Can African & (South) American Cichlids Live in Cold Water

I am from the Netherlands, where temperatures can be rather cool year round. There are some fish who are able to survive and thrive in cold water, and I wondered if there are any cichlids who could do so too. I did my research and I will tell you what I found.

Are cichlids able to live in cold water? No, there are no cichlids who are able to live in cold water. Cichlids come from tropical regions and therefore need tropical temperatures. Keeping them in cold water will cause stress and lower their immune system making them prone to disease.

It is important to know the minimal temperature for your cichlids. Also, what if it is just temporary like a power outage of moving tanks. Learn the rest of the short post to read up on everything to provide proper care for your (future) fish.

Desired temperature range for cichlids

Temperature in °F Temperature in °C
African Cichlids74 – 82 °F 23 – 28 °C
South American Cichlids74 – 82 °F 23 – 28 °C
Central American Cichlids74 – 82 °F 23 – 28 °C
Asian Cichlids68 – 84 °F 20 – 29 °C

What happens when you keep fish outside of optimal range

Cichlids are tropical fish, and when you keep the fish in temperatures lower than 74 degrees Fahrenheit the fish’s metabolism will slow down. This means that your fish will be way less active. Someone online said that it looked like his yellow lab forgot how to swim. That is how much less active they will become.

What also will happen is that the fish’s immune system will weaken and all of a sudden your fish will be prone to a lot of diseases that may or may not be already present in your aquarium. People in the hobby assume that diseases like Ich are present in all tanks, but do not break out because of the proper immune systems of a fish.

Finally there is a saying that the only thing that can kill a cichlid is a cichlid. While this is an exaggeration, it is true that cichlids are rather hardy fish that can handle a lot.

What is the minimal temperature for cichlids?

From the table above the minimal temperature turns out to be 74 °F or 23 °C for African and American cichlids. For asian cichlids it is a bit lower. There are people who keep cichlids in outdoor ponds or unheated tanks in temperatures lower than desired. I would compare this to a human constantly being cold. It creates so much stress for the fish.

But what if you suffer from a power outage? This would mean that your aquarium will temporary drop below the minimal temperature. What you should do is try to raise the temperature back to normal as soon as possible. For the rest you should not worry too much except for filtration. The temperature will cause stress to your fish but they will be able to handle it. When the power is back on, make sure to keep a close eye on your fish to see if any infections or diseases break out in your tank.

References:
Feature image – Author: OakleyOriginals Licensed under: Some rights reserved No changes made
Yellow lab image – Author: Theatrus Licensed under: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported No changes made

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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