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Can Cichlids Change Gender? (Why It Can Happen)

Can Cichlids Change Gender? (Why It Can Happen)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Cichlids are among the most popular aquarium fish that you will find. There are many different types of cichlids out there that you can look into.

You might already own some of these wonderful fish. They can be excellent additions to your home aquarium.

Some people wonder about cichlids and whether they’re capable of changing gender. Perhaps you think that one of your cichlids changed gender recently.

Is this actually possible or is that not something that cichlids are supposed to be capable of? Read on to learn everything that you need to know about cichlids and changing gender.

Cichlids Can Change Gender

It is indeed possible for cichlids to change gender. Many fish are capable of changing genders either partially or entirely.

Cichlids are no different, and it’s something that happens quite a bit in the wild. Wild cichlids might change gender as they get older.

This can also occur in captivity, but it’s far less common. There are many reasons why cichlids might change gender over time.

Sometimes cichlids will change gender due to environmental factors. It could simply have to do with how much food is available or the temperature of the water.

Of course, it makes sense that the fish would change gender out of necessity. Sometimes these fish might change gender for breeding purposes.

When cichlids change gender in captivity, it often happens due to changes in the tank. Fluctuations in the temperature of the water might cause this to occur.

Changes to the pH balance might cause a gender shift as well. Even changing the diet of the fish might play a role.

Note that this isn’t something that commonly happens. It’s actually pretty rare for cichlids to change gender in captivity.

It’s said that this will happen to less than 1% of all captive cichlids. It should also be noted that the most common reason why these fish change genders has to do with abnormalities.

Some fish might be born with an extra set of gonads. Others might have tumors that will cause them to change gender.

How to Tell Male Cichlids From Female

There are quite a few differences between male and female cichlids. Some cichlids types are easier to differentiate based on gender than others.

You’ll find that there are many cichlids out there. Some look very similar whether they’re male or female.

When looking at these types of cichlids, you’ll be able to tell them apart by looking at the vent. You’ll learn more about venting a little later.

You can also tell male and female cichlids apart based on size. Generally, males are going to be a bit larger than females.

Some male cichlids will be up to one inch larger than the females. Others will only be slightly larger.

Female cichlids are known to have rounder bellies. They will have prominently round bellies that will make it easy to tell them apart.

Often, males will have longer dorsal, anal, and caudal fins than females. This isn’t the case for every type of cichlid, though.

Males might have more prominent egg spots on their bodies, too. Females can also have egg spots, but some types of cichlids will only have males that have egg spots.

There are some behavioral differences to note as well. Male cichlids are often more aggressive than female cichlids.

This isn’t always going to be enough to tell males apart from females, though. It’s best to determine the sex of the fish by looking at the vent.

Cichlid Venting

Venting a cichlid is a process where you grab a fish and flip them over to examine its genitals. This allows you to determine the sex of the fish rather easily.

Male African cichlids should have two holes that you can spot. The anus is one hole and the other hole is the sexual organ.

These two holes will be the same size if the fish is male. It’s a bit different when looking at the female.

Female African cichlids have two holes as well but they’re both different sizes. The larger hole is where the eggs come from while the smaller hole is the anus.

Depending on the type of cichlid you have, there might be other differences to note. Look up information about the sex organs of the specific type of cichlid you own.

This will allow you to examine the fish and determine if it’s male or female by venting it. Just remember to be careful when handling the fish so that you don’t harm it.

Are Cichlids Easy to Care for?

Yes, cichlids are generally considered to be quite easy to care for. These fish are hardy and they shouldn’t die if you make a few mistakes.

Of course, you’re still going to need to do a good job of caring for them if you want them to survive in your tank for a long time. This means keeping an eye on the water parameters and keeping the fish tank clean.

These fish have the potential to live for years in your fish tank. Some types of cichlids such as Oscars can live for as long as twenty years.

If you want your fish to live for a long time, do your best to give them optimal care. Feed them high-quality foods and ensure that you keep an eye on them.

You should be able to catch any issues with sickness fast if you’re an observant fish owner. Do your best and you’ll have a great time caring for these fish.

How Many Cichlids Should You Keep Together?

Some types of cichlids will do well in small groups. For example, you can keep many types of African cichlids in groups of 10 to 15.

A 55-gallon fish tank will be perfect for a group of ten African cichlids. However, you need to look things up for each individual type of fish.

There are so many different types of cichlids out there. Oscars are very popular types of cichlids that are pretty large.

Angelfish are among the most popular types of cichlids that you’ll find. Each of them will have different recommendations.

You’ll benefit from looking up specific information about the cichlid species that you’re interested in. Do this before moving forward with plans for your fish tank.

Final Thoughts

Cichlids are interesting fish that are going to be great additions to your tank. You’ve learned a lot more about them today, too.

Now you know that cichlids can indeed change gender. It’s possible for these fish to change gender as they grow older.

This is slightly more common in the wild and it can happen for a number of different reasons. It could occur due to environmental factors or fish might change gender out of necessity so they can breed.

In captivity, it’s unlikely that cichlids will change gender. It can happen, but it doesn’t happen all that often.

It’s said that less than 1% of all captive cichlids will change gender. Therefore, it’s unlikely that this has occurred in your aquarium.

Telling cichlids apart based on gender can be easy or difficult depending on the species. There are often physical differences between male and female cichlids, but sometimes the only major differences will involve the sex organs of the fish.

Venting the fish is the most reliable way to tell if it’s male or female. This is a process where you flip the fish over to look at its sex organ.

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Scott messenger

Wednesday 8th of March 2023

I have ice blue red top munbuna's and my breeding female has over the past week turned MALE, yes male!! I no 100% it WAS female as I've had about 20 fry from her in two litters, recently she's turned male. You can see the colour blue coming and more prominent stripes. Her/his lower fins are getting longer and she's now very territorial chasing any other young male away, I've read this is very very rare but FACT it has happend in my aquarium,