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The Best Cichlid Tank Size (For Popular Types of Cichlids)

The Best Cichlid Tank Size (For Popular Types of Cichlids)

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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 incredibly popular fish that you’ll find being sold in just about any pet store that sells fish. If you’re thinking of getting fish as a beginner, cichlids might be some of the first options that you’ll turn to.

These fish can indeed be excellent choices for those that are new to the hobby. Before you buy cichlids, it’s good to ensure that you have enough room for them.

How big do cichlids get? What is the recommended tank size for cichlids?

There’s a lot that you need to learn about these fish before moving forward. Below, you’ll get information about cichlids and what fish tank sizes they need.

You’ll learn about these fish and how important it is to keep them in aquariums that are the right size. Once you’ve read all of the information, you’ll be much more prepared to care for cichlids.

There Are Many Different Types of Cichlids

The first thing you should know is that there are many different types of cichlids. There’s so much variation between the different cichlid types.

As such, you can’t say that all cichlids will fit in one specific tank size. Some cichlids are pretty big while others are going to be a bit on the small side.

You need to look up specific information about the cichlids that you want to buy. For instance, you might be interested in buying African cichlids.

There are a number of different types of African cichlids on the market. Some are larger than others and you might need more or less tank space depending on what type you purchase.

Oscars are large cichlids that require decently-sized fish tanks. Angelfish are cichlids as well and most types of angelfish are somewhat smaller.

Several Oscar Fish in Tank

Knowing this, it’s clear that you’ll have to look up information on a case-by-case basis. Otherwise, you’re not going to get the information that you’re seeking.

How Many Cichlids in a 10-Gallon Tank?

A 10-gallon fish tank is going to be too small for cichlids. Even small cichlids are going to require more room than a 10-gallon tank can offer.

Standard cichlids such as African cichlids will not fit in a tank this small. Even angelfish won’t be able to live comfortably in a 10-gallon tank.

If you only have room for a tank this small, it’d be better to look into other options. You might need to find a small type of fish that’s easy for beginners to care for.

Cichlids require larger tanks. Trying to put cichlids in a small tank like this would be detrimental to the health of the fish.

How Many Cichlids in a 20-Gallon Tank?

You can’t keep most cichlids in a 20-gallon fish tank. It’d be better to keep them in a 30-gallon tank or one that is even larger.

Technically, you can fit one angelfish in a 20-gallon aquarium. However, it should be noted that many people consider keeping just one angelfish in a tank to be cruel.

African cichlids are too large to be kept in a 20-gallon aquarium. It’s likely better to go with a 30-gallon aquarium or to get an even larger one when you’re interested in caring for cichlids.

These fish truly do better when they’re given more than enough space. Putting them in cramped fish tanks will cause them stress and that can make them sick.

How Many Cichlids in a 30-Gallon Tank?

Two Gold Veil Angelfish

It’s possible to keep two angelfish in a 30-gallon tank. Two of these fish should do well enough and you might even be able to give them a few small tank mates as well.

You can fit a few peacock cichlids in a 30-gallon aquarium, too. These are smaller types of African cichlids.

It’s said that four peacock cichlids can fit in a 30-gallon fish tank. Depending on the size of the fish, you might want to keep fewer of them to err on the side of caution.

A 30-gallon tank is much more reasonable than a 20-gallon tank. It should work out okay for small numbers of cichlids.

How Many Cichlids in a 55-Gallon Tank?

Depending on the species, you might be able to fit as many as 15 African cichlids in a 55-gallon fish tank. If you go with some of the smaller types of cichlids, this will work out nicely.

Many enthusiasts recommend going with a tank this large when you wish to keep cichlids. It ensures that the cichlids will have more than enough space to thrive.

A 55-gallon aquarium isn’t that big overall. It’s still fairly simple to fit an aquarium of this size in your home.

For many, this will be an ideal size to purchase. You can easily find aquariums of this size at your local pet store, but you can also buy them online if that’s a more convenient option.

How Many Cichlid Fish Per Gallon?

You can’t really use a per gallon calculation for cichlids. It simply doesn’t work out properly.

As noted earlier, cichlids come in many different sizes. There are various types of cichlids and they’re all going to have different tank requirements.

Since you can’t determine how many fish to put in a tank on a per gallon basis, it’s best to look up individual information about each fish type. Figure out which type of cichlid you’re interested in buying and then research how many cichlids will fit in a fish tank of a certain size.

For instance, you learned that fifteen small African cichlids can fit in a 55-gallon tank earlier. You also learned that two angelfish can fit in a 30-gallon aquarium.

If you want to buy Oscars for your fish tank, you’ll have to look up information about them. Research the types of cichlids that you’re interested in so you’ll have specific information that you can rely on.

Are Cichlids Schooling Fish?

Multiple Malawi Cichlids

Cichlids are not considered to be schooling fish. You don’t need to keep these fish in groups to be able to enjoy them in your aquarium.

