6 Best Cichlid Tank Rocks for Cichlid Aquarium

Looking for the best aquarium-safe Cichlid tank rocks but don’t know where to start? Looking for the most comprehensive guide on discovering the best rocks for attractive and risk-free decoration in a Cichlid Tank? Look no further!.

Cichlids are a large and diverse family of fish, with most related species found in Africa’s saltwater and underwater rift lakes. Lake Malawi, and freshwater Tanganyika, contain over 500 breeds.

Cichlids are a territorial and aggressive species of fish. Many aquarium businesses keep large groups of juveniles in bare tanks to reduce aggressiveness and improve water clarity. It hinders habitat formation and spreads hostility.

While some aquascaping may prefer to go with the cichlid rocks for underground breeding purposes. It results in a light tank with many stressed-out fish. 

In this article, you will see how to choose safe rocks for your cichlids and go through the best ones for your aquarium. 

Why Cichlid Rocks are Important for Cichlid Tanks?

The vast majority of cichlids are fiercely territorial. Rocks in the fish tank are helpful for a variety of reasons. They use the stones to indicate their territory.

It’s beneficial to have enough rocks and decor in the tank because the fish utilize them as boundaries that they don’t cross. 

If they don’t have a method to distinguish one area from another, habitat cichlids, try to defend the entire tank. Many tank breeds, particularly Mbuna African cichlids, prefer to hide in caves made of rocks. 

They will choose a cave and guard it against other tank breeds that attempt to enter. Even animals that aren’t considered full-time “cave dwellers” like having a haven to go to when stressed.

Penn Plax rock in the aquarium helps water parameters free from bacteria, hardness, or harmful calcium carbonate. 

Many cichlids prefer to stay safe behind large boulders if they don’t want to go into a cave. That way, they have some shelter and aren’t as vulnerable to predators. It is something Jack Dempsey does a lot.

When it comes to breeding, several animals use rocks. Angelfish, discus, serums, and other fish prefer to lay their eggs in caves or flat rocks. They may be too agitated to spawn or rear offspring if there are no rocks in the tank.

How to Choose Your Cichlid Tank Rocks?

It’s not necessary for the “rocks” in your tank to be natural rocks. The fish won’t throw themselves out of the tank to protest being fed fake rocks. They’re relieved to have found something that meets their requirements.

No Sharp Edges

Be cautious of rocks with sharp edges, whether real or not. Fish are wonderful pets, but they aren’t always the smartest of beings. Fish occasionally bump up against sharp-edged rocks and décor, injuring themselves, sometimes severely. 

They swim around a lot, especially if there’s anything jagged at the cave’s opening or in a tight corner. Because the entrance to their stones has a sharp edge, it scratches enormous chunks of flesh, scales, and everything, on their sides. 

Use a rasp or a metal hand file to smooth off the sharp edges. File down natural or synthetic rocks as long as you proceed slowly and don’t break anything.

Not One Size Fits All

Not all rocks will be suitable for all species. Smaller fish may not be able to feel safe in large rock caverns. In a powerful stone for an adult severum, a German blue ram or a rainbow kribensis won’t feel like they have a proper hiding place. 

They require clothing that is appropriate for their size. Lightweight algae rocks, on the other hand, cannot withstand a larger fish. You won’t be able to build a cave large enough for them to enter. 

Big fishes, on the other hand, can readily knock over lighter rocks if startled or upset. So you’ll have to decide what size and substance will work best for your fish in the long run.

6 Best Rocks for Cichlid Tank Rocks

Now let’s jump to select the perfect rock for your pet. Here are the best rocks you can buy right now, in my opinion.

Pisces USA Strata Aquarium Rock

This stunning sandstone resembles petrified wood. The different textures it brings to the tank, especially the long ridges and the quartz, sparkles when the light hits it. 

cichlid tank rocks

It hasn’t had any effect on the medium of the aqua. The piece may have some sharp edges, depending on the object. 

There are several flatter pieces available that are useful for stacking and cave construction.

  • Material: sandstone with lots of quartz
  • Effect on water chemistry: none
  • Type of cichlid: any kind
  • Curing: needs rinsing

Aqualexs Aquarium Ohko Dragon Stone

These adorable caverns appear to be made of genuine ceramic stone at first glance, but they are constructed of porcelain rock.

