Can African Cichlids Survive Without a Filter?

African Cichlids are well-known of producing plenty of waste. Even if you have a large tank, you need to find a way to reduce the ammonia concentration in your water.

Because African cichlids produce a lot of waste, they need a good filter in their tank in order to keep the water parameters stable, especially ammonia and nitrite levels at 0ppm.

The most effective way to do that is to buy a filter that is powerful enough compared to the size of your aquarium.

Now the bad thing about filters is that you can never know when they are going to break down.

You might use it for a couple of years and then one day realize that your fish all suffer because it simply stopped working.

In this article, we are going to explain how bad that particular situation is and methods that can actually keep your fish alive while you get a new filter.

How Long can African Cichlids Survive if Filter Breaks?

Contaminants can accumulate in a matter of hours. It really won’t take long until the nitrite and ammonia levels rise to intolerable levels in the aquarium.

Not to mention that there are plenty of beneficial bacteria in the filter media. If it stops working, your fish can’t quite enjoy their benefits.

Once you notice that the filter is not working, you need to get one as soon as possible. You basically have only a few hours.

As the immune system of your African Cichlids get weaker and weaker, it makes them more vulnerable to diseases. They are also going to be quite stressed in such polluted water.

How to Avoid Filter Disasters?

One surefire way to avoid these unpleasant situations is to run two filters in the tank simultaneously. There is no way that both of them are going to break down at the same time.

While the two filters are working at the same time, water filtration is more effective overall.

Of course, given that you have positioned the two filters on two opposite sides. Also, frequent water changes and regular filter maintenance will guarantee a long life for your filter.

This includes changing the filter media as written on the description of your filter.

The other thing you need to be aware of is that it’s not good to feed your fish if the filter is broken. Your fish can only generate waste if you give them something to eat.

Therefore, you can maintain their health by not feeding them while the filter is broken. After all, it’s better for them to starve a bit than to get sick.

Another thing that helps is to perform water changes while the filter is not functioning. Change 10-20% of the water every 4-6 hours until you can get a new filter.

You can even keep the water oxygenated by using an air pump.

Replacing the Old Broken Filter

Buying a new filter also means there will be new filter media in it. In that case, the problem is that your old filter media contained all the beneficial bacteria.

Once the filter stopped, those bacteria started to die out due to the lack of water flow.

Without such bacteria in your tank, you really can’t put your fish back in there. Another cycling is required in order for the bacteria to develop.

When it’s done, you can put your fish back into the aquarium.

Best Filter for African Cichlids

Looking for a new filter? Then why not buy the one that is proven to be the best choice for African Cichlids?

Depending on your tank size, we are going to suggest you two filters from the same manufacturers that many cichlid keepers use in their tank.

Fluval 407 Performance Canister Filter

If you have a smaller tank, then we can recommend you the Fluval 407 Canister Filter. It is currently one of the most sought-after canister filters in the market.

It is designed in a way so that water has to go through its reusable sponges next to the filter media.

This advantage comes from it being in a vertical position rather than in a horizontal one. The three-stage filtration technology includes a mechanical, a bio and a carbon filter.

In fact, you can assemble the media trays according to your individual needs.

For example, many fish keepers remove the carbon filter and use another bio media instead. All in all, the 407 model by Fluval easily beats its competition with its outstanding features.

If you are looking for a filter that will work long-term, then you should definitely try this one.


Fluval FX4 Canister Filter

In case you have a larger tank, on the other hand, then what you need is the Fluval FX4 model. In our opinion, everyone should use this one for larger and more demanding aquariums.

You can already see at the first glance that this filter is made of high-quality parts.

The Fluval FX4 is capable of pulling 700 gallons of water every hour, which is simply insane. It is as if they have designed it for African Cichlids.

Your aquarium will be no longer filled with waste. This model has some important functionalities that allow you to perform maintenance and pull water out of the tank effortlessly.

With the FX4, vacuuming the gravel has never been so easy. A wide range of features paired with strong performance will guarantee crystal-clear water in your aquarium.

And at last but not least, the Fluval FX4 looks awesome. It is literally the Lamborghini of filters right now.



Since African Cichlids produce an exceptionally big amount of waste, you are going to need an aquarium filter for sure.

In this article, we have explained why they can’t survive long without a filter. Fortunately, there are plenty of tactics that you can use while the filter is down in order to save your fish.

We have even suggested a couple of really good filters in case you are currently looking for one. You never know when your filter is going to break.

It is the type of accident that you need to be prepared for at all times. Hopefully, this article has proven helpful when it comes to saving your filterless home 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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