Fun Cichlid Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Nov 15, 2022 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Discover cichlid facts about this beautiful and attractive species of fish.

If you love marine life, the cichlid is a species of fish that are absolutely beautiful and are among the most attractive fish.

They were previously classified under the order Perciformes and they are a popular group, consisting of more than 2000 species of fish which are found in all different sizes (big or small), different lengths (short or long), and different weights (lightweight or bulky).

Their main attraction is the beautiful color of their bodies and their ability to change color with the help of chemical reactions within the body in different situations.

They often do this to try to communicate or show emotions like anger, aggression, or parental emotions.

They communicate visually, acoustically, and with the help of chemical reactions too, and are admired by aquarium enthusiasts worldwide. These fish are found only in freshwater and are most commonly found in Africa, South America, and particularly Madagascar.

Cichlid fish of various species are also often found in aquariums as they are very attractive and pull great attention from kids and adults alike.

To learn more about this amazing fish, read on. For more information about other fish, check out our guides to the black marlin and to anchovies too!

Cichlid Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a cichlid?

Cichlids are aquatic animals and there are more than 1,300 species of fish of the Cichlidae family of the Cichliformes order. Most species of cichlid are aquarium fish but they are naturally found in open water and freshwaters in locations in South America, mainland Africa, and Madagascar.

What class of animal does a cichlid belong to?

The cichlid belongs to the class of ray-finned fish and is of the order Perciformes. Cichlids are an abundant form of aquatic life, with more than 1300 species, which can be herbivores, carnivores, and detritivores.

How many cichlids are there in the world?

The actual number is not precise as there are new species added to the list each year, but the approximate figure is somewhere between 2000-3000 species. They are the largest vertebrate family.

Where do cichlids live?

Some cichlids live in the ocean but cichlids are predominately freshwater fishes that are found worldwide. Cichlids are popular in Madagascar, Central America, Africa, and parts of India and Iran. The South African Lake, Malawi is known to have more than 500 species of cichlids that call it home. Many cichlids can also survive in aquariums.  

What is a cichlid's habitat?

A cichlid's habitat includes freshwater bodies like lakes, rivers, ponds, swamps, and even ditches and puddles. The cichlid is not found at high elevations and they generally require waters warmer than 68 F (20 C) to survive.

The pH value best suited for them is neither too acidic nor too alkaline, so between six and eight. The pH levels of African waters are somewhere between seven and nine and a half, making them suitable for cichlids.

Who do cichlids live with?

The cichlid species often prefer to live alone as they don't like other cichlids invading their territory, but they can be kept in groups with only one fish from each species and with an adequate amount of space for each fish to mark their own territory.

They must be kept in a male to female ratio of 1:3 to avoid any fights amongst this species of fish.

Cichlids can be very aggressive too and can even kill each other if they try to come into other fish's territory.

How long does a cichlid live?

The lifespan of cichlid fish varies from species to species and an average cichlid fish lives for about eight years in an aquarium. Their lifespan also depends on various factors like the pH level, ammonium levels, and the temperature of their water. The habitat of cichlid fish in aquariums must be carefully monitored.

How do they reproduce?

The male builds a cave for a female and tries to bring her in using a fin-shaking dance or by kissing. The female lays eggs in the cave which the male fertilizes.

A female cichlid lays a different number of eggs depending on its species (anything between the range of 160 to 1600). Unlike some other fish, they do not eat their fry and instead, they gather together and protect them. All cichlids are capable of breeding with other species of cichlid.

Some cichlids are even mouth brooders, meaning that they keep the eggs in their mouth. For example, the process of reproduction in African cichlids is known as mouth-brooding African cichlid mating.

What is their conservation status?

The current conservation status of the cichlid species is Not Extinct. These fish are hunted by humans and other aquatic and terrestrial animals.

Cichlid Fun Facts

What do cichlids look like?

Cichlids are found in a wide range of colors like yellow, orange, black, and more, and some even have the ability to change their color.

The cichlid is deep-bodied fish with only one nostril which is different from the usual (two nostrils) on each side of their head. They can be as short as 2 in (5 cm) and as long as 14 in (36 cm) and can weigh between 1.3-5.2 lb (620-2400 g).

The height of fish of the family Cichlidae ranges from 0.98-39.6 in (2.5- 100 cm) and they generally have round tails.

