Skip to Content

Common Types of Cichlids That Can Live Together Safely

Common Types of Cichlids That Can Live Together Safely

Share this post:

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 have become some of the most popular and well-known types of fish. Aquarium enthusiasts love cichlids for many different reasons.

These are fish that come in many different varieties. Cichlids are diverse types of fish that are appealing in so many ways.

They’re also generally hardy fish that can be good for beginners to the hobby. Many cichlids are easy enough to care for that people will be able to have a good experience even when making a few mistakes.

If you want to own some cichlids, you might be wondering if you can keep cichlids together. Can cichlids get along with other types of cichlids?

Keep reading to learn about the types of cichlids that can live together. It’s important to get this information so you don’t make mistakes that will lead to problems in the tank.

Can All Cichlids Live Together?

No, not all cichlids can live together. It’s actually a bad idea for most types of cichlids to be kept in the same fish tank.

Cichlids are semi-aggressive fish and some of them are more aggressive than others. These fish are known for becoming territorial and fighting with other fish.

It’s common for cichlids to become bully fish in aquariums. They might bother their tank mates and will fight over territory, food, and other such things.

Cichlid aggression can be mitigated by giving them more than enough space. It’s also important to put them in community tanks only with fish that they’re known to be compatible with.

Simply put, most cichlids aren’t compatible with other types of cichlids. Cichlids generally see other cichlids as competition.

Putting another group of cichlids in the tank will cause there to be extreme aggression issues. The two types of cichlids will go at each other and the larger cichlids will wind up killing the smaller ones.

This is the common thing that happens when you try to put two groups of cichlids in the same tank. If you want to avoid issues, it’s likely easiest to keep cichlids in tanks by themselves or only with known compatible fish.

That being said, there are cichlid types that can live with other cichlids. You just have to pick things out very carefully.

Later, you’ll learn more about the types of cichlids that can live with other cichlids. This will allow you to make a decision about what to do with your community tank.

Can Cichlids Live Alone?

Astronotus Ocellatus or Oscar Fish Swimming in Freshwater Tank
Oscar Fish

Yes, some types of cichlids can live alone and do very well. For example, Oscars are large cichlids that are said to do really well when living alone.

It’s slightly more common for Oscars to be kept in aquariums by themselves. You can keep Oscars in pairs if you’d rather do that, but you’d want to keep one female and one male in the tank.

Other cichlids might not do as well when kept by themselves. There are people who keep angelfish by themselves, but many say that it’s cruel to do so.

Whether a cichlid can be kept alone might depend on the type of fish you’re talking about. Some will do fine while others might become stressed.

Generally, it’s better to keep cichlids in pairs or small groups. The Oscar fish is the notable exception to this rule.

Technically, most cichlids will be able to live alone and stay alive. So long as you provide the fish with clean water, food, and a good environment, it’s going to be okay.

However, the fish isn’t going to thrive as much as it should. It would do better if you kept the cichlid with a breeding partner.

Dwarf Cichlids

German Blue Ram Cichlid
German Blue Ram Cichlid

Dwarf cichlids are some of the fish that can be kept in the same tank as other cichlids. This doesn’t mean that things always go smoothly, but it can work out okay.

This is largely because dwarf cichlids are among the least aggressive cichlids that you can find. Since they aren’t as aggressive, they’re not going to seek out conflict the same way many other cichlids do.

These fish do better when you keep them in small groups. They can be a bit aggressive, but the aggression of dwarf cichlids is far easier to deal with than it is with larger fish.

To avoid aggression issues, it’s best to keep more females in the tank than you do males. You should have three females for every one male dwarf cichlid.

There are various types of dwarf cichlids that you can keep together. This means that you can look into caring for fish such as the German blue ram and the Bolivian ram in the same tank.

It’s not unusual for people to keep some dwarf cichlids in tanks with some types of African cichlids. You could put dwarf cichlids in a tank with rainbow kribensis cichlids and get good results.

River Cichlids

Pair of Angelfish in a Tank With Driftwood and Rocks in the Background
Pair of Angelfish

River cichlids aren’t too aggressive and they should be able to live together fine. This includes a number of different popular cichlid types.

Angelfish are river cichlids and they are still somewhat aggressive. Despite being semi-aggressive, if you put them in the same tank as other cichlids, it might be okay so long as the fish tank is large enough.

Discus fish also fall under this category. You’ll need to be careful when putting these fish in community tanks, though.

You see, discus fish are a lot more delicate than most hardy types of cichlids. These fish don’t do well if you don’t monitor the water parameters closely.

Even so, it’s good to know that you can keep some river cichlids together. You can have a good experience if you set things up properly.

Getting a fish tank that is more than big enough is the first thing to focus on. You want to ensure that the territorial nature of the cichlids won’t be a huge problem.

