7 Most Popular Peaceful Cichlids (SA, CA & African)

AquariumFishCity.com is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Who would have thought that Cichlids could be peaceful? They are known for being aggressive, territorial fish that can attack other species or even their own kind.

The keyword is Relative.

Over 1,650 different species from the family Cichlidae have been scientifically described. And there is actually a handful of relatively peaceful Cichlid species that can make great additions to a community tank.

These fish are usually smaller in size and have more calm personalities. Although they may still display some territorial behavior, they are typically much less aggressive than their larger cousins.

So, if you’re standing in the fish store for a relatively peaceful Cichlids need not look further than this comprehensive list.

Most Popular & Peaceful South American Cichlid

Electric Blue Acara (Andinoacara pulcher)

Electric Blue Acara

The Electric Blue Acara (Andinoacara pulcher) is a medium-sized fish native to the slow-moving rivers and streams of South America. Thanks to its vibrant blue coloration and relatively calm personality, this beautiful fish is one of the most popular choices for community tanks.

This species looks exactly what it sounds like. It’s almost a neon-like blue coloration with various stripes on the body and head. Sometimes, you’ll find a few green horizontal lines on their face. The dorsal fin features a vibrant yellow line that extends to the tail, making them stand out.

Electric Blue Acaras are fairly peaceful fish and do well with a wide variety of Central and South American cichlids. Since they are carnivorous, protein-rich food is necessary for their diet. Blue Acaras are active fish and will need a minimum of a 30 gallons aquarium.

Scientific Name:Andinoacara pulcher
Common Name:Electric Blue Acara, Blue Acara Cichlid
Origin:South American
Care Level:Easy
Size:7.9 inches
Temperature:72.0 to 85.0° F (22.2 to 29.4° C)
KH: 3 – 20 dGH
Minimum tank size:30 gallons

Large Peaceful South American Cichlid

Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis)


The Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis) is a large fish native to the calm, deep, and slow-moving rivers of the Amazon River Basin in South America. This generally mild-mannered cichlid serves as an excellent centerpiece to big community aquaria with its elegant pastel colors and is easy to care for.

Chocolate Cichlids get their name from their dark brown coloration, which resembles Chocolate. Chocolate Cichlids are relatively peaceful fish and can be kept with other peaceful fish of similar size.

They are omnivores and will accept most aquarium foods. Chocolate Cichlids need plenty of space to swim and should be kept in an aquarium that is at least 125 gallons.

Scientific Name:Hypselecara temporalis
Common Name:Chocolate Cichlid, Emerald Cichlid
Origin:South America
Care Level:Moderate
Lifespan:8-10 years
Size:12 inches
Temperature:77-84°F (25-29°C)
PH:6.4 – 7.3
Water hardness:1 – 8
Minimum Tank Size:125 gallons

Mid-sized Relatively Peaceful South American Cichlid

keyhole cichlid (cleithracara maronii)

keyhole cichlid

The keyhole cichlid (cleithracara maronii) is the only species in the genus Cleithracara, which originates from the tropical river basins in The Guianas, South America. These fish are known for their shy, peaceful temperament and easy-going nature— another excellent choice for those just getting started with the Cichlid aquarium. 

As its name suggests, the keyhole cichlid has a distinctive key-shaped mark on its head. In addition to this, there is a prominent black spot on its upper flank. It fades into a short strip on some specimens. 

Keyhole cichlids are relatively peaceful fish, but they will be more prone to aggression when mating. As an undemanding omnivore, this species readily eats various foods. Males can grow up to 4.3 inches, while females tend to be a bit smaller at 3 inches. A 33 gallons aquarium is sufficient for a single pair, but a larger tank will be necessary if keeping them with other fish.

Scientific Name:Cleithracara Maronii
Common Name:Keyhole cichlid
Origin:South America
Care Level:Easy
Lifespan:7-10 Years
Size:~ 4.3 inches
Temperature:72 – 81°F
Water hardness:12 – 20
Minimum Tank Size:30 gallons

Colorful & Peaceful South American Dwarf Cichlid

Bolivian Ram Cichlid (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)

Bolivian Ram

Endemic to the Amazon River Basin in Bolivia and Brazil, Bolivian Ram Cichlids are among the most colorful South American Dwarf Cichlids. Their delicate beauty and gentle temperament make them known as “butterflies of the fishkeeping hobby,” a perfect inhabitant of community aquariums.

