Cichlids are great fish that you’re going to love keeping in your aquarium. There are so many different types that it’s easy to find fish that will appeal to you.
You want to do a good job of taking care of these fish. Thankfully, cichlids are fairly hardy and they’re pretty good fish for beginners.
Sometimes cichlids will have certain problems, though. For example, you might have a cichlid in your tank that doesn’t want to eat.
What does it mean when a cichlid isn’t eating in the fish tank? Is this a sign that the cichlid is sick or does it mean something else?
Continue reading to learn about several reasons why cichlids might stop eating. This will help you to make good decisions that will allow you to get the fish back to normal.
New Cichlid Not Eating
When a cichlid is new to the fish tank it might not want to eat right away. Often, fish will be stressed and nervous when they first enter a new environment.
Understand that being put in a new fish tank is stressful for fish. Do the fish seem a bit strange right now?
You might notice that the cichlids are hiding or that they aren’t moving around as much as you’d expect them to. This will likely change as the fish adjust to the new fish tank.
Give the fish a week to get used to the fish tank. They should start to act a lot more normal and they’ll become more interested in food, too.
Cichlid Not Eating and Hiding
When cichlids aren’t eating and they’re hiding a lot it can be related to being new to the tank. It could also be that the cichlids are stressed.
Stressed fish sometimes hide because they’re not doing well. There are many things that can cause fish to feel stressed. It could be related to problems in the fish tank, but it might also be because of problems with tank mates.
Are the cichlids being bullied by other fish in the tank? Sometimes bully fish will attack cichlids and keep them from feeling comfortable in the tank.
When things are really bad, the cichlids might not come out of hiding even when it’s time to eat. This is a bad situation and it’s something you should remedy right away.
Never put fish in an aquarium with fish that they aren’t compatible with. You must always research the compatibility of fish before adding them to an aquarium.
Failure to do so will only put your fish in danger. It could be that you’ll need to separate the cichlids from their tank mates so they’ll be able to live normally.
Cichlids Not Eating and Dying
When cichlids are not eating and they’re dying, it’s likely that they’re sick. It could be that the cichlids are diseased.
There are all sorts of diseases that cichlids can get. Some of these diseases will cause the fish to lose their appetite.
Figuring out what’s wrong will involve monitoring the fish and noting the symptoms. The fish might have some type of bacterial or fungal infection.
It could even be a parasitic infection that is making the fish lethargic and keeping them from having an appetite. No matter what, you’re going to want to get to the bottom of this situation.
If you suspect that the fish in the tank are sick, you should take action right away. Determine what is wrong and then look into the best treatment options.
Sometimes determining exactly what is wrong is difficult. You can reach out to an exotic veterinarian if you need assistance.
However, many people won’t be willing to spend the necessary money to get professional help. Take the appropriate action based on your situation.
Cichlids Not Eating Pellets
What if the cichlid just isn’t eating the pellets that you’re trying to feed it? This happens more often than many people realize.
Some types of cichlids might simply be a bit picky. This isn’t often going to be the case, but your fish might not like the food that you’re giving to it.
You can try giving the fish something different and seeing if that gets better results. Note that it’s best to mix up the types of food that you give to fish.
It’s important to give cichlids food that will meet their nutritional needs. This often means giving the cichlids many different types of food.
If all you’re trying to feed the fish is nutritional pellets it might stop eating them. The fish could be bored of the pellets, but you should know that you’re supposed to give the fish a balanced diet anyway.
Try mixing things up and giving the fish meaty foods and other recommended cichlids foods. Of course, you should feed the fish based on the nutritional requirements of the type of cichlid that you own.
Have You Been Overfeeding the Fish?
Have you considered whether you’ve been overfeeding the fish? Feeding the fish too much can lead to certain complications.
For example, a fish can become constipated or bloated when it eats too much food. When the fish is in this state it might not want to eat.
Cichlids are supposed to be fed three or four times per day on average. Some types of cichlids might need to eat fewer times than that.
To get the best results, average cichlids are meant to be fed three or four times daily. You should feed the fish as much as they can eat in 30 seconds each time.
Feeding the fish more than this can be problematic. It can cause constipation and that might lead to swim bladder issues.
Be careful not to feed cichlids more than you’re supposed to. So long as you’re paying attention, it should be simple to avoid overfeeding these fish.
Water Quality Issues
Sometimes water quality issues will stress the fish. Stressed fish might stop eating for health reasons.
