While some species of cichlids are strictly herbivores, most are actually omnivores and prefer to feed on everything from worms to fish in the wild. At most pet stores you can find frozen food to use as part of a cichlid diet such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and krill. Vegetables such as zucchini and cut green beans are also great additions to a cichlid’s diet. If you are unable to dedicate this amount of effort to meal preparation to your cichlids, you can purchase a wide variety of prepared food pellets, flakes, and sticks with nutrients designed specifically for cichlids. Be careful not to overfeed your cichlids and feed them once or twice daily.
After you have your tank set-up and your fish are in place, you will need to maintain the aquarium conditions on a regular basis in order to create the ideal environment for your fish.
Water changes should be done on a weekly basis where you are removing and replacing approximately 25% of the water in the tank. This will help to remove pollutants that the filter leaves behind and add fresh, clean water into the cycle. Be sure to clean your gravel at the same time using a gravel siphon to remove solid waste at the bottom of the tank.
No matter what filter style you choose, you will need to clean or replace atlas a part of it on a regular basis. For a hanging filter, you will have to replace the filter media on a monthly basis and clean out the pipes and the inside of the hanging unit itself. Internal and canister filters will need to have their sponges and other filter media rinsed with used aquarium water on a monthly basis. It is important to note that the filters should not be “squeaky clean” as there is some level of bacteria necessary to stay in the filter to promote a healthy tank environment for the fish.
As you add water to the tank when doing a water change, use a dechlorinator to the water to remove harmful chlorine that is found in normal tap water. In addition, the pH, ammonia, and nitrites levels of the water should be tested regularly using a testing kit to maintain ideal water conditions for the fish. Central/South American Cichlids require a more neutral pH (6.8-7.2) and soft water, whereas African Cichlids require a higher pH (7.8-8.4) and harder water.