Cichlids have acquired a none-too-flattering reputation for trouble - persistently quarreling with other (and their own) species and wrecking the decor. But this is not always the case. There are more than 1,500 species (related to the European perch), which throng the freshwater areas of America, Africa, and, to a lesser extent, Asia. Often quite large and powerful-looking, these toothed carnivores are voracious feeders. Their anatomical characteristic is the single, elongate dorsal fin. Some species possess a distinct personality and are decidedly temperamental; basically lively and boisterous, they can become quite belligerent, at least under certain circumstances, such as during spawning or in defense of territory. The breeding habits of Cichlids vary. One particularly interesting technique is mouthbrooding: the female shelters the eggs and fry in her buccal cavity, affording them a greater chance of survival.

Cichlids: fact and fiction


belief true


Cichlids are always big.

Some African and American varieties can reach 20-30 cm in captivity.

Some species, notably South American, do not exceed 10 cm or so.

They are miniature bulldozers, overturning the decor and uprooting plants.

Some species will disturb rocks or uproot plants, especially during breeding. Others are merely lively and "bump into" things, often accidentally.

Small Cichlids, and some larger species, respect their environment, even during breeding, and ignore the vegetation.

They are vicious, intolerant of other fish.

A few species are permanently aggressive; others only when defending territory or breeding.

Some species, not necessarily the smallest, are sociable, even timid and shy, except sometimes during breeding.

See also "Cichlids; behavioral characteristics"; table, page 105

They must be isolated in a large species aquarium.

This is best with the largest and least sociable Cichlids. {Minimum volume: 300 liters.) They will tolerate other species of their own size, regarding smaller ones as potential prey.

The more peaceful varieties can be kept in a regional aquarium alongside tranquil species, provided the tank is suitably large in relation to the size of the Cichlids: 100-200 liters minimum.

Cichlids are often impossible to obtain from dealers.

The less well-known Cichlids, rare varieties, or recently discovered species as yet without a scientific name and only designated by a code number, can be acquired through aquarists' clubs - notably those specializing in this family

The commonest varieties, raised in their native regions or in Asia as opposed to having been caught in the wild, are available through the trade. Some stores, particularly in the larger cities, specialize in Cichlids.



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