Do African Cichlids Need a Heater?

As a fish keeper, you are probably going to need a heater for your African Cichlid aquarium. Since they are tropical fish, they need tropical water which means a slightly bigger temperature.

In most rooms, the aquarium water can’t heat up that much which causes your cichlids to be stressed, so yes, African cichlids do need a heater in their tank to keep the temperature stable and to make them feel comfortable and live a healthy life.

As a result, their immune system weakens and they become more vulnerable to diseases. In order to prevent this, you need to install a heater or two depending on the size of your aquarium.

Except if you live in a tropical climate, of course, which also means that there is a higher room temperature.

If so, your African Cichlids will probably be fine given that you don’t use the air conditioner. If you want to find out more about heaters and cichlid care, then keep on reading.

We are going to recommend a couple of really good heaters you can use.

But first, we are going to talk about the most important things you need to be aware of when using a heater in your African Cichlid aquarium.

African Cichlids Heater Size Guide

There are many different brands and models when it comes to aquarium heaters. It can be confusing to see all those numbers and features when on the lookout for the perfect heater.

The most important thing when doing your research is to take a look at the wattages.

The rule of thumb is to count 5 watts for every single gallon water volume in your tank. For example, if you have a 50-gallon tank, then 50 times 5 is 250 W.

In this case, you need to look for a 250 Watt heater. For a 75-gallon tank, on the other hand, you are going to need 600 watts.

This can be easily solved by buying two 300 Watt heaters and using them simultaneously. By using two heaters, the heat in your aquarium will be distributed more evenly as well.

Ideal Water Temperature for African Cichlids

The ideal water temperature for African Cichlids is between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. A slight deviation below or above these values can cause a lot of stress for your cichlids on the long term.

It is better to heat the water up above room temperature a bit so that they can feel comfortable.

Make sure to increase the temperature by a few degrees during the breeding period. This will increase the chance that you end up with lots of juvenile African Cichlids.

Lowest Temperature for African Cichlids

The absolute lowest temperature that African Cichlids can still tolerate is 74 degrees Fahrenheit. They simply can’t survive in cold water. If they stay in cold water for days, then diseases are probably going to start to spread among them.

Coldwater basically slows down their metabolism, making them slower. From the outside, it would look as if they had forgotten to swim.

Furthermore, there are certain diseases that are present in your tank all the time. It is just that your fish have a strong enough immune system to keep them at bay.

Once the temperature drops, those diseases will easily affect your fish.

Best Heater for African Cichlids Tank

In my opinion, one of the very best heaters you can get is the Fluval E Electronic Heater. By buying it, you get a full-featured product that will satisfy the needs of your African Cichlids.

It is not dangerous to your fish at all thanks to its auto-cut function that sets the system off in case something goes wrong.

You can monitor the temperature just by looking at it thanks to the LCD display.

This model by Fluval is straightforward to use so you won’t get confused even if you have never seen a heater before. Moreover, it is designed to keep the water temperature constant with very few deviations.

It is one of those submersible heaters that will alarm you if the temperature is not right. It can’t hurt your African Cichlids even if they go near it.


  • A precise and reliable heater
  • You can install it and adjust its height afterward
  • A simple design made of high-quality material
  • Consistently keeps the temperature on the set value


  • You either need two of these or stronger water flow
  • 2-3 degrees fluctuations can happen from time to time


Do You Need to Run Aquarium Heater All the Time?

Depends on the temperature in your home. Some people keep their heater running all the time while others will only use it in the winter. Keeping an ideal water temperature is the best for the fish

It really depends on the current temperature in your home. This is why you need to measure the temperature in the aquarium from time to time.

If it deviates by a few degrees Fahrenheit from the recommended range, then you should calibrate the heater accordingly.

In warm climates, it is often not even needed to turn on the heater. During the winter, it might be inevitable to use it but the other seasons are more forgiving.

The point is to stay in that 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit range one way or another.

It hugely contributes to the overall well-being of your fish if the temperature is set to ideal. There are plenty of heaters that turn on automatically once the temperature drops below the set value.


African Cichlids are tropical fish and they definitely need a heater. Out in the lakes, they are accustomed to a specific temperature range that you need to replicate in your aquarium.

In this article, we did our best to share the best tips when it comes to choosing a heater.

We have also informed you how exactly these cichlids need to be treated when it comes to aquarium temperature.

It is really no big deal; all you need to focus on is to maintain that few degrees Fahrenheit above your room temperature.

In order to keep your fish healthy, you also need to monitor the temperature from time to time. If you follow our tips, we guarantee you that your fish is going to feel great in your aquarium.

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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