Top 5 South American Cichlids for New Fish Keepers:

Cichlidae is a big fish family that consists of over two thousand species. You can find many Cichlids in fish shops, but due to the large variation of species, it can be tricky to select the right species for your fish tank.

South American Cichlids are any species of Cichlidae from the top of Columbia down to the tip of Chile. In the wild, they live in different water conditions, so they are very different from one another. However, normally they live in acidic to neutral water.

If you are having trouble choosing the right Cichlids, then I can help you in this article. If you have never kept Cichlids before, then I suggest you buy one of the 5 most popular South American Cichlids that need easy care.


1. German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi):

The scientific name of German Blue Ram Cichlid is Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. The common names of German Blue Ram include Asian Ram, Ramirez's Dwarf Cichlid, Dwarf Butterfly Cichlid, & Butterfly Cichlid.

5 Best South American Cichlids: German Blue Ram Fish
Best 5 South American Cichlids: German Blue Ram Fish

German Blue Ram can grow up to 3 inches. They can live from 2 to 3 years. German Blue Ram fish has a Gold or Silver Body with Blue & Black markings. Their diet consists of both proteins & plant matter. They are peaceful & can live with other peaceful fish in the community aquarium. They need at least a 20-gallon aquarium with lots of plantation & free-swimming space.

The ideal water temperature for Blue Rams is from 80 to 86 °F. The ideal water pH for German Blue Ram fish is between 5.0 & 7.0. The ideal water hardness is between 6 & 14 dGH. German Blue Ram fish need intermediate care because they are sensitive to ammonia byproducts. Therefore, they need an efficient filter that traps fish waste, & biologically cleans water.


2. Cockatoo Cichlid (Apistogramma cacatuides):

Cockatoo Cichlid is also known as big mouth cichlid due to its big mouth. Cockatoo Cichlids are available in multiple colours.

The scientific name of Cockatoo Cichlid is Apistogramma cacatuides. The common names of Cockatoo Cichlid are Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid & Crested Dwarf Cichlid.

Cockatoo Cichlids need moderate care. They are semi-aggressive when spawning. They can live from 3 to 5 years. They can reach a size of 2 to 3 & half inches. They need a protein diet so never feed them plants. They need at least a 30-gallon fish tank. Setup a heavily planted aquarium for Cockatoo Cichlids, as they will use plants for hiding. Keep Cockatoo Cichlid with other small peaceful fish.


3. Severum (Heros serverus):

The scientific name of Severum Cichlid is Heros serverus. The ideal temperature for Severum Cichlid is between 79 & 81 °F. They can reach a length of up to 8 inches. They need at least 45 gallons of aquarium water. They need omnivorous food so their diet includes both plants & protein. They can live a life of up to 10 years. The ideal water pH is between 6.0 & 6.5. The breeding pair of Severum Cichlid will spawn on the rock or any other hard surface.

5 Best South American Cichlids: Severum Fish
Best 5 South American Cichlids: Severum Fish

The Severum Cichlids are famous freshwater fish recommended for both novices & experts. They look similar to Cichlids in both shapes & they have a laterally compressed oval shaped frame. They are different from Discus fish due to their colour & size. Severum fish can be as long as 8 inches, however, Discus fish can be up to 12 inches long.

Severum Cichlid needs moderate care. They are aggressive. Setup a freshwater aquarium with plantation & sand substrate for Severum Cichlid. The compatible tank mates for Severum Cichlid include Angelfish, Gouramis, Oscar, Hoplo Catfish, & Black Skirt Tetra.

4. Rainbow Cichlid (Herotilapia multispinosa):

The rainbow cichlid have stunning colours & they are highly adaptable to the tank conditions that makes them one of the best beginner fish. They are peaceful & can adapt to any tank, & due to their stunning colours, they are one of the best community aquarium fish.

They need simple care. They are peaceful & can be kept with other peaceful fish. They can live up to 9 years. They can reach a length of up to 5 inches. They will feed on an omnivorous diet. They require 20 gallons of water in the aquarium. Keep plants & caves in their aquarium. They like other peaceful fish that require similar water conditions.

The ideal temperature range for Rainbow Cichlid is between 72.0 & 77.0 °F. The ideal pH range is from 6.5 to 8.0. They prefer water hardness from 5 to 20 dGH. They prefer slow water current.


5. Blue Acara (Aequidens pulcher):

Blue Acara is comparatively peaceful, at least when they are not guarding their babies. They are tough, & not very costly that make them one of the top choices for new Cichlid keepers. Blue Acara are born in aquariums therefore; they are adaptable to tank conditions.

The scientific name of Blue Acara is Aequidens pulcher.  Pulcher means ‘beautiful’. They are medium-sized Cichlids. They start spawning when they are just 4 inches long.

Blue Acara needs at least a 30 gallons aquarium. The ideal temperature range for Blue Acara is between 72 & 85 °F. The ideal pH range is between 6.5 & 8.0. The ideal water hardness is between 3 & 20 dGH. Blue Acara prefers strong water current.

Enjoyed Reading? Have a look at another Post: How to Cross Breed Koi & Goldfish?

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