The Best Cichlid Rocks For Your Tank (2022 Buyer’s Guide)

So, you’ve got a new african cichlid tank and you’re looking for the proper setup. There are a ton of different kinds of aquarium rocks available out there when setting up a cichlid tank.

It can be difficult to know which ones to choose when looking on the market, especially considering which factors such as shape, size, and color are best for your fish.

I have compiled a guide to the best cichlid rocks available, ranging from real rocks to fake rocks, that will be sure to keep your pet fish happy and entertained for years to come.

If you’re currently in the market for some new rocks for your african cichlid tanks, read on for more!

The Best From The Reviews

Best Overall

SevenSeaSupply Seiryu Rock

One of the most popular options on the market! With its layers of calcite intermixed with the natural stone, this piece creates a beautiful contrast to any tank.

SevenSeaSupply Seiryu Rock

A great option for smaller tanks, these include a variety of different shaped and sized rocks to create options for setup. These cichlid rocks add a nice, natural touch to any cichlid aquarium and provide something to add a little extra ambience to your tank.

Best Value

5 Pack Stackable Aquarium Decoration Rock Caves

A 5 pack of different size and shape caves for your cichlids to hide in

5 Pack Stackable Aquarium Decoration Rock Caves

Made from a high-quality, smooth ceramic. This comes with the added benefit of helping to cleanse and purify the water in your cichlid tank without any sharp edges that can harm your fish. Also has multiple spaces for your fish to hide and swim through.

Editor’s Choice

Plecoceramics Cichlid Stone Decoration Magma

This ceramic piece has a naturally dark, magma-stone appearance that brings a bit of class to any cichlid tank.

Plecoceramics Cichlid Stone Decoration Magma

With multiple holes to swim through and a smooth, dark surface, this piece offers a great way to keep your cichlids entertained and safe all at the same time! This aquarium rock is perfect for cichlid tanks with a darker aesthetic.

On To The Reviews…

Best Overall

SevenSeaSupply Seiryu Rock

One of the most popular options on the market! With its layers of calcite intermixed with the natural stone, this piece creates a beautiful contrast to any tank.

SevenSeaSupply Seiryu Rock

A great option for smaller tanks, these include a variety of different shaped and sized rocks to create options for setup. These rocks add a nice, natural touch to any cichlid aquarium and provide something to add a little extra ambience to your tank.

The Seiryu Rock can make a great choice when paired with a substrate or planted tank, as they look more like real rock than many other options.

Natural Stone

With their lines of calcite in between the stone, they create a nicely contrasting color that can really set off a different coloration in your tank.

While you don’t get to choose the shapes or sizes, they do generally include one or two large rocks with a variety of smaller ones and sometimes even include a bonus rock or too!

Downsides

One thing of note is that since this is a calcium carbonate calcite-bearing rock, they can impact the water hardness and pH of your tank and may need to be offset with the use of a few drops of buffer or water conditioner.

Additionally, they do come with rough edges that may need to be filed or shaved down prior to being added into your tank to avoid damaging your fish.

Specs

  • 5 pounds of stones
  • Comes with several stones in a variety of shapes and sizes

Pros

  • Exotic, natural stone appearance
  • Variety of sizes for mixing and matching
  • Beautiful, contrasting colors

Cons

  • Jagged edges may need to be filed down before placing in tank
  • May affect the overall pH of the tank

Best Value

5 Pack Stackable Aquarium Decoration Rock Caves

A 5 pack of different size and shape caves for your cichlids to hide in. Allows for multiple options!

5 Pack Stackable Aquarium Decoration Rock Caves

Made from a high-quality, smooth ceramic, these stones make for a great, modifiable option for any tank. Great for any tank size, these can act as a nice cave or swim-through option for your cichlids which can help provide additional space for them to claim.

Using multiple pieces, you can build caves to suit your fish.

Variety of Sizes

Coming in several varying sizes, this allows for large or smaller fish to each have their own separate space. Smaller cichlids will love having their own personal space to call their own!

A small tank allows for mixing and matching, as you can swap in and out different rocks as they need to be cleaned over time. It always helps to have a backup rock on hand when you need to scrub off any excess algae.

Neutral Rock Composition

These rocks come with the added benefit of helping to cleanse and purify the water in your cichlid tank without any edges that can harm your fish. By not affecting your water chemistry, these rocks are an easy option with little added input changing the water parameters of your fish tank.

It also has multiple spaces for your fish to hide and swim through.

Downsides

On the downside, these don’t have the same appearance as live rock and look more ceramic than natural.

Also, having many different rock types and shapes may mean that you don’t necessarily get the sizes you’re looking for in your order.

Specs

  • 1.96 pounds of ceramic stones
  • 5 pieces in a variety of shapes

Pros

  • Comes with multiple pieces for stacking and variety
  • Caves with holes allow a space for cichlids to swim through
  • Smooth surface is safe for fish

Cons

  • Somewhat bland coloration
  • Cave holes may be somewhat too small for larger fish

Editor’s Choice

Plecoceramics Cichlid Stone Decoration Magma

This ceramic piece has a naturally dark, magma-stone appearance that brings a bit of class to any cichlid tank. Slightly more expensive than other options, but the ceramic should last for years if cleaned regularly.