Next, you should put plenty of hiding spots in the tank. Ensure that there are aquatic plants that will work well to give the fish places to hide instead of feeling the need to fight.

So long as you’re taking the right precautions, keeping some types of river cichlids together will work okay. Just know that it isn’t foolproof and that issues with aggression might pop up from time to time.

African Cichlids

Mbuna Cichlid
Mbuna Cichlid

There are African cichlids that can be kept together, too. Of course, African cichlids are a huge category of fish to consider.

You’ll find that there are hundreds of different types of African cichlids out there. Some of them are peaceful enough that they will get along okay in a community fish tank.

Most African cichlids are rather aggressive and this can work against keeping them together or mixing them with other species. The trick is to buy a larger aquarium and put hiding spots in the tank.

African cichlids seem to really enjoy having little caves and other types of rocks in the tank. This makes the aquarium more like the natural environments where you can find these fish.

There are different African cichlid species that can be mixed under the right conditions. Mbuna cichlids can live with Aulonocara cichlids so long as you’re only keeping one specific type of Aulonocara cichlid in the tank.

Mbuna cichlids can also be put in fish tanks with peaceful cichlids such as peacocks. Utakas are also known to be able to get along fine with Mbuna cichlids.

Haps can live with the peaceful cichlids as well, but they can’t be mixed with Mbuna cichlids. As always, keep aggression to a minimum by avoiding keeping too many male cichlids in the tank.

Things Can Still Go Wrong

It’s important to keep in mind that mixing cichlids together can still create problems. Even if you follow the advice above, issues with aggression might pop up.

Cichlids are known for being territorial. If you don’t take the right precautions, it’s likely that the cichlids will wind up fighting.

Sometimes it might not be worthwhile to try to mix different cichlid species. Even so, it can be rewarding when you do get things to go well.

Peacock cichlids and other fairly peaceful cichlids can get along nicely in community tanks. Some people like keeping multiple species of cichlids together because they want to get them to breed, too.

So long as you understand that you can’t guarantee there won’t be issues it’ll be fine to move forward. Simply do your best to give the fish enough space while putting hiding spots in the tank.

Look up individual information about the types of cichlids that you own. You want to research compatibility for all of the fish that you wish to put in the tank.

You’ll also have to ensure that the water parameter requirements match up for all of the fish. Otherwise, you won’t be able to keep the fish together.

If this sounds too complicated, you might want to avoid keeping cichlids together in a community tank setting. For some, it might be more trouble than it’s worth.

Are Cichlids Good Community Tank Fish?

For the most part, cichlids aren’t considered to be good community tank fish. The aggression levels of cichlids are a bit too high for many community aquariums.

That doesn’t mean that these fish can’t be kept in community fish tanks. You just have to be very selective about the type of fish that you keep in the tank with these fish.

Whenever you are looking for tank mates for cichlids, it’s best to look up individual compatibility. Consider the type of cichlids that you own and then research to find fish that will get along okay with them.

Many peaceful types of bottom-feeding fish get along fine with cichlids in community tanks. For example, it’s common to see cory catfish, plecos, and clown loaches in many fish tanks that contain cichlids.

Bandit Cory Catfish
Bandit Cory Catfish

Some fish will be easier to find tank mates for than others. There are certain types of cichlids that are just better off not being put in a community tank setting.

So long as you do the research, it’ll be simple enough to avoid making mistakes. You want to make good choices so none of the fish that you buy will wind up in harm’s way.

Getting the Fish Tank Right

Getting the fish tank right is a crucial aspect of finding success with African cichlids. You already learned that the fish tank needs to be large enough, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

It’s true that these fish become territorial when placed in cramped spaces. This is why it’s imperative to buy a fish tank that is more than big enough.

You also need to consider the shape of the aquarium. The ideal type of fish tank for cichlids is a tank that is wider than it is tall.

This is because of the way that cichlids are shaped. Some also require tall tanks, though.

For instance, angelfish need tanks that are both wide and somewhat tall. Consider the shape of the fish before buying an aquarium so you can have a good experience.

It’s also important to think about how big the fish will get once it matures. You’ll usually buy fish when they’re juveniles and they will continue to grow under your care.

Some cichlids can grow to be rather large. There are cichlids that will grow to be twelve inches long or even larger.

Making sure that you have an appropriate tank will be smart. You don’t want the fish to outgrow the tank because it could lead to substantial stress issues.

Are Cichlids Easy to Care for?

Koi Angelfish Near Bottom of Tank With Tucked Fins
Koi Angelfish

Cichlids are definitely easy to care for when you look at average types of popular cichlids. Angelfish are among the most popular cichlids and they’re great beginner fish.

Most types of African cichlids are easy to care for as well. If you want to buy fish that won’t be too hard for you to take care of, it’ll be simple enough to find cichlids that will fit the bill.

Of course, there are cichlids that are harder to care for than others. Earlier, you learned about discus fish and how they’re a bit more delicate than most cichlids.

