How Many Cichlids in a 55 Gallon Tank? Get Facts Here!

how many cichlids in a 55 gallon tank

A standard 55-gallon fish tank dimension is 48″ x 13″ x 21″. It is a good medium tank, for starters. Although a 55-gallon tank might look big, it’s never enough for territorial fish species like cichlids. So, you need to keep a reasonable amount of fish to avoid fighting.

How many cichlids in a 55 gallon tank? Using 1 inch of fish for 2 gallons of water rule, you can have up to 25 inches of cichlid fish in a 55-gallon aquarium.

However, it is important to know that Cichlids are aggressive, and each species is also different in size. You should have a better understanding of the specific cichlid species you want to keep to work out the accurate number of them in a 55 gallon cichlid tank. Let’s keep reading!

How Many Cichlids Should I Keep in a 55-gallon Tank?


In general, a 55-gallon fish tank can support 10-15 mid-sized cichlids.

Each kind of cichlid is different in size, so it’s hard to give a definitive answer. To work out the exact number of specific cichlids in a 55-gallon tank, let’s stay focused on the cichlids you want to keep.

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  • African cichlids, for example, can fully grow to 6 inches in size. That means a 55-gallon tank can support only 10 of them.
  • Meanwhile, you can keep up to 15 adult dwarf cichlids clock in a 55-gallon aquarium as their size is just around 4 inches.


Therefore, the answer is mostly based on what kind of cichlids you want to keep and other factors such as their size and temperament.

Most fish keepers use the thumb rule to calculate cichlids per gallon. But cichlids are aggressive, and you need to have at least 2 gallons per inch of fish. Some bigger fish even require 3 or 3.5 gallons for every inch.

Not only knowing well about your cichlids, but you also need to understand your fish tank. This also guarantees your fish will grow healthy after adding.

Dimensions of a 55 Gallon Tank


The standard 55-gallon tank’s dimensions are 48″ x 13″ x 21″.

This tank size is basically enough to keep cichlids, but you also need to leave some space to put some equipment required, such as a strong filter. So 55 gallons are not too big, just enough to hold a small group of cichlids.

The water weight should also be noticed for a fish tank setup. A 55-gallon tank can weigh over 458 pounds (each gallon is approximately 8.34 pounds). This does not include decorations and other equipment.

In addition, you also need to choose the right material for your aquarium acrylic or glass. Acrylic makes your tank lighter and more durable while glass is easily broken, but it’s cheaper.

Types of Cichlids

What about cichlids? Before adding any new fish, make sure you know them well. Here are some of the best cichlids for 55 gallon tank that you can take as a reference for your cichlid aquarium ideas.

1. African Cichlids

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  • Peacock cichlids



Peacocks come from Malawi lake, which are brightly colored. They can reach 6 inches as an adult. A 55-gallon Cichlid tank is a perfect choice for beginners to keep up to 3 – 4 Peacocks as long as it is set up with proper filtration.

Last but not least, although Peacocks are not aggressive as other Malawi cichlids, they do attack their tank mates to have space to move around.

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  • Buffalo Head



Buffalo Head (Lionshead) is a peaceful cichlid with interesting-looking. They can grow 4.7 inches at max. It is advisable to house no more than four of them and keep one male Buffalo Head only in a 55-gallon tank.

Lionshead can fit with a few Catfish species. They also love to dig in the sand, so don’t forget to provide a substrate of sand.

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  • African Butterfly Cichlid



African Butterfly Cichlid is a small species, only 3.2 inches at max. You can keep them in a minimum of a 20-gallon tank. They are gregarious and could be grouped up to 6.

This species is also generally peaceful, making them one of the best cichlid tank ideas for a 55-gallon aquarium. However, they do show some aggressive behaviors during the breeding period.

Corydoras catfish, rainbowfish, or tetras are such good tankmates that you can add.

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  • Zebra Mbuna



Zebra Mbuna (Red Zebra) is one of Mbuna cichlids that can fully grow up to 5 inches. A 55-cichlid tank should have ideally 2 Red Zebra, no more than three in general. They are well known as a super-aggressive species.

