How Often To Feed Cichlids And Three Best Foods For Them

Cichlids can be found in tropical America or all over Africa. They are primarily freshwater fish, and they have over 1,300 species belonging to the Cichlidae family. Cichlids are also called Oscars, Angelfish, Peacocks, and many more. Most Cichlids can live 8-10, but proper care can live to be 15 or twenty years old on occasion. 

But what about food? What does a Cichlid eat, and how often? What should they avoid? 

It is suggested that you feed your Cichlids twice a day; each providing should be a different food from the last feeding. There are three types of Cichlids, Carnivores eat animal sources of food; fish, insects, & invertebrates. Herbivores eat plants, such as algae, biofilm, and aquatic plants, and Omnivores are going to want a mixture of both plants and animals. 

If you choose the proper foods for your Cichlid, you will help them grow, give them pop to their color, and they will live an active, happy life.

An Oscar can get up to 14-inches long and three and a half pounds. With so many species of Cichlids, there is an extensive range of sizes as well. The best temperature for a Cichlid is 72-82 degrees, and they prefer more challenging alkaline water, so you want the pH at 7.6-8.6. They also choose to have moderate lighting.

Angelfish, Firemouths, and Peacocks are all omnivores. 

Most Cichlids like Norill. Norill is a krill and dried seaweed mixture. Norill is something natural that they will eat out in the wild. You can find Norill at most pet or fish stores.

When you feed your Cichlids the Norill, make sure you are also providing them a commercial fish food specially formulated for the Cichlid species. It is recommended that when you give your fish the Norill for the first time, you do not feed them for three days.

The lack of food for three days will ensure their hunger, and they will not hesitate to try new foods. Feed the Norill in the morning and your fish flakes or pellets in the evening time.

How Often Should You Feed Your Cichlids?

There are some freshwater aquarium fish that require food three times a day. Other species of fish can live on twice a day feedings. It all depends on the species of fish you have. Cichlids are aggressive feeders.

When you enter the room, a Cichlid will shoot to the glass expecting and begging for food. If they do not do this, then there may be an issue with your fish. Cichlids will feed in different ways, depending on the species that you have chosen for your aquarium. 

The general and highly suggested rule of thumb; feed your Cichlids twice a day and no more. Do not provide them anything in between feedings. Feed them once in the morning and once in the evening. 

Some cichlids species will graze on algae, some species will hunt and eat smaller fish, and some Cichlids will sift through the substrate, searching for invertebrates. 

Since Cichlids are aggressive eaters, you need to be mindful of the tankmates you choose. It will probably result in your other fish not getting enough to eat and your Cichlids getting too much. You also want to be careful how many Cichlids you put in the tank.

Being aggressive feeders can result in injury to themselves or the other Cichlids in the tank. If you do not choose to feed them, Norill, that is fine. You still only want to provide them twice a day and make sure it is different each time.

How Long Can Cichlids Go Without Eating?

Again, depending on the species of fish, this timeframe is going to vary. It depends on your fish’s size, how hardy they are, and how often they are supposed to eat. Some fish should only go 2-4 days without food.

Other fish can go up to two weeks without eating anything. I, personally, would not go more than two days without feeding my fish. No matter what the experts say. I would not like to go hungry for two days, so why should I make my fish do so?

A large, healthy Cichlid can go without food for seven to ten days. If you have an aquarium full of babies, they will need to be fed after one or two days. There are a few tricks that you can use to prolong the time in between feedings. It would be better to make plans for someone to come to your house and feed your fish if you are gone.

One way to prolong the intervals in feeding; turn your water temperature down two or three degrees and decrease the length that the lights are on in the aquarium. This will slow down the metabolism of your fish which reduces the requirement for food.

Shortening the daytime cycle will decrease their activity level, which also decreases the need to eat. If your fish have a special diet or are young, please find someone who can take care of them if you have to be away for more than a couple of days.

Why Are Your Cichlids Always Hungry?

