Facts about cichlids

Cichlids in Dictionary

There are over 1,300 recognized species within this type of fish, all of which live in freshwater. However, it is estimated that between 2,000-3,000 species can easily be found. Especially in the African and South American lakes and quiet flowing rivers, this beautiful colorful fish will be found.

Facts about cichlids

Location: South America, Asia, Africa (freshwater fish)
Life expectancy: 15-20 years
Weight: 1.5 kilos
Size: 1.5 centimeters to 1 meter
Food: Other small fish, crustaceans and insect larvae
Quantity: 1,300 species
Fun fact: The discus fish are not mouth-hatching, as many believe, but lay their eggs on hard surfaces such as roots, stones or leaves, and the young then later feed on a secretion that both parents produce on their bodies (thanks to Per With)


Cichlids vary in size, and thus there are both large cichlids but also dwarf cichlids. Common to them is that they all have a kind of compressed large elongated body. On the back there is a dorsal fin with spike rays in the front part. Furthermore, the cichlids have a shorter gat fin with three spike rays at the front. Unlike normal porcupines, cichlids have one nostril on each side of the head, where other fish usually have paired nostrils. The fish is available in all sorts of colors, from orange shades to blue and on to gray or yellowish colors.


It is very different what cichlids live on. The different species have acquired the lakes and rivers they live in. They have adapted depending on the surface, e.g. stones or plant environments, but also according to the depths they are in. Thus, the fish have developed some very special crushing teeth in the pharynx depending on the concentration of food in its area. The fish that feed on other fish have large and coarse pharyngeal teeth, while the species that feed on algae and small organisms have fine close-fitting pharynx teeth. Cichlids that feed on snow snails and mussels can crush the shells with their flat teeth. Furthermore, some specialize in digesting dandruff from other fish and finally there are also the cichlids that eat aquatic plants.


According to DigoPaul, Cichlids are vertebrates that lay eggs. The most common among cichlids is that the female lays eggs on a substrate, it can be the top of a leaf, in the seabed, or by a plant stalk. After which one or both parents guard the eggs for possible enemies and swirl oxygenated water towards the eggs. Their way of laying eggs is special from other fish. Some cichlid fish lay their eggs in their mouths, after which they are fertilized. Especially the discus fish is known for this special action. The eggs are incubated in the mouth for approx. 1 month before the small fish larvae hatch. Here the pups suckle for 5 weeks with the mother before they are “set free”. The young are fed through a special secretion from the fish’s mucus cells.

In areas where wastewater is discharged, cichlids may have difficulty seeing. In some lakes, life disappears into the lake bottom, and visibility can drop to just 50 cm. Here it can be difficult for the cichlid to recognize the colors of its stomach. This can mean that the female either breeds with males of other species, or almost completely refuses to breed with the male.


There is a great deal of diversity in how the different species of cichlids behave. Some find each other in pairs and live together, while others are alone. Results have also been seen on harem-like tendencies among the cichlids. Here one male has a territory with several females. Each she has her cave with her eggs as it guards. The male protects the territory from other predators and enemies. The females and the one he thus lives in area with each other and must thus be shared about the male.


The cichlid is a fish, but how does it fit in with the total of 25,000 different fish species where you can meet some of them, with a trip to Sri Lanka . Here, the ray finfish is the largest species. In addition to this, the fish types can be classified into additional slime targets, cartilaginous fish and vortex fish. In fact, vertebrates include mammals, which is why humans are roughly a species of fish. The cichlid is a vortex fish that falls under the category of perciform fish. This family also includes perch, lipfish and clownfish, which are especially known from the Disney classic “Find Nemo”.

Travelers’ questions about the cichlid

Why breed cichlids?

Cichlids are bred for two purposes – for aquarium care or for food. In China in particular, there is a large production of a special species of cichlid, which is sold in fish markets due to its high protein content, as well as its rapid growth. In addition, cichlids are bred because there are many who have this type of fish living in aquariums. It is easy to fit with the right type of bait and with the right design of the aquarium. Here it is especially cichlids from the African lakes Victoria and Malawi that the fish are picked up and resold from.

Facts about cichlids