Cichlids are a staple in the tanks of many intermediate aquarists. They are a large family of fish, with more than a dozen species and a semi-aggressive temperament that makes them difficult to house with other fish species.
This being said, even aggressive fish deserve a good diet. So, here are a few of the best foods for African cichlids.
African cichlids can be a rewarding fish. Not only are they great to look at, but they have long lifespans and have their own personalities.
Caring for them is a skill learned with time, but one that can be made easier by following helpful advice and doing a bit of research.
When it comes to food for your cichlids, let us help you: consider checking out our suggestions and following our simple buying guide!
Top 10 Best Foods for African Cichlids
1. TetraCichlid Cichlid Flakes
These wholesome cichlid flakes are ideal for the general health of the entire cichlid family. Packed full of all the essential vitamins and minerals that cichlids need, it’s safe for everyday feeding and use as your fish’s primary diet. They are rich in protein and micronutrients.
The included omega-3, biotin, and immunostimulants help your cichlid’s immune system build resistance to illness and disease, while the easy-to-digest formulated flakes guarantee a cloud-free feeding session thanks to their unique makeup. These flakes are best for mid to topwater feeding species of cichlids.
- The formula is easy to digest
- Will not cloud water
- Contains a range of essential nutrients
- Safe for daily use
- Builds the immune system
- Food “dust” at the bottom of the container
2. NorthFin Cichlid Formula
NorthFin’s patented cichlid formula is perfect for cichlid owners who want their fish to be healthy and happy. The special formula uses ingredients that are designed to enhance the colors of the fish while keeping them in tip-top health.
The food is full of marine grade proteins and free of unhealthy fillers or additives, which makes it easy for your fish to digest and benefit from.
The food comes in large flakes, making it easy for fish with poor eyesight to find and consume.
- Color enhancing
- Free of fillers and artificial ingredients
- Easy to digest
- Aids in overall health
- Some fish seem to dislike it
3. TetraCichlid Cichlid Crisps
Crafted for top and mid-water feeding cichlids, these tasty crisps are a favorite of cichlids across the country.
The crisp formula is designed to reduce the amount of waste up to 35%, giving owners the best value for their money. This also means that the tank’s water stays clearer and free of uneaten food debris, with each crisp being chalked full of protein and nutrients.
They are easy to digest. Each crisp is the same size, making feeding consistent.
- Consistent size between crisps
- Clear Water Advanced formulation
- Less waste than the regular version of the product
- Includes a whole range of important nutrients
- Small container
4. Omega One Super Color Pellets
Bite-sized and sinking, these color enhancing pellets are perfect for bottom-feeding cichlids.
Their size is regulated, with each carefully portioned pellet containing omegas 3 and 6, protein, and beta-carotene. These ingredients provide your fish with energy, a vibrant color, and great general health without the use of additives or preservatives that could be harmful.
The pellets reduce fish waste and water pollution by being insoluble.
- Sinking pellets ideal for bottom-feeding cichlids
- Made with no preservatives
- Carefully formulated to create less waste
- Contains omega 3 and 6, protein, and color enhancing beta-carotenes
- Sink quickly
5. African Cichlid Attack Pellet Food
This pellet food is designed to slowly sink to the bottom of the tank, where it can be consumed by bottom-feeding cichlids and their tankmates. It contains a plethora of beneficial ingredients such as protein, plants and algae, vitamins, and biotin to make up a healthy, balanced diet.
When used correctly, it will not cloud the tank water. It is best known for its color enhancing ability but is also a favorite due to how eagerly cichlids eat it up.
The food is made with a unique formula in the USA and is safe for daily use.
- Safe for use as a primary food
- Contains biotin and other beneficial ingredients
- Sinking pellets
- Does not cloud the tank water
- The container of food is small
6. Dajana Malawi Flakes
Serving as a primary dietary staple in the households of cichlids owners all around the world, Dajana’s Malawi Flakes are versatile and highly trusted.
The blend contains immunostimulants that work to improve and maintain your cichlid’s immune system, as well as all the vitamins and protein that a healthy fish needs to thrive.
The food can be fed to a wide range of cichlid species and is versatile in terms of what fish can eat it.
- Caters to a variety of cichlid species
- Boost fish immune system
- Full of vitamins
- Very few reviews
7. Aqueon Cichlid Pellets
Available in a number of package sizes, Aqueon’s cichlid pellets are also available in a variety of pellet sizes: mini, medium, and large, which makes it perfect for all sizes of fish.
These pellets are slow sinking, giving fish adequate time to eat. They are also formulated to not cloud the water and to be easily digestible, resulting in less fish waste by replacing unnatural fillers with all-natural proteins and ingredients.
The bag is resealable, maintains the food freshness after opening.
- Variety of package and pellet sizes to choose from
- Will not cloud water
- Made with all-natural ingredients and whole protein
- The resealable bag that maintains freshness
- Unpleasant smell
8. Hikari Sinking Cichlid Food
These sinking pellets by Hikari are crafted to provide the ultimate, rounded diet for African cichlids.