The Bolivian Ram Cichlid is a striking fish with its elongated oval body and muted coloration. The body is covered in a tan or silver hue, several faded black stripes vertically running down the length of the fish. Like Keyhole Cichlid, there is a large vertical black stripe on the head, but it’s a little bit darker. The fins are also brightly colored, with a red edging. The dominant specimen usually has a black spot on the body.

When mature, they reach a maximum size of about 3″ (8 cm) in length, making them one of the smaller South American cichlids. They’re voracious omnivores and will eat anything that you give them. Like most cichlids, they might show aggression at the time of spawning. Aside from that, we are sure they can be your next addition to your peaceful community aquarium.

Scientific Name: Mikrogeophagus altispinosa
Common Name:Bolivian Butterfly, Ruby Cichlid, Ruby Clown Cichlid
Origin:Bolivia, Brazil, South America
KH: 0 – 10 dKH
Lifespan:4-8 years
Minimum tank size:30 gallons

Smallest & Relatively Peaceful Central American Cichlids

Rainbow Cichlid (Archocentrus multispinosus)

Rainbow Cichlid

Most Central American Cichlids come with unique personalities, and many species can be exceptionally aggressive no matter what. But, the Rainbow Cichlid is the relatively peaceful child in the family due to its calm nature and compact size.

This species is a strikingly colorful fish, and it’s easy to see why; It is named for its vibrant “rainbow’ coloring,” which can include shades of blue, green, red, and yellow. Their body is mainly golden to orange color with an irregular black horizontal line that runs from the eye to the base of the tail fin. They have orange eyes and bright blue pelvic fins.

It is also worth knowing that Rainbow Cichlids have specialized tricuspid teeth, while other Central American cichlids have “pharyngeal teeth” and regular teeth.

They have a lifespan of about 10 years and can only reach 3 inches (7.6) in the aquarium. A 30-gallon aquarium is sufficient for a single pair, but a larger tank will be necessary for a multi-species tank.

Scientific Name:Herotilapia multispinosa
Common Name:Rainbow Cichlid
Care Level:Beginner
Water hardness:5 – 20 dGH
Minimum Tank Size:30 gallons

Mid-sized Relatively Peaceful Malawi Cichlids

Socolofi Cichlid (Chindongo Socolofi)

Socolofi Cichlid, also called the Powder Blue Cichlid, is a stunning fish that will definitely add ‘spark’ to your aquarium. It is found in the coastal waters of Lake Malawi, and belongs to the Mbuna group.

Like most Mbunas with striking colors, the Socolofi Cichlid is a real beauty. Males have a brilliant blue body with more “dark” horizontal lines that run along the length of the body, while females and juveniles usually tend to dull in coloration.

This species is by far the most peaceful member of the Mbuna group. They can be best kept in groups of 1 male with 3-5 females. Socolofi Cichlids can be potential tank mates for Aulonocara, Copadichromis, and other quieter mbuna.

Scientific Name:Chindongo socolofi
Common Name:Socolofi Cichlid
Origin:Lake Malawi
Care Level:Easy
Size:4.6 inches
pH:7.8 to 8.4
Temperature:75°F – 79°F (24°C – 26°C)
KH: 10-14 dGH
Minimum tank size:50 gallons

Large Relatively Peaceful African Cichlids

Frontosa Cichlid(Cyphotilapia frontosa)

Frontosa Cichlid

The Frontosa Cichlid, or the Humphead Cichlid, is a popular choice for aquarists looking for a large and majestic African Cichlid. This handsome fish, native to Lake Tanganyika, is available in several variations, depending on the region where they were caught.

Most varies have a high body. The coloration is variable, but most have a light blue to white body with 5-7 bold vertical black bars. Both males and females will develop a distinctive hump on the head when they mature. The pronounced coloration and hump bring quite a unique look to your tank.

Despite their size and predatory looks, they are actually mellow and social fish that can be kept with other non-aggressive African cichlids. These fish do best in groups of at least 6 individuals in a large aquarium.

Common Name:Frontosa Cichlid, Humphead Cichlid
Scientific Name:Cyphotilapia frontosa
Care Level:Intermediate
Lifespan:8 to 10 years
Size:13.8 inches
Minimum Tank Size:70 gal (265 L)
Temperature:74.0 to 79.0° F


As you can see, there are so many relatively peaceful and still colorful species available. You’ve probably heard about many of them already!

These stunningly beautiful cichlids are definitely a feast for the eyes as long as you follow their care guidelines. Most of them in the list are also relatively easy to care for, except the Frontosa Cichlid, which is always a bonus.

If we missed any of your favorite peaceful cichlids, let us know in the comment below! We would love to hear from you.

Was this article helpful?
Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

Leave a Comment