African Cichlids Lifespan – How Long do They Live?

There are just too many different African Cichlids to say a precise number about their lifespan. However, if we average it all out, the numbers say that most of them can live up to 8 years.

Of course, this is only true if you keep the water conditions ideal every day, feed them well and surround them with compatible tank mates.

The reason why fish enthusiasts like to keep African Cichlids so much is the fact that they can choose from over 1900 colorful species.

Cichlids from Lake Malawi, Tanganyika and Victoria all look amazing. Not to mention that each of them has its own unique temperament and behaviors.

Without further ado, let’s find out how you can make your own cichlids live longer and the most important factors behind it!

How to Improve African Cichlids Longevity?

There are many things that need to go right day by day if you want to ensure a long life for your precious African Cichlids.

You need to take proper care not only of your fish but your aquarium as well. Frequent water changes, proper filtering, healthy diet, compatible tank mates and enough space are all part of the equation.

The rule of thumb for every fish keeper is to recreate the natural environment of the particular fish species they keep. But it’s not only about that.

You can actually provide them cleaner water and healthier foods for them compared to what they can find in their natural habitat.

Setting up the tank in the right way and setting the recommended temperature is only a plus. Not to mention that they appreciate clean water that is just as hard and acidic as they like it.

Genetics are Important

Each and every African Cichlid species has a pre-determined lifespan based on its gene pool.

The genetics of a fish determine its colors, patterns, instinctual behaviors, preferred diet and much more. They prefer a particular environment and water parameters literally because of their gene pool.

This is why if you get a few cichlids from Lake Tanganyika for example, they have almost identical needs.

Genetics can tell you how long a fish can live if you do everything right in your home aquarium. Fish are genetically pre-determined to be aggressive, peaceful or between the two as well.

There are also many African Cichlid species with genes that are so similar that we can call them close relatives.

Feed Quality Food

Since African Cichlids are omnivores, you should feed them plant-based and meat-based foods as well.

It is always best to feed them a diverse diet of live foods, frozen foods, pellets, flakes, blanched vegetables and dried foods. There are plenty of commercial foods available in the pet shop that are specifically made for cichlids.

Make sure to always grab the high-quality one if you want your fish to be healthy and full of energy. You can grab many vegetables that one can usually find in the house and prepare them to your fish. They are going to be more than eager to eat carrots for sure.

It really depends on how much you want to spend but there are always some cheap solutions that are just as good. Feeding them healthy food largely contributes to their well-being and ensures a longer lifespan.

Maintain Good Water Parameters

Water parameters play a large role in ensuring a long lifespan for your African Cichlids. Make sure that the ammonia and nitrate concentration in the aquarium never goes overboard.

These two contaminants can cause permanent damage, thus reducing the lifespan of your fish.

One-fifth of the water has to be changed bi-weekly. The ideal acidity for these species is between 6.5 to 7 pH.

Since they are tropical freshwater fish, they are going to need a water temperature of 73 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The lakes they live in are all hardwater lakes, which is what they need in the aquarium as well.

Reduce Stress

Keeping your African Cichlids with compatible tank mates is crucial. You really don’t want some of the aggressive species to dominate and stress out some of your less aggressive ones.

This is why you should pick species with similar temperament and then everything will be fine.

Other things that can cause stress in cichlids and fish in general are bad water quality and lack of space.

Overcrowding is great for reducing aggression but you definitely should not overdo it. Every individual fish should have enough space to swim around and not feel intimidated.

On the other hand, you should change the water regularly and ensure the correct water parameters. Clean water is key when it comes to the lifespan of any fish species.

How Long do African Cichlids Live in the Wild?

We don’t have much information about the lifespan of African Cichlids in their natural environment.

It is nearly impossible to keep an eye on a single fish throughout the years and find out its exact lifespan. Lake Tanganyika, Malawi and Victoria are huge lakes inhabited by hundreds of different cichlids.

All we can say is that you can provide much better conditions for these fish at home. In an ideal home aquarium, they are well-fed, the water is super clean and the conditions are impeccable.

Therefore, they have all the conditions they need in order to maximize their lifespan.

As a result, they can live longer lives than the African Cichlids that live in their natural environment.


As you can see, there are many factors that affect the lifespan of a cichlid or any type of fish for that matter.

If you want your fish to live a long and healthy life, then you should follow our advice. Monitor the water frequently, keep them on a nutritious diet and make sure the aquarium is big enough for them.

Fortunately, it is not too hard to keep African Cichlids at home in general so maximizing their lifespan is not such a hard task.

We hope that you have learned something new and useful about these beautiful pets by reading our article.

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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