Choosing cichlids

Here are a few examples of possible combinations.

South American cichlids

Tank size: 40-80 gallons, water hardness soft, pH 6.5 and lower.

  • One or two paris of German Rams (Microgeophagus ramirezi)
  • If bigger than 50 gallons: a group (4-6) of Angels (Pterophyllum scalare)
  • Non-cichlids, like South American characins.

West-African cichlids

Tank size: 40-80 gallons

  • a pair of Kribs (Pelvicachromis pulcher)
  • a pair of Anomalchromis thomasi
  • some other harmless fish (characins) for the upper regions of the tank.
  • if bigger than 60 gallons:  two pairs of Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor

This is a nice selection of species for beginners: The kribs will most likely going to breed soon, and all of them are beautifully colored.  However, a powerful filtration is required.

Malawi mbuna cichlids

minimum tank size: 90 gallons, pH > 8, hard water

See this mbuna article.

Tanganyika community

Tank size 80 gallons or larger, hard water, pH > 8

  • A group (10 or more depending on the tank size) of Cyprichromis leptosoma
  • A pair of Neolamprologus or Julidochromis, for example Neolamprologus brichardi or Neo. leleupi
  • a small group of shell-dwellers, such as Neolamprologus brevis, Neo. ocellatus or Neo. multifasciatus.
  • if larger than 120 gallons:  a group of sand cichlids", e.g. Xenotilapia, Enantiopus, Cytopharynx or Ophtalmotilapia

Tanganyika shell dwellers

If you have a tight budget you can get a "dwarf shell dwelling" cichlid tank, e.g. a group of 6-10 Neolamprologus brevis or Neolamprologus multifasciatus (and nothing else).

I have a two foot with two females and one male.  They like a small type of gravel such as rough coral sand as they like to labourously move it one grain at a time and can create mountains and vallys within a very short time. They have amazing personalities and are interesting to watch.  They need shells to be truly happy and will breed within a mounth or two if happy. Good luck!