Hey everybody, Today, i just wanted to make a little topic, to talk about my passion for african cichlids, and might give you some tips along the way too. So, as much as i love reef tanks and my planted tank, i also really enjoy african cichlid tanks. Most of them get really huge, and are actually not that hard to keep. Aswell as that, they are very intelligent fish, that will develop ranking systems or hierarchies even cross-species! This fascinates me, and the way that they adapt and develop is just really fun to see. Let me give you some examples: When i started with african cichlids, i got these 6 fish in my 50 gallon tank: 2 Kenyi Cichlids 2 Venustus Cichlids 2 Auratus Cichlids All since the day i begun, these guys have been my favourite species. My all time favourite is gonna be the Melanochromis Auratus. I've bred these guys, and they are awesome. Very colorful, but very aggressive. On my YouTube channel, i've been known for stocking extremely aggressive cichlids like Kenyis and Auratus together with peaceful cichlids like the Frontosa with great success. And actually, i think it all depends on the hierarchy. Lets just quickly talk about how the hierarchy develops in a newly setup african cichlid tank. Okay, so basically what is the best idea in my opinion is finding cichlids that will adapt to eachother well. What i mean by this, is that it might not be the greatest idea to buy the most colorful male cichlid you see in the store, because it actually does show something. The most colorful cichlid in your tank is the dominant male. This is the cichlid that is completely on the top of the aquarium hierarchy and he basically is the boss of that territory, which is your aquarium. He decides who he wants to lash out on basically. So, he will in most cases be able to just chase other cichlids without them actually fighting back. Sometimes, if its the same species, and its a male that tries to conquer the other, they might just start a fight called "mouth fighting" where pretty much the biggest cichlid wins, and the other one dies. Its pretty harsh. So, what i can reccommend, is actually buying the less colorful ones. Now, as i expect you to realize which fish are healthy, and which are not, you should be able to spot out the unhealthy fish that are skinny and so on. Because you need to have well nourished cichlids, to make sure they will stay alive even if they are getting chased into a corner. So, as you can see the hierarchy is pretty advanced. They are very intelligent animals, and they do prefer to have multiple of their own species. Sometimes, you can be able to keep multiple males together with some species that really doesn't mind eachother, and sometimes you might mix aggressive cichlids males together, and they will rip eachother apart. However, what i can tell from experience is that ONE thing works. And that is: Getting females for your dominant male. This will get ALL of his attention, and you will get breeding action going on for sure. He wants to breed as much as possible, and he basically wants to you know, do his business. But what you will see happening if you mix very aggressive cichlid species together with the same gender, you might actually see 2 males, where one of them get very colorful and dominant, and where the other one will "camouflage" itself into a female, by dimming down its colors to seem less intimdating. Because remember, ALWAYS remember with african cichlids. The colors and beauty and size is ALL about intimidation and flashing. So, what is the hierarchy in my tank? Of course, i cant really tell EXACTLY how my hierarchy works like, because we will never know what is going on inside of these little fishes brains. But let me put it like this: I know it pretty well. So i've had these fish together successfully for 1 year, and the latest addition has been my auratus fry. So lets get over the hierarchy: DOMINANT MALE: Male Kenyi Cichlid. If you look at my videos, you will see this huge and beautiful yellow kenyi cichlid. This is my dominant male. He chases everyone, and he has literally killed over 10 fish in his lifetime already. Kenyis are known to be one of the most aggressive african cichlids out there, so thats why if he feels intimidated, it WONT be tolerated! He will kill... And kill. He is pretty much the alpha male. LESS DOMINANT MALES: 1. Frontosa: The frontosa is pretty much just keeping him for himself. Nobody really cares about him anymore, and he just swims around, and doesnt really do anything. I still take him as a higher role in the tank, because he does have his own little territory, and nobody wants to nip at him. 2. Auratus Male: My auratus male is pretty high in the hierarchy, he often have these "dance fights" with the kenyi, where they just shake their body, and kind of flash their colors to eachother. However, i've never seen them nip at eacother, and they always just stay calm. 3. Blue Ahli: My blue ahli is very dull colored and dark. Many people think he is a blue orchid on my channel, but i thought that too. If you look at my old videos, he looked like a blue ahli. He was light blue and beautiful. But, he just got darker and darker, because he got lower and lower in the hierarchy basically. So, what happend is actually that i thought it was a blue orchid, but the blue orchid is alot more round, and it has different fin shapes. My ahli has the ahli specifics, and he has a long body, with different finshapes, and yeah... He is just a dull colored ahli. He is kinda cool though. 4. Yellow Lab: My yellow lab isn't very big, and he is just keeping him to himself. These are one of the only species of cichlids, that really wont make any noticable change in coloration due to hierarchy. They just stay beautifully yellow, always. 5. Metriaclima Estherae: Another cichlid, that sometimes has "dance fights" with my Kenyi. This is the most weird color changing fish i've ever seen. I was 100% sure that he was a metriaclima estherae when i got him, because he was yellow/orange etc.. But then, he got lower down in the hierarchy and he got... Pink... And blue. Its strange. Never seen anything like it! 6. Venustus Cichlid: My venustus is the lowest cichlid in my hierarchy, atleast after the auratus fry. He is very big and strong, but he gets chased way to much by the big bully of the tank, which is the Kenyi. So, he usually just tries to hide, but he has survived such amounts of stress for over 3 years now. Had him all since he was little baby fish 7. My 6 Auratus Fry: These guys just doesnt get chased. They have their own hierarchy. But they're really nice. Very colorful and active, and they just surf around the rocks. They are awesome. But lower in the hierarchy. I guess they havent really come into the age yet, where they actually begin to be a part of the hierarchy, but they do kind of stay for themselves really. More will come on this topic later !