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10 Blue Cichlid Types

There are few tank fish more exhilarating and colorful than cichlids. This species displays immense variety in size, type, color, and behavior, as you can find cichlids of all shapes and sizes.

In this article, we will discuss blue cichlids and go through the various types available.

1. Electric Blue Cichlid (Sciaenochromis fryeri)

This is a Lake Malawi resident, falling in the category of African cichlids. These cichlids comprise of various subspecies, all residing in 3 major lakes in Africa: Lake Malawi, Tanganyika, and Victoria.

Like all cichlids, the Electric Blue is moderately aggressive, territorial and displays an energetic and inquisitive temperament. This fish can grow up to 6 inches on average, but males tend to grow larger, up to 8 inches. They are also more colorful and aggressive than the females.

The Electric Blue cichlid displays one dominant color – a bright blue, usually with darker shades, in males especially. They will stand out in a lush and clean environment and especially among other tank mates of different colors. Of course, provided you find some compatible tank mates for them. After all, these are cichlids, so they will be naturally aggressive and territorial towards any tank companions.

Care Difficulty – Moderate

The Electric Blue cichlid isn’t particularly difficult to keep, but it isn’t a breeze either. This stands for pretty much all cichlids, primarily due to their need to a cleaner and healthier living space. The core living requirements of an Electric Blue include:

  • Stable water temperature around 75-82 °F
  • A rocky tank layout, specific to all African cichlids
  • At least 75 gallons of space per one specimen
  • A diverse carnivorous diet
  • Preferably pair them with other African cichlids since cichlids feel more comfortable in the company of their own

2. Aulonocara Nyassae

You may know this cichlid by its more common name, the Blue Peacock. This species is similar in appearance with the Electric Blue, except that the color shade isn’t as…electric. This is another African species, which already tells you everything you need to know about it.

The Blue Peacock prefers a rocky tank layout with a sandy substrate to scratch its burrowing itch. It also prefers relatively warm waters in the neighborhood of 76 to 82 F. The warmer waters will aid in digestion and will keep the cichlid healthier and more comfortable throughout the day.

The fish is typically carnivorous in the wild, but it has adapted to an omnivorous diet in captivity. Even so, it requires a bit more animal protein in its diet compared to other cichlids.

Expect your Blue Peacock to grow up to 6 inches, although 4 is more likely. This cichlid can live up to 12 or even 15 years with proper care.

Care Difficulty – Easy

The Blue Peacock is among the few African cichlids that are notoriously easy to care for. This is primarily due to their hardiness and docile behavior, making them more suitable for community setups. That being said, males can be extremely territorial during the mating phase and are generally crankier than the females overall.

But they have no problems socializing with other fish, provided they aren’t too small. Otherwise, your cichlids might straight up eat them. Some of the best tank mates include plecos, big gouramis, yabbies, red tail sharks, rainbow sharks, redfin haps, etc.

3. Blue Dolphin Cichlid

The interesting thing about the Blue Dolphin cichlid is that its name alone will help you identify the fish instantly. Even if you’ve never seen it before. This blue cichlid has a prominent head bump, similar to that of a dolphin, which tends to be slightly larger in males. It also showcases thick lips and a rounder and bulkier head overall.

The Blue Dolphin generally displays a light-blue coloring with some black back stripes in some cases. This cichlid grows larger than the ones we’ve already mentioned. A Blue Dolphin male can exceed 10 inches with optimal care and enough space to support its growth rate and size. This means you need at least 75 gallons of water to accommodate this one.

As an interesting fact, the Blue Dolphin cichlid can grow almost 3 times the size they can reach in captivity. So, it’s not uncommon to find a 20-25-inch Blue Dolphin in the wild.

Care Difficulty – Moderate

This is a semi-aggressive cichlid species. The Blue Dolphin won’t go out of its way to attack other fish, but it will retaliate if its tank companions bother them too often. When it comes to water parameters, the Blue Dolphin isn’t too different than other cichlids. Water temperature should remain around 76 to 82 F, pH between 7.0 and 8.8, and water quality as high as possible.

This carnivorous cichlid requires a protein-rich diet and a steady feeding pattern to remain healthy over the years. Consider supplementing its meals with vitamins and minerals to boost the cichlid’s immune system and coloring.

4. Blue Johanni Cichlid

The Blue Johanni cichlid is a unique entry on this list. That’ because this cichlid is unlike any of the species we’ve mentioned so far. The main difference rests in its appearance, as only males are blue, while females are usually orange or yellow. The males are also bulkier and have wider foreheads, with a striking color pattern, combining dark blue with lighter stripes.

