Five Cichlid Species For Beginners

Five Cichlid Species For Beginners

Cichlids are charming fish often beloved by owners for their individualistic nature, striking colors, and general intelligence. If you’re looking to dive into the wonderful world of cichlids, below are a few species of cichlids that are good for beginners.

For beginner cichlid owners, it is recommended to start with a 30-gallon tank. Aquariums of this size can house smaller cichlid species comfortably. Tank requirements for African cichlids and South American cichlids are similar to other fish from the same region.

In order to keep these fish happy you should have in your tank:

  • A filter to keep your water oxygenated.
  • A heater to keep your water at a suitable temperature.

South American Cichlids

Freshwater Angelfish:

  • Pterophyllum scalare
  • Size: 6″
  • Temperment: Semi-aggressive
  • Color: Various
  • lifespan: 10 years

Freshwater angelfish are among the most popular cichlids in the aquarium hobby. Angelfish can be kept with similarly sized fish but may prey on smaller tank mates.

Bolivian Ram:

  • Mikrogeophagus altispinosus
  • Size: 2-3″
  • Temperment: Non Aggressive
  • Color: Silver with tan.
  • Lifespan: 4 years.

Rams are shy fishes. They are known for having some of the most striking colors for cichlids their size. They often feed by sifting through sand for leftover food. The Bolivian Ram is a candidate for the best cichlid for a beginner.

Firemouth Cichlid:

  • Thorichths meeki
  • Size: 6″
  • Temperment: Semi-aggrressive
  • Color: Silver and red
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years

Firemouth Cichlid is another cichlid species admired for their coloring. Their eponymous red coloring reaches from under the mouths to the belly. For beginners, these fish also can withstand a wide range of water parameters.

African Cichlids


  • Pelvicachromis pulcher
  • Size: 4″
  • Temperment: Semi-aggressive
  • Color: Black and yellow
  • Lifespan: 5 years

Like Firemouths, Kribensis are hardy fish that can adapt to different water parameters. These non-demanding fish also do well in community tanks.

Blue Peacock Cichlid:

  • Aulonocara nyasse
  • Size 6″
  • Temperment: Semi-aggressive
  • Color: Blue
  • Lifespan: 8 years

Blue Peacock cichlids are the tamest African cichlids and ideal for beginners. As with the South American cichlids, Peacocks are sand sifters.

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