African Cichlids vs. Saltwater

Saltwater fish tend to be more colorful, although many cichlids rival their beauty.

Saltwater fish tend to be more colorful, although many cichlids rival their beauty.

Choosing whether to create an engaging saltwater tank or to house the large and hardy African cichlids isn't always the easiest decision. Major differences in maintenance, species and cost may affect your decision. Some captive cichlids have been integrated to saltwater with little problem, although they are considered freshwater species.

Cost of Tank and Maintenance Supplies

A saltwater tank needs all the stuff a freshwater aquarium needs, plus some. The additional items and regular maintenance needed for saltwater tanks is not easy to swallow for a lot of people. In addition to lights, nets, scrapers and test kits, you'll need live rock, a protein skimmer, salt mix and hydrometer. The substrate typically costs more for a saltwater tank, as do the test kits. Because of these additional costs, a freshwater tank is approximately 43 percent the cost of a saltwater tank and accessories, according to Saltwater reef tanks cost approximately twice as much as regular saltwater tanks.

Cost of Fish and Invertebrates

African cichlids are on the expensive side when it comes to freshwater fish but they're still much less expensive than the colorful saltwater species. Some species of saltwater fish can be hard to come by, whereas African cichlids are plentiful in aquarium shops. As far as invertebrates for your tank, the possibilities seem endless with a saltwater aquarium, but you'll pay for them, especially if you don't live near the coast.

Difference in Fish

Saltwater fish come in a dazzling array of colors, and many species are compatible as tank mates. African cichlids tend to be quite colorful for freshwater tanks, however, and can create a beautiful aquarium display. African cichlids tend to be a bit on the aggressive side; some species are extremely aggressive. Because of this, it may be difficult to find tank mates for them. Saltwater fish are easily stressed by different factors, leading to illness and fatalities. African cichlids are hardy and adaptable to various situations. Many cichlid owners enjoy cichlids' superior intelligence. Some cichlids can adapt to saltwater or brackish water. Integrating cichlids into saltwater tanks, though, is not something to take on as a beginner.

Bottom Line

The African cichlid tank is cheaper and simpler to maintain. That being said, however, both types of tanks can give you the opportunity to create an exceptional focal point. While saltwater tanks take a little more money, time and perfectionism, they are not impossible and even amateur fishkeepers can handle them with a bit of dedicated learning.


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