5 Cichlids for 30 Gallons And Smaller


Perhaps you really like cichlids, but don’t have all the big tanks like other cichlid lovers do. There are at least a small handful. Some can be in a very small aquarium compared to other cichlids that need usually need 55 gallons or larger which for most beginners may be way out of their budget.

Convict Cichlids

The Convict Cichlid is a very popular cichlid. They should be able to live in a 20-30 gallon aquarium and can eat a variety of pellets, as well as live foods such as bloodworms, tubifex worms and baby brine shrimp. They can also occasionally eat carrots, lettuce and broccoli as well.

Because of how hardy these fish are, they don’t need a special filter. Convict Cichlids should do fine on a hang on back filter (HOB filter). They will probably need a heater (unless you live in a very warm area) as they do best in water with a temperature of 73-84 degrees F (23-29 C). Convict Cichlids can also be aggressive so they shouldn’t be kept in a community tank.

Shell Dweller Cichlids

Shell Dweller Cichlids are very small, In fact, males are just 2 inches and females are an inch or less, which means you can have up to six Shell Dweller Cichlids in a 10 gallon tank. They do best in a pH of 7.6-8 and need 78-80 F (25-26 C). They need shells and a sand bottom (because they tend to dig) and will need a higher protein diet. Pellets should do as well as daphnia and frozen or freeze-dried baby brine shrimp.


Rams are a smaller cichlid. They only need 20 gallons and are about 2-3 inches long. They do best in warm water with a temperature of 78-80 F. A Sand substrate is recommended as they tend to dig. They live for about 2-4 years, so they don’t have the best lifespan. Good plants to keep with rams include Amazon sword, Anubias, Cryptocoryne, Hornwort, and Java fern.

Golden Eye Dwarf Cichlid

The Golden Eye Dwarf Cichlid is a colorful, fun little fish that do best in pairs. They can live in a 15 gallon as males only get about 3 inches in length and females, 1.5 inches. The recommended pH for these fish is 6-8 and they do best with a diet that consists of pellets, baby brine shrimp, and bloodworms. They need warmer water as well (72-78 F or 22-25 C).

Cockatoo Cichlid (Apistogramma Cacatuoides)

The Cockatoo Cichlid is an apistogramma. It can be kept in a 20-30 gallons and should be kept in pairs. It is recommended to densely plant the aquarium as they thrive around plants. They live for about 3-5 years and are about 2-3.5 inches long.

The recommended pH for these fish is 6.0-7.0 and for hardiness, 2-15 dKH. They need water with a temperature of 79-84 F(26-29 C). Shrimp, crabs, and snails are not good tank mates for these fish.

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