New aquarist + first time cichlid keeper = BAD

Beginning aquarists should not start with cichlids. However, I routinely read about new aquarists who set a tank up for the first time and then purchase some cichlids, many times without even knowing what they bought. Bad idea…for several reasons. I’ll point to Paul Butler’s 12 nicely outlined tips for starters.

Unless you really don’t place much value on the life of the fish you keep, it’s a good idea that you don’t “cut your fishkeeping teeth” on cichlids. These fish, as a rule, aren’t for beginners because they’re notoriously aggressive (mostly to each other) and often require greater attention to water quality/chemistry than other fish.  If you must begin the hobby with a cichlid, please start with just one. And know what species it is, its requirements (e.g., tank size, water), and how it might fit with any other fish you’re buying before you buy it (yes, many cichlids will happily consume other fish if they can fit it into their mouth). 

Fish keeping is supposed to be fun, especially if you do it only as a hobby. It shouldn’t be fun to net out dead, half eaten fish or watch your tank while all but one fish constantly stays up in the corners near the surface. Also, keeping cichlids is not cheap because cichlids are not cheap. They are not generally sold as a discount in groups, like guppies, mollies, tetras, barbs, etc. In other words, most stores won’t have them 4 for $10 or some other dollar amount. Even the least expensive cichlids generally cost no less than $5 or $6 each in U.S. currency. More expensive species can cost in excess of $100 each.

It’s okay to be new to the hobby. Everyone starts that journey somewhere. I just recommend that novice aquarists do two things first. 1) Don’t go buy a bunch of cichlids for your first tank and 2) read about cichlids before doing anything. An informed hobbyist makes fewer mistakes and kills fewer fish – unless that’s his/her intent. 

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