After considering the pros and cons of this style of a system, we like recommend this type of an aquarium for people who want brighter larger fish that are as close to the colors of a saltwater aquarium but on a budget of a freshwater aquarium. You can also make an african cichlid aquarium look like a saltwater system. We’ve set-up countless systems that are designed to look specifically like saltwater aquariums(sand, rock, lighting) but are stocked with Africans. They fool people into thinking its a saltwater tank on a regular basis :D.
This is my Lake Malawi African Cichlid aquarium.
African cichlids, being freshwater fish living in specific types of water in their natural habitats, prefer sometimes very specific types of water in their aquarium homes. The pH, for example, must be maintained between 7.6 and 8.8, depending on the lake in which your cichlids originated. Water temperature should ideally be around 76 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. They also prefer fairly soft water, and therefore you will need to keep a conditioner on hand to ensure your water is not too hard. Also, you should change 10 percent of the water on a weekly basis. Unlike some other types of fish, large water changes can damage the cichlid community in your tank. Heaters, thermometers, filters and other materials are readily available at pet- and aquarium-supply stores.
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All Cichlid tanks should have a sand substrate in an african cichlid tank. This most closely mimics their natural environment. Many Cichlids naturally feed by grazing through the sand, others cleanse their gills, while others dive into it or build nests. Some hobbyists have been known to acquire substrates from golf courses, pool shops, or home improvement stores. These can save you money when building an african cichlid tank, but do some research before placing in your tank to ensure you have an aquarium safe substrate.
Within the aquarium industry, there are substrates available that will work with Cichlids, particularly and Tahitian Moon Sand
African Cichlid Tank - Setup Guide - AquariumStoreDepot