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What Cichlids Can Live Together?

Cichlids are a family of fish that can be found worldwide in freshwater environments, most notably in Africa, Central America, and South America. Though there are many different species of cichlids, they all tend to be aggressive in nature. Perhaps you are now curious as to which cichlids can live together in an aquarium? Well, I have the answer for you below:

Cichlid fish can live together in a tank, provided you only keep one of each species. Even the so-called non-aggressive cichlids can become territorial with other fish of the same or similar species. It is best to keep them in pairs or in a tank with a male-to-female ratio of 1:3 as having too many males and not enough females can increase tension and aggression in fish.

Now that you know only one of each species of cichlid should be kept in a communal tank, let us explore this topic further and in more detail below. We will discuss which types of African cichlids can live together as well as whether (or not) you can mix African and American cichlids. We will also explain if angelfish can live with cichlids and which cichlid species are considered more (or less) aggressive.

So, if you are ready to learn more about keeping cichlid fish together in a community tank, then please keep reading…

Can You Keep Different Types of Cichlids Together?

You can keep cichlids together in an aquarium if you have just one of each species. Also, it is best to keep only those from the same continent, if possible. And make sure there are more females than males to keep aggression levels at a minimum. In most cases, a pairing of one male and one female of the same species is recommended.

What African Cichlids Can Live Together?

Most African cichlids can be kept together in a community tank, provided it is large enough to prevent the fish from becoming territorial. Try to keep only those from similar regions, as they are more likely to share compatible behavior traits as well as similar water chemistry requirements. As well, try to get fish of approximately the same size to avoid dominant or ‘bullying’ behaviors.

African cichlids come from the African Lakes in the Rift Valley. They prefer hard or alkaline water and tend to be quite aggressive in nature. One of each species, like an auloncara with a utaka and/or a mbuna would be fine. One of each type of dwarf cichlids such as rams, kribs, and/or apsitos is also okay. If possible, keep more females than males as males tend to be more hostile and territorial.

What South American Cichlids Can Live Together?

South American cichlids come from the blackwater streams, creeks, and rivers in Amazon River Basin. Most species will get along quite well in an aquarium. For example, a freshwater angel fish makes a great tank mate for a discus fish. As they both prefer soft or acidic water and grow to about the same size, they are ideal for a large (at least 55-gallon) tank.

What Central American Cichlids Can Live Together?

Central American cichlids come from fast-flowing streams and rivers in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. While they like the same water conditions as African cichlids, they should not, however, be kept together. Instead, try pairing a male with a female of the same species and avoid multiple couplings unless you have a huge tank (at least 260 gallons or bigger) with plenty of hiding places!

Can You Mix African and American Cichlids?

It is not recommended that you mix cichlid species. The aggression levels in the fish are too great and the likelihood of different types being able to sustain the same aquatic environment is doubtful. Each species has its own specific needs when it comes to water composition, temperature, lighting, etc. It is best to only keep cichlids from the same continent and just one or a pair of each species, if possible.

Can Angelfish Live with Cichlids?

An angelfish is a type of cichlid and is often considered one of the more docile of all known cichlid species. Since it is an example of a South American cichlid, other fish from the same continent such as the acara, hero, rainbow, and/or symphysodon species usually do well together in a communal tank. Do not put African cichlids in a tank with Angelfish as they are quite large and far more aggressive.

Are There any Peaceful Cichlids?

While cichlids are often considered to be aggressive, there are some species that are more peaceful in nature. The smaller South American cichlids such as angelfish, blue arcaras, discus, dwarfs, heroes, keyholes, rainbows, rams, and symphysodons are generally less aggressive than their Central American cousins, which are often considered to be moderately aggressive in nature.

These examples listed above can coexist well together in an aquarium, provided there is just a single (or possibly a pair) of each species, more females than males and only one fish per every 10 gallons of water, depending on the size of the fish. A tank with hiding places like driftwood and rocks – not plants as these fish tend to uproot them – and sand rather than gravel for substrate is best.

What are the Least Aggressive Cichlids?

South American cichlids are smaller than other cichlid types and tend to be the least aggressive. They are not as territorial in nature as African or Central American cichlids, which range in behavior from moderately to extremely aggressive. In most cases, the smaller the fish, the less aggressive it tends to be. However, it is important to keep in mind that individual temperaments vary from fish to fish.

South American cichlids usually do well together in a community tank. The general ‘rule of thumb’ is one inch of fish per gallon of water. Therefore, if you have a 55-gallon tank, you should be able to keep four fish – two pairs of South American cichlids of the same species or one male and three females from different species. This, of course, is dependent upon the type and size of fish as well.

What is the Most Aggressive Cichlid?

The most aggressive cichlids tend to be of the African variety. These include the butterflies, peacocks, Malawi’s, orange zebras and African yellows. African cichlids are often the largest of the cichlid family and the most temperamental. Generally, larger fish are more hostile than smaller fish, which is why it is so important that you keep African cichlids of roughly the same size in a shared aquarium.

Contrary to popular belief, more is better when it comes to African cichlids in a community tank. Having a few extra fish helps curb their aggression levels by making it more difficult to single out the smaller, weaker ones. Be careful, however, not to overcrowd your tank too much as this will increase both the ammonia and nitrite levels which can be detrimental to fish health.


To conclude, it is possible for cichlid fish to live together in a tank, provided you only keep one of each species. Since even the less aggressive cichlids can become territorial with other fish of the same or similar species, keeping fish of approximately the same size in a community tank is recommended. Also, it is best to keep the male-to-female ratio at 1:3 as males tend to be more aggressive than females.

I hope you have found this article to be both interesting an informative. Thanks for reading and good luck with your cichlid aquarium!

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