Fish will typically act hungry, mostly select species, because they cannot find food in the wild every day. They will always be looking for ways to find food, making them appear hungry. This is why, with each species, you have a set schedule (1-3 times a day) to feed your fish.

The feeding schedule ensures that they are not over-eating. As long as you do not give in to what you think is starving to death, your Cichlid will stay happy and healthy. 

In reality, they are not hungry. Unless, of course, you have been gone for the weekend. Cichlids, and other fish, portray traits to make you think they are hungry when they are not. Stick to the twice-a-day feedings only. Nothing in between because it may sit on the bottom of the tank and rot. 

Cichlids, as mentioned earlier, are aggressive feeders. So every time you walk into the room, they are going to get excited, swimming to the glass, in hopes that they will contact you to feed them.

As long as you feed your Cichlid twice a day and a well-balanced diet, you do everything you need to do. Don’t let their excitement at the glass fool you. Despite what you may feel and what your fish are trying to tell you, you do not want to feed them.

Overfeeding your fish can cause an extensive array of problems that you do not wish to. Fish are made to scavenge and prey on food out in the wild. Fish will learn, over time, that when your presence is at the tank, they are going to get fed.

So, each time you come into the room, they will automatically think it is providing time, and they will get excited. 

Top 3 Foods To Feed Your Cichlid

With the abundance of food choices on the market, how is one to know which ones are best for their fish? You can do research. Learn all there is to know about your fish species.

Make a list of the top 3 or 5 foods that you come across in your research. You can also ask the pet store associate. You want them to have a well-balanced diet, and you do not want to feed them the same thing twice a day. The variety will keep your fish happy. A balanced diet will keep them healthy.

As with any other species, Cichlids have a large variety of food available on the market. 

  1. For color enhancement and growth, we recommend NorthFin Cichlid Food. 
  2. Another excellent choice is the Omega One Cichlid Food. 
  3. Third, but not least on the list; NLS Cichlid Food (New Life Spectrum). There are many, many others out there as well. 

These 3 promote growth and enhance your Cichlids coloration.

What Food Should Your Cichlid Avoid?

Your Cichlid should get most of their nutrition from food pellets formulated for the Cichlid. Since most Cichlids are omnivorous, you can supplement a Cichlid diet with bloodworms, raw hamburger meat, or fresh vegetables. Do this as a treat only, once a month. 

Cichlids will eat anything that you give them. The only recommendation for foods that they should NOT eat is not made mostly for them—goldfish flakes or betta pellets. Specific Cichlid food will give them all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that they require to be happy and healthy.

You do have to be careful with each species of Cichlid. African Cichlid, for example, has a more comprehensive digestive system. Protein-rich or meaty foods can clog up their digestive system reasonably easily. This type of Cichlid, you would not want to live bloodworms to. Make sure you check the specifics on your species of Cichlid before feeding them something.


Cichlids are excellent freshwater aquarium fish that have bright and sometimes vivid coloring. They are fascinating to have and to watch in your aquarium. You want to make sure you feed them the proper foods, twice a day, and no more than they can eat in 30-60 seconds.

Sinking pellets or flakes as a staple food is recommended. Do a little more research on the Norill as it is a good addition to your Cichlid food regiment. 

You can give green food, like fresh spinach, on occasion. You can also provide your Cichlid with a treat of live or frozen brine shrimp or bloodworms. Just be mindful, anything outside of their daily food, only give to your fish once a month as a treat.

You don’t want them to get too used to bloodworms, brine shrimp, or other fresh or frozen treats. Remember that food that is not consumed will rot and pollute your aquarium. 

Remember, your Cichlid likes their water at 72-82 degrees with a pH level of 7.6-8.6. You want to make sure that you do in-depth research on the specific Cichlid you wish to keep in your tank.

Understanding in advance will lower problems, concerns, and confusion later. You will know when your fish is not feeling well, or when there is something more seriously wrong with your Cichlid. You will also know the best products and aquarium necessities for your species of Cichlid. 

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