If you want to keep several Zebra Mbuna, one male with two females ratio will work well to prevent males from fighting each other.

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  • Acei Cichlid



Acei Cichlids (Yellow-tail Acei) will be 4 to 5 inches as adults. When it comes to keeping Acei cichlid male or female, there should be 1 male with at least 3 females in a 55 cichlid tank.

Some people said a 50 gallon tank is the minimum size to raise Acei, but 55 gallons is the correct answer to give them extra space to swim.

What about Acei cichlid compatibility? Peacock cichlids or Yellow labs could be tankmates with Yellow-tail Acei as long as each of them has enough room.

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  • Jewel cichlids



Turkana Jewel Cichlids can grow around 4 inches, making them one of the most common cichlids to be kept in a tank. One Jewel should be housed in a 40 gallon tank. Each additional requires ten more gallons. That means a 55-gallon aquarium can have a pair of them.

Turkana Jewel Cichlids are highly territorial. So, give them as much space as you can.

2. South American Cichlid

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  • German Blue Ram



German Blue Ram is only about 2 inches long. It’s recommended to keep them in pairs. Therefore, 4 -or 6 Blue Rams would be perfect in a 55-cichlid aquarium. They also can be feisty due to the lack of space.

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  • Severum Cichlid



Severum Cichlid is not a small one that can be 8 inches when fully grown therefore, you should have one Severum Cichlid for your tank.

Although Severum is big and can dominate your tank, they do show a gentle and peaceful disposition. They can easily live in peace with other fish such as Angelfish, Gouramis, or Convict Cichlids.

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  • Blue Acara



Blue Acara can grow up to 6 in length. A pair of Blue Acara is just enough for a 55-gallon tank. They are also relatively peaceful and can be kept with many fish species, such as Cory catfish, Rainbowfish, or Moga cichlid.

3. Central American Cichlid

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  • Convict Cichlids



Convict cichlid max size can reach 6 inches in length. This is a freshwater species with a unique look. You can have only one alone or a pair of Convicts (1 male with 1 female). Both options work well in a 55-gallon tank.

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  • Firemouth Cichlids



A Firemouth Cichlid full-grown can reach 6 inches. A pair of Firemouth is recommended for a 55-gallon aquarium. They are generally peaceful but do show aggressive behaviors when spawning.

They are the ideal fish to keep in a community tank with some similarly sized tank mates such as tetras or catfish.

Cichlid Care Tips & Other Considerations


It’s not easy to raise territorial species. There are many things that need to be considered.

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  • Avoid keeping large-bodied fish such as Oscar Cichlid or Venustus cichlid. They are just too big to be housed in a 55-gallon aquarium, 75 gallon tank is much better.
  • You should decorate your tank with rocks and caves, as most cichlids are territorial and love hiding.
  • Some cichlid species prefer digging up plants and even uprooting them. So you better go for floating aquarium plants.
  • Feed cichlids once or twice per day as much as they can consume within 2 – 3 minutes to avoid overfeeding.
  • Some cichlids species, like African cichlids, prefer hard water to be healthy, while South American cichlids prefer soft, acidic water. So, you should check your cichlids carefully.
  • Always keep the water in your tank clean and frequently do partial water changes twice a week to reduce ammonia levels.
  • Don’t overlook the filtration when setting up a 55-gallon tank. A strong filtration will keep the water column allowing you to have more fish. It is advisable to choose a filter that offers excellent biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration.



How many cichlids in a 55 gallon tank? Depending on the specific species, two or four cichlids will fit well into a 55-gallon aquarium. However, the number of cichlids kept in 55 gallons is also influenced by other factors such as filtration, tank setup, and maintenance process.

A 55-cichlid aquarium is still not a really big tank. Try to avoid too large-bodied cichlids over 8 inches in length. African and Central or South American cichlids should be good considerations that can thrive in a 55-gallon aquarium.