Can You Put Cichlids In A 20-Gallon Tank?

Cichlids are among the most popular fish in the hobby. They come in a wide variety, are relatively easy to care for, and one can find them at any pet store. But when it comes to tank size, things get a little complicated. Cichlids need plenty of room to explore, swim and breed. How much space do they actually need? There is no single answer as some cichlid species will thrive with less space while others require more room to feel comfortable and thrive. Can you put cichlids in a 20-gallon tank?

The answer depends on the size of the cichlid as well as the size of your tank. Cichlids are fish that often start small and grow big, so it is important to know how many you can keep in your tank.

In this blog post, we will answer one of the most common questions that people have about cichlids: “Can you put cichlids in a 20-gallon tank?

We’ll talk about how many cichlids can fit in a 20-gallon tank, what size is best for them, and which types of cichlid are okay to keep.

Can You Put Cichlids In A 20-Gallon Tank?

The short answer to the question “can you put cichlids in a twenty-gallon tank” is that it depends. Several factors contribute to how many fish can be kept together, and each species of fish has its own requirements for the tank size.

It all depends on the type of fish you’re planning to keep. Cichlids are a large breed of fish, but within the cichlid family, several different types of fish vary greatly in size.

Many people keep Ram Cichlids or Convict Cichlids with no problems, and you can even keep some together! These two smaller-sized cichlids only require a tank that is at least twenty gallons to survive.

While you can put two cichlids in a 20-gallon tank, I am not in the favour of it. In fact, some people believe that keeping these types of fish together will lead to aggression and violence between the males of each species. Since they’re both only trying to protect their own territory.

Although, it might be easier to house smaller fish like these together in a 20-gallon tank. They’re not as demanding and aggressive as the larger breeds of cichlid fish that require more room.

How Many Cichlids In A 20-Gallon Tank?

One of the biggest questions that people are going to have when they first go out and buy a 20-gallon tank is, “How many cichlids can I put in my twenty-gallon aquarium?”

The answer isn’t always as simple as one might think. A lot of this has to do with how big the cichlids are, what kind of species they come from, and how many other fish you have in your tank.

Well, it depends on the species of cichlid you are keeping. Some fish can be aggressive and need a lot more space than others, so it is important to know which breed will work best for your 20-gallon tank before getting started.

The main thing about this is that these Cichlids are territorial, so you will need a larger tank if you plan to keep more than one of them.

This kind of fish is very aggressive and territorial, which means that the owner would do well to keep only two in their 20-gallon aquarium or risk the other getting injured from fighting.

However, you also have to keep in mind that some fish out there can get just as large, if not even a little bit larger than these.

For example, you may notice that a Convicts Cichlid can grow up to six inches long, and an Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid is going to be able to get at least as big if not larger. Therefore, both of these cichlids are only recommended for tanks with 55 gallons or more.

What Is The Ideal Tank Size For Cichlids?

The ideal aquarium size is not always as simple as just one number. It depends on a lot of different factors.

If you have the right equipment, plenty of filtration to keep up with the bioload, and a temperature-controlled tank, then cichlids can be kept in relatively small tanks like twenty-gallon aquariums.

If you have big cichlids, it is best to keep them in a tank with at least 30 gallons of water for each fish. For example, if you want two Oscars, the ideal tank size is 60-gallon tanks because they reach up to 12 inches long.

Cichlids are extremely aggressive fish, and they do not get along well with other cichlid species. Therefore, if you want to put two of the same type together in a tank, make sure that you have at least 100 gallons for each one.

These are some popular cichlids people like to keep in a 20-gallon tank. However, each species has its own requirements for water conditions, pH levels, and the kind of environment to stay happy and healthy.

There is a good chance that if you plan on keeping Ram Cichlids or Convict Cichlids, then you will be able to get away with putting about two into this size aquarium. You need to keep these cichlids in larger aquariums to grow much bigger than other species.

How Many Cichlids Per Gallon?

It can vary, depending on how big they are and whether or not you have other fish in the tank.

There is no specific number to give, but as a general rule of thumb, one cichlid should be kept per ten gallons if it is small-medium sized and fifteen gallons for larger breeds like Oscars.

You would not want to exceed this number, though, as it will make the tank feel cramped, and you will have a harder time keeping your water parameters in check.

There is no set rule on how many cichlids can be kept in a 20-gallon tank. You should always do your research before buying any fish and ensure that you have the proper equipment to house them properly.

