Why Is My Cichlid Not Eating? 8 Reasons | Aquascape Addiction

Why Is My Cichlid Not Eating? 8 Reasons

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Here are the 8 main reasons why your Cichlid might not be eating and 6 helpful tips to try and get them eating again.

Why Is My Cichlid Not Eating? 8 Reasons

Cichlids are some really beautiful fish no doubt. Sure, they can be temperamental, but darn are they colorful. Caring for Cichlids is not overly hard, but one thing you do need to ensure is that they are well fed, but oh no, your Cichlid is not eating. So, why is my Cichlid not eating?

There are a variety of reason why your Cichlid might not be eating. This can include;

  • Disease and poor health.
  • Poor water quality.
  • Low water temperature.
  • Stress and unhappiness.
  • Overfeeding.
  • Wrong food.
  • Maybe you just have a picky fish.
  • Fish age.

8 Reasons Why Your Cichlid Is Not Eating

a cichlid fish

Alright, so now it is time to figure out exactly why your Cichlid is not eating. There are a few reasons why this might be happening. Figuring out the cause is the first half of the battle.

Once you figure out why your Cichlid is not eating, you can then remedy the situation.

1. Disease & Poor Health

The first reason why your Cichlid is not eating may be due to diseases, bacteria, parasites, or generally bad health.

No, we are not about to start listing off every type of bacteria, parasite, and disease which your Cichlid could be suffering from, as there are a whole lot.

However, what we can say here is that you should look for signs of common illnesses that can affect Cichlids.

Common illnesses that affect Cichlids include swim bladder disease, hole in the head, Cichlid bloat, cotton wool disease, Ich, and even tuberculosis.

Therefore, being able to recognize what illness your fish is suffering from is vital.

2. Poor Water Quality

Something else that can cause your Cichlid to not eat is general poor water quality. Dirty water that is full of fish waste, uneaten food, rotting plants, ammonia, and other compounds and contaminants doesn’t make for a nice place to live.

More often than not, poor water quality is a direct result of a fault of the owner. Maybe you are overfeeding your fish, maybe you don’t have a good filter, or maybe you just aren’t cleaning the tank well.

Whatever the case may be, at the very least, dirty water is no fun to live in and can definitely ruin an appetite. At the worst, poor water quality can lead to illness and death, which of course means that there is no eating going on.

3. Water Temperature Too Low

Something important to take into account here is water temperature. Cichlids are warm water fish, and yes, they require tropical conditions.

When a fish that needs warm water is forced to live in cool conditions, it can slow down the metabolism of the fish, which then makes it stop eating.

A fish with a slow metabolic rate may not stop eating all together, but it will definitely eat less.

Eating less is not the only problem that arises from Cichlids living in cold water. Simply put., if you have a Cichlid in cold water for too long, it will eventually die.

4. Stress & Unhappiness

A very unhappy and stressed fish many also not eat. Stress in fish can be caused by numerous things including being in a tank that is too small, poor water quality, living with fish that are not compatible, being placed in a new tank, and not having the proper living conditions.

Whatever the cause, you need to research the proper conditions, tanks mates, and other factors which will make Cichlids happy and stress free.

5. Overfeeding

If you over feed your Cichlid, and you do this constantly, your fish might just not be hungry sometimes.

More than that, overfeeding can actually cause more serious issues, such as severe constipation, which will stop them from eating.

6. The Wrong Food

Cichlids need a certain type of food, and if you aren’t providing it for them, they may simply not eat.

This has nothing to do with being picky. All fish need a certain diet to be happy and healthy.

7. A Picky Fish

Yes, this is a short entry indeed. Some fish are picky and might just not enjoy the food you are providing.

8. Old Age

It’s sad to say, but yes, Cichlids get old and die. Fish, once they are getting very old and nearing death, may stop eating.

Unfortunately, there is of course nothing you can do about this.

6 Tips To Get Your Cichlid To Eat

Ok, so now that you have figured out the possible reasons behind your Cichlid not eating, it’s time to figure out what the possible solutions are.

1. Treat Disease & Illness

As we stated above, seeing as there are so many different parasites and illnesses that may be preventing your Cichlid from eating, we cannot possibly list off the proper treatment for each disease.

It is up to you to figure out which disease or illness your Cichlid has, and then go from there. Most illnesses can be treated and cured if caught early, usually with medicine and plenty of water changes.

2. Do Not Overfeed

If your Cichlid only eats half the time you feed it, stop feeding it so much. Cichlids should be fed 3 times a day, and no more than they can eat in about 90 seconds.

3. Find The Right Food

If you have a picky fish or you just are not providing your Cichlid with the proper diet, you need to start finding the right food for it.

For one, Cichlids usually prefer pellet food over flake food, so that may be one solution.

Your Cichlid will also benefit from some protein rich snacks, such as frozen, freeze dried, or live Tubifex worms, daphnia, brine shrimp, and other such foods. Cichlids do require a lot of protein.

4. Relieve Stress

There are various factors which can cause stress in a fish. If you just brought the fish home, make sure you follow the right procedures to quarantine the fish and to add it into the tank.

If the Cichlid is already in the new tank, it might take a couple days for the fish to adjust to its new surroundings. Next, you also need to ensure that your Cichlid has the right size tank.

Cramped conditions can cause stress as well. Next, you do also want to ensure that you have the right kinds of plants, substrate, rocks, and other tank items to make a Cichlid feel at home.

Another thing to do here is to ensure that if your Cichlid is living with other fish, that they are compatible and that they get along reasonably well. The bottom line is that you need to provide a calm and ideal environment for your Cichlid to live in.

Related: How to stop your Cichlid from being a bully.

5. Ensure Optimal Water & Tank Conditions

To help ensure that your Cichlid tank has optimal water quality, remember that you need a good filter. This means have an aquarium filter that can easily process around 3 times the amount of water in the tank per hour.

Moreover, this means having a filter that engages in mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. A filter needs to be able to remove organic compounds, solid debris, and other contaminants from the water. Make sure your filter is working properly.

Next, to ensure high water quality, you do need to clean the tank around once per week or every 10 days. This means vacuuming the substrate, cleaning the filter, and cleaning decorations too. Something else that can help improve water quality is doing weekly water changes of 30%.

Finally, going back to the temperature thing, unless you live in a very tropical climate, you will need a nice little aquarium heater.

Remember that a Cichlid tank needs be between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23-28 Celsius).

6. Wait

If all else fails, simply wait for a couple of days to see what happens. Fish can survive for a few days without eating no problem.

If the issue persists, it might be time to consult a vet or a Cichlid expert.


As you can see, there are a variety of reasons why your Cichlid may not be eating. Each of these problems or causes comes with a specific solution.

If your Cichlid is not eating, it is essential that you identify the cause as quickly as possible, and then take immediate steps to get your Cichlid to eat.