How Many Cichlids in a 36 Gallon Tank

How Many Cichlids in a 36 Gallon Tank?

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Making cichlids a part of your aquascape is a colorful and refreshing way to add a little liveliness. Because they are a schooling fish, you should know how many cichlids will fit into a tank. One of the more popular inquiries is how many cichlids in a 36 gallon tank?

The answer isn’t quick and simple. This is because cichlids come in a range of sizes, temperaments and other varying requirements. As a general rule of thumb, however, you want to reserve two gallons for every inch of cichlid per fish.

How Many Cichlids in a 36 Gallon Tank?

The number of cichlids that will fit inside a 36 gallon tank will really depend on the breed. While it’s good to leave 2 gallons per inch per cichlid, it may be better to get 3 to 3½ gallons. This will become especially important if you get them young.


Also, some cichlids are more aggressive than others. For instance, Angelfish and Convict Cichlids will be more aggressive than Peacock or Oscar Cichlids.

Ideal Schooling Numbers

Plus, regardless of whether you plan to breed or not, it’s best to have two to three of these together in a tank. Therefore, if you want to do this right, many seasoned aquarists recommend not using a 36 gallon tank at all but putting them in a 55 gallon instead.

This will guarantee they have enough room while being able to keep a few plants and other important décor. Additionally, the extra space will help reduce aggression due to territorial disputes and give the fish plenty of places to hide.

Average Sizes ; Examples

The average size of cichlids range between 3 inches and can get as large as 8 inches. So, on the low end, one 3-inch cichlid will require at least 6 gallons to as much as 10 gallons. But, one cichlid will not be terribly happy, so you want to keep a pair at the very least but three or four would be better.

This means for at least two 3-inch cichlids, a 20 gallon tank is best. But this size should be a big as they get throughout their life span, otherwise they will get cramped. So, let’s take the equation on the larger end of their body size. If your desired cichlid is 8 inches, you will need more than 40 gallons for two.

Some Exceptions

While there are some keepers out there who say you can keep as many as 10 cichlids in a 36 gallon tank, there are some caveats to their care. First, the cichlids won’t get any larger than 3 inches, even at maturity. And second, there is a super powerful filter while performing faithful water changes.

Which Breeds of Cichlids will Comfortably Fit in a 36 Gallon Tank?

The following is a small list of certain cichlid breeds that will fit okay in a 36 gallon tank. But, it’s advisable to dig a little deeper and do your own research into the topic when you come across one that piques your interest. Remember, regardless of what’s below, you should always measure your fish to be sure:

  • Convict Cichlid: one pair and no other tank mates
  • Cockatoo Cichlid: one pair only
  • Kribensis Cichlid: one pair only
  • Jewel Cichlid: one pair only


Cichlids require room to move and swim about while having plenty of hiding spaces. This is the best way they will thrive in a domesticated aquarium. So, making sure their tank space is big enough will be essential to their happiness and their survival.

See Also:

How Much Bio Media is Needed Per Gallon in an Aquarium
How To Keep Two Betta Fish In One Tank
How Long Does Fish Tank Sealant Last