These are available in several sizes suitable for aquarium dwarf cichlids and Mbuna. Unfortunately, heavyweights like Jack Dempseys and flower horns cannot fit within. 

However, smaller sizes may stack together to form a barrier that larger ones could hide behind. This rock doesn’t displace as much aqua as natural stone and isn’t nearly as heavy because they’re hollow.

  • Material: ceramic
  • Effect on water: none
  • Type of cichlid: African Mbuna, dwarf cichlids, maybe slightly larger
  • Curing: clean them

Seiryu Aquarium Rocks

This lovely blue-gray limestone is a favorite among aquascaping. It does have a few jagged edges. To smooth them out, use a rasp to file them down in the tank.

Because these rocks contain calcium carbonate, they can elevate your GH/KH/pH levels. As a result, they’re not ideal for Central or South American cichlids, but they’re fantastic for African cichlid. 

They aren’t the best for building homes on their own, but they offer beautiful textures and shapes that make the tank more fascinating.

  • Material: limestone
  • Effect on water chemistry: Increase in GH/KH/pH
  • Type of cichlid: African cichlids
  • Curing: needs rinsing

Natural Slate Stone

Slate is one of my favorite materials. It stacks beautifully, and the dark gray/black color scheme looks fantastic in the tank. 

You can add slate to construct smaller caverns if you have tiny fish. You can stack more enormous boulders for larger fishes and then cover the top with slate. 

Slate is inert and will not alter the composition of aqua. The edges can be a touch, not soft at times.

  • Material: slate
  • Effect on water: inert
  • Type of cichlid: any kind
  • Curing: clean it off

Penn Plax Stone Replica 

These tiny resin caves are adorable. However, they do have a few flaws. They aren’t designed for large fish. If you piled them high enough for giant fish to hide behind, they’re too light to withstand the movement of big fishes.  

They’re composed of resin, so if a redhead or a frontosa gets excited, they won’t be able to hold up. They’re suitable for dwarf aquascaping breeds but not for anything more significant. 

Some of the stone entrances also have highly rough edges. They do, however, look great in the tank, and you can arrange them in a variety of ways.

  • Material: resin
  • Effect on water chemistry: none
  • Type of cichlid: dwarf or Mbuna
  • Curing: rinse and file down edges

Deep Blue Professional Synthetic Texas Holey Rock 

Deep Blue Professional produces synthetic texas holey rock in a variety of sizes and molds. It is fantastic because the actual holey stone is pricey and emits a lot of calcium and carbonate. 

You can stand them on your own or lean them against each other. Dwarf species are small enough to fit inside the more significant parts. In the same rock, several smaller cichlids could establish territories. 

It’s not the finest stone material for constructing a cave in the aquarium. But if you stack some of the larger pieces together, you can create a focal point large enough for it to hiding behind.

  • Material: resin
  • Effect on water chemistry: none
  • Type: dwarf cichlids and Mbuna, maybe larger species if you lean them together
  • Curing: rinse it

How to Sanitize Rocks for Your Cichlid Tank?

One vital worry concerning found rocks is that bacteria may be present, posing a threat to fishes. Never put discovered underwater rocks in your aquariums until they’ve been thoroughly cleaned. 

Remember to clean algae, aquariums plants, coral, granite, and other aquascaping tank rock. 

Before putting rocks in your aquarium, give them a good scrub:


  • Bucket
  • Scrub
  • Water
  • Dechlorinator
  • Bleach

Steps to follow:

  1. Use a scrub brush and aqua to remove any visible dirt; do not use soap!
  2. Combine 1 part aqua and 20 parts bleach in a mixing bowl.
  3. Pour the solution over the rock(s) and soak them for half an hour.
  4. Drain the bleach mixture and rinse the rocks until there is no more chlorine odor.
  5. Fill the rocks with aqua and use five times the regular de-chlorinator dose for that volume.
  6. Soak the rocks for another 30 minutes.
  7. Drain the aqua and let the rocks dry naturally.

Rock Alternative For African Cichlids

While rocks are fantastic in tanks, rock substitutes have been increasingly popular in recent years, particularly as a tank background. The aquarium decorations could include natural plants, coral, sand, Malawi plant, granite rock. 

The main benefits here are the lowered weight and a significantly lower risk of rockfalls injuring your aquarium walls.

You may also keep the necessary heating units and aquarium filter intake and output behind a small background design (being sure to leave enough space for the water to circulate appropriately).

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!thing.