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How Much Do Cichlids Cost to Own? (Food, Maintenance, & More)

How Much Do Cichlids Cost to Own? (Food, Maintenance, & More)

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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 some of the most popular fish that you can buy. For many, cichlids will be the perfect choice when buying fish for the first time.

This is largely because so many types of cichlids are simple to take care of. Being able to get fish that will be easy to care for is important for newcomers to the hobby.

Of course, it’s important to think before you go out to buy cichlids. Buying cichlids on a whim isn’t the best idea because you need to consider the total cost of everything that you need.

There are all sorts of things that you’ll need to buy when getting started. How much do cichlids cost to own exactly?

Keep reading to learn about the cost of owning cichlids. This will help you to decide if buying these fish is the right choice for you.

The Cost of the Fish

There are many different types of cichlids out there that you can buy. Some of them are very common and won’t cost much money at all.

Others might be more expensive due to how large they are or because they’re somewhat uncommon fish. How much money you’ll spend to get the fish that you want will depend on which fish you’re interested in.

If you want to purchase angelfish, they’re not going to be too expensive. Many types of angelfish can be purchased for around ten dollars per fish, but some will be a lot pricier.

Oscars are popular cichlids that are rather large. Depending on the size of the Oscar fish being purchased, it might cost less than ten dollars.

African cichlids are another common type of cichlid that people like buying. Some might be inexpensive and will be less than twenty dollars per fish, but others will cost more.

As you can tell, the prices will vary quite a bit. There are cichlids that might cost a hundred dollars to purchase due to being rarer fish, but many are affordable.

Decide which cichlids you want to buy for your tank. You’ll also need to decide how many cichlids to purchase for the aquarium.

Remember that male cichlids often fight with each other. Typically, it’s easier to buy one male cichlid and two or three female cichlids.

Buying a Fish Tank

Buying a fish tank is another important cost to consider. You’ll spend close to a hundred dollars on most aquariums, but you might spend a lot more than that.

Some larger types of cichlids such as Oscars require big fish tanks. These fish need 75-gallon fish tanks, and some say that it’s better to keep them in 100-gallon fish tanks.

You might have a good experience keeping many cichlids in 30-gallon fish tanks. 55-gallon tanks will likely be more practical for African cichlids, though.

As you’d expect, larger fish tanks are going to cost more money. The bigger the tank you need the more money you’ll have to shell out.

Keep in mind that cichlids are fish that don’t do well in cramped spaces. These fish become stressed when you try to put them in fish tanks that are too small.

It’s also not good to overcrowd the fish tank with too many fish. If you want to get optimal results, you should buy a fish tank that is more than large enough for the fish that you purchase.

Always research the tank size requirements of the cichlids that you buy. You might be able to get a good deal on a tank and pay less than 100 dollars, but you want to be sure that you get the right size.

Necessary Accessories

You’re going to need to buy accessories for the fish tank as well. It’s important to buy a heater, a pump, and a filter for the tank for the sake of the fish.

A heater is an absolute must because cichlids are tropical fish that thrive in warm water. Even if you live in a fairly warm part of the world, the water can get too cold if you don’t use a heater.

Cichlids are hardy fish that can tolerate slightly cooler water for short periods of time. However, they don’t do well when the temperature of the water fluctuates.

Without a heater, the water temperature would go up and down quite a bit. This will stress the fish and it might even cause the cichlids to die.

Buying a water heater won’t cost too much cash and it’ll be helpful. You’ll also want a thermometer that will allow you to easily see the temperature of the water.

A filter is imperative because it’ll help to keep the fish tank clean. Regular tank maintenance is also important, but a filter will help to keep the tank from getting too dirty.

A pump helps with oxygenation and water flow. If the oxygen levels in the tank are poor, it’ll stress the fish and make it tougher for them to stay healthy.

These are all critical accessories that you must purchase for the fish tank. The cost of all of the accessories will depend on what you get.

Expect to spend over a hundred dollars on all of this equipment. You might be able to procure the accessories for less than that if you find a deal, but it’s important to get good equipment that will work for your tank.

You’ll need a more powerful heater, pump, and filter if you have a large fish tank. It might be beneficial to look for recommended equipment based on the size of your aquarium.

Lights aren’t incredibly important for cichlids. Generally, you need to ensure that the fish get eight hours of light each day.

These fish don’t need powerful lights and the lights need to be off at night so the fish can sleep. Many people install standard fluorescent or LED fish tank lights, but it’s technically optional so long as the room with the aquarium gets natural light during the day.

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic plants are going to be good to put in the tank with your cichlids. Cichlids can be rough on plants, though.

You need to buy tough plants such as Jungle Val, Amazon sword, java ferns, and anubias plants. These plants generally have strong root systems and won’t get uprooted as easily by cichlids.

Also, cichlids are less likely to eat these plants. Thankfully, aquatic plants aren’t too costly overall.

Depending on how big your fish tank is, you might spend fifty dollars or so on aquatic plants. Buying plants is recommended because it gives the fish places to hide and it helps them to feel more natural in the fish tank.


Feeding the fish will also cost money. You’ll have to buy food for the fish each month to keep them alive.

Cichlids will generally eat tropical flakes and nutritional pellets. This isn’t all that cichlids like to eat, but it’s what most people feed their fish on a daily basis.

You can buy flakes and pellets for less than ten dollars from many pet stores. Some cichlids will be omnivorous, but others will be either herbivorous or carnivorous.

Feed the cichlid based on the type of fish that it is. You must meet the specific dietary needs of the fish.

If your fish is omnivorous or carnivorous, you’ll want to feed it meaty treats from time to time. This means giving the fish freeze-dried shrimp, bloodworms, and other such snacks.

You likely won’t spend more than thirty dollars or so to feed the cichlids each month. This depends on what food you choose to buy and whether you’re getting a good deal.


Maintenance is another factor that you must consider. It costs money to care for the fish tank each year.

You’ll spend money on water, electricity, and food each year. The cost to maintain the tank won’t be too bad overall.

When you break things down and look at the yearly costs, most fish tanks cost less than two hundred dollars to maintain each year. You should expect to spend between one hundred and two hundred dollars on fish tank maintenance per year.

It could wind up costing slightly less than that depending on various factors. Just be sure to include this estimation in your budget so you can be sure that you have enough money to care for cichlids.

Final Thoughts

So what will it cost to get started? You’ll likely spend around three hundred dollars to get everything going.

It could cost a bit more than that if you need a large tank. You can also have greater expenses if you choose to buy pricey fish instead of common ones.

Even so, it’s good to know that getting started with the hobby isn’t that tough for most people. Buying an aquarium and the necessary equipment won’t be prohibitively expensive.

Just be sure to get everything that you need so the cichlids can thrive under your care. If you get the right stuff and budget things properly, you’ll be pleased with the results.

Cichlids are great beginner fish for those who are new to the hobby. Most of the popular cichlid types are easy to care for and they can be found at local pet stores.

Enjoy your time with your new cichlid tank. Be sure to clean the tank regularly and don’t forget to do weekly water changes.

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