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How Often to Feed Cichlids? (With A Feeding Shedule)

Cichlids are a great fish for your collection due to their brilliant appearance and color combinations. But to rear a healthy fish, you should know how to feed your fish. So, this is the complete guide on how you correctly Feed Cichlids.

It is enough to feed the cichlids twice a day. Also, providing food in the morning and at night is better. Further, it would be best if you feed your cichlids daily. However, cichlids are very aggressive eaters. Therefore, you should highly consider the feeding amount and feeding frequency.

How Often to Feed Cichlids Cichlid

What To Feed Cichlids?

Above all, there are about 1870 varieties of cichlids scientifically described worldwide.  Among them, 1300 varieties are South African cichlids, and 570 are Central American cichlids. Furthermore, this cichlid family consists of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. Therefore, cichlids’ feed requirements depend on the type of fish that you own.

Carnivores cichlids in the wild

Basically, cichlids belong to the carnivore category like Jack Dempseys, Oscar, and Jaguar fish mainly accept animal food sources. Hence, it means they eat other fish, crustaceans, insects, or a combination of these foods. Generally, carnivore-type cichlids have a short digestive tract. It helps to break down the high protein and fat-rich food sources immediately.

Herbivores cichlids in the wild

Moreover, African cichlids like Mbuna and Tropheus feed only plant matter, and they graze throughout the day. Also, they primarily eat algae, live plants, and biofilm. The important thing is, that herbivore cichlids have a long intestinal tract. Thus, they can absorb the many nutrients from foods that contain low protein and fat. 

Omnivores cichlids in the wild

Cichlid fish that belongs to the omnivore category feed both animal and plant sources. Moreover, if we consider the types of cichlids, most varieties are omnivores. For example, varieties of angelfish, peacocks, and fire mouths are omnivore fish. Further, these cichlids tend to eat anything that you provide them to eat.

Also, the length of the digestive of omnivore cichlids is between the track length of carnivores and herbivores. Further, this digestive tract breaks down a variety of foods.

After all, If you like to rear cichlids in your aquarium, you should know the foods they eat in the wild. That’s why I try to give a rough idea about it above. Through this knowledge, you can select suitable foods for Cichlids in your tank.

How Often to Feed Cichlids Cichlid Feeding Guide

Cichlids Food list

In captivity, you can provide many foods to cichlid fish. But it would be best if you considered their food pattern. You can feed omnivore cichlids using any of the listed foods. Also, do not feed herbivores fish with meaty feeds and carnivore fish with plant matter. 

  • Small fish meat
  • Insects
  • Tubifex Worms
  • Brine shrimps
  • Cichlids pellets
    • Omega one super color sinking cichlid pellets
    • Hikari cichlid bio gold  mini pellets
    • New life spectrum cichlid 80g (naturox series)
    • Northfin food cichlid formula 1 mm pellet
    • Northfin veggie formula 1 mm 500 g
    • Xtreme aquatic foods 2217- e cichlid peewee
    • Cobalt aquatic ultra-cichlid pellets slow sinking
    • Aetracichlid cichlid crisps advanced clear water formula
  • Flake foods
    • Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Flake Fish Food
    • Ocean Nutrition Cichlid Flake Food
    • Tetra Cichlid Flakes
  • Frozen foods
  • Fish wafers
  • Some Household vegetables
    • Cucumber
    • Boiled carrot
    • Zucchini
    • Peas
    • Lettuce and Spinach
  • Household fruits
    • Blueberry
    • Strawberry
    • Grapes

How Many Pellets To Feed Cichlids?

Evidently, you should provide the number of pellets that cichlid fish can finish within 2 or 3 minutes. Further, you should be highly concerned about the number of pellets that offer to your fish. The cichlids can overfeed quickly because they are aggressive feeders. Moreover, they do not have any idea about the amount they eat.

Firstly, you can provide a small number of pellets. Then if the fish finish these pellets before 3 minutes, you can add extra pellets.

But do not put a large number of pellets into the aquarium at once. It affects the health of the cichlids and the water quality of the tank.

How Often To Feed Cichlids With Bloodworms?

Evidently, you can add bloodworms to the cichlids’ diet for three, or four days of the week. Through this, your fish do not get tired of eating the same foods every day. However, it is better to serve cichlids with a mixed diet. When you give bloodworms to the cichlids, you should consider their feeding behavior because herbivores can not digest meaty foods. Further, their digestive system does not develop to absorb high protein meaty diets such as blood worms.

