The diverse cichlid fish.
The cichlid fish, of the Cichlidae family, is one of the most diverse fishes in the world. There have been more than 1,300 species of cichlid that have been scientifically described. However, it’s estimated that, because cichlids are very adaptable, there may be up to 3,000 species. The cichlid family includes fish such as angelfish, discus fish, and tilapia. Though they are diverse, cichlids are typically characterized by their rounded tails and long, flat bodies. Many are colorful, but some, like tilapia, can have very dull colors.
In the Wild
Cichlids live in the freshwaters of the American tropics, Africa, southern Asia, and Madagascar. In these wild freshwaters, many cichlids are omnivorous as they will eat algae and other vegetation as well as other fish, larvae, and small crustaceans. Depending on the species, cichlids will live in open water, sandy areas, and even among rocks. Many cichlids are also mouth-brooders, which means mother fish will care for their young in their mouths. Usually male and female fish are similar in size and color.
In the Tank
In a freshwater tank, cichlids can reach up to twelve inches long, depending on the species. They are usually outgoing and certain species can be aggressive and territorial, so larger tanks are usually more suitable as they’ll have room to swim and separate from each other. The best tank mates will be fish similar in temperament, and tanks will also have plenty of rocks and places to hide. Tank cichlids will also benefit from mixed fish foods that supply a variety of protein and vegetation.
While many cichlids can be aggressive, the African cichlid is particularly known for their aggression. If you’re considering the African cichlid, be aware that you may have territory issues. Fortunately, there are plenty of cichlid species to choose from for your freshwater tank.
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