The pellets are made of natural ingredients like stabilized vitamin C and spirulina, which work together to enhance your fish’s color and support a healthy immune system.
The pellets use the inside portion of what germ kernels to increase digestion and absorption.
- Contains all-natural, beneficial ingredients
- Supports the immune system
- Increases digestion and vitamin absorption
- Sinking for bottom feeders
- Sink quickly
9. Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Food
Perfect for everyday feeding, Spirulina 20 fish food is made for an array of cichlids. It is designed to meet their dietary needs through the addition of all-natural ingredients, protein, spirulina, and vitamins including A1, B1, C, and E.
The easy-to-eat flakes are known to enhance the color of fish and to improve breeding. It can also improve the lifespan of young fish.
- Chalked full of vitamins
- Improves success of breeding
- Enhances fish color
- Can be fed to an array of fish
- Inconsistent flake size
10. Ocean Star International Cichlid Flakes
O.S.I’s carefully curated cichlid food is made with the overall health of these special fish in mind.
The flakes, which are carefully portioned, are jam-packed full of proteins and high-hat ingredients that maintain the appearance and internal health of all varieties of African cichlids.
They also contain spirulina, vitamins, and color-enhancing pigments
- Carefully portioned and evenly sized flakes
- Enhances color
- Contain high levels of healthy fats and proteins
- Improves immune system
- May not be available in some locations
There is no shortage of cichlid foods on the market; the problem comes in when deciding which brand to purchase, as there are so many to choose from. If you’re in a pickle, try any of the foods we’ve mentioned above. They are all high-quality, popular, and trusted by their loyal buyers.
Best Food for African Cichlids FAQs
What should I feed my cichlids?
Most species of cichlids are omnivores, meaning they thrive on a diet of both plants and meat-based protein. This means that they should be fed a flake or pellet food that combines high-quality sources of both types of matter.
The chosen food should also contain vitamins and other essential ingredients that will help your cichlid stay strong and healthy. Omnivorous cichlids will also enjoy occasional treats such as frozen (and thawed!) brine shrimp and blood worms.
Species who are primarily herbivores, however, will do better with a flake or pellet-based food that is high in vegetable matter. Instead of shrimp and bloodworms, they might enjoy chopped zucchini or peas.
What is the best food for Peacock cichlids?
Since peacock cichlids are omnivorous, they need food that has both properties. They re also bottom feeders, meaning that a sinking pellet is the best thing to feed them. Pellets should be their main diet, but it can be supplemented with meat and fresh vegetables.
How can I improve my African cichlid color?
The best way to improve your African cichlid’s color is by providing them with an ideal diet. To do this, you must meet the dietary requirements of the species with a healthy flake or pellet food. The food you choose to use can also have dedicated color-enhancing ingredients.
In addition, brine shrimp are a particularly great source of natural color-enhancing properties.
Can African cichlids eat vegetables?
Some species of cichlids can eat vegetables, as they are either omnivorous or herbivorous. Both will happily accept fresh vegetables and vegetable matter, as well as a pellet or flaked foods that contain plant-based proteins.
How much should I feed my cichlids?
In general, cichlids should be fed small amounts a few times a day. There’s no set amount as to how much you should feed, but the guidelines state that cichlids should be fed whatever they can eat in 3 minutes and no more. Excess food should be removed.
Can I feed my cichlids live fish?
Your cichlids do not need to be fed live fish. Their primary diet of pellets or flakes and, potentially, supplements should be plenty. While we don’t encourage the feeding of live fish, it is important to note that cichlids are known to eat their smaller tank mates and, if this happens, shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
African Cichlid Food Buying Guide
Cichlids, like all other fish, have certain requirements that need to be met in order to thrive. To help you make the best decision when it comes to their nutrition, here’s a checklist of beneficial ingredients you may want to look for.
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin in the vitamin B family. It helps your cichlid convert nutrients into energy.
Spirulina is a natural plant matter that grows in both fresh and saltwater. When used in fish food, spirulina is a great way to enhance the color of your fish. It also aids in the digestion process, leaving the fish’s body refreshed and open to absorbing the maximum amount of nutrients that it can.
Vitamins can do wonders for all sorts of pets – including cichlids. Food with added vitamins will help ensure the health of your fish and improve its immune system, equipping it with the strength to battle disease. Vitamins to look out for include A, B, C, and E.
All fish need protein of some sort. So, depending on which species of cichlid you have, you’ll want to ensure that your chosen food contains the necessary protein source whether it be meat, vegetation, or a healthy mix of both. Without protein, the food is useless.
The package size of the food you purchase can play a big part in which bran you decide to use. If you have a group of cichlids, it may be a good idea to use a brand that offers a large container of food. If you have one or two cichlids or a smaller species, you might be able to get away with a smaller container.
While most foods are available in pet stores, some aren’t. Others are harder to find but possible to seek out. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to check the availability of cichlid food in your area or on your favorite retail site to ensure that you’ll be able to stick with your chosen brand long term.