How Often Should I Feed Cichlids with Live Fish

You can add live fish to carnivore and omnivore cichlids three-four times per week. But this frequency depends on the variety and maturity level of the cichlid. However, if you have an adult carnivore or omnivore cichlid, they consist of a solid and well-established digestive system. Hence, they can easily catch and digest live fish rather than immature cichlids. Further, herbivore cichlids do not eat live fish.

How Often To Feed Baby Cichlids?

You should feed baby Cichlids two or three times per day. Also, you can provide a mixture of protein-rich fry foods and live foods such as newly hatched brine shrimps, powder fry foods, and specialized liquid foods. Furthermore, it is essential to provide nutrient-rich foods for the early stage of cichlid fish. Hence, it will encourage their health and growth.

Wolf Cichlid

Feeding Schedule For Cichlids  

You can follow this table to get knowledge of the food type and feeding frequency.

Fish VarietyHow Often To Feed Cichlid Foods
Malawi Cichlids2 times per daySpectrum and Hikari Pellets
A tiny amount of brine shrimp
Mysis shrimp  
Peacock Cichlids2 times per dayInsects
Brine shrimps (live or frozen)
Daphnia frozen
Prepared foods  
New life spectrum cichlid formula
Hikari sinking cichlid gold pellets  
Omega one freeze-dried brine shrimp  
Tetra blood worms  
Hikari bio-pure freeze-dried daphnia  
Juvenile Cichlids2-3 times per dayA mixture of protein-rich foods.
Newly hatched brine shrimps
Powder fry foods
Specialized liquid foods
African Cichlids2 times per daySmall fish meat
Frozen foods
Tubifex Worms Wafers
Cichlid pellets
Brine shrimps
Household vegetables and foods  
Mbuna Cichlids2 times per dayDried seaweeds
Plant-based flakes
Plant-based pellets
Brine shrimps
Convict Cichlids2 times per dayPellets – Hikari cichlids gold floating Pellets Frozen foods – blood  
Electric Blue Cichlid1-2 times per dayTry always to give live food. If not, frozen or freeze-dried foods also is okay.

Add cichlids pellets as a supplemental food, not as the primary food diet  
Brine shrimps  
Small fish
Electric Blue Cichlid2 times per dayCichlid pellets
Cichlids flakes
Brine shrimp
Baby brine Insects
Electric Blue CichlidBreeding periodEarthworms
Live black worms
Live brine shrimps
Cherry shrimp Daphnia
Yellow Lab Cichlid2 times per day   Enhance the color.    Spirulina flakes
Goldfish food
Yellow Lab CichlidDaily basisBrine shrimps
Pellets or flakes containing vegetable matter
Oscar Cichlid2 times per dayInsects like small crickets Mealworms Fruits,
Nuts: peanuts, and other soft nuts
Veggies: especially frozen peas
Prepared foods: Pellets, Flakes, Wafer  
Fresh and frozen seafood:   Shrimps, clams, scallops and Bloodworms
brine shrimp
Mysis shrimp     
Kribensis Cichlid2 times per day Main dietPlant
Herbivore flakes and pellets
Hikari Sinking Pellets
Kribensis CichlidAlternativesLive foods- blackworms,
brine shrimps Frozen foods – Kribs,
brine shrimps
Vegetables- zucchini medallions, shelled peas
Frontosa Cichlid2 times per dayHigh protein pellets
Live/frozen foods
Jewel Cichlid2 times per dayVegetables including lettuce leaves and spirulina Prepared foods
pellets and flakes
White worms  
Fish frames  
Venustus Cichlid 2 times per dayHigh-quality pellets and flakes containing vegetable matters
Brine shrimps  
Small fish  
Firemouth Cichlid2 times per dayHigh-quality pellets and flakes
Vegetables: spinach, spirulina
Meaty supplements: bloodworms, brine shrimps
Jack Dempsey cichlid1-2 times per dayPrepared foods- pellets and flakes
Frozen foods – bloodworms, tubifex, ocean plankton Live fish

How Long Can A Cichlid Go Without Eating?

Healthy cichlid can survive around 7 to 10 days without food. But this estimated time can vary with several factors. These are:

Age of the Cichlid fish

Size of the Cichlid fish

Where cichlid is carnivore or herbivore

Large and older fish can go longer without food than younger and small Cichlids. Because large and old cichlids have more fat reserves and body mass. But try to feed your fish regularly to keep them happy.

