How to Find the Best Tank Mates for African Cichlids


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African Cichlids require ample hiding spaces and enough swimming room in their tank; thus making them unsuitable for community aquariums.

As their different water requirements and temperaments can stress them out, small peaceful species such as guppies, tetras and kuhli loaches make ideal choices.

Red Tail Sharks

Red tail sharks are semi-aggressive fish that enjoy creating boundaries and territories in their tank environment. When any other fish enter their territory, including ones four to five times larger, red tail sharks will pursue and chase any that enter without biting, which may become quite stressful for tank mates. Therefore, only one red tail shark per tank is recommended to ensure adequate rock cover and hiding places are provided for this type of predatory behaviour.

Red tail sharks tend to do well with most bottom dwellers such as gouramis, barbs, danios and catfish. When young, red tail sharks get along well with other sharks but as they age their territorial and aggressive behaviors can increase, which can be prevented by pairing them with less territorial tank mates.

Provide ample hiding places for fish to escape predators and reduce aggression and territorial behavior, while offering them protection in a heavily planted aquarium with sand substrate that will also prevent fin rot, which is common among freshwater species.

New aquarists may find it challenging to keep African cichlids with other fish due to their temperament, water parameters and environmental requirements. It is best to avoid mixing bullies such as small tetras and danios into one tank together. You should also avoid mixing species from different continents together as this will create conflicting water needs that cannot be fulfilled, which may result in stress and health problems for all the inhabitants in the tank. For more tank mates for african cichlids, check out this link.

Leopard Bushfish

African cichlids tend to be incompatible with other fish due to their territorial and aggressive tendencies, often clashing until their territory has been established, leading to injuries or even fatalities for other tank mates. But some species can get along well when introduced in an appropriate way – here are several strategies you could try for peaceful coexistence with African cichlids.

Leopard Bushfish makes an excellent tankmate for African cichlids as they are bottom feeders that eat algae without overfeeding, thus decreasing the likelihood of overfeeding their respective aquarium. Furthermore, Leopard Bushfish acts as an excellent predatory fish who can take care of smaller and slower moving species in your tank; additionally they add beautiful visual appeal.

Plecos catfishes make an excellent tank mate for African cichlids as they are hardy eaters that help maintain cleanliness within the aquarium environment. Plus, these peaceful species may help lower aggression levels of African cichlids!

However, before pairing African Cichlids together in your tank, ensure it has enough space as they can grow to 6 inches. Also provide plenty of hiding places and bogwood. In order to ensure peaceful coexistence between African Cindels and other species in your aquarium, avoid adding aggressive fish like Blue Dolphin Mooriis, Buffalo Head Cichlids or Butterfly Cichlids; these aggressive species could attack their tank mates due to incompatible water parameters, feeding and breeding behaviors or potential predation threats.


Though many avoid keeping plecos with African Cichlids, this doesn’t have to be the case. With the proper steps taken by their keepers, both species of fish can live together peacefully in your tank if selected appropriately. Finding a tank mate that matches their water conditions and diet requirements as well as one that matches up aggressiveness. Since cichlids tend to be territorial in nature it would also be wise to select an aggressive pleco fish as this would make for better coexistence overall.

Bristlenose plecos make an excellent choice because their armored bodies can withstand most cichlid’s aggression, plus their bottom feeding nature allows them to keep an aquarium clean by eating algae and uneaten food; furthermore they help prevent waste build-up by eliminating excess nitrates in the system.

Another good option are L047 mango pleco, L191 watermelons pleco or the L114 cactus plecos. These plecos are large enough not to get bullied by Malawi cichlids while still fitting comfortably into smaller tanks than they need for survival. Plus, maintaining these scavenger fish species couldn’t be simpler: just conduct weekly partial water changes, provide sufficient filtration systems and create enough hiding places so your plecos remain calm.

However, it should be remembered that the spotted Raphael Catfish is an aggressive predator who will likely kill any pleco it comes into contact with and should therefore not be kept with African Cichlids. Furthermore, you should avoid keeping South or Central American cichlids such as convict cichlid and green terror together with plecos as their different diet and environmental requirements could cause unnecessary strain within an aquarium environment.

Synodontis Catfish

African Cichlids, with their exotic appearance and intense personalities, can coexist peacefully in tanks that meet certain conditions. If their tank size is sufficient and housed with other fish that share similar temperaments, these two species should get along just fine. Unfortunately, however, physical matches could lead to aggression between species.

Synodontis Catfish (Synodontis pictus) are bottom feeders and will find great enjoyment from feasting on the algae produced by African Cichlid populations. Their mouth is strategically set low on their head with one top/bottom merged plate to enable them to easily crush shells or organisms they find when foraging for food, making them potentially predatory toward smaller fish species like juvenile African Cichlids; for this reason it should never be housed together even when other fish appear peaceful.

An aquarium setup that mimics their natural habitat is key for these fish to flourish. They need a large tank that features rocks, driftwood and hiding spots to encourage them to venture away from where they spend most of their time: in the sand. Furthermore, these fish require special lighting that regulates internal body temperatures that may fluctuate rapidly.

These versatile fish make an ideal starter aquaticrist choice, adaptable to various tank sizes, compositions and tank mates. A favorite among African Rift Lake cichlid collectors and enthusiasts, their stunning coloration and fascinating biology make these gorgeous aquatic companions highly popular pets for many hobbyists.

Scavenger Catfish

Synodontis catfish are fantastic bottom-dwellers, providing both aesthetic value and an effective natural form of cleaning up in any African cichlid tank. Not only will they blend beautifully into their surroundings, but they’re also invaluable at cleaning up any leftover food or organic debris left by other fish in the tank – unlike some species, Synodontis catfish do not tend to be aggressive towards other tank mates; in fact they tend to coexist peacefully if offered plenty of hiding spaces and an environment similar to their native habitat so they feel at home!

Leopard Bushfish, an exotic-looking species found in freshwater lakes of Africa and South America, are hardy nocturnal fish with minimal care needs that make an excellent option for beginners or anyone without much aquarium experience. Not only are these hardy nocturnals hardy but they act as natural cleaners of their environment by eating algae or decaying matter that would otherwise be eaten up by other cichlid species – just be wary when placing with smaller tank mates as they could prey upon these smaller animals!

Plecos (suckermouth catfish) make great additions to African cichlid tanks due to their hardy nature and ability to keep an aquarium clean. Since these bottom feeders eat both algae and waste, making them an excellent match. However, since plecos are bottom feeders it’s essential that their substrate be soft – otherwise these bottom feeders could injure themselves on rough rocks in your tank! Furthermore, as they can reach up to 10 inches in length.