Keyhole Cichlid: Care, food, Tank Mates

Discover the fascinating world of keyhole cichlids with this comprehensive guide. Learn about their origin, appearance, behavior, and how to care for them in your aquarium. Find answers to common FAQs and get expert tips on creating the perfect environment for these beautiful fish.


Welcome to the mesmerizing world of the keyhole cichlid (Cleithracara maronii). These peaceful and captivating fish from the Amazon River basin have become a favorite among aquarium enthusiasts. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into every aspect of cichlids’ families, from their origin and appearance to their behavior and ideal aquarium setup. Whether you are a seasoned aquarist or a beginner, this article will equip you with all the knowledge you need to provide the best care for these stunning fish.

Keyhole Cichlid: An Overview

In this section, we will provide an overview of the keyhole cichlid, highlighting its unique features and characteristics.

1. Appearance and Identification

The keyhole cichlid is aptly named due to the dark, circular marking on its sides, resembling a keyhole. This striking feature becomes more pronounced in mature adults, adding to their appeal in aquariums.

2. Natural Habitat

Originating from the slow-moving waters of the Amazon River basin in South America, they are primarily found in regions of Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. Their natural habitat includes heavily vegetated areas, which influence their behavior and requirements in captivity.

3. Peaceful Nature

One of the most attractive qualities of keyhole cichlids is their peaceful demeanor. Unlike some other cichlid species, keyholes are known for their friendly and non-aggressive nature, making them excellent tank mates for various community fish.

Discover the keyhole cichlids with this comprehensive guide. Learn about their origin, appearance, behavior, and how to care for them in your aquarium.

Setting Up the Ideal Aquarium

In this section, we will explore the essential aspects of creating the perfect environment for your Aquarium.

1. Tank Size and Setup

They thrive in aquariums with a minimum capacity of 30 gallons. The tank should be well-planted, providing ample hiding spots and shaded areas to mimic their natural habitat.

2. Water Conditions

Maintaining suitable water parameters is crucial for the well-being of keyhole cichlids. The ideal water temperature should range between 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C), with a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5.

3. Filtration and Water Quality

Good filtration is essential for maintaining optimal water quality. Regular water changes and proper filtration will help keep the aquarium environment healthy and stable.

4. Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for Keyhole Cichlids, it’s essential to consider their peaceful nature and temperament. These cichlids are generally non-aggressive and prefer to coexist with other calm and compatible fish species. Here are some suitable tank mates that can live harmoniously with Keyholes.

  1. Tetras: Many tetra species, such as Neon Tetras, Ember Tetras, and Rummy Nose Tetras, make excellent companions for Keyhole-Cichlids due to their peaceful nature and similar water parameter preferences.
  2. Corydoras Catfish: Corydoras Catfish are bottom-dwelling fish that can help keep the aquarium clean by scavenging for leftover food. They are social and will do well in groups.
  3. Bristlenose Plecos: Bristlenose Plecos are great algae eaters and can help maintain the tank’s cleanliness. They are peaceful and won’t disturb the Keyhole-Cichlids.
  4. Hatchetfish: Hatchetfish are surface-dwelling fish that add an interesting dimension to the aquarium. Their unique shape and behavior make them captivating tank mates for Keyhole-Cichlids.
  5. Gouramis: Some peaceful Gourami species, like Honey Gouramis and Dwarf Gouramis, can coexist with Keyhole-Cichlids, provided there is enough space and hiding spots in the tank.
  6. Swordtails and Platies: These live-bearing fish are colorful and peaceful, making them suitable companions for Keyhole-Cichlids.
  7. Kuhli Loaches: Kuhli Loaches are slender and shy bottom-dwellers that can add diversity to the aquarium without causing any conflicts. check out The Ultimate Kuhli Loach 101 Guide: Tank Size, Breeding, and Compatible Tank Mates

When introducing new fish to the tank, it’s essential to monitor their interactions closely. Always ensure that the tank has enough hiding spots, plants, and territories for each species to establish their space comfortably. Maintaining stable water conditions and providing a balanced diet for all the fish will promote a harmonious and thriving community tank with Keyhole Cichlids as the focal point.

Feeding Habits and Diet

In this section, we will delve into the dietary preferences and how to provide them with a balanced diet.

1. Omnivorous Diet

Keyhole cichlids are omnivores, meaning they consume a varied diet. In their natural habitat, they feed on small insects, worms, crustaceans, and plant matter.

2. Commercial Foods

In captivity, keyhole cichlids readily accept high-quality pellets and flakes. Supplement their diet with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms to provide essential nutrients.

Breeding Keyhole Cichlids

Breeding can be a rewarding experience. In this section, we will discuss the breeding process and how to encourage successful spawns.

1. Courtship and Pair Formation

During the breeding season, males exhibit vibrant colors and intricate courtship displays to attract females. Once a pair forms, they become monogamous and will stay together.

2. Spawning Behavior

Keyhole cichlids typically lay their eggs on flat surfaces or leaves. Both parents actively participate in guarding the eggs and fry, displaying exemplary parental care.

Health and Common Issues

In this section, we will explore health and common issues that aquarium owners may encounter.

1. Disease Prevention

Keyhole cichlids are generally hardy fish, but they can be susceptible to common aquarium diseases like ich and fin rot. Regular monitoring and maintaining excellent water quality can prevent such issues.

2. Stress Management

To ensure the well-being of your keyhole cichlids, minimize stress factors like sudden changes in water parameters or the introduction of aggressive tank mates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are keyhole cichlids aggressive?

No, they are known for their peaceful nature, making them excellent tank mates for community aquariums.

What size tank do keyhole cichlids need?

A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended for keyhole cichlids.

How often should I feed my keyhole cichlids?

Feed your cichlids 2-3 times a day, offering a varied diet of pellets, flakes, and live/frozen foods.

Can keyhole cichlids be kept with other cichlid species?

While they are generally peaceful, it’s best to avoid keeping them with more aggressive cichlid species.

How can I encourage breeding in my keyhole cichlids?

Provide a well-planted tank with flat surfaces or leaves for egg-laying, and ensure stable water conditions to encourage breeding behavior.

How long do keyhole cichlids live?

With proper care, they can live for up to 10 years in captivity.


These are undeniably fascinating and peaceful additions to any aquarium. Their unique appearance, calm temperament, and engaging behavior make them a favorite among aquarists of all levels. By following the guidelines in this comprehensive guide, you can provide the best care for your cichlids, ensuring they thrive and bring joy to your aquatic habitat for years to come.

if you are having a problem with algae or green water then use Siamese Algae Eaters 101 Guide: Mastering Algae Control

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