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Thread: Mixing African and American Cichlids?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    Default Mixing African and American Cichlids?

    I am curious as to the stipulations of mixing South/Central American Cichlids with their African cousins.
    Are there any implications other than the fact that you are introducing species that would never co-exist in a natural environment?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    New Hampshire


    They all require different water qualities (ie, ph & hardness). Although there are some Americans that actually do well with Africans. It really depends on the original waters that the fish came from. If you want to put them together, first research the particular fish, their adult size & temperment and what they require for water conditions. Also keep in mind that they may have a hard time at first understanding each other's body language which could result in problems (again, depending on the fish). Stress can also be a killer and a heartbreak. Most Africans like to hide, and many Americans don't care to. I've found that some Americans are uneasy around fish that do hide.

    I wouldn't recommend it to someone starting out - and many people on this forum wouldn't recommend it at all - with good reason.
    Quote Originally Posted by maccichlid View Post
    at least when i smack you, it will be with a prize-worthy koi, not some common carp.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004


    That seems consistent with everything I had heard up until this point. I am just curious because when I look at some people's tanks, I am suprised to see that they have mixed the origins of their cichlids.
    The brief research I did suggested the African Cichlids liked water with an elevated PH with higher salt content, while most American Cichlids preferred neutral PH and lower salt content.
    Being new to the hobby, I am just trying to learn what others do and the possible combinations that might work.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Mustang, Oklahoma


    I don't mix continents at all when it comes to cichlids. Generally there are differences in water requirements (not always), but the body language can be quite different between mbuna and most SA's.

    I'm not saying that it will never work mixing them, but I don't recommend it. Keeping cichlids can be enough of a challenge without creating new problems.
    Ask me about my Devil Doc.

    The Oklahoma City Aquarium Club

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Edison, NJ


    Not that I am reccomending this but...I have seen people put convicts in an african tank and buttikoferi in an american tank.
    I still wouldn't reccomend it though, especially if you are new to the hobby.
    never follow, never lead

  6. #6


    one of my tanks has a red devil and convict with heaps of african cichlids and nothing goes wrong cause all i use is tap water and tap water only, but the water here is really good (aust) dunno what yours is like, its somthing i wouldnt try if your a newbie, but i never use any of that stuff and all my fish are big and strong, btw just dont put any like of the bigger more aggressive and dumb cichlids like oscars, jags, wolfs, and anything that can open its mouth big and you will be fine

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004


    I appreciate all of the feedback, I was really just curious more for future reference than anything that I have in the works. My current tank is holding 4 juvenile texas cichlids, 1 convict, and a green terror. All of them are 3" or less and seem to be getting along well. This is obviously not the group to add anything to, much less an African Cichlid.
    Thanks for the help.

  8. #8


    See the link to my tanks in the signature below my post... we were discussing this in the Amercian cichlid section a day or two ago...

    I have a mixed crew and for the most part they get along fine. It's funny that someone would mention the body language thing... when I first introduced my severum to the tank my african flametail insisted on waving it's tail at the severum while in front of the only cave in the tank. The severum just stayed there watching him (was actually funny to see the flametail prancing like that, which is why I remembered it). It was as close to a communication breakdown as I think you can see with fish. The severum pretty much ignored the flametail, but the flametail definitely acted worried with him in my 30g (prior to recently getting the 55g). Guess the severum just put out the vibe that it was in-charge by default, as I've never seen the african make any aggressive moves at the severum.

    I wonder if the severum saw this as an invitation to mate and figured the flametail was just dumb .

    They get along fine and so do the rest of the mixed cichlids for that matter. They just stay out of each other's way for the most part.
    Last edited by stoopid; 02-04-2004 at 08:09 PM.
    1 Hypselecara temporalis ("Chocolate Cichlid") S. American
    1 Heros serverus ("Green Severum") S. American
    1 Labidochromis caeruleus ("Yellow Lab") Lake Malawi, Africa
    1 Aulonocara Stuartgranti ("Ngara Flametail") Lake Malawi, Africa
    1 Neolamprologus tretocephalus ("Five-bar Cichlid") Lake Tanganyika, Africa
    1 Neolamprologus pulcher ("'Isanga' red spots") Lake Tanganyika, Africa
    1 Mono, 1 Cuckoo Synodontis, 1 2" Golden Nugget Pleco, 1 6+" Common Pleco, 6 Black Striped Tetra

    1 Cleithracara maronii ("Keyhole") S. American
    4 Cory Schwartzs, 1 2" Common Pleco, 1 Cobalt Blue Gourami, 6 Bloodfin Tetra, 3 Black Phantom Tetra

  9. #9
    aharris is offline Just when you thought it was
    safe to change the water . . . MOD!
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Kansas City, MO


    I've seen at least at least one tank that mixed Africans and Americans successfully, but you definitely have to know what your doing or be extremely lucky.
    "I reject your reality and substitute my own." - Adam Savage, Mythbuster

    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

  10. #10


    I have a mixed tank:
    1) 8 Albino Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus)
    1) 8 Tiger Oscar
    1) 5 Jack Dempsey (Cichlasoma octofasciatum)
    1) 4.5 Paralabidochromis rock kribensis
    1) 4.5 Red Zebra African Cichlid (Pseudotropheus zebra)
    1) 3.5 Astatotilapia latifasciata (zebra obliquidens)
    1) 4 Melanochromis auratus
    1) 3.5 Mixed African cichlid
    1) 12 Plecostomus
    and the only problems that I've had is some of the Africans nipping my Oscars.
    Why do you think Oscars are dumb 2qik4u mine are pretty smart when ever I walk by the tank they swim to the top to get fed lol! a dumb fish wouldn't do this.

  11. #11


    Hi all,
    I'm new to the forum (first post) and I also have a mixed tank. I started out keeping cichlids about 5 years ago when I got my first Jack Dempsey. We also have a cobalt blue in the tank and they seem to do just fine together and can often be found in very close contact. Strangely enough, our Jack has terrorized many fish but seems to enjoy the "company" of the cobalt blue.

    Admittedly, I did not do much research on these fish when I got them otherwise I probably wouldn't have mixed them.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    gold coast, australia


    i have a six foot tank with a mixture of american africans and community fish some of these including chocolates, vunistus, convicts, red devils, tiger barbs, lombardois, jack dempseys, jewels, similis, and a lot more i keep my ph at about 7 and dont worry about hardness i find most breed in there including chocolates lombardois similis johanii convicts jack dempsey
    so if they all breed they have to be happy

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2002


    I've had to mix Africans and Americans because of various problems in one tank or another. I've had a pair of acaras, some apisto borellis and a 6-inch firemouth in with several Malawis for over two years now. They are all doing fine, but there has been very little breeding by any of them.
    Note to self: Remember to clean tank.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    syracuse. n.y.


    I have a mixed tank as well. but I try to keep some similarities between the patterns an coloration of my fish, for instance,I have 4 convicts, 1 particular is my blue 3 inch convict,he fits pretty well with my 2 kenyis, both are about the same size an I never have seen any problems between them. it all depends on the individual fish, and of course,experimentation.

  15. #15


    i have a convict mixed with 2 kenyis and 2 johannis and 2 socolifi aswell as a juvinile pink convict and a pleco and they all love each other- well other then the juvinile convict, but it only casue he is new- soon he will be part of hte gang

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