Your tank design can serve many benefits for both the fish and the observers. You can use it to show off your own style and provide your cichlids with a safe haven at the same time. You can choose to go with a theme such as “pirates” or “Ancient Rome” by buying specialty decorations from a pet store or online if you so choose. Your tank can be a reflection of your personal style so feel free to go all out, just make sure you leave plenty of room for the fish to stretch out and swim freely.
Another option would be to go with a more “natural” theme by trying to replicate the natural environment of your cichlids. Most cichlids that you get at pet stores will be “captive-bred”, meaning that they were not caught in the wild and have been in an aquarium their entire lives, so the recreation of their natural environment isn’t necessary, while it certainly doesn’t hurt to do to have a more accurate tank.
For the fish, they don’t care about what “theme” you create but rather that you provide them with the proper decor to hide in and claim as their own space within the tank. Cichlids are generally very aggressive and territorial fish and there need to be more hiding spaces than there are fish so that they can each select their own place to call their own with many options to choose from.
When adding decor to your tank, you must also consider how difficult it will be to clean and maintain to give your cichlids the optimal conditions to live a long and happy life. The intricate decor will require more time to clean and while this is neither good nor bad, you will have to make sure that you will commit that amount of time on a regular basis to clean the tank. If time is at a premium for you, then a more simplistic design that takes less time to keep clean may be a better option.
Adding live plants is a great option to add an extra dimension to your tank and can add benefits such as shade and even food for some species of cichlids. Live plant design in tanks can be as simple or intricate as you desire, ranging from a few simple plants to a fully aquascaped display of green. When making your decision on whether or not to add live plants to your tank, you must consider the specific requirements that live plants command.
The water conditions need to be monitored to support the plants along with making sure that there is a proper light on the tank to help the plants get proper nutrition. There are plenty of products out there that will help you keep your live plants thriving in your tank, just check with your local pet store to make sure that the plants that you select are safe for your cichlids.
Be sure to check out our Tank Set-Up page to find all of the resources you will need to get your tank ready for cichlids!