Why Are My Cichlids Always Hungry?

Cichlids are aggressive eaters. When you go near the Cichlid tank, they always behave as hungry. But, if you feed them adequately, you do not need to worry about these behaviors. Hence, extra feeding is a reason to overfeed your cichlid. Further, cichlid fish do not have an idea about sufficient food amount enough for them to survive.

Firemouth cichlid tank mates

What Happens If You Overfeed Cichlids?

When you rear any fish, including cichlids, overfeeding is not a good thing. Overfeeding can generate harmful impacts on your Cichlids.

Health problems

Overfeeding and health problems have come together. Moreover, fatty liver or hepatic lipidosis is a common disease that can be found among African cichlids. Also, the leading cause of this disease is overfeeding. Further, this fatty liver disease directly affects the function of the fish’s liver, and eventually, it can kill your cichlid.

High ammonia and nitrate level

The uneaten fish foods and a large amount of fecal matter can increase the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in the water. Also, these are toxic to the fish, including cichlids. Further, protein-rich uneaten food can quickly deteriorate water quality by breakdown into the above toxic substances.

Low pH level 

Decaying organic materials such as fish wastes and excess foods produce acidic compounds. It causes a lower pH level in aquarium water.

Lower oxygen levels

The uneaten foods and fish fecal matter are decaying in aerobic processes. As a result of the aerobic reaction, it consumes oxygen and produces carbon dioxide. Therefore, it reduces the dissolved oxygen in the tank water.

Cloudy water

Cloudy water is a result of decaying uneaten foods and fish wastes. Moreover, fish hobbyists love to maintain their aquarium crystal clear. But excess food can destroy their dream.

Planaria or flatworms

Excess feeding may generate more fecal matter too. Moreover, the massive amount of fecal matter cannot be filtered through the filter system. Then it deteriorates the water quality. Also, these worms will generate because of poor water quality.  Thus, you should properly maintain the water quality to eliminate unwanted pests.

Algae bloom

Overfeeding is the primary reason to grow algae in the aquarium. Also, the excess feed may generate excess fish waste and uneaten food waste.  Then algae can grow fastly when water is rich in nutrients. Thus, do not allow the extra food to remain in the tank.


Mold or fungus also grows due to high levels of organic material in tank water.

Related: Blue Texas Cichlid Care And 12 Things Must Know
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Why Cichlids Not Eating

Several reasons can cause a lack of appetite for cichlid fish. These are;

  • Diseases and poor health

The general diseases of cichlids are swim bladder disease, cichlid bloat, and cotton wool disease. Furthermore, the hole in the head, Ich, and tuberculosis are also common in these fish.                                                                                                                                        

  • Poor water quality
  • Low water temperature
  • Overfeeding
  • Stress and unhappiness
  • Wrong food
  • Fish age: old
  • Picky fish
Umbee Cichlid

Feeding Malawi Cichlids

Malawi Cichlid usually eats algae on the rocks in their living habitat. Therefore, you can provide these foods to your Malawi Cichlids. Generally, pellet foods can be used easily. Therefore, you can give Life spectrum pellets or Hikari pellets for fish. Further, Malawi cichlids also like to eat spirulina. You can purchase spirulina pellets or flakes at the market. Moreover, use this herbivore food type 1-2 times per week.

But do not let Malawi fish eat a lot of spirulina because it causes black spots on the cichlid body. Further, it will damage the appearance of the fish. You can also give home-based foods to Malawi cichlids such as broccoli, cucumber, peas, lettuce, and nori. Furthermore, you can use meaty foods and live foods to feed Malawi fish, such as daphnia, brine shrimps, and Mysis. However, you can feed Malawi cichlid twice daily, usually morning and night or evening.


The cichlid fish have various diet patterns. Also, according to the diet pattern, they can be categorized as carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores. Hence, you should identify the certain diet behavior of your cichlids before selecting the food. Further, adding enough food is important to keep healthy fish. Hence, please follow the above guidelines to be a proud cichlid owner.

Credit to : Cichlid Bros

Related: 8 Non Aggressive Cichlids for Community Tank And Care
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Reinthal, P.N., 1990. The feeding habits of a group of herbivorous rock-dwelling cichlid fishes (Cichlidae: Perciformes) from Lake Malawi, Africa. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 27(3), pp.215-233.

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.