Cichlids are considered to be pretty good options for beginners. Many types of cichlids are hardy and that makes them simple enough to care for.
Even as someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience, you should have a pretty easy time with cichlids. Of course, the fish can still die if certain things go wrong.
If your cichlids are dying, you might be confused by what’s happening. Perhaps you have no clue what is going wrong with the fish.
Why are the cichlids dying in your tank? Are the fish dying because of something you’re doing wrong?
Keep reading to learn about cichlids and some of the things that might cause them to die. After going through the information below, you’ll have a better idea of what’s likely happening in your situation.
1 – Old Age
Before going further, it should be noted that cichlids will die eventually if they get old. If you’ve been caring for cichlids for many years, it might simply be the right time for them to pass away.
There are many different types of cichlids that you can buy. Some of them are going to live longer than others.
To learn the specific lifespan of the cichlids that you own, you need to look things up based on the species that you purchased.
There are many popular types of cichlids that can live for a long time. For example, Oscars are known to live between ten and twenty years in a fish tank.
African cichlids typically only live between six and ten years in an aquarium setting. The exact life expectancy will differ depending on what species you own.
If you recently bought cichlids, this almost surely isn’t the reason why they’re dying. Even so, it’s good to know that cichlids will die of old age after a number of years in your tank.
2 – Poor Water Quality
Have you been taking care of the water in the fish tank properly? If you haven’t, the fish could be dying due to water quality issues.
Poor water quality will cause most fish to die pretty fast. Cichlids are hardy fish that won’t likely die right away when you make a few mistakes.
They’ll still have a hard time if you don’t keep the water clean. Dirty water is going to make it very hard for the fish to live normally.
If things get really bad, it might even cause it to be difficult for them to breathe. The ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels might get too high in the water.
This is why you need to regularly test the water in the tank. You need to ensure that the pH balance of the tank stays in the right range.
Another thing to know is that you must clean the fish tank. Cleaning the tank is necessary to keep the water in the right condition.
You also need to change the water each week. Changing the water weekly keeps it from getting quite so dirty.
Ideally, you should change 15% of the water weekly. Do the best you can to pay attention to tank maintenance.
Do a better job of keeping the water quality high so your fish will stay healthy. Poor water quality can kill fish outright, but it can also make them sick.
3 – Temperature Fluctuations
Temperature fluctuations in the fish tank can potentially kill the fish as well. All cichlids are going to tolerate certain water temperature ranges.
If the temperature in the tank fluctuates, it’ll stress the fish. Sometimes the water temperature might fluctuate too much and it’ll harm the fish.
For example, the heater might stop working and this will cause the water temperature to drop really fast. The fish will then wind up dying due to shock.
You should be using a high-quality heater in the fish tank to protect the fish. Always keep an eye on the temperature of the water by using a thermometer.
Make adjustments as necessary to keep the fish safe. So long as you’re using a heater, it’s unlikely that temperature fluctuations will kill the fish.
If you made the mistake of not using a heater, that could kill the fish. The fish would be at the mercy of temperature fluctuations when the temperature inside of your home changes.
4 – Bullying
Did you put the cichlids in a community fish tank? It’s fine to do this, but you need to pick out appropriate tank mates.
As with all fish, cichlids are going to need to be kept with fish that they’re compatible with. Cichlids are semi-aggressive and they won’t get along with certain types of fish.
If you put cichlids in a community tank without doing the necessary research, you might have made a mistake. You see, the fish could be getting bullied to death by other fish.
Putting cichlids in a fish tank with larger and more aggressive fish will be a bad idea. Some types of fish might harm the cichlids or make them uncomfortable.
It could be that the tank mates are directly killing the cichlids. It’s also possible that the bully fish are simply causing the cichlids stress.
Often, stressed and bullied cichlids will hide in the tank and stop eating. They could wind up dying due to the stress that they’re experiencing.
Be very careful to only put cichlids in community tanks with fish that they’re compatible with. You’ll get much better results.
5 – The Fish Tank is Too Small
Cichlids don’t do well if you try to force them to live in a small tank. Putting them in a tank that is way too small will stress the fish significantly.
When cichlids are made to live in a small tank, it makes them act strange. You might notice that the cichlids will start swimming up and down the glass of the tank.
This is a sign that they’re trying to find a way out of the aquarium. They want to go to a bigger environment and they’re looking for a way out.
In some cases, cichlids might stop eating due to being stressed and unhappy with the environment. This could lead to the fish dying at some point.
