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Common Misconceptions of African Cichlid Behavior
The African Cichlid is a tropical and semi-aggressive fish that has a long life span and mostly spends its time in the middle levels of the water. Despite their semi-aggression, they are a favorite for freshwater aquariums and are capable of scooting from the top to the bottom of the water. They are territorial and capable of eating smaller fish. This relatively implies that when they are kept together with other fish, it is important to ensure that they have the same temperaments and are equal in terms of size.
African Cichlids can be described as the most arguably revered, misunderstood and maligned fish family in the hobby of aquariums. There are common misconceptions and myths attributed to the behavior of African Cichlids and they include: The violent nature of Cichlids; though there is a limited number of very aggressive species of Cichlids, these are exceptional because the majorities are soft-water types which are kept in the community aquarium peacefully. An example of these mild African Cichlids is Rustys and yellow labs. Aggressive Cichlids can be relatively kept in peace if provided with a proper environment because they do not fight due to their violent nature or meanness, but rather due to a response of a perceived threat to their breeding or feeding territories.
The second misconception is that African Cichlids have to be given feeder fish to eat. The ideal diet is home or commercially prepared foods due to the selection of the ideal protein content. An exception to this is catching Lake Malawi Cichlids for instance. This wild-caught fish will refuse to eat the prepared foods, although it is possible to modify this behavior within one or two months through the use of live cultures such as brine shrimp, then a change to frozen foods before resulting to the form of food preferred. Most Cichlids are not fish eaters (piscivores), but when they are present, they should be fed live food that is appropriately selected. To ensure that the food given to the fish is disease-free, some hobbyists maintain a breeding colony for their food source.
Another misconception is that one can randomly go and pick Lake Malawi Cichlids and put them in a tank without taking time top consider the difference in species. This is relatively dangerous because the fish may not be compatible with the behavior, temperament, water industry or diet. After researching and selecting a new Cichlid, it should be quarantined before being added to a tank. Wild-caught Cichlids may harbor parasites which are generally activated by stress. In similar cases, most tank bred or farm raised Cichlids are capable of carrying parasites or diseases from preceding tank mates.
Planning on upgrading the tank or tank mates because the Cichlid has outgrown them is not recommendable because something might go awry as a result of unforeseen circumstances such as financial hiccups, bad timing, and poor perception or space constraints. Keeping two males together may lead to a fight especially when they want to mate and this is similar to keeping incompatible species together.