The Blue Johanni is semi-aggressive, but it will become exceedingly territorial when other fish trespass into their area. Males will become extremely violent towards one another when overcrowded or lacking enough females around them.

This cichlid likes to build rocky nests on the substrate and will physically move various rocks with their mouths. Provided the rocks are light and small enough, of course, since this cichlid doesn’t grow too large. A typical Blue Johanni will only reach 4 inches, which isn’t too small by cichlid standards, but it isn’t too impressive either.

However, despite its modest size, the Blue Johanni requires at least 75 gallons of water. This is to satisfy the cichlid’s swimming needs since this cichlid likes to patrol its habitat quite often.

Care Difficulty – Moderate to Hard

There are several reasons for the Blue Johanni ranking as more difficult to care for than other species. The main ones include:

  • Increased territorial behavior, causing the Johanni to often get into conflicts with other tank mates
  • The cichlid can experience bloating when consuming live food like brine shrimp and live worms
  • You need to keep the Johanni in groups of at least 10 individuals to mitigate their aggressive tendencies
  • Every cichlid male requires the company of at least 3 females to lower male competition tendencies
  • Johanni cichlids prefer planted environments, but they will constantly bite and destroy plants at the same time

Overall, this cichlid isn’t quite ideal for novice aquarists.

5. Powder Blue Cichlid (Pseudotropheus socolofi)

The Powder Blue cichlid is lighter in color, displaying a light blue body with darker nuances in the fins and tail. This is a semi-aggressive species with well-developed territorial tendencies, with males being particularly possessive about their space, food, and females. You should have several females for each Powder Blue male in the tank. Otherwise, the males can even fight to the death during the breeding season.

Fortunately, the Powder Blue cichlid is relatively easy to satisfy food-wise. This fish displays omnivorous behavior, so it will eat whatever it can find. Make sure your cichlid receives both plant and veggies and animal-sourced protein to remain healthy. Spirulina, spinach, nori, and some occasional seafood are necessary to boost the cichlid’s coloring and keep it healthy and growing.

The Powder Blue cichlid will only grow up to 5 inches, with females remaining slightly smaller than the males. This species is rather difficult to differentiate based on sex. Other than the small size difference, males and females will display no meaningful differences, either in color, shape, or pattern.

Care Difficulty – Moderate

It’s not that difficult to care for a Powder Blue cichlid, but it isn’t that easy either. After all, this is a cichlid, so it requires a special care routine overall. Provide the cichlid with a sandy substrate and a rocky tank layout, and avoid community tanks. These cichlids aren’t fond of other fish swimming in their space.

6. Rostratus Cichlid

Rostratus cichlids are a species of Malawi cichlids, which already tells you a lot about the fish. These are rock-lovers that like to lurk around the substrate and maintain a low profile. Rostratus cichlids are more peaceful than most cichlids, so you shouldn’t pair them with very large and aggressive fish that will bother them often.

Fortunately, the Rostratus cichlid isn’t too small either. This cichlid can grow up to 10 inches, which is sufficient to prevent it from becoming prey for other tank fish. If anything, this cichlid can become a predator if you’re pairing it with small and vulnerable tank fish.

The Rostratus cichlid is pretty recognizable thanks to its light blue body decorated with the trademark black spots going from head to tail. Dominant males display more intense coloring, while females and beta males will remain of similar size and color.

Care Difficulty – Moderate

Rostratus cichlids are relatively easy to care for, typical for any Mbuna cichlid. They require pristine water conditions, stable parameters, and a varied and fulfilling diet to remain healthy. These cichlids can live 10 years or more with proper care.

7. Blue Zebra Cichlid

We remain in the Mbuna category, and our next entry is the Blue Zebra cichlid. This cichlid is the epitome of a contradictory nature. On the one hand, the Blue Zebra cichlid is herbivorous; fitting for such a telling name. On the other hand, it is one of the most aggressive species on this list.

This cichlid cannot stand other fish lurking around its territory. Zebra cichlids are extremely territorial and defensive and will attack any other fish coming close to their turf. These fish prefer rocky habitats and will establish clear territories, usually encompassing good hiding areas like caves and crevices.

They will rarely leave the bottom area of the tank.

These cichlids can grow up to 5 inches as adults and are pretty easy to identify. They display light-blue bodies with dark-blue vertical stripes covering them head-to-tail. Water requirements are standard, applicable to all Mbuna cichlids.