That doesn’t mean that they can’t live in groups, though. Many types of cichlids will do very well in groups.

Technically, it’s possible for cichlids to live alone and do just fine. So long as you’re giving the fish enough food and you’re keeping it in a good environment it will stay alive.

However, it’s best to keep these fish in pairs. Generally, it’s accepted that you should keep cichlids in breeding pairs.

This is going to be the best situation that will allow most cichlids to thrive. There are exceptions to this rule, though.

Oscars are popular types of cichlids and they’re often kept alone. They can live in pairs, but they also seem to do rather well when kept in aquariums by themselves.

Oscar Tank Requirements

Oscar Fish Close Up

Oscars are going to need fairly large tanks even when being kept alone. One adult Oscar should be kept in a 75-gallon fish tank.

These are big fish that grow to be between 8 and 16 inches long. Since they’re so big, they’re going to need plenty of space to move around.

Oscars are territorial fish that won’t take kindly to being placed in a cramped environment. You must be sure to give them a large enough tank or they won’t do well under your care.

You learned that Oscars can be kept alone earlier. They can also be kept in pairs if you’d like to go that route.

Many say that it’s best to keep Oscars in breeding pairs. If you plan to do this, you must have a 100-gallon fish tank or something larger.

These fish take up a lot of space and they might not be practical for all fish owners. Decide whether you wish to commit to caring for Oscars in your home.

Angelfish Tank Requirements

Threespot Angelfish

Angelfish are likely the most popular type of cichlid. These fish are pretty and they’re very easy to take care of, too.

You know that one angelfish can live in a 20-gallon fish tank. This is assuming that you’re caring for a smaller type of angelfish.

Two angelfish can be kept in a 30-gallon aquarium safely. This is a much better situation than choosing to care for just one angelfish.

Many angelfish will be a bit larger and they’ll do better in a 55-gallon aquarium. Be sure to research the type of angelfish that you’re buying ahead of time so you can pick the right tank and get things set up.

You should also know that angelfish do best when placed in tanks that are tall and wide. This helps to accommodate their body shapes.

African Cichlid Tank Requirements

Multiple African Cichlids

Some African cichlids will be able to be kept in 30-gallon aquariums. Fish that are six inches long or shorter should fit fine in an aquarium of this size.

Many African cichlids will do better in a larger tank such as a 55-gallon aquarium. These give the fish more room and help to keep them happy.

Remember that cichlids are territorial and aggressive fish. If you want them to be happy and healthy, it’s best to give them more than enough space.

You want to avoid cramming them into small fish tanks. If possible, go with the largest tank that you can so you’ll have a better experience.

What Happens When You Keep Cichlids in Tanks That Are Too Small?

Keeping cichlids in tanks that are too small will be a very bad idea. These fish become very stressed when they don’t have enough space.

There are a few situations where the fish will become stressed due to a lack of space. You could be keeping the fish in a tank that is too small for them.

It’s also possible to put too many fish in the fish tank. Either way, the cichlids will become stressed due to a lack of space.

The territorial nature of these fish will come out when they don’t have enough space to move around comfortably. They might start fighting with each other more often.

Eventually, the stress will have a negative impact on the health of the fish. Stressed cichlids will develop compromised immune systems.

Fish with compromised immune systems are more likely to get sick. They will be susceptible to various diseases and infections.

If you want to protect the fish, placing them in appropriately-sized aquariums will be imperative. You must make good choices or the fish will suffer.

Can Cichlids Be Kept in Community Tanks?

Cichlids in a Community Tank

Yes, cichlids can be kept in community fish tanks. You simply need to take the right precautions to avoid having issues.

You’ve heard that cichlids are semi-aggressive fish. The territorial and aggressive nature of cichlids will make them poor tank mates for certain types of fish.

When choosing tank mates for cichlids, you need to research compatibility carefully. Otherwise, you could wind up unnecessarily getting fish killed.

Cichlids will be much calmer in the fish tank if they don’t feel the need to fight over territory. Putting these fish in small tanks will make them feel as if they need to compete for territory.

When you put them in aquariums that are more than big enough, these issues are far less prevalent. You’ll have a better time if you keep the cichlids in a bigger fish tank.

If you plan to set up a community aquarium, it’s imperative to consider the needs of all of the fish. The cichlids need a certain amount of space.

Adding more fish to the tank will cause more space to be taken up. Therefore, you’ll need a larger tank than usual when you plan to use cichlids as community tank fish.

Knowing this ahead of time allows you to buy everything that you need. You can plan things out properly so the fish will thrive under your care.

Final Thoughts

Do your best to buy aquariums that are large enough for cichlids. You should research the right fish tank size for the type of cichlids that you plan to purchase.

There are so many types of cichlids out there. You truly do have to look things up based on the specific type of fish that you’re interested in.

Angelfish will need different tank sizes than Oscars. It stands to reason that larger types of cichlids would need bigger tanks.

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