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South American cichlids are a diverse group of fish that are hardy, easy to care for and add spectacular color to their freshwater environment.
They are popular among fish hobbyists due to their multitude of species and color options. There are many species of South American cichlids, including discus, oscars, angelfish and Jack Dempseys. These active and intriguing freshwater fish come in a range of eye-catching colors and sizes, allowing you to create a diverse, fascinating show tank.
They are generally peaceful with fish of the same size and temperament, but may eat any fish small enough to fit into their mouths. You will see your cichlids swimming in the middle of your aquarium. To create a beautiful environment, be sure to add some top and bottom swimmers as well. Ask a PetSmart associate to help you choose.
Things to remember
CarnivoreThis means they eat mostly animal matter, including prepared foods and fresh, freeze-dried or frozen foods.
Adding fishWhether you're just starting your aquarium or introducing new fish into your tank, don't forget to add only 1-3 at a time.
Staple dietChoose a cichlid flake or pellet food, or freeze-dried fish foods. Feed according to the directions on the packaging.
Specialty foodsCichlids enjoy fresh or frozen bloodworms, adult brine shrimp and glass worms. Always remember to thaw frozen foods before feeding.
SpirulinaSupplement their diet with food containing spirulina, a nutritious type of algae.
Frequent feedingsFor optimum health, feed your cichlids as much food as they will consume in 1-3 minutes, twice a day. You can alternate between regular staple diet feedings and 2-4 meals per week of a specialty food.
AquariumStart with a 20-gallon or larger aquarium. A good rule of thumb is one gallon of water for every one inch of full-grown fish.
DécorDecorate their aquarium with rocks, driftwood, and plants, but be sure to place them on the sides and back of the aquarium so they'll have enough space to swim in the center.
Fish compatibilityCichlids should be housed in a semi-aggressive or cichlid-only community aquarium with fish of similar size and temperament.
More informationVisit our Fish Care Center to find products, care information and bright ideas to enhance your underwater world.
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