Some fish are going to require more careful attention than others. Hardy types of cichlids are possible to take care of without putting in too much effort.

You still need to maintain the tank and do things right, but a few mistakes won’t kill the fish. Less hardy types of cichlids might die if you keep making mistakes too often.

The best option is to look up information about individual cichlids that you’re interested in. This will allow you to make a choice about whether the cichlid is a good fit for your situation.

As a beginner, you’ll be able to easily care for popular fish such as angelfish, convict cichlids, firemouth cichlids, and more. You simply might want to hold off on more delicate options until you’ve gained some experience as an aquarium enthusiast.

Cichlid Care Advice

Caring for cichlids isn’t necessarily hard, but you do want to do things properly to get the best results. If you want your cichlids to thrive under your care, you need to take care of them.

Monitor the water parameters closely to keep the fish safe. Many cichlids are hardy enough to tolerate small mistakes, but continued issues will cause the fish stress.

Stressed fish are more likely to get sick. You can avoid issues such as this by monitoring the water parameters and making necessary changes when the time comes.

You want to keep the water temperature and the pH balance in the right range. Regularly test the water to see where the pH balance is at.

It’s easy to lower or raise the pH balance of the water using chemicals. Keeping it in the right range is simpler when you have a good filter and you clean the tank often enough.

Cleaning and maintaining the tank is of the utmost importance. This is something that you need to get used to doing each week.

Every week you should be cleaning the tank and doing a regular water change. Weekly water changes of 15% should help you to avoid issues with dirty water.

Keeping your fish in a tank that’s big enough will make it easier to clean. Bigger tanks stay clean longer while smaller tanks will get dirty easily due to an abundance of fish poop.

Always remove organic debris from the tank since it can throw the water parameters off. Don’t leave excess food in the tank.

When feeding the cichlids, it’s best to give them only as much as they need to eat. Feeding cichlids too much can result in constipation issues.

Most types of cichlids should be fed three or four times per day in adulthood. Each time you feed the fish, you’ll need to give them as much as they can finish in thirty seconds.

Do your best not to go overboard and be sure to vary the diet of the fish. If you’re concerned about aggression during feeding time, try to spread the food out across the surface of the water so the cichlids won’t fight over one feeding spot.

Do Cichlids Live for a Long Time?

Pair of Red Oscar Fish Swimming Near Driftwood
Red Oscars

Many types of cichlids live for a long time. However, not all cichlids are going to live for many years.

Oscars are known to live between ten and twenty years. If you care for them optimally, they’ll be in your fish tank for a very long time.

Most types of angelfish can live up to ten years in captivity. This is assuming that you’re doing a very good job taking care of them.

The majority of African cichlids will live at least six years in captivity. Some live for ten years or longer when cared for well.

To help your cichlids live for a long time, you’ll need to focus on giving them excellent care. Feed them well and keep them in environments where they can live happily.

Avoid situations that will cause the fish to experience stress. Overcrowded fish tanks and living with incompatible fish will make it less likely that the fish will live for long periods of time.

Are Cichlids Expensive?

No, cichlids are mostly affordable, but not all of them are going to be inexpensive. Some cichlids will cost more money to own than others.

Common types of cichlids that can be found in pet stores will be affordable. Angelfish, basic African cichlid types, and even Oscars can be found being sold at great prices.

You might be able to buy cichlids for ten dollars or less per fish. Some will cost a little more depending on how big the fish is and whether it’s a rare color variation.

Rarer types of cichlids might be rather expensive to purchase. If you want to keep costs low, it’s better to stick with common cichlid types that are easily found in pet stores.

If you don’t have a good store that sells fish in your area, it’s easy to find cichlids online. Popular online fish stores sell a variety of different cichlids at reasonable prices.

Should You Keep Cichlids Together?

Now that you’ve learned a lot more about cichlids, it’s time to make a decision. Should you keep cichlids together?

Cichlids can be kept together with other cichlids, but not all of them will be able to do this. Only some types of cichlids can be put in the same tank together.

Often, situations such as this will lead to fighting and some fish might even get killed. There are types of dwarf cichlids, African cichlids, and river cichlids that can live together, though.

Even when keeping these cichlids together, it’s possible that issues might pop up. You could have problems with aggression, and this is especially true if the tank isn’t big enough.

To get things to go well, it’ll be necessary to have a large fish tank. It’s also best to have plenty of hiding spots in the tank such as aquatic plants and caves.

If you take the right steps, it should be okay to try keeping some recommended compatible cichlids together. You’ll simply have to keep an eye on the tank to ensure that things go smoothly.

Cichlids aren’t generally great community tank fish due to being aggressive. They can be kept in community tanks, but you have to pick tank mates carefully.

Care for your fish well and make good decisions that will protect them. Do whatever you think is best for you and your aquarium.

Share this post: