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Cichlid Food: The Correct Diet
As with humans, cichlids too need to be provided with a well-balanced diet. Only eating meat-based foods will not do. A varied diet that includes vegetable matter as well is necessary. Fry especially need to be well-fed, else malnourishment might cause a stunting of their growth.
Cichlids are not picky or finicky fish. They are mostly easy to feed. Plus, they have huge appetites which need to be satisfied.
There is a very wide variety of species of cichlids. There is also a wide variety of cichlid foods to suit the differing food habits of this wide variety of cichlids.
The great majority of cichlids are omnivorous in nature. That is, they eat both live and plant foods. In their original habitat, these fish have a diet consisting of insects, crustaceans, worms, and plants. When living in an aquarium, for a cichlid, food should consist of a mix of flakes, live food, and vegetable matter. Cichlasomines, Angelfish, and the Heros species are examples of omnivorous cichlids.
A number of cichlids are carnivorous, that is, they are predators that prey on other fish. For a carnivorous cichlid, food can even mean the smaller fish that share its tank. Hence it is not advisable to keep a carnivorous cichlid with other smaller fish for it might just have them for dinner. Angelfish (of course angelfish are omnivores and not carnivores) for example, are perfectly capable of eating neon tetras if kept in the same aquarium. Carnivorous cichlid food in an aquarium can include worms, live fish, insects, insect larvae, and crustaceans, but they can also be fed pellets, flakes, and tablets. Carnivorous cichlids include Haplochromines and Pike Cichlids.
A cichlid that prefers to eat plant matter is called an herbivorous cichlid. Food for an herbivorous cichlid that is living in an aquarium could include flake and pellet foods that are plant-based. Such cichlids also feed on aquarium plants and can be fed plants and vegetables as well. Some herbivores will also accept live food. Some herbivores even feed on the algae that grow on rocks.
At the time of spawning, it would be beneficial to give the cichlid protein-based foods. Fry can mostly be started out on baby brine shrimp before they graduate to more adult foods. When feeding live foods like worms, one must make sure that these are clean and not diseased. The same goes for feeder fish. The chances of the cichlids' contracting a disease is lower when the fish are fed manufactured foods such as pellets and flakes. Ideally, aquarium cichlids must be fed a wide variety of foods.
[Permission for using the above picture has been given by Jeff Rapps of Tangled Up In Cichlids.]
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