It is a fact that male and female cichlids need to be monitored together in an aquarium.

How cute are they?

Cichlid fish are large fish with colorful patterns which makes them an attractive choice. Their color can be different in different species. The oscar cichlid is one of the most attractive fish in the family Cichlidae and you can find both friendly and aggressive fish species among the cichlid fish.

How do they communicate?

The different species of cichlid fish show their aggression and fear, as well as parental emotions by changing their color patterns with the help of hormones and innervation. Bands and spots appear and disappear based on the situations they find themselves in. Therefore, they can communicate visually, acoustically (as cichlids can hear), and chemically.

How big is a cichlid?

The length of cichlid fish can be between 2-14 in (5-36 cm) and they can be between 0.98-39.6 in (2.5- 100 cm) tall. You can find cichlids that are half the size of a clownfish as well as some that are between four and five times bigger than a clownfish!

How fast can a cichlid swim?

Compared to humans, cichlid fish can swim at a very high speed underwater. Humans cannot even swim at a speed of 4 miles per hour whereas cichlid fish manages to swim at a speed of 60 miles per hour or more.

How much does a cichlid weigh?

The weight of each species differs among different cichlids. The weight of a cichlid can be anything between 1.3-5.2 lb (620-2400 g). The oscar is a famous cichlid that can weigh around 3.5 lb (1.6 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The cichlid fish is called Cichlidae by its scientific name and there are no particular names for males and females of these fish species.

What would you call a baby cichlid?

There is no name in particular for a baby cichlid but they can be called fry just like other fish babies.

What do they eat?

Cichlids can be herbivores, carnivores, and detritivores. They feed on algae, plants, other fish, small insects, larvae, and chemical material.

Are they dangerous?

Cichlid can be aggressive or nonaggressive, depending on their species and their surroundings. A cichlid might even kill other fish as a way of marking his own territory.

Would they make a good pet?

Most cichlid fish are aquarium fish and can be kept as pets, but they must be given adequate space for their territory, numbers of males and females must be monitored, and water with a pH value between six and eight, and not warmer than 20 C must be provided.

What size of tank do cichlids need?

For a fish of 1 in (2.54 cm), there should be 1 gallon (4.5 l) of water. Cichlids can grow very fast and can quickly grow to be 12 in (30 cm) in size, so any cichlid aquarium should have a minimum capacity of 10 gallons (45 l) of water. The bigger the tank, the better for the cichlid.

How to set up a cichlid tank?

The bottom of the tank should be sand as cichlids can use this to build nests. Fill the tank with artificial and natural aquatic life to make it more realistic and make sure you filter the water daily for you cichlid.

Did you know...

The male cichlid species are more dominant and aggressive than females. Male cichlids are also more colorful and attractive than females. Did you also know that cichlids kiss during their courtship, how cute? This is one of the best fun facts about cichlid fish.

Cichlid is not pronounced the way it is spelled, it is pronounced "si-klid".

Whilst cichlids are popular around the world and are often kept as aquarium fish, a large range of species of cichlids are found in Lake Malawi.

Types of cichlid

There are many different types of cichlid like African cichlids, the peacock cichlid, firemouth cichlid, ram cichlid, blood parrot cichlid, jewel cichlid, red devil cichlid, convict cichlid, flower horn cichlid, jaguar cichlid, rainbow cichlid, keyhole cichlid, green terror cichlid, Mayan cichlid, Demasoni cichlid, oscar cichlid, Midas cichlid, frontosa cichlid, red zebra cichlid, electric yellow cichlid, red terror cichlid, mbuna cichlid, yellow lab cichlid, pike cichlid, bumblebee cichlid, venustus cichlid, kribensis cichlid, wolf cichlid, severum cichlid, Kenyi cichlid, auratus cichlid, flowerhorn cichlid, and duboisi cichlid.

Phew, that's a lot of cichlid!

How to care for cichlids

To take care of the cichlid species of fish, one must provide cichlids with an adequate area to mark their territory, the male to female ratio should be 1:3, the water temperature should be a minimum of 20 C and the pH value of water should be between six and eight.

Cichlids are popular aquarium fish all around the world, but feeding these aquarium fish must be taken care of very precisely by all aquarium enthusiasts to keep your cichlids thriving!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including the codfish, or fluke fish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our cichlid coloring pages.

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Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

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