Plecoceramics Cichlid Stone Decoration Magma

With multiple holes to swim through and a smooth, dark surface, this piece offers a great way to keep your cichlids entertained and safe all at the same time!

This aquarium rock is perfect for cichlid tanks with a darker aesthetic with its magma-rock appearance and sturdy shape.

Multiple Entrances

Having multiple entrances and exits allows your freshwater fish to move through in any manner they please! This also means that you can orient it in whichever direction best works for your tank orientation and size. This also means that most cichlids should be able to fit inside.

Ceramic

Made of ceramic, rather than plastic, these provide a safe texture for your fish in addition to their aesthetic appeal. Free of any heavy metals or toxic materials, this rock makes for an easy install to many home aquariums.

Downsides

On the downside, this is one of the more expensive, premium options on the list and only comes with one piece.

Additionally, some users have found that it may be easily chipped before being placed in the tank and may need to be handled with care prior to installation.

Specs

  • 11.99 ounce stone
  • Comes with a single stone

Pros

  • Dark, natural appearance made of non toxic materials
  • Multiple entrances and exits of different sizes
  • Smooth surface for swimming through

Cons

  • More expensive, as it only comes with one piece
  • Somewhat fragile and may need careful handling prior to installation

Tfawmx Resin Cichlids Rock

With a covering of artificial algae, The Tfawmx rock set provides a variety of caves and swim-throughs for your cichlids.

Tfawmx Resin Cichlids Rock

The Tfawmx Resin Cichlids Rock can make a great option for people looking for a natural appearance.

Multiple Swim-Throughs

Comes with several varieties of caves and swim-throughs, all covered in an artificial moss.

The fact that they have multiple options means your fish can each lay claim to their own set of territory.

Artificial Moss

The artificial moss covering can add a bit of beautiful green to your aquarium, without the potential hazard of actually having excess algae in your tank.

Resin Rock

Being made of high-quality resin polymer means that this piece is light and easy to clean. Simply remove from your tank, rinse with hot water and cleaning solution, and place back in the tank!

Downsides

Being covered in artificial algae means that it can sometimes be difficult to determine when you actually need to clean your rocks!

Be sure to keep an eye out for floating debris.

Specs

  • 1 Pound
  • One piece structure with several different sizes of entrances

Pros

  • Artificial moss covering
  • Resinated plastic, rather than stone
  • Smooth stone to prevent damage to fish

Cons

  • Moss may come loose or hide real algae growth
  • May be too small for larger cichlids

ALEGI Aquarium Tree Stump Hole

This tree-shaped home aquarium decoration is not actually a rock, per se, but can make for a great simulation of the cichlid’s natural habitat.

ALEGI Aquarium Tree Stump Hole

The ALEGI Aquarium Tree Stump Hole goes to show that sometimes the best rocks for your aquarium aren’t rocks at all!

Natural Wood Appearance

This piece is made of ceramic material free of harmful chemicals shaped to mimic the appearance of natural wood.

It is easy to clean and can provide the feeling of your cichlids’ natural habitat of Lake Malawi in your own home!

Multiple Entrances

With several different sized holes to come into and out of, this decoration provides a variety of sized spaces for your cichlids to move around in.

Small cichlids and larger alike will be able to swim through this decoration with ease.

Downsides

It has been noted by several reviews that there may be excess edges that need to be ground down prior to being placed in the tank.

Additionally, the color may differ slightly from what is pictured online.

Specs

  • 13.12 ounces
  • Comes with a single piece

Pros

  • Natural wood appearance
  • Multiple entrances and exits
  • Made of a strong ceramic material

Cons

  • May have a few edges that need to be filed down.
  • May come in a darker, more brown appearance than pictured

JIH Aquarium Decorations Rock, Ceramic Shelters

For those aiming for a specific aesthetic with their aquarium rocks, this decoration can provide a jaunty feeling to themed aquariums.

JIH Aquarium Decorations Rock, Ceramic Shelters

The JIH Aquarium Decorations Rock, Ceramic Shelters can provide a unique look to your aquarium with multiple entrances for african cichlids.

Unique Appearance

With its skull shape, this may not be the rock for everyone but they are sure to wow!

Such a rock can provide an excellent accompaniment for the tanks of dwarf cichlids that may have treasure chests or small ships to create a unique underwater theme.

Ceramic Material

Made of a ceramic composite, this decoration is easy to clean and won’t affect your water parameters after being installed.

Great for soft water tanks, as they won’t impact the pH of your tank any further unlike live or natural rocks.

Downsides

These rocks have been known to come with some sharp, jagged edges which can potentially hurt fish around the base of the skull and teeth that may need to be filed down or sanded.

