African cichlids are on the expensive side when it comes to freshwater fish but they're still much less expensive than the colorful saltwater species. Some species of saltwater fish can be hard to come by, whereas African cichlids are plentiful in aquarium shops. As far as invertebrates for your tank, the possibilities seem endless with a saltwater aquarium, but you'll pay for them, especially if you don't live near the coast.
A Closer Look at a Mixed African Cichlid Aquarium - Live Aquaria
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Aquarium Set-up: Profile of an 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.
Closeup of an African cichlid aquarium with manzanita wood.