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   Many retailers don’t offer cichlids in their store because they feel that they are too nasty for the general run of customers. This is an unfair judgement! Sure, most cichlids are territorial to some degree; but there are many species which are quite tolerant of their neighbors. 

   One fish that stands out is the blue acara. They are attractive, intelligent, easy to feed and care for, and won’t rearrange tanks unless they want to breed. They retain a moderate size in captivity (4-5 inches at maturity) and, when kept with other mild-mannered cichlids, will only occasionally get scrappy with their tankmates. Fish Mart usually offers 3 sizes of blue acara. 

   Nearly all the family of "earth eaters" (or Geophagus) falls into the “mellow” category. There are several species of earth eaters available, including Balzani, Braziliensis, Pellegrini and Surinamensis, not to mention the ever-popular Jurapari. Most earth eaters grow rather large, but they are mild-mannered and will usually keep to themselves.

   The Severum is another cichlid that will grow large but keep a cool temper. They make impressive show fish. They are slow and graceful movers with bright greens and yellows, and mated pairs of this fish will actually bond for life. 

   There are many more easygoing cichlids available, including (but not limited to) uarus, chocolates, keyholes, curviceps, kribensis, the dwarves (apistogramma, nannacara, crenicara, micro-geophagus), angelfish (yes, they’re cichlids too), and the almighty discus. 

   Remember, most cichlids are territorial by nature, but this can be managed; just give your cichlids enough space and hiding places. Put only larger community or “dither” fish (used as a distraction) in their tanks, keep their bellies full with a variety of live and packaged food and, as with any fish, maintain high water quality.

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