Care Difficulty – Easy/Moderate

The difficulty consists of setting up their environment. The challenge is to set up the ideal tank layout to provide them with both sufficient swimming space and a variety of hiding areas. This cichlid loves to remain hidden and relies on its caves to retreat to when stressed.

Only pair the Zebra cichlid with other Mbunas. Any other tank mate will have difficulties living in peace with this one.

8. German Blue Ram Cichlid

It’s only fitting for us to jump from one of the most aggressive cichlids to the most peaceful one. The German Blue Ram is tiny compared to other cichlids (2-3 inches at most) and friendlier and more docile than most.

This omnivorous fish only requires a tank size of 10 gallons, preferably with plenty of plants and hiding areas.

Appearance-wise, the cichlid’s name doesn’t do it justice. This cichlid looks like a sea jewel, displaying several colors like orange, red, yellow, black, green, and blue spots covering its entire body. It is a wonder to look at and will bring an impressive splash of color to your tank.

Fortunately, you can pair the Blue Ram with most fish species similar in size and with a matching personality.

Care Difficulty – Moderate

The reason that this cichlid doesn’t rank as ‘easy’ in terms of care difficulty is its sensitivity to water conditions. The German Blue Ram is prone to a variety of diseases, including fish tuberculosis and ich. These are mostly linked to poor water conditions, so the cichlid requires pristine and stable water parameters in the long run.

Keep the Blue Ram in a cycled tank and perform 10-20% water changes weekly to prevent ammonia buildup and keep the water clean and well oxygenated.

9. Blue Discus Fish

If you’re a more experienced fish keeper, the Blue Discus fish should be one of your top pics. This fish has a unique presence with its 8-inch round and flat body, diamond-blue coloring, and red or orange eyes. The Discus fish is bound to charm you with its presence, as this is a large, beautiful, and peaceful fish that will accommodate to life in captivity quite easily.

The main problem is that the fish requires crystal-clear water conditions, or it will experience stress and health issues along the way. The Discus fish also demands higher water temperatures than most cichlids. The ideal temperature range is 82 to 86 F, so finding tank mates that can tolerate these temperatures is rather difficult.

Otherwise, the Discuss fish is friendly and tolerant of other fish, so long as they are not aggressive or too territorial.

Care Difficulty – Moderate

This carnivorous cichlid requires a varied diet, stable water parameters, and a clean and well-oxygenated environment. They are not too difficult to maintain once they’ve settled in their habitat, but it may be difficult to accommodate them at first. Get your Discuss fish during its juvenile phase and place it in an already cycled tank.

Also, make sure that the Discus fish has plenty of plants and rocky structures around to take cover when stressed.

10. Electric Blue Acara

It’s only fitting for us to end this list with one of the most popular cichlid species today. The Electric Blue Acara is a manmade variation of the Blue Acara, which is a Moderate-sized, light-blue cichlid with metallic hues.

This hybrid can grow up to 8 inches and is generally peaceful by cichlid standards. The ideal water temperature range for the Electric Blue Acara is 68-82 F with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. These water parameters already rank the cichlid among the most adaptable species, fit for community setups. That’s because most tank fish will feel comfortable within those water parameters.

Other than that, this cichlid doesn’t have any special requirements. If anything, it is capable of adapting to a variety of tank setups, provided it has sufficient plants and rocky areas to take cover when necessary.

Care Difficulty – Moderate

The Electric Blue Acara can adapt to pretty much any community setup, provided its tank mates are peaceful and docile. This cichlid can live up to 20 years with optimal care, which is already an incentive to keep it in pristine water conditions.

The Electric Blue Acara requires at least 30 gallons of water for one specimen, and a boost of 15 more gallons for each new Acara added to the tank.

Conclusion

Cichlids are highly popular tank fish thanks to their mean looks, color and pattern diversity, and, of course, volatile temperament. Although they are bottom lurkers, cichlids are quite energetic and require a lot of swimming space.

To close it out, consider the following tips when preparing for a cichlid tank:

  • Monitor and adjust water parameters according to the cichlids’ needs
  • Always keep the water condition crystal clear; cichlids are messy fish, so they need good filtration, weekly water changes, and regular tank maintenance
  • Keep cichlids in larger groups of 6-10 individuals since the company of their own will keep them calmer in the long run
  • Ensure a nutritious and balanced diet with steady feeding patterns

All these strategies will keep your cichlids healthier and help them live longer as a result.

avatar I’m Julia, and I used to work in a fish store for over 5 years. On this blog I help beginners care for their cichlids and share my experience and research on various fishkeeping related topics.

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