What’s a cichlid?
Cichlids are an extremely diverse family (cichlidae). Cichlids range in size from about an inch up to almost 3 feet with many variations in color and shape. But the fascinating thing about the cichlids species is that there is one for almost all types food. Weather algae eating ones, or meat eating ones, there is a cichlid out there that is specialized for that type of food. Even with all these differing variations they all share one thing in common, and that is the care for their eggs and young. But first you should know that there are two different types of breeding that the cichlids species practices.
First, there are the egg layers:
Egg layers will lay their eggs on flat surfaces, or substrate-borders and will guard them and the fry that hatch from them.
And the second type is the mouthbrooders.
A female will suck up the eggs that she lays into her mouth to protect them. So do you ever wonder why the males have those dots on their anal fins? Well this is why, the female mouthbrooder will try endlessly to pick up all the eggs and will mistaken those dots on the anal fins of the males for eggs. This is how the eggs get fertilized, because when the females mouth is by the males anal fin trying to pick up the “eggs” the male will be releasing his sperm which is actually what the female is taking into her mouth, which in turn is fertilizing the eggs.
It’s a fantastic thing that the cichlid species is such a good parenting one but there is a downside.
Defending the brood often means attacking other fish, even tank mates that are normally just fine around the cichlid.
Cichlids are found throughout the Americas and Africa with three species being found in Asia (India/Sri Lanka).
Here is a video of some different cichlids.