Cichlid Aggression And How To Fix It

SinisterCichlids
  • #1
Tank size
A lot of the problems I hear about keeping cichlids it goes something like this … “My cichlids are trying to kill each other! My water parameters are perfect in my 20 gallon high! What is the problem?!”” The problem is 20 gallons is 35 gallons short of what is required for a successful cichlid tank. Emphasis on successful here people. Sure, you can put a juvenile cichlid in a 2-gallon bowl, but will it live long and be happy? No. Make sure you have an adequate tank size for your fish. This will set you up for success and not a recipe for disaster.

Female fish
Cichlids are smart fish. I would say they are too smart for their own good. A lot of people will say, ““you should have 1 male for every 2-3 females in the tank.”” This is what we call in the hobby “aquarium snobs””. Sure, that is ideal, but let’s be real here for a moment; who wants a show tank filled with bland-colored female fish? No one, but don’t fret; there are alternatives you can take before switching to pet rocks.

Not enough fish
The second problem I often hear goes something like this … “My 3-5 cichlids are aggressively chasing each other! HELP!”” Having 3-5 cichlids in a suitable tank is another recipe for disaster. The aggression isn’t spread out, and they will quickly create a hierarchy amongst themselves. More fish will disperse aggression. I am reluctant to say, “GO BUY MORE FISH!”.” Make sure you have adequate filtration, oxygen, a large enough tank, and routine water changes first. Lastly, make sure your tank is cycled. I find ‘Seachem Stability” to be most useful in preventing your tank from crashing.

Lower the temperature
Lower the temperature into the lower end of cichlid needs. This will slow the fish down, make them metabolize food slower, making them less willing to breed, and chase. Slowly decrease the tank to 75-76 degrees so they can adjust and see how that helps. Remember that since their metabolism is slowed down, you might need to feed less. Yay for saving money on fish food!

Rescape the tank
Another option is to take all your fish out, put them in a hospital tank or a suitable temporary home, and rescape your aquarium. Make sure you have adequate hiding spots with lots of rocks such as Texas Holey Rock or Slate. Polyresin rocks work as well. Break up the direct line of sight. Make it harder for an aggressive fish to not B-line it to a sitting duck on the other side of the tank. Changing the tank will disorient the fish and make them have to work together to reclaim territories.

Less light
Another effective method is keeping the light off more often than not. Fish needs periods of darkness and light like all creatures. It is vital to have consistency here when trying this. Having a nighttime light on more often then a sharp white light will help lower cichlid aggression.

Buy compatible cichlids
Buying compatible cichlids is sometimes the luck of the draw, but staying within a specific species such as all Labidochromis will help. Also, try and pick fish that don’t look like each other. Commonly, cichlids view similar fish to them as a threat. It is less likely that an aggressive yellow lab would see a blue fish as a threat. Of course, this is trial and error. Certain types of cichlids have been known for lower aggression, but it is sometimes the luck of the draw. When you go to the fish store, find the fish you like and watch him. Is he chasing everything around to death? That is the bully and avoid him no matter how pretty because he will do the same thing in your tank.

Add multiple fish at one time
Remember when I said fish are too smart for their own good? Well, cichlids will immediately notice a new friend or foe in the tank. At first, they will be interested and maybe follow them around. They may even try and push their buttons to see where they fall in the line of hierarchy. Adding multiple fish will disperse the older fish’s curiosity and, therefore, aggression at the same time.

Isolating fish
Now these two next options, I personally had no luck with. But I always say consistency is key and try everything at least twice. Isolate aggressive fish, put them in a plastic jail cell inside the tank. They will be furious, but maybe, the aggressive fish will chill out from his time out. You can try and isolate the aggressive fish into an entirely separate tank. (I understand a lot of people might not have this option.) You can also try and isolate the abused fish and heal his fins with proper doses of melafix. Putting them back in the tank will put them at the bottom of the hierarchy, but at least the fish will be up to full health.

Conclusion
Now, remember that none of these methods will work entirely on their own. Do as many of these options as possible, pray to your god, be consistent, and try everything twice! It is sad, but the best things I have ever done for my tanks were to donate my bullies to good homes or healthy local pet stores. I have had to return a red zebra named Turtle and a male golden auratus named Mark Whalberg. It is sad, but my tank has never been more peaceful. Try all these options before coming to this.
 
Advertisement
A201
  • #2
Thanks for the well thought out advice. I agree with much of what you advised, except for the selection of fish.
IMO, its best to select the meanest, most aggressive fish in the vendors tank. In most cases the fish turns out the be the best looking, most disease resistant male.
 
SinisterCichlids
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Hey A201, thank you so much for commenting your opinion. I was hoping someone would comment back with their thoughts. I am interested in the 'more resistant to disease' part you mentioned. Would you say they are more resistant to disease because of their low levels of stress? As we know a lot of fish become disease susceptible because of stress.

Usually what I do is pick a smaller male who is beginning to show the strong characteristics of a dominant male, but isn't fully there yet. My thought process is to usually get younger mbuna (my favorite) and grow them out together, so they are more comfortable with the fish in their tank when they hit sexual maturation and become raging cichlids.
 
A201
  • #4
Most of my Africans are male Haps & Peacocks, only a few Mbuna. I try to buy only juvenile males, so they usually aren't colored up. When selecting a juvenile fish I look for aggression, and a faded color pattern. 90% of the time its a male. My tank is stocked full of #1 draft choices. Lol.
Their aggressiveness & strength, along with proper water management keeps them healthy.
The relative equilibrium achieved between the tank mates is due to all fish being strong & aggressive.
There are plenty of fights and an ever-changing heirarchy, but rarely any serious injuries.
 
chromedome52
  • #5
A common error is referring to "Cichlids" or even "African Cichlids" when actually speaking about only Malawians. It should be noted that the above suggestions are intended for Malawian Cichlids. Different rules apply to Tanganyikans, West Africans, and New World Cichlids. Oh, and Asian species are very special.
 
SinisterCichlids
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Chrome thanks for commenting. I agree with you. I was speaking directly about lake MalawI mbuna as that is what I am most familiar with and keep. In your opinion, which of these methods do you think aren't applicable to other African cichlids? and why? (asking for my own interest) thanks again in advance. chromedome52
 
Samuelp
  • #7
Gran artículo, tomo esto resumido:
 
chromedome52
  • #8
Tangs do not take well to crowding, with the exception of Tropheus. Tank size is dependent on species. West African Pelvicachromis species, Congolese Nanochromis species, these are small fish that can do quite well in smaller tanks. Malawians are actually less territorial than most other Cichlids in general, that's why they take well to slight overcrowding. The requirements vary from species to species, much more than they do with Mbuna, Haps, or Peacocks. There are also many species that require a great deal more space than a 55, even within the Malawian groups.

I wasn't suggesting that your recommendations were bad, overall they were pretty good as applied to Malawian Cichlids. Just pointing out that you need to specify that "little detail".
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Locked
  • Question
Replies
11
Views
584
fallfever
Replies
5
Views
442
MacZ
  • Locked
  • Question
Replies
7
Views
678
ssbon18
  • Locked
  • Question
Replies
6
Views
258
NoahLikesFish
  • Locked
  • Question
Replies
6
Views
525
njb235
Advertisement

Advertisement


Top Bottom