Top 10 Cichlids we Love to Keep In 29-Gallon Fish Tanks

Top 10 Cichlids We Love to Keep in 29-Gallon Aquariums

Cichlids are a very diverse group of primarily freshwater fish that are known for their brilliant coloration and feisty personalities. Some species need larger tanks to accommodate their size. However, many others can be housed in a 29-gallon tank. Find out which of these cichlids made the top 10.


South American Cichlids

1. German Blue Ram

Mikrogeophagus ramirezi

This 2-2.5-inch (5-6 cm) dwarf cichlid boasts an amazing array of colors, such as a red eye, black markings, yellow head, and blue iridescent speckling on the body and fins. They come in a variety of colors, including gold, electric, and black. Remember to get an aquarium heater that can heat the water to 84-86degF (29-30 degC). You will need to have a warmer water temperature in order to keep them happy. Their full care guide can be found here.

2. Bolivian Ram

Mikrogeophagus altispinosus

This underrated, hardier cousin of the German blue ram is a favorite of our warehouse manager Robert. It can grow up to 3 inches (7.6cm) in length, features striking yellow and black colors, and has long, trailing tips at its tail and fins. They are more easy to breed than German blue rams and can survive in colder temperatures of 73-79degF (23-25degC). This easy-going cichlid goes well with other similar-sized community fish, like tetras, corydoras, livebearers, and barbs.

3. Apistogramma Cichlid

Apistogramma cacatuoides

The brightly-colored genus dwarf cichlids can be found in almost any color and pattern. A. cacatuoides, also known as the cockatoo cichlid, A. agassizii and A. borellii are some of the most common species. They are similar to the German blue ram and prefer the bottom third. Hobbyists often breed them by making an apisto cave for them or a coconut hut to house their eggs. You can find more information about how to keep apistogrammas here.

4. Lyretail Checkerboard Cichlid

Dicrossus filamentosus

Looking for something a little more challenging? You might like the chessboard or checkerboard-cichlid. This is named for the alternating rows and black squares running down its body. They prefer soft water with lower pH, so add catappa leaves and driftwood to naturally acidify the water. While they have a shyer disposition and get along with other community fish, they may squabble amongst their own species, so try to keep more females than males.

5. Golden Dwarf Cichlid

Nannacara anomala

This South American species displays some serious sexual dimorphism, such that the two sexes look very different from each other. The male is approximately 3.0 inches (7.6cm) long with flashy, neon green scales. While the female is roughly half the length, has a golden-tan and black horizontal lines, and a body that is approximately 3″. They enjoy Repashy gel food, slow-sinking pellets and frozen foods. Matching one male to multiple females is a good way to encourage breeding. Also, spawning caves can be provided (similar to apistos).

African Cichlids

6. Lyretail Fairy Cichlid

Neolamprologus brichardi

This stunning cichlid has a beautiful body with long fin tips and a lyre-shaped head. One breeding pair can be kept within a 20-gallon container, while a group of four or five can be kept in the 29-gallon. If you intend to increase your aquarium size by 55 gallons or greater, they should be kept in a species-only tank.

Brichardi cichlids, like most of the smaller African cichlids on our list, come from Lake Tanganyika and therefore require hard water with high pH from 7.8-9.0 and GH above 160 ppm (9 degrees). Cichlid salts, substrates such as crushed coral or aragonite are useful for water that is not very hard. You can watch the parents and older siblings closely monitor the baby fry as they spawn by adding lots of cave-like rockwork.

7. Lemon Cichlid

Neolamprologus leleupi

If you enjoy the vibrant colors of bigger African cichlids, you can’t go wrong with the Leleupi cichlid. This striking species is 3-4 inches in length (8-10 cm) and has a bold, bright yellow-to-floral orange body. As with the lyretail cichlid, it enjoys dwelling and breeding in the cracks and caves formed by piles of rock. They are not picky eaters and will happily feed on an omnivore diet of cichlid pellets, frozen foods, and spirulina flakes.

8. Kribensis

Pelvicachromis pulcher

Because of its ease-of-breeding and numerous color options, this popular aquarium fish is loved by many. They are similar to Apistogramma cichlids in that they spawn in apisto caves or coconut huts. Parents will also show care for their offspring. Kribs, unlike all other African cichlids mentioned in this article do not originate from Lake Tanganyika. They thrive in alkaline water with pH levels between 7-8. They can live peacefully in a community tank, but can become territorial when they are breeding.

9. Julidochromis Cichlid

Julidochromis marlieri

The striking black and white fins of Julidochromis cichlids, which are surrounded with iridescent-blue fins, and their long, cigar-shaped bodies, are what make them so popular. They are rock dwellers and tend to stay in the corners of rocks, protecting their territory and looking after their children. To provide extra cover for your julies, and purify the water, you might consider adding live aquarium plants.


10. Shell Dwellers

Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Shell dwellers are the smallest of the cichlids, measuring in at 2.5-5 cm (2.5-2.5 inches) Their common name refers to the fact that they live and breed in empty snail shells instead of rock crevices. They also like to constantly dig and redecorate, so use sand for the tank bottom and add live plants that don’t require substrate (e.g., java fern, anubias, and floating plants). Because the fry stay close to home and wait for food to drift into their shells, feed them tiny, slow-sinking foods like baby brine shrimp, nano pellets, and crushed flakes. Our shell dweller article provides more information.

Because of their distinctive appearances and bold personalities, Cichlids have been a favorite fish of ours. Aquarium Co-Op cannot ship fish, but we do have a list with trusted vendors that can sell them online. Take a look at their selection to find the perfect cichlid to add to your next aquarium.