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How Big Do Cichlids Get? (By Type)

How Big Do Cichlids Get? (By Type)

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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.

There are a number of different types of cichlids out there. If you’re caring for some in your tank right now, you already know that they’re great fish.

These fish are famous for being hardy and easy to care for. Since they’re generally not problematic fish, they make good choices for newcomers to the hobby.

Of course, it’s wise to know how big these fish will get. You want to make sure that you have enough room in your tank for them.

How big do cichlids get? Are these fish that will remain relatively small or will they grow to be very large?

Below, you’ll learn about different types of cichlids and how big they get on average. It’ll be helpful when you’re trying to decide which cichlids you’re interested in purchasing.


Average angelfish can grow to be six inches long. Since they can be fairly big fish, you’ll need a 20-gallon aquarium for these fish or something larger.

Angelfish also come in several different varieties. Some angelfish might grow to be a bit larger or a bit smaller. You should look up specific information about the type of fish that you choose to purchase.

It is good to know that angelfish grow to be tall. You’ll need a tank that is both tall and wide to accommodate the bodies of these pretty fish.

Overall, angelfish are great fish to own. They’re gorgeous fish that are hardy and easy to care for.

Oscar Fish

Oscar fish are some of the biggest cichlids that people commonly keep in home aquariums. These fish commonly grow to be between twelve and fourteen inches long in fish tanks.

It takes an Oscar fish around one year to reach its full size. Since it’s so big, it should come as no surprise to hear that it will require a big fish tank.

You’ll need a 75-gallon fish tank or something larger for this fish. Oscars are known for being able to live alone, but they can also be kept in breeding pairs.

When you wish to keep two Oscars in the same tank, it’s best to buy a 100-gallon aquarium. This will ensure that you get the best results.

African Cichlids

African cichlids come in many different varieties. There are actually hundreds of different fish that can be classified as African cichlids.

As such, there are smaller African cichlids and larger ones. Generally, these fish are expected to grow to be between four and ten inches long in a fish tank setting.

To get more specific information, you must refer to the species of African cichlid that you own. Some might stay somewhat small while others will grow to be large.

Smaller ones are more convenient for those who don’t have room for large fish tanks. African cichlids that grow to be ten inches long will require bigger aquariums.

Convict Cichlids

Convict cichlids are rather popular fish. They’re really appealing because they have a unique look.

It almost looks as if these fish have old-fashioned prison stripes. They aren’t very big fish, either, and this means that they will be practical for many aquarium enthusiasts.

These fish grow to be between four and five inches long at maturity. To get the best results, you should keep these fish in a 30-gallon fish tank.

Overall, you’re going to love how these fish look in your home aquarium. They’ve become very well loved and are hardy fish that make sense for beginners.

Firemouth Cichlids

Firemouth cichlids can also be considered to be among the most popular cichlid types. Many have fallen in love with the striking appearance of this fish.

A firemouth cichlid will grow to be between five and six inches long. Males are larger than females and will be closer to six inches long.

It’s also interesting that these fish have a rather fast growth rate. They grow to full size faster than many cichlids.

You want to ensure that these fish have enough room to thrive. As such, putting them in a 30-gallon aquarium is the recommended choice.

Keyhole Cichlids

Keyhole cichlids are rather small fish. These fish are popular because they have a reputation for being rather peaceful.

Since most cichlids are aggressive, it’s nice to find cichlids that are less problematic. Keyhole cichlids are satisfying fish to own that should work out well in community tank settings.

They grow to be around four inches long at maturity. Male keyhole cichlids will be slightly larger than females.

Since they’re not too big, they can be kept in 20-gallon aquariums. However, enthusiasts suggest keeping a breeding pair of keyhole cichlids in a 55-gallon fish tank to get better results.

Flower Horn Cichlids

Flower horn cichlids are rather large fish that can grow to be twelve inches long. The males are larger and females will generally be a bit under twelve inches long.

Interestingly, there are some varieties of this fish that are smaller. Some short-bodied varieties will only grow to be six inches long.

The standard flower horn cichlids will need to be kept in 70-gallon aquariums. They can’t fit in smaller fish tanks.

Because of their size, these fish won’t be practical for many aquarium enthusiasts. Unless you have room for a fairly big fish tank, it’d be best to seek out the short-bodied varieties of these fish.

It’s also worth noting that these fish are overly aggressive and can’t be put in community fish tanks. You might want to shy away from these fish if you’d prefer to have a variety of different fish in your aquarium.

Discus Fish

Discus fish are also rather large, but they aren’t as big as Oscars or Flower horn cichlids. These fish grow to be between eight and ten inches long on average.

They are a bit delicate as far as cichlids go, too. If you don’t monitor the water parameters closely, these fish can become stressed and die.

Keeping these fish healthy will require you to pay attention to the conditions in the tank. It isn’t too tough, but you should be aware that they aren’t as hardy as other types of cichlids.