Some people keep cichlids in smaller tanks because they are much less expensive than larger ones, but they will only thrive if they get plenty of space for swimming around without bumping into their tank mates.

If you have a 20-gallon tank and are wondering how many cichlids you can put in it, the answer is that there is no set number. Every species needs different amounts of space to stay healthy. Some fish like guppies or bettas will do fine with no more than a few gallons of water, but cichlids need much more room.

Which Cichlids Can You Keep In A 20-Gallon Tank?

Aquariums come in all shapes and sizes. Some people have huge tanks that can accommodate a wide variety of fish, while others are more constrained by space limitations or other factors like the budget.

The cichlids you keep will depend on the size, the kind of tank you have, and the other fish you have in there.

Ram Cichlids

Ram Cichlids are a great option for your 20-gallon tank. These fish are very active and can do well in tanks of this size when they have plenty of hiding places to retreat to.

They want a lot of space, so the more caves or other objects you add will be better for them; their behavior is interesting because they like to fight, and they will do so over territory.

The average size of these cichlids is 2.5 inches for males and 1.9 inches for females. Therefore, you can keep 1 male and 1 female in the 20-gallon tank.

Convict Cichlids

Another great option for a 20-gallon tank is Convict Cichlids. However, these fish is better suited to tanks in the 30+ gallon size range. This cichlid can get really big, and they like lots of open space without any plants.

These guys are relatively small, so it would make sense to keep them in a 20-gallon tank. Males and females will go well together without any issues. They should be able to live up to 12 years if you take care of them properly.

Cockatoo Cichlid

The Cockatoo cichlid will grow up to 8 cm, so you need a tank of at least 20 gallons for these fish.

These cichlids are really active, and they will do best in groups of four or more; in the wild, they live together with other species of fish that can help keep them calm while living around people.

Kribensis Cichlid

Kribensis Cichlids are another type of fish that you can keep in a 20-gallon tank, but it’s not recommended because they grow to about six inches long and require more room as well.

This cichlid is one of the best for beginners because it’s relatively peaceful. However, it prefers a lot of open space, and they like to hang out in caves, so you might want to add some rocks or wood decorations that give them tons of options.

Agassizi’s Dwarf Cichlid: Apistogramma Agassizii

Last but not least, you can also keep the tiny Dwarf Cichlid in a 20-gallon tank.

These guys are peaceful, and they won’t bother other fish or people; that said, their beauty makes them popular, so it would be better to have more than just one of them.

Umbrella Cichlid

This is another cichlid that would survive in a 30+ gallon tank because they like open space.

They’re not very active, so you might be able to fit them in a 20-gallon tank if there’s plenty of room for decorations or objects they can swim around when they feel like it.

The males grow up to 11 inches long, and the females will reach eight inches; ideally, each cichlid should have a 30-gallon tank to itself.

Dwarf Cichlid

These guys are also great for your 20-gallon tank if you keep one male and two females; they prefer lots of open space as well, so the more decorations, the better!

They will get along with other fish species because they don’t bother other fish. But they might nip at long fins of slow fish if they are in a tank together.

Why Can’t I Keep Bigger Cichlids In 20-Gallon Tank?

20-gallon tanks tend to be small because cichlids need so much open space for swimming and fighting. These fish are very energetic, and they need a lot of room to swim around.

Cichlids are aggressive, territorial, and do better in larger tanks than 20 gallons. However, if you have a cichlid that is too big for the tank, being cramped up all day long with no place to go will stress them.

Cichlids are messy fish, and they produce a lot of waste material. You will need to do more frequent water changes in smaller tanks. There is not enough room for them to flush out the toxins from their bodies.

When you have cichlids that are too big for your tank, it can stress them out. Unfortunately, this stress can lead to illness and even death.

The best thing you can do is get out in the world and find some real-life experiences from people who actually keep these fish as pets to help you figure out how many cichlids will stay happy and healthy in your tank instead of just guessing.


In conclusion, it is not safe to keep cichlids in a 20-gallon tank because they will get stressed and sick if you do. Cichlids need at least 30 gallons of water for each one. But anything smaller than 100 gallons per fish can be dangerous to their health.

When keeping these aggressive fish in your home aquarium, make sure that you research the best ways to take care of them instead of just guessing because they are much more sensitive than other fish.

I would love to answer any questions that you may have about the topic. So, could you post them in the comments below?