Cichlid Behavior

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Cichlid behavior is mostly aggressive considering how territorial this particular specie is. They can be very hostile towards other fish types and even to fellow cichlids, especially if one of them is invading the space of the other.

Cichlid Temperament during Breeding

If possible, cichlids become even more aggressive during breeding in an effort to protect their young. There are basically two types of cichlid breeders. The first one is open-breeders and would lay their eggs on the substrate, rocks, plants or sands. The second tends to opt for more secure locations like caves, the inside of their mouth or even create holes in the sand to lay the eggs in. Some breeders choose place their cichlid in separate tanks during breeding to prevent violent confrontations with other fishes. What is interesting is that the cichlid color changes when they are ready to mate. Specifically, the males develop darker colors during breeding time.

Social Interaction

As mentioned, cichlids are mostly aggressive, even to their own kind. Alpha males tend to fight other fishes for territory and would not hesitate in swimming after others and biting them in different body parts. This is why some breeders usually overstock their tanks with different cichlid types. The technique makes it harder for cichlids to maintain dominance and therefore lessen the aggression within the school.

How to Deal with Aggressive Cichlid Behavior

In order to deal with the aggressive side of cichlids, individuals must first consider exactly what is causing them to behave badly. If it is a territorial war, the most ideal method would be to rearrange the tank designs. This is because the fish use the designs as boundaries to their territory and by rearranging the area; they will become confused and therefore not be too aggressive.

Also, correctly choosing cichlids before buying them would also lessen the possibility of violent behavior. This is because cichlids also operate on an alpha-beta manner. This means that the biggest fish would usually be the school’s alpha while the others will be dominated and usually hide in their caves. In order to avoid this, try choosing cichlids that are roughly the same size.

Paying Attention to Your Cichlid

If there is any evidence of bullying in the tank, it would be a good idea to separate the fish that is being bullied, especially if they are starting to look weak. Adding more hiding places in the tank would also be helpful as the dominated cichlids can simply hide whenever the aggressor approaches.

Aggression can be easily pinpointed through frayed fins or fish that are inactive and always close to the substrate. Their colors also change depending on their mood. For example, stressed out cichlids display fainter colors and should therefore given special attention until they become happy in the tank again.

Despite their small size, cichlids are very interesting fishes with very active temperaments. When left on their own, there’s a strong chance that the dominant one will eventually kill or injure the others. This is why every good aquarist takes note of cichlid behavior and performs precautionary measures should it be necessary.

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James Corman has 28 articles online

To learn more about cichlid fish, go to the Lifestyles100 web site or pick up the Kindle book, Cichlid Care Secrets" at or the Nook book at Barns and Noble.

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Cichlid Behavior

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Cichlid Behavior

This article was published on 2012/02/16