I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Learn more.

13 Best African Cichlid Tank Mates With Pictures

Are you in search of a bright idea to add vibrant colors to your fish tank?

If so, having African Cichlids in it can be a pretty good idea.

The mesmerizing colors of this fish will never fail in drawing your attention to themselves. As the name indicates, the origin of these fish is from African lakes.

Besides their brilliant and attractive colors, they are also known for their aggressive nature. So, how are you going to be able to maintain a peaceful environment in your tank?

Which tank mates are best for keeping in with the African Cichlid?

Well, the good news for you is that there are a variety of fish types that you can have as the best African Cichlid tank mates.

If you wish so and want to know about all those best African Cichlid tank mates, join us till the end of this article, where we are going to provide you all the details.

Red-Tail Shark

Red-tail shark fish is one of the most beautiful looking creatures that you can keep in your fish tank along with the African Cichlid.

The best thing about these is that they come with an exotic color combination having a red highlighted tail. This part makes them look highly attractive.

However, if you are wondering why they have topped the list for the best African Cichlid tank mates, we would love to tell you about the gentle temperament of this type.

These semi-aggressive fish can prove as the best addition to your tank both look-wise and temperament-wise as well.

The required temperature range of these is between 72- and 79-degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, you will have to adjust the pH level between 6.5 and 7.5 for them.

However, do make sure that your tank is big enough to have these in it, as in size, they grow up to 4 inches.

Clown Loaches

Another choice that will prove as a great tank mate for your African Cichlid is known as Clown Loaches.

The exotic pattern and color combination of this specie makes it look like one of the most vibrant and attractive fish.

They have a specific trait in common with the African Cichlid. Both these fish types like to hide behind the rocks or other places.

Hence, your rock-filled fish tank for African Cichlid will also suit the Clown Loaches amazingly well.

As far as the temperament is concerned, this is yet another type that possesses semi-aggressive nature. So, your tank’s peace won’t be at risk.

Clown Loaches require balanced care from your end.

But, the space that you have should be able to accommodate them as their maximum size is 4.5 inches-the preferred pH levels for this fish range from 6 to 7.5.

Furthermore, try to maintain the water temperature ranging from 72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit for these.

Synodontis Catfish

About the Synodontis Catfish, you would know about the fact that these also love to hide away most of the time, just like the African Cichlids.

Because of this reason, you will have to gather in many different sized rocks so that both these fish can live happily in there.

Another fact about the Synodontis Catfish that makes them amongst the best African Cichlid tank mates is that they like to spend their time at the bottom of the tank near the sand.

This factor will let your African Cichlid swim freely all around the tank. The love of Synodontis Catfish for plants and vegetation is strong as well.

The best thing about keeping these is that they do not require too much care or attention. But do bear in mind that the size of these is quite large.

They can grow up to a maximum size of 10 inches. So, you’ll have to get a huge tank.

The appropriate pH level and temperature that they require is 7.5 to 9.0 and 75 to 82-degree Fahrenheit respectively.


Plecos can prove as one of the best African Cichlid tank mates. As these fish feed mostly on the bottom of the tank, you will not have to worry about cleaning it more often.

As they eat algae, it will not be a problem for you to invest much time in the cleaning routine.

Plus, you are going to get another benefit as well. As the Plecos spend most of their time at the bottom part of the tank, your African Cichlids will get ample space to swim around freely.

However, if you have a limited sized tank, be aware of the fact that the maximum size of Plecos is about 24 inches.

This implies that you will need to invest in a larger tank if you wish to keep these.

However, a plus point is that this type does not require too much care from you. You will just have to adjust the water conditions.

For making the water suitable, try adjusting its temperature from 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal pH range for Plecos is from 6.5 to 7.5.

Red Rainbow Fish

The maximum size to which these will grow up is 4 inches. Do make sure that you keep the largest one in your tanks or else bid them a farewell as they will become your African Cichlid’s feed.

It will best for you to feed these fish with small food. The captivating beauty of these fish is what can add more aesthetic value to your tank.

For them, you will have to make sure that the water temperature remains between 72- and 77-degrees Fahrenheit.

However, for the best pH level for your Red Rainbow Fish, make sure that it is between 7.0 and 8.0. Another thing that you will like to know is that taking care of these is quite easy.

Flying Fox Fish

The temperament of Flying Fox Fish is what makes it one of the best tank mates for African Cichlid.

These fish are quite friendly in nature, and it would be easy for your Cichlids to quickly adjust to them.

However, do ensure that you have a spacious tank that is enough to accommodate these fish as they can grow to a maximum size of 8 inches.

Also, invest in keeping more rocks, small caves, and numerous plants as these conditions suit the Flying Fox Fish the most.

It will be pleasing for you to know that taking care of Flying Fox fish is quite easy. The aesthetically high value of these will make your fish tank a mesmerizing one to look at.

The ideal water conditions for this type include a pH level from 6 to 7.5, and the temperature range is from 76 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

Leopard Bushfish

The Leopard Bushfish are famous because of their beautiful pattern. This will add an appealing factor to the whole theme of your tank.

They are best to keep with larger fish. Moreover, as they are quite aggressive and know how to trick other fish, they will prove to be one of the best mates for African Cichlids.

The ideal temperature that Leopard Bushfish require to grow efficiently can vary from 73 degrees Fahrenheit to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Moreover, if you are concerned about the ideal pH level for them, we would like to tell you that they require a range from 6 to 7.5 pH levels of water.