Additionally, the unique appearance of these rocks may not suit everyone’s taste equally.

Specs

  • 5 pounds of stones
  • Comes with several stones in a variety of shapes and sizes

Pros

  • Ceramic composition
  • Interesting rock styling
  • Multiple entrances and exits

Cons

  • Has some sharp edges and a rough surface that may need sanding
  • May not fit the feel of all tanks

Do Cichlids Like Rocks?

African cichlids love aquarium rock! Having cichlid tank rocks gives them a sense of ownership and territory to simulate what they would normally be fighting over and claiming in their natural environment.

NOTE

Even in a cichlid tank with a single fish, providing some rocks can be a great way to give them something to stay occupied with and keep from becoming overly stressed.

To prevent the territorial cichlids from fighting over these, most stores will keep them in a bare environment with many small fish.

While this is the usual presentation in store, cichlids in your home aquarium will love to have rocks of their own.

Cichlid in between rocks in an aquarium
Cichlids enjoy having rocks around the aquarium

Having a tank with many other fish means that you’ll want to look into a tank with a wide variety of rocks and live plants, so that each can claim their own and avoid the stress of a bare tank.

Why Rocks are Important for Cichlids

Rocks and other bits of territory in the tank can be a big deal for cichlids. Not only do they allow them a safe place to hide from other large cichlids, but having rocks for cichlid species allows them to break line of sight and de-stress.

In a tank with many cichlids and big fish, they can often feel threatened, not only to compete for space but to survive predation!

Providing many holes in which to escape can prevent overly stressed out fish from getting sick, along with the added aesthetic benefit to your fish tank in general.

What Rocks Are Safe For Cichlids?

While there are many great options for the best rocks on the market, there are a few options that I would recommend against.

Those with sharp edges which can harm fish and real rocks that have not been properly cleaned and can carry parasites and disease along with affecting the water chemistry into your tank should be avoided when keeping African cichlids.

Three differently shaped rocks stacked on each other
You can set up your rocks however you want

The safest rocks are those with no sharp edges, smooth stones, and those with lots of room to swim through.

Those that contain calcium carbonate deposits may need additional considerations as they’ll affect the water chemistry of your aquarium water.

What Rocks Should I Use For Cichlid Aquarium?

Rock types that work best include those with no really sharp edges such as soft slate, river stone, and ceramic substitutes.

Choosing rocks with a variety of shapes and sizes allows your different sized cichlids to each find and claim their own territories, and allow for the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Additionally, keep in mind that rocks for cichlid tanks with hard to reach crevices may be difficult to remove fish food from. This can lead to waste accumulating in your dwarf cichlids tank and causing an excess of nitrogen to build up in the soft water.

How To Choose Your Aquarium Rocks

There are a few key considerations when looking at which rocks will suit your african or south american cichlids best.

The Size of Your Rocks

Make sure that you know the measurements of both your tank and the rocks you’re trying to install before purchase. While some rocks may look great online, if it arrives and is too large for your aquarium you won’t be able to use it!

Texture of Your Rocks

Choose rocks with a smooth texture over rough or jagged edges, if possible. This will ensure that your cichlids will be safe if they happen to rub themselves against it.

Rocks with sharp edges can accidentally tear or abrade the fins and scales of your fish.

Like the video below, you can also use rocks that have been hollowed out

Some great exampls of rocks to use with cichlid

Can I Find & Use My Own Rocks?

While using rocks that you find yourself can be an interesting way to customize your freshwater tank, it does come with added complications.

Some people even use driftwood in their aquarium

You’ll want to ensure that any live rock is properly sanitized with a bleach solution, as the rocks may be carrying disease, parasites, or pesticides from the outside environment.

Conclusion

Here’s a list of the top three products from the review.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this review and found the best rock that works for your freshwater aquarium setup. While there are a lot of options out there, some rocks are definitely better than others.

If you still haven’t decided, here are a few last minute tips.

Best Overall

A great option for smaller tanks, these include a variety of different shaped and sized rocks to create options for setup. These rocks add a nice, natural touch to any cichlid aquarium and provide something to add a little extra ambience to your tank.

Best Value

Made from a high-quality, smooth ceramic. This comes with the added benefit of helping to cleanse and purify the water in your cichlid tank without any edges that can harm your fish. Also has multiple spaces for your fish to hide and swim through.

Editor’s Choice

With multiple holes to swim through and a smooth, dark surface, this piece offers a great way to keep your cichlids entertained and safe all at the same time! This aquarium rock is perfect for cichlid tanks with a darker aesthetic.

Thanks for Reading!

I hope you’ve found this article helpful in choosing the best cichlid rocks for you.

As always feel free to share this article with any other fish fanatics you know, and I wish you the best of luck on your continued aquarium adventures.

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Mollie Newton
Mollie Newton
Founder of PetMeTwice. I love all types of animals from fish to fluff-balls! I also enjoy writing short stories and helping train animals 🤩