How Many African Cichlids in a 55 Gallon Tank?

So you want to setup a 55 gallons tank and you might consider keeping African cichlids. But you many of them can you keep a 55-gallon aquarium?

In a 55-gallon tank, you can keep about 10-20 African cichlids, depending on the species you choose. There are many types of African cichlids, which can grow to a size of 1.5 to 6 inches. So to determine exactly how many fish you will want to purchase, you will need to know how big they grow.

If you take care of your fish the right way, they are most certainly going to live a happy and healthy life.

Not only that, but they are going to entertain you for many years. You are going to have an aquarium that you will be proud to show to your friends.

Can You Keep African Cichlids in a 55 Gallon Tank?

First off, keeping African Cichlids in a 55-gallon tank is not an issue at all. In fact, there are plenty of species to choose from if you want to set up an exciting community aquarium of this size.

There are many African cichlids that you simply can’t keep in a 55-gallon tank because of their size. They are too big for an aquarium of that size. If we take the average size for an African cichlid, then you are going to be able to keep 4 to 6 of them in a 55-gallon tank.

You can also cherry-pick a few species from the smallest African cichlids out there and then you would be able to keep more of them. In this guide, we are going to show you a few species that are compatible with each other in a 55-gallon aquarium.

These are, of course, all smaller African cichlids but they are all colorful and you are going to enjoy taking care of them for sure. Of course, this is not the full list but these 5 are definitely among the most interesting cichlids out there.

African Cichlids for 55 Gallon Aquarium

Once your 55-gallon tank is ready, you only need to fill it with a few decorative fish. Now we are going to recommend you some African cichlids that are going to become your favorite! Our first recommendation is the widely popular Yellow Lab Cichlid.

This wonderful bright yellow fish is easy to take care of, which makes it ideal for inexperienced fish keepers. Although African cichlids are well-known to be aggressive, the Yellow Lab is one of the less aggressive ones.

The second little beauty is the Kribensis cichlid which is actually a dwarf cichlid. This one is also less aggressive than most of the other African cichlids out there. Among fish enthusiasts, they are often called as “Kribs” and their maximum size is around 4 inches when mature.

You can also keep the Mdoka White Lip, a species that flourishes in an amazing blue color. It covers its whole body except his lips, which are completely white. It is basically a sand-dweller, meaning that it’s going to occupy the lower layers of your aquarium.

Another blue fish with white stripes on its body is the Deepwater Hap. This one reaches 4.5 inches in length when full-grown and it’s a bottom-dweller. They are rather peaceful, constantly looking for edibles in the substrate.

Keeping them together with aggressive fish should be avoided because they are rather peaceful. At last but not least, we are going to recommend you some Peacock cichlids. The ones we prefer are the Blue Neon, the Ruby Red and the Flavescent Peacock.

Just like the other fish that we recommended, they are peaceful and friendly. You are going to have a lot of fun observing their behaviors.

Aquarium Filtration is Key

Since African cichlids generate a huge amount of waste, ammonia and nitrate can become a huge problem for them. These contaminants make them vulnerable to diseases on the long run. They are going to become stressful and living in such water also weakens their immune system.

The only way to solve this problem in a home aquarium is to install a filter. It will help you keep the ammonia and nitrite concentration in the water at bay. For bigger tanks, however, it is often not enough to use only one filter. You might need to buy and install two of them.

By placing them in two different spots in the aquarium, you are going to be able to keep your African cichlids safe from the abovementioned contaminants. After all, it is better to over filter the water than to let all those diseases spread among them.

Best Aquarium Filter for 55 Gallon African Cichlid Tank

Looking for a good filter for your home aquarium? Then you are not going to be disappointed in the Fluval 407 which is one of the most popular filters right now in the market. Fluval is a company that manufactures a wide range of really good aquarium filters.

This model is a great choice for fish tanks up to 100 gallons of size. The fact that it filters 350 gallons of water through its filter media is insane. Just by looking at this filter, you can already tell that it’s made of high-quality material. Not only that, but it’s also designed with the most demanding fish keepers in mind.

It has such a quiet canister filter that you are barely going to notice it. The Fluval 407 comes with three-stage filtration technology that includes chemical, biological and mechanical filtration. It is not the simplest filter so you will need to get used to it but it’s definitely worth the price.


If you want to set up a 55-gallon aquarium for African cichlids, then you have many options. Not all of them are aggressive and territorial so there is no need to worry. There are plenty of species for beginner fish keepers that are small and peaceful, allowing you to keep them together in a smaller tank.

Following our advice, you can set up a nice community aquarium with some of the friendliest and most colorful fish. Each of the fish that we recommended has a unique personality. They are going to interact in many ways without bothering or bullying each other.

With the filter recommended by us, you are not going to have any issues with the amount of waste African cichlids usually produce. When it comes to this family of cichlids, water filtration is the main thing you should take care of. Hopefully, we have answered all the questions you had here.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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