If you’re paying attention to the fish, you should have time to turn things around. Be sure to put the fish in a tank that’s the right size.
Cichlids will require tanks of a specific size based on their species. You should do your best to research things so you can buy a tank that will be appropriate for the cichlids.
Never try to cram too many fish into an aquarium either. If the fish don’t have enough room, it’s going to be just as bad as keeping them in a tiny fish tank.
6 – Stress
You’ve already learned a bit about stress and how it can impact cichlids. Putting the fish in a small tank can cause them stress and so can putting them in a tank with bully fish.
Poor water quality will stress the fish and so will many other things. When fish get stressed, they’re going to have a tough time staying healthy.
Stressed fish are more likely to get sick. When fish become stressed, they wind up having compromised immune systems.
Healthy fish are able to fight off many types of sicknesses. It won’t be as easy for them to do so when they’re stressed.
Infections, diseases, and other issues might wind up killing the fish. This is why you need to do your best to keep the fish from becoming stressed.
Even things such as loud noises can stress cichlids. These fish hate being in rooms where everything is very noisy.
Never put the fish tank in a room with a television. You’ll also want to keep the fish away from stereos and other loud things in your home.
7 – Sickness
Of course, sicknesses might directly kill the fish. As you’d expect, there are many types of diseases and infections that can impact cichlids.
Bacterial infections might get so bad that they will cause the fish to die. The fish could develop fin rot or some other type of rot.
Ich is a parasitic infection that could kill the fish if it isn’t treated. There are all sorts of diseases that have the potential to kill cichlids.
You need to pay attention to the fish so you can take action. Try to notice the symptoms that the fish is experiencing.
Note the symptoms and then try to diagnose the disease that the fish is experiencing. If you have a hard time figuring out what’s happening, it might be best to reach out for help.
You can talk to an exotic veterinarian to get assistance. An expert such as this will have the knowledge to figure out what’s happening with the fish.
Then you can get advice about the best treatment plan. Many illnesses can be treated using medications.
The fish might improve fast if you can figure out what’s wrong with it and what treatment it needs. If you ignore the issues with illness, it’s more likely that the fish will eventually die.
Never ignore signs of illness. Doing so is going to allow the illness to get worse.
You always want to try to catch problems with sickness as fast as you can. Do your best to be an observant and proactive fish owner.
8 – Starvation
What happens when you forget to feed the fish, maybe while on vacation? It could potentially lead to the fish starving to death.
Granted, it’s unlikely that your fish are going to die if you forget to feed them once or twice. Cichlids are hardy fish and they can go for a while without eating.
However, you do have to feed the fish to keep them alive. If you forget to feed them for quite some time, it will cause the fish to die.
It’s said that cichlids can go seven to ten days without food. This is assuming that you’re caring for healthy adult cichlids.
For safety purposes, it’s wise not to go more than seven days without feeding the fish. Note that juvenile cichlids need to be fed more often because they’ll die easier.
You aren’t supposed to wait so long to feed your fish. If you keep only feeding the fish once or twice per week, they’re going to eventually die.
The fish will become stressed, weak, and unable to keep living. You’re meant to feed the fish each day.
Most cichlids should be fed three or four times per day. You’re supposed to give them as much as they can eat in thirty seconds each time that you feed them.
This keeps the fish as healthy as possible. Be sure to feed the fish daily if you want them to thrive in your tank.
9 – Overfeeding
Did you know that overfeeding the cichlids can be bad? Overfeeding the fish can be very detrimental.
Above, you learned that most cichlids should be fed three or four times per day. You want to avoid feeding the cichlids too much at once.
Be sure to only give the cichlids as much as they can eat in thirty seconds. If you’re worried about overfeeding the fish, it’ll be best to stick to feeding the fish three times per day.
Overfeeding the fish can lead to bloating and constipation. This can cause swim bladder issues and other complications.
Also, overfeeding can cause various digestive issues. It could keep fish from being able to eat and make things tough for the fish.
To avoid problems, it’s best to feed the cichlids very carefully. Always be mindful of how much food you’re giving to the fish.
You’ve learned many reasons why cichlids might die. They can die because of illness, starvation, stress, and many other situations.
Do your best to look out for your fish so they can live on in your tank. If you’ve made mistakes caring for the fish up to this point, you can do your best to turn things around.
Take care of the fish tank properly to protect the fish. Ensure that you feed the fish well without overfeeding them.
So long as you’re putting in the effort to improve, you should be able to keep cichlids alive in your aquarium. Learning from your mistakes as a beginner will allow you to move forward with greater confidence.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.