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Do Cichlids Change Color? (5 Reasons Why They Can)

Do Cichlids Change Color? (5 Reasons Why They Can)

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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 diverse types of fish that come in many interesting shapes and sizes. There are so many types of cichlids out there.

It’s likely that you’re caring for cichlids in your fish tank. These are common types of fish that are very popular among aquarium enthusiasts.

Have you started to wonder whether cichlids are capable of changing color? Perhaps you’ve noticed that some of your cichlids appear to be changing color slightly.

Is this normal or is it a sign that something is amiss? Read on to learn about cichlids and whether or not they’re capable of changing color.

This will help you to better understand what’s going on. You can have an even greater appreciation of cichlids once you’ve read the information below.

Cichlids Can Change Color

Yes, cichlids can change color. This can happen for a number of different reasons.

Color changing and color fading can occur with these fish. This isn’t something that is unique to cichlids.

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s common for the alpha cichlid to be the brightest cichlid in the group. Sometimes the other cichlids will wind up fading a little bit once an alpha has been established.

It isn’t necessarily something that you need to worry about since this can be a normal thing. However, it can be a bad sign to see your fish fading, too.

You’ll learn more about this later. Read all of the information below so you’ll have a greater understanding of what’s really happening when cichlids change color.

Why Do Cichlids Change Color?

There are many reasons why cichlids might change colors. Sometimes males will become more colorful during mating rituals.

Males try to impress females with impressive colors. It can be normal to see cichlids change color during mating.

There are potential negative reasons why fish will change color, too. For example, fish could be stressed in some way and that will cause them to lose color.

Below, you’ll learn a little bit about common reasons why cichlids change colors. This should make it easier to determine what’s going on in your situation.

1 – Age

Juvenile fish will sometimes start out having very vibrant colors. As the fish continues to age, these bright colors might begin to fade.

As fish get older and older, they will begin to lose color. Eventually, the fish will get so old that it will be close to death.

During this time, the fish will fade in color significantly. As fish get older, it’s normal for them to lose color.

Sadly, there isn’t anything that you can do to stop this. It’s simply a normal aspect of life for the fish.

2 – Social Issues

Social issues can cause male cichlids to change colors. As mentioned earlier, the alpha male cichlid will be the brightest and most colorful fish.

When several male fish are in the same tank, the other males are going to fade in color. Submissive males will become much duller because of the social roles they have taken.

It’s said that this is a way of showing respect to the dominant male in the tank. For some fish owners, this might be disappointing.

Generally, it’s best not to put too many male cichlids in the same fish tank together. They often fight and it can create annoying problems in the tank.

3 – Illness

Illness might cause a fish to fade in color as well. When fish get sick, they will often respond by losing color.

Many types of illnesses will cause fish to fade in this fashion. Ich is one of the most common diseases that cause fish to change color.

If you notice your fish is losing color, it’s likely a good idea to look out for signs of sickness. You want to treat the fish as soon as possible to help it get better.

You might need to give the fish medicine or solve issues with stress to help to improve. The fish should recover over time so long as you figure out what’s wrong and give it the necessary treatment.

4 – Stress

Stress can lead to fish getting sick. When fish get really stressed, they might lose color whether they’re sick or not.

Fish can become stressed when they’re forced to live in poor water conditions. Dirty water or water that isn’t appropriate for the fish will cause substantial stress issues.

Keeping the fish in a tank that is too small can be a problem as well. You can overcrowd a fish tank and cause the fish stress just as easily.

Try to limit the things that cause the fish stress in the tank. If you notice that a fish is fading in color, there’s a good chance that something is causing it to experience stress.

5 – Dietary Problems

Dietary problems are also known to cause fish to change color. Have you been feeding the fish enough?

If the fish haven’t been eating properly, they might lose color. You could be feeding the fish too infrequently or you might not be feeding it the right things.

Adult cichlids are supposed to be fed three to four times per day. You’re meant to feed them as much as they can eat in thirty seconds each time.

These fish will eat different things depending on the type of cichlid that you’re talking about. Cichlids can be either herbivorous, carnivorous, or omnivorous.

Ensure that you’re feeding the cichlids a good diet. Do your best to feed them often without overfeeding them.

When Do Cichlids Get Their Color?

Cichlids start getting their color rather fast. It should only take until a few weeks after the fish has hatched for this to occur.

So the fish start getting their coloration rather early in life. It will still take some time for full coloration to occur.

It’s said that it’ll take at least six months for cichlids to reach full coloration. Some cichlids might take as long as two years to reach full coloration.

There are so many cichlid varieties out there. Exactly how long it will take will depend on the species.

How Long Does It Take for Cichlids to Get Their Color?

As mentioned above, cichlids start getting their color just a few weeks after hatching. From this point, it’ll take between six months and two years for the fish to obtain its final coloration.

You can try to look up specific information about the type of cichlids that you own. This will ensure that you know what to expect.

Do Cichlids Lose Their Color?

Yes, cichlids will lose their color for various reasons. It will happen naturally as fish continue to age.

Fish fade in color when they become stressed and sick, too. It’s common for fish to do this when they’re put in tanks that are too small or when the tank is overcrowded.

Male fish will fade in color when they’re submissive to an alpha male cichlid. As you can see, there are many reasons why these fish lose their color.

Why Is My Cichlid Turning Black?

A cichlid turning black could be normal or it could be a sign of sickness. Some cichlids will have black spots appear on their bodies during mating.

This is known to happen with Blood Parrots. It’s said that this occurs due to breeding hormones.

Your fish might be turning black due to problems in the fish tank, though. This has been known to happen when fish tanks have significant problems with water quality.

The water parameters could be way off. Test the pH balance of the tank and ensure that everything is in the right range.

It’s also possible that the fish could have a fungal or bacterial infection. This could be very serious and might even kill the fish.

You can treat infections with antibacterial or antifungal medications. Catching things early will give the fish the best chance of making a full recovery.

How to Enhance Cichlid Color

Enhancing the color of the cichlids is about taking care of them well. Ensure that you keep the fish from becoming stressed so they won’t lose color.

It’s also imperative to feed the fish properly so they will be healthy. Some enthusiasts experiment with feeding cichlids different types of food to try to make them more colorful.

You can try putting lighting in the tank that will help to bring out the best colors in the fish. Installing lighting that complements the color of the fish will help out a lot.

Using a contrasting background and the right substrate colors can also make a difference. You can’t directly change the color of the fish, but you can help to accentuate the natural colors of the cichlids.

How to Get African Cichlids to Color up

Feed the fish well to get them to stay as colorful as possible. Take care of the fish and keep them from becoming stressed.

Pay close attention to the water parameters. Ensure that the fish is living in an aquarium that is more than large enough.

You can also try moving male cichlids to tanks without other males. This will cause the cichlids to color up rather quickly.

When formerly submissive males don’t have to worry about a dominant male, it’ll be easier for them to color up. Simply set up a separate tank.

You might want to avoid putting more than one male African cichlid in a tank. Keep one male cichlid in a tank with two or three females.

Which Cichlids Are the Most Colorful?

There are a number of different colorful cichlids that you can choose to buy for your tank. Many of them are going to be great options that you can easily find at the pet store.

Angelfish are some of the most colorful fish that you can buy. There are different angelfish types that come in different colors.

Picking a very colorful angelfish for your tank will surely help your fish tank to look more aesthetically pleasing than ever. You can also go with peacock cichlids.

Peacock cichlids are named as such because of their bright and vibrant colors. These fish stand out in a positive way in aquarium settings.

Electric blue acara fish are truly beautiful fish that are colorful. If you love the color blue, these fish will be very appealing to you.

Flowerhorn cichlids come in a variety of colors. They’re very pretty, but they’re also large and aggressive fish that aren’t suitable for community tanks.

There are so many different cichlids out there that you could purchase. Many of them are quite colorful so you won’t be lacking options.

Final Thoughts

So long as you take care of cichlids well, they should remain fairly colorful. These fish will lose color as they continue to age, though.

This isn’t something you can stop, but you can help to avoid making cichlids lose color due to stress. You must watch out for the fish and ensure that they’re taken care of well.

Put cichlids in fish tanks that are more than big enough for them. Don’t overcrowd the fish tank by cramming too many fish in there.

Feed the fish well and ensure that you’re feeding them enough times per day. Don’t put these fish in fish tanks with incompatible fish.

Avoid putting too many male fish in the aquarium. Generally, it’s better to put only one male cichlid in the tank since the less dominant males will lose color due to the presence of an alpha male cichlid.

If the fish do happen to get sick due to being stressed, you will need to take care of things swiftly. Give the fish the necessary treatment so they can get better.

Cichlids are fantastic fish that can add so much color to your aquarium. They will look amazing in the fish tank if you do your best to keep them healthy.

Don’t hesitate to buy cichlids for your tank if you’re looking for pretty fish. These fish can change color and they’re generally going to be very impressive.

If you have any friends who are wondering if cichlids can change color, you can tell them what you learned today. It should help them to know what they need to do to ensure that their fish stay looking as gorgeous as possible.

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