How to Make a Cichlid Tank
- 1). Purchase an aquarium large enough to support the species and number of cichlids that you want to keep. Several species of cichlids are highly territorial and aggressive towards other fish. A 50-gallon aquarium is a good size that provides plenty of space for other fish to escape from aggressive cichlids.
- 2). Rinse aquarium gravel with clean fresh water and cover the base of the aquarium evenly. Many cichlids dig through the substrate in search of food, so use a gravel that does not contain jagged rocks to prevent the fish from injuring themselves.
- 3). Construct numerous caves over the aquarium gravel with large rocks. It is easier to construct and adjust caves to fit the aquascape that you want when the aquarium is empty.
- 4). Add water to the aquarium and place aquatic plants into the substrate. Use small rocks to anchor aquatic plants to the aquarium base and prevent cichlids from disrupting the plants. Aquatic plants help filter cichlid waste and increase the oxygen supply in the aquarium.
- 5). Install a filter large enough to handle the capacity of your aquarium. Canister filters and power filters both work well for cichlid tanks.
- 6). Place a thermometer in the aquarium and install an underwater aquarium heater in the back of the aquarium where it will remain out of sight. Cichlid water temperature should remain between 74 and 82 degrees.
- 7). Install a full spectrum florescent light to support aquatic plants and bring out the color of your cichlids. If you add a timer to the lighting system, ensure that it is set for no more than 8 to 10 hours of light each day.
- 8). Place a few small fish in the aquarium and allow the tank to cycle for a few weeks before adding cichlids. Cichlid aquariums need a large colony of bacteria that absorb fish waste and help keep the water chemistry healthy for cichlids. The bacteria need time to increase their numbers in aquariums. Providing a few small fish will help gradually increase the volume of beneficial bacteria and prevent dangerous nutrient spikes that can stress or even kill cichlids.
- 9). Test the water chemistry in your tank with an aquarium water chemistry kit to ensure that the nutrient levels, temperature and lighting systems are stable before introducing cichlids.