As these are naturally carnivores, they don’t like to eat flake too much. So, for feeding them properly, it will be good if your food that is small in size.

You can either give them love food or frozen as well.

Giant Danios

The fresh colors and glances of Giant Danios will make your aquarium or fish tank an attractive one. Their presence will definitely add more colors to the tank.

Moreover, as they do not require extra care, it will be easy for you to watch out for them.

One critical aspect to remember is that the size of the Giant Danios that you are going to keep in your tank should be big. In this way, they will not fall prey to your African Cichlids.

The maximum size to which these can grow is about 4 inches.

These like to live in the bottom area, giving room to the African Cichlids to roam around freely. As they love vegetation, it will be good for you to add more plants to your tank.

To give them the best water conditions to live by, you will have to maintain the temperature from 64 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

And for the level of pH, try to maintain is between 6.5 and 7.

Siamese Algae Eater

siamese algae eater

The Siamese Algae Eater looks quite similar to the Flying Fox Fish. A simple way to differentiate is to spot the flap close to the mouth.

You won’t be able to find any in the case of Siamese Algae Eater.

The beauty of this fish type is not describable at all. The peaceful nature of these fish makes them the best mate for African Cichlids.

Their favorite place to be in the tank is at the bottom. So, your Cichlids will get enough room to swim without interruption.

Taking care of these will be easy as well. As they like to feed on algae, you will not have to be worried about the cleanliness of the tank.

The maximum size to which they grow up is 6 inches. The best water temperature range for them is 75 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

While 6.5 to 7 is the range of best pH level for them.

African Red-Eyed Tetra

The African Red-Eyed Tetra is yet another option that can prove to be a great addition to your tank with African Cichlids.

The aesthetically pleasing look of this fish type will make you hooked to it.

What makes both these fish the best tank mates us the fact that they grow exceptionally well under the similar water conditions.

The ideal temperature range for the African Red-Eyed Tetra is from 73 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, water temperature alone cannot determine magnificent growth. In combination with it, you will also have to adjust the pH level of water.

For this fish type, the best pH range is from 6.0 to 8.0. The maximum size of this fish is up to 4 inches.

African Catfish

As for the African Catfish, the idea water parameters are not too different than those of African Cichlids.

For temperature, it will be quite helpful for you to maintain it between 79- and 89-degrees Fahrenheit.

For this type of fish, you can maintain the pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 7.5.

These water conditions will make sure that your African Catfish is staying healthy and prospering well with the Cichlids.

The exotic look of this type will make sure that your tank does not look dull and boring at all.

Spotted Raphael Catfish

Spotted Raphael Catfish has also managed to make it to the list of best tank mates for African Cichlids, and here is why.

These mesmerizing fish can thrive pretty well with African Cichlids if you provide them the right conditions.

For the appropriate level of pH, it would be quite helpful for you to adjust it from 5.5 to 7.5. Moreover, the temperature is also crucial to control.

For the spotted Raphael Catfish, temperature ranging from 73 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit will be best.

African Butterfly Cichlid

Having the same origin is not the only thing that is common between African Cichlids and African Butterfly Cichlids.

Both of them can potentially prove as ideal tank mates because of the demand of water conditions in quite similar.

If you choose to have this fish type with the African Cichlids, be sure to have optimal conditions. For the ideal pH level, the range starts from 6.0 and ends at 7.2.

However, for healthy growth, a suitable temperature is also important. So, you will have to adjust it between 73- and 81-degrees Fahrenheit.

What Do You Need In Your Tank With African Cichlids?

Video: “African Cichlid Tank – Top 10 Must Know”

For your community tank having African Cichlids, many points are vital to consider. From size to the decorations, each factor determines better conditions and a better tank environment.

Here is all that you need to have in your community tank with African Cichlids.



The size of the tank is one of the most critical aspects for which you will have to be quite skeptical. As African Cichlids can grow big and prefer large tank mates, investing in a small will be of no use at all.

So, make sure that you have to right tank size to accommodate African Cichlids and their large tank mates. The maximum size for these is from four to ten inches.

Investing in a tank that can accommodate up to 55 gallons of water will be suitable.



As African Cichlids love to hide away most of the time, do make sure that you gather in multiple hiding places for them in the tank. Having numerous differently sized rocks will prove as a great decision for you.

Moreover, you can also choose to add small caves in the tank as Cichlids are quite active and would love to swim through them.

Another great addition can be in the form of plants. This point will especially help you out because many tank mates of African Cichlids prefer these.


Tank Mates

As African Cichlids are quite aggressive, you would have to find out tank mates that are quite large in size so that they do not fall prey to the Cichlids at all.

Other than this, do investigate the water conditions that a particular fish type needs before keeping it in your community tank.

The Bottom Line

African Cichlids can undoubtedly prove to be a beautiful addition to your overall fish tank. However, keeping them is not too easy.

You will have to match certain water conditions and invest in a larger than the regular tank as well.

The aggressive nature of this fish type makes it difficult to pair up with many species. However, many can also prove to become great tank mates for them. The water condition requirements of such fish are quite similar.

Top compatible tank mates for African Cichlids include African Catfish, Red Rainbow Fish, Flying Fox Fish, Leopard Bushfish, etc. Do not forget to make the water conditions suitable for them to thrive side by side.

Another worth remembering point is that African Cichlids love to hide. For this, you will need to have plenty of plants and rocks inside your tank. This will give it a better look as well as a better environment.

Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

Aqua Movement