There are many things that can go wrong with the water in the fish tank. For instance, the water temperature might be too low.
Cichlids are fish that require tropical water conditions. When they’re exposed to water that’s too cold it’s going to stress them out.
This can keep the fish from eating normally. It also runs the risk of making them sick.
You should use a heater to keep the fish tank in the right temperature range. The ideal temperature will vary slightly based on what type of cichlid you’re caring for.
Dirty water is also going to cause significant stress. This is why fish tank maintenance is so crucial.
You need to take the time to clean the fish tank regularly. Otherwise, fish poop and other types of organic debris will make the tank conditions unbearable for the fish.
It’s also important to do weekly water changes. You should be changing 15% of the water each week to keep the tank as clean as possible.
You might want to get a better filter as well. If you’re not using a good filter, it might be doing a poor job of keeping the water clean.
Solve issues with water quality as quickly as possible. This will ensure that the fish have the best chance of getting back to normal.
If you let water quality issues linger, the fish could perish. Do your best to avoid such an outcome.
The Age of the Fish
The age of the fish could be a factor. Fish are going to get old and at some point they’re going to die.
If your fish is very old, it might stop eating the closer it gets to the end. This is pretty common and there isn’t anything you can do about it.
When your fish is approaching the end of its lifespan it isn’t going to be as active. You might notice that it will be sluggish and it won’t eat as much as it once did.
Eventually, the fish might stop eating entirely. It likely won’t be too much longer and you’ll notice that the fish has died in your fish tank.
Of course, this only applies to rather old fish. Many cichlids are capable of living for many years in captivity when you care for them the right way.
Some types of cichlids such as Oscars are known to live between 10 and 20 years. If you’re wondering how long your cichlids can be expected to live, you should look up specific information about the species that you own.
Determine What’s Wrong
Use the information above to determine what’s wrong. You should be able to figure out what’s going on in the tank by observing the fish.
If you think that the cichlids aren’t eating due to stress, you’ll want to look out for them. See what is causing the stress and take steps to turn things around.
You might need to put the fish in a bigger fish tank if they’re stressed due to not having enough space. It’s important for cichlids to have more than enough room in the tank when you want them to do well under your care.
Be sure to research the appropriate tank sizes for the fish so you can make correct choices. Remember not to cram too many fish in one tank either.
If you suspect that bullying is the cause of the fish not eating, you’ll want to separate the cichlids from their tank mates. Cichlids can be kept as community tank fish, but you must keep them with compatible tank mates.
Remember that keeping multiple types of cichlids in the same tank will be a terrible idea. Cichlids will generally fight each other to the death because they see other cichlids as competition.
Sick cichlids can be even more problematic. You might need to pay very close attention to determine what’s wrong so you can treat the fish.
The fish could have an infection or they might be dealing with a type of disease. Use the symptoms of the fish to determine what the problem is so you can try to get it better.
You’ve learned that there are many reasons why fish will stop eating. Cichlids normally have a healthy appetite, but many things can take that appetite away from them.
It could be that the fish aren’t eating because they’re sick. Sick fish will often lose their appetites and they’ll become unable to eat.
To get the fish to start eating, you might need to treat the illness first. Figure out what’s making the fish sick and then treat the illness with the appropriate type of medication.
Stress is a common issue that causes fish to stop eating. Fish might avoid eating when they’re significantly stressed.
Fish that are unhappy with the environment that they live in might even look for a way out. It’s common to see cichlids start swimming up and down the glass when they’re stressed.
You can turn things around by solving the problems that are causing the fish stress. It’s likely that you’ll need to pay close attention to water quality issues.
Testing the pH balance of the water regularly and keeping the tank clean is important. You also need to do regular water changes to avoid letting the water get too dirty.
In some cases, you might need to buy a better filter. Using a weak filter on a large tank might not work out well since it won’t do a good enough job keeping things clean.
Even issues with feeding the fish the wrong food can keep it from eating. Sometimes the fish might simply get bored of eating the same food all the time.
It’s recommended to vary the diet of the fish to avoid such issues. Also, you need to give the fish the right mix of foods to ensure that it gets all of the nutrients that it needs.
You might need to change the things that you’re feeding the cichlids. If so, you could notice that the appetite of the fish will improve once you start offering it different foods.
Now you know what you can do to try to turn things around. Do your best to make good choices so your fish will stay alive in your tank for as long as possible.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.