Larger tanks are best for these fish when you want them to stay healthy. Many enthusiasts recommend keeping discus cichlids in schools of at least five and putting them in 100-gallon fish tanks.

Ram Cichlids

Ram cichlids are generally quite small. These fish are known to grow to be around three inches long at maximum growth.

Some might even be as small as two inches long. Since they’re small, you can easily keep them in 20-gallon fish tanks.

There are many varieties of ram cichlids, but they’re all small. German blue cichlids and Bolivian ram cichlids are among the most popular options.

Rainbow Kribensis

Rainbow kribensis cichlids are often just referred to as rainbow kribs for the sake of convenience. These are great fish that are perfect for those who want smaller fish.

They only grow to be between three and four inches long. The females wind up being three inches long and the males are four inches long.

These fish are very easy to breed and they’re highly active fish. People enjoy watching these fish swim around because they’re so active and fun.

Since they’re small, they should do well in a 20-gallon fish tank. These are good choices for most people who love cichlids.

How Fast Do Cichlids Grow?

Cichlids will grow quite a bit in the first year or two they’re alive. It’s common for these fish to reach full size within two years.

You have to look up growth rate information based on the species of the fish, though. Angelfish have different growth rates than discus fish.

Ram cichlids will be different from keyhole cichlids. Take the time to look up information about the types of cichlids that you own or are interested in owning.

How Long Does It Take for Cichlids to Grow?

How long it will take a cichlid to grow will depend on the type of cichlid that you’re dealing with. Some fish are likely going to grow faster than others.

African cichlids generally grow between five and seven inches within the first few years of being alive. Some cichlids that come from the South and Central American regions grow between six and eight inches in one and a half years.

If you want specific information, it’s best to look things up based on the species of the fish. This is the best way to determine how big fish grow and how fast they grow.

Cichlids That Stay Small

There are a number of different cichlids that don’t grow to be too large. Dwarf cichlids are a diverse, popular group that you might want to look into.

Most dwarf cichlid varieties will only grow to be between three inches and four and a half inches long. Standard cichlids often grow to be twice that size.

Even so, there are cichlids that stay small and will be practical for those who can’t find room for large fish tanks in their homes. Kribensis cichlids, golden dwarf cichlids, German blue ram cichlids, shell dweller cichlids, and cockatoo cichlids are some of the best options that you should look into.

How to Make Cichlids Grow Faster

Making your cichlids grow faster is truly just about caring for them optimally. You want to make sure that you’re feeding the fish well and giving them a varied diet.

Depending on what type of cichlid you’re caring for, it might be necessary to give it protein-rich foods such as freeze-dried brine shrimp and bloodworms.

This only applies to omnivorous and carnivorous varieties of cichlids. Herbivorous cichlids can’t properly digest meat-based proteins.

Never overfeed the fish since that can be detrimental. You’re also going to need to maintain high water quality to help the fish.

Monitor the water parameters and keep the water very clean. Avoid stressing the fish and it should grow as fast as it can.

Do Cichlids Grow to the Size of Their Tank?

Cichlids do not grow to the size of their tank. Fish can easily outgrow fish tanks if you place them in tanks that are too small.

That being said, it is possible for fish to grow larger if they’re given more room to grow. For example, many African cichlids will grow to be six inches long.

When you place these cichlids in a larger tank, they might grow to be several inches longer. This also depends on how well the fish is being fed and other factors such as water parameters.

Generally, fish growing to the size of the tank is considered to be a myth. However, small tanks can slightly stunt the growth of fish when they’re put in small tanks.

Can Cichlids Live in a Fishbowl?

No, fishbowls won’t be appropriate for cichlids. Cichlids are fish that get very stressed when placed in fish tanks that are too small.

Generally, fishbowls are very small and some only offer one gallon of space. Even slightly larger fishbowls will be far too small for cichlids.

These fish need fish tanks that are wide and tall enough to accommodate their bodies. Even smaller types of cichlids will need 20-gallon aquariums.

Never put cichlids in fish tanks that are too small. It only leads to health issues and the fish won’t thrive under such conditions.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned a lot about cichlids and how big they grow. There are many types of cichlids out there that you can look into purchasing.

For most, it’ll be easier to stick with cichlids that don’t get too large. Larger cichlids require big fish tanks that might be impractical if you live in an apartment or a small home.

Big fish such as Oscars can be fun to own if you have the necessary space, though. It just comes down to your situation and what fish tank sizes you’ll be able to accommodate.

You can help your cichlids to grow big and strong by caring for them optimally. Be sure to feed the fish well and take care of the water parameters so they will remain healthy.

So long as you’re doing your best, it’ll be easy to help cichlids thrive. Most cichlids are hardy fish that are easy to care for even when you don’t have much experience.

This information about cichlid sizes and growth rates should make it easier to decide which fish you want. Choose the cichlids that make the most sense for your home fish tank.

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