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How Many Cichlids in a 10 Gallon Tank? (Read This First!)

You need to maintain some preconditions since this fish is different from others. The cichlid requires more space than any other aquarium fish.

Moreover, you need to choose its tank-mate carefully since all the fishes can’t survive with cichlids. You will know pretty much everything about cichlid fish from our following sections. So, have patience and keep on reading to know about this fish.

How many cichlids in a 10-gallon tank?

Although the 10-gallon tank is not suited to keep cichlids, you can only put 1 cichlid in a 10-gallon tank. But you cannot control the male cichlids in your small tank; only the female cichlid will survive in the 10-gallon tank. When it reaches its maturity, you must use a 30-40 gallon tank.

Mainly, cichlids are naturally overgrowing fish. They need some extra empty spaces to swim and grow naturally. So, the 10-gallon tank is too small for the cichlid’s growth. They will not find enough to live and grow unless you keep one female cichlid.

When it grows and becomes 4-5 inches high, you need to change the tank and increase its size. You need to use a 40-50 gallon tank to let your cichlid live happily.

The larger tank can hold up to 4-5 cichlids, adding another value. But the 10-gallon tank will not allow you to keep more than one cichlid.

You should not use the 10-gallon tank because of its cichlid nature. Their growth will be stuck in one area. You may offer a different diet and delicious foods to your aquarium fish. But the growth might be stopped due to the insufficient tank size.

Your cichlids want to play freely without facing any obstacles. It will swim around the tank and need to spend a lot more time.

If you have a 10-gallon tank, it will not get enough space to run and grow. Besides, the tank mates need to be compatible with your cichlids to live harmoniously without hurting each other.

Can you keep cichlids in a 10-gallon?

You can’t keep cichlids in a 10-gallon tank because of particular reasons. You might get some other reasons, but these three are the root cause and will give you the best reply to your queries.

Cichlid Nature:

The first reason you cannot keep your cichlids in a 10-gallon is because of the cichlid’s nature. They tend to live in a large tank to get enough space for swimming and playing.

Here the 10-gallon tank is too small for cichlids to swim and live naturally. Here, the nature of fish plays a crucial role in keeping them in 10-gallon tanks.

Insufficient Space:

The main reason you cannot keep your cichlids in your 10-gallon tank is insufficient space. This tank doesn’t come with a large space to support your cichlids. It has a bit of depth and length that are insufficient for the cichlids.

You can list why you cannot keep cichlids in your 10-gallon tank. But the root of all these reasons must be insufficient space. A 10-gallon small tank doesn’t have the space to keep a single cichlid and let it help to grow.

Cichlids Growth:

You cannot keep your cichlids in a 10-gallon tank because of their growth.

Typically, a one-inch female cichlid is OK for your 10-gallon tank. But you will not get the natural growth if you keep it in a small tank. It needs a 30-40 gallon tank to swim and grow naturally.

If you want to get the best growth of your cichlids, you must keep them in a large tank. Maybe a 40-gallon tank will be your best fit. You should avoid using the 10-gallon tank and replace it with a large tank.

What is the minimum tank size for a cichlid?

The minimum tank size for a cichlid is 30 gallons. There is a huge variety of cichlid fish, numbering 1300 species. The African cichlid is the most colorful and favorable for aquariums. The cichlid can grow up to two to eight inches.

Their characteristics are a bit aggressive and active. So you should leave a bit more space for the cichlid. Buying a 10gallon or 20-gallon tank may harm their nature as they are active fish.

So it’s better to buy a 30-gallon tank to keep your cichlid.

What is the best cichlid for a 10-gallon tank?

Lake Tanganyikan shell dwellers are the best option for a 10-gallon tank. As 10-gallon water tanks are small, we need to look for tiny species. The Tanganyikan shell dwellers are small and love to hide under the shell.

Planting a good number of shells can reduce their movement around the tank. Then you can easily keep two males and two females in your 10 gallon tank. The maximum number of fish for your 10 gallon tank cannot exceed 8 Lake Tanganyikan shell dweller cichlid.

Types of small cichlids for a 10-gallon tank:

Some small species can be kept in a 10 gallon tank despite being active and aggressive. So, you will get enough or more than two small cichlids for a 10-gallon tank. I found both the Shell Dwellers & South American Dwarf Cichlids are the best cichlids types for a 10-gallon tank.

The list is not long because you should not keep the cichlid in your small tank. They need more space to live happily. If you badly need to keep cichlids in your 10-gallon tank, you may go for these two options.

Shell dwellers:  

One kind of small cichlid is found at lake Tanganyika called shell dwellers. They hid under the shells and stacked upon one another. 4-8 cichlids can be kept in a small 10 gallon tank. There are some options you can try from shell dweller.

South American Dwarf Cichlid:

These are very attractive for their color, and they are calm in nature, so they are best for small tanks like 10 gallons.

Which cichlids cannot live in a 10 gallon tank?

Below are the two types of cichlids which cannot live in a 10 gallon tank:


It is also best to avoid housing Cichlids of the same species together, as this can lead to the production of hybrids that are not desirable.

For instance, you shouldn’t put two different species of Auloncara in the same aquarium if you can help it. On the other hand, you can house the Aulonocara Cichlid species alongside other fish species like Mbuna and Utaka.


Cichlids of similar species that behave similarly must not be housed together in the same aquarium.

If this scenario occurs, it becomes really difficult for Angelfish to live in a 10 gallon tank. The less closely related two fish species are to one another, the less likely they are to fight.

How many of these cichlids can live in a 10 gallon tank?

Let’s see how many different cichlids can live in your 19-gallon tank.

Ram cichlids:

Only one Ram cichlid can live in a 10-gallon tank. Mainly, Ram cichlids can coexist with other fish in a community tank with a capacity of up to 20 gallons or a breeding tank of 10 gallons with no other inhabitants.

If you want to keep two separate sets of rams, you should increase the size of the aquarium to at least 40 gallons so that each set will have sufficient space.

Convict cichlids:

Convict cichlids are relatively diminutive. You can only keep a pair or two Convict Cichlids in a 10-gallon tank. If you plan to keep a community aquarium, a tank with a minimum capacity of 20 gallons is recommended. And 30 gallons is better.

African cichlids:

Given that African cichlids are a species known for their high level of activity and aggression, they require a large amount of space.

Fish with a length of at least 15 centimeters (about six inches) are considered larger, and they need at least a 30-gallon tank size. It means you cannot keep any African Cichlid in your 10-gallon tank.

Peacock cichlid:

A tank at least 55–60 gallons in size is recommended for keeping peacock cichlids. These fish are excellent swimmers and are constantly waiting for prey. They cannot live in a 10 gallon tank and can’t regularly get their food.

If you have the option to increase the tank size, you should use a 30-gallon tank to raise the cichlids. It would be the ideal tank size for the peacock cichlids.

Final thoughts

Generally, you cannot keep cichlid in your 10-gallon tank. If you don’t have a large tank, you can keep one small female cichlid in a 19-gallon tank. When she grows and becomes an adult, you must change your tank and let her grow in a 30-40 gallon tank. It will live and grow naturally.