichlid aquarium you choose may be very important. For newbies, a reasonably large aquarium (at least 20 gallons) is a good method to begin: it provides cichlids sufficient area so they don’t end up combating, plus it requires very little upkeep, which is advantageous for somebody who is new to elevating cichlids.

Before you bring your cichlids home, you need to properly set-up your tank and have it up and running for a few days in order to establish a healthy environment for the fish. Everything from the gravel to the pH level of the water needs to be ready in order to make the acclimation process for the fish, less stressful.


When choosing what substrate to use in your cichlid tank, either gravel or sand will work. Regardless of what you choose make sure to rinse it thoroughly outside in a bucket before adding it to the tank, otherwise, it will cause cloudiness. To save money and to have a more natural look to your tank you can get playground sand or pea gravel from a hardware store for a fraction of the price at a pet store, but again it must be washed thoroughly to move small particulates. Whichever substrate you choose, there should be around two inches of the substrate across the bottom of the tank. Cichlids like to rearrange the tank so allow enough depth for them to dig holes without exposing the glass bottom.


Cichlids are from tropical climates and thus require warm water temperature. The exact temperature varies on species, but generally somewhere between 76 degrees and 82 degrees. Purchase a submersible heater designed for the size of your tank and set the thermostat for the specific temperature desired for the cichlids. Also, make sure to have a good thermometer mounted in the tank so that you can easily monitor the temperature within the tank at any time.


There are several styles of aquarium filters to choose from, with the most common styles being internal filters, hanging filters, and canister filters. All of these work fine in cichlid tanks, so it comes down to personal preference and what you will be able to clean and maintain. Internal filters (such as the Penn Plax Cascade 600 Internal Filter for Aquariums) are kept fully within the aquarium and circulate the clean water within the tank. Hanging filters (such as the Marineland Penguin Power Filter, 50 to 70-Gallon, 350 GPH) have a suction tube that goes into the tank and filters the water while hanging over the back of the tank. Canister filters (such as the Penn Plax Cascade 700 GPH Canister Filter) pipe the water to a location underneath or next to the tank and filters the water then route it back into the tank. Similar to the heater, purchase a filter built for the size of your tank to ensure appropriate filtration.


Purchase a lighting set-up that will provide your cichlids with the UV rays needed for proper health and growth. As for the length of time to keep the tank lit, 10 to 12 hours is the best amount of balance light for the fish. The lighting is generally contained within the aquarium hood and is made for the specific size of the tank that you have.

You may also need to purchase the following additional supplies:

  • A thermometer
  • The proper chemicals to maintain it.

Chlorine can be deadly to many species of fish, so a chlorine remover will likely be necessary. Your local pet store can provide you with exactly what kind of chemical treatments you will require, and the proper amounts to treat it. And, of course, you will need the appropriate fish food.

Cichlid Aulonocara


Like any pet fish owner, you will probably want some decorations. There are many types and varieties of gravel and even glass pebbles that you may use to line the bottom. You may also want to have plants. Most choose artificial plants for because they are easy maintenance and come in a wide variety of types and colors.

Decor serves more of a purpose than just making your tank look nice. Being that cichlids are naturally aggressive and territorial fish, they will challenge one another for control of parts of the tank. Therefore it is important for all cichlids to have plenty of hiding places to choose from to claim as their own.

When decorating your cichlid aquarium, keep in mind that it’s worthwhile to recreate the cichlids’ original habitat. Put in some gravel or sand, limestone and flat stones, overturned flower pots, hardy vegetation, mini caves, and different structures that your cichlids can use to hide. Extra than simply décor, gravel and sand help neutralize the water’s pH degree, whereas flat stones can be utilized by some cichlids when they are prepared to put eggs.

  • If you are looking to recreate the natural environment of cichlids then you may choose to build large cave structures out of rocks to give them hiding places. While doing so, make sure that the rocks are stable and won’t fall over and possibly crush the fish.
  • If you are looking for other decor items, you can choose from a large selection at your local pet store or even use clay pots or PVC pipes to create many different hiding places for the cichlids. Artificial (and even some live) plants are a great aesthetic addition to your tank as well.
 You must create several hiding places per fish in order to provide them protection from one another and to also reduce stress. 


Finding a Place for your Yank

Discover a permanent place for your cichlid tank setup. Keep it away from direct sunlight or any heat supply, and decrease moving your aquarium. Too much heat will be bad for your cichlids. To maintain the water temperature stable in your cichlid aquarium, install a water heater. This may make sure that your cichlids usually are not affected by the changing temperature in your geographical location.

Cleaning the tank

The day before you get your fish, you will need to prepare the tank. It will need to be cleaned with plain warm to hot water. Never use soap or other cleaners because it can be deadly to your fish. Set it up in the place where it will permanently stay. Arrange your gravel, plants, and other decorations as you want them prior to adding water. You do not want to be sticking your hands into the water afterward, to avoid any chemicals or oils from your hands contaminating the water.

 When you’ve gotten your cichlid aquarium setup, wait at the very least a day. This can stabilize the water and permit chlorine to evaporate. 

Adding water and stabilizing tank

Once it is set up as you intend, you can add the water. Fill it up until it is seven or eight inches from the top, and set up the filter and pump. Once it is functioning correctly, add more water until it is two inches from the top. Set the heater to the temperature instructed by your local pet store.

 Be sure that your cichlid aquarium has a filter and a water pump. Clear, poisonous-free water is necessary for fish to live. 

It is also important that your aquarium has a lid. Cichlids may be quite aggressive, and generally, when this happens, they accidentally leap out of their aquariums. Safeguard your cichlids by having a lid on your aquarium but make sure to leave sufficient opening for oxygen and carbon dioxide to be exchanged.

Adding Cichlids to the Tank

After you have arranged your cichlid aquarium, here are some valuable ideas to make sure your cichlids are snug and comfortable and no fighting ensues amongst them.

Start with few

Begin your aquarium with one or a small group of fish. It is not a good suggestion to crowd out your tank because the natural nitrogen cycle takes a while to stand up and running in a brand new aquarium. If it’s important to mix cichlids with different fish, be certain those you place in have the same habitat requirements as your cichlids, or else they will be unable to survive in this new environment.

Feeding your cichlids

Feed your cichlids simply enough. An excessive amount of meals will make your cichlids sick. Plus it might probably contribute to the deterioration of your aquarium water quality.

Remember that cichlids require quite the diverse diet, many primarily feed on algae and plants while others are primarily carnivorous and prey on smaller fish
Cichlid Tank

Post-Setup/Maintaining Cichlid Aquarium

Clear the sides of your cichlid aquarium at the least as soon as a month. Cleaning soap isn’t for use when cleansing as a result of this may increasingly leave traces that may be poisonous to your cichlids. Change your cichlids’ aquarium water regularly. A 25% change each week is sweet enough. Make sure you also clean the filters throughout this time.

Keep in mind that setting up a great cichlid aquarium is just one of some ways so that you can maintain your cichlids completely satisfied and healthy. Good water quality and security are also considerations in prolonging the lifetime of your cichlids. As a newbie, seek the advice with experienced cichlid raisers and pet store house owners or do your research so you realize what the correct setting on your cichlids should be.


Enjoy your new Cichlid aquarium.!