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Comparison between South American VS African Cichlids: Types, care & habitat

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In the world of cichlid fish South American cichlid and African cichlid, are both types are much popular. But South American and African cichlid has some basic differences which you must know before buying any of these types.

So let’s discuss it

South American cichlids VS African cichlids

South American cichlids come from the Amazon River and African cichlids come from three main lakes of Africa named Malawi, Victoria & Tanganyika. According to diversity, American cichlids are metallic in color but their average size is large and African cichlids are brighter than American cichlids but their sizes are small.

But these two line descriptions are not enough to describe its depth. That’s why I’m putting a chart to simplify it.

Here I’ve given some basic differences between South American cichlids and African cichlids. But I haven’t told you yet about its environmental difference which you need to know before keeping any of them.

Related:- Types of cichlid fishes with complete chart & definitive guide

South American Cichlid care (Briefly)

South American cichlids are very popular among all aquarists. If you are new to this hobby then you should go for this type of cichlid because South American cichlids are very friendly and easy to keep. This type of cichlids is compatible with other types of fishes also. So if you want to make a community tank then South American cichlid is a very good option for you.

The environment of Amazon River is the swampy type which is the home of most of the type’s South American cichlids. This is acidic in nature just because of humic acid. Humic acid comes from decaying plants and leaves.

So the South American cichlids need acidic water. That’s why the pH of the water of you fish tank should be in between 6-7. The temperature should vary in between 23°C to 27°C which is good for South American cichlids. This fishes like hard water which is <2 dH.

Lots of driftwoods, caves, hiding places are needed for South American cichlids because these cichlids are shy in nature generally. If you don’t provide much hiding spots then it will become more territorial and that is not good for the environment of your fish tank.

As the average size of this type of cichlid is 6-8 inches that’s why you need bigger aquarium to keep this. So make plan for it if you want to keep South American cichlids as aqua pet.

South Americans cichlids have variety of food habits. Frozen foods and processed food are most recommended for this type of cichlids. These can eat plant matter also. as supplement foods cucumber, zucchini should use  to feed them.

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African cichlids care (Briefly)

African cichlids come from the main three lakes of Africa named Lake Malawi, Lake Victoria, and Lake Tanganyika. This type of cichlids is also popular among aquarists but lots of people don’t want to keep it by thinking it hard to keep.

African cichlids are little bit harder to keep than South American cichlids. But anyone has little bit of experience in fish keeping then he/she can keep it easily.

This type of cichlids is not very friendly to other type of fishes. These want to stay isolated but these are more active than South American cichlids. So try to keep these fishes within its community instead of other type of fishes. These fishes are all colourful and very bright. So if you want to make a busy colourful fish tank then this type of cichlids is for you.

The environment of those three lakes is quite warm. The temperate of those three lakes are respectively Lake Malawi – 23°C-28°C, Lake Victoria – 21°C -27°C, Lake Tanganyika – 24°C-28°C. So the average temperature you should maintain in between 21°C to 27°C. This fishes also like hard water which is in between 4-6 dH

The water of these three lakes is crystal clear but this is little bit brackish water so the pH should vary in between 7.8 to 9 at your fish tank if you want to keep African cichlids. As you don’t need plants, driftwoods hiding spots etc, that’s why you don’t need to think much about its substrate.  Rocky substrate is most recommended for African cichlids. Hard round rocks you can use as substrate.

Most of African cichlids are carnivore. So live foods, like bloodworm, brine shrimp insects are most recommend for African cichlids. Frozen foods and processed food are also useful for it.

Related :- Types of mbuna cichlids

Can American Cichlids live with African cichlids?

African cichlid needs brackish water (pH 7.8-8.6) to stay where American cichlid needs acidic water (pH 6-7). So apparently it is not possible to mix American cichlid and African cichlid. But there is not hard and fast rule of it. If the pH level of water can be increased slowly by adding baking soda then American cichlid will not bother much by staying with African cichlid.

But there are some rules which you should maintain if you want to do this experiment

  1. You can’t put any American cichlid which is less than 6 inches.
  2. All-time put fully grown American cichlid in some juvenile African cichlid.
  3. Use 1 teaspoon per 5-gallon baking soda to increase the pH level of water very slowly.
  4. Use more than 100-gallon fish tank to mix American cichlid with African cichlid.
  5. Add some hiding spots, driftwoods, caves to feel them comfortable.
  6. No more than 4-5 inches of African cichlids are recommended.

These points are not assumptions. This data has been found by experimenting with this mixing. But there will be lots of problems also. The result may vary also. So don’t think these are rules to mix African and American cichlids. But if you maintain these while mixing both types of fish, then you can make a good and healthy mixed cichlid fish tank.

Read more:- Is goldfish compatible with cichlids?

Final thoughts

Here I’ve discussed almost everything about South American cichlids and African cichlids. If you want to start today then you should start with African cichlid because you can start with a small tank also.

South American cichlids are also good to start but if you don’t know the growth rate of these types of cichlids then you can’t get an idea about the tank size and at the end of the day you need to change the tank. So it’s better to start by gathering all required information.

So best of luck & happy fishkeeping 🐟

2 thoughts on “Comparison between South American VS African Cichlids: Types, care & habitat

  1. Howdy just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

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