Why Are My Cichlids Hiding? Is Something Wrong?

Last Updated on January 18, 2022 by cmoarz

If you’ve noticed your cichlids aren’t as active as you would like, you might be wondering why are my cichlids staying at the bottom of the tank? Why are my cichlids hiding all of the time?

There are actually a lot of reasons why cichlids will behave this way, and there are things you can do to curb this behavior so your cichlids will be more active.

This article aims to help you understand the causes of cichlids hiding, and provides some techniques to help you get your cichlids to be more active.

Why Is My Cichlid Hiding All the Time?

Here is a list of the most common reasons why cichlids will spend most of their time hiding or being at the bottom of the tank, from most common to least common.

  1. New Additions to the Tank (Cichlids Themselves or Other New Fish)
  2. Bad Water Parameters
  3. Your Tank Is Overcrowded or Too Busy
  4. They Feel Like They Are in Danger, or Are Being Bullied
  5. Too Much Current
  6. They Are Sick

New Additions to the Tank (Cichlids Themselves or Other New Fish)

If you’ve just added these cichlids to the tank, you might notice that they are spending all of their time hiding.

This tends to be the most common reason your cichlids are hiding or not being very active. It will take time for them to acclimate to the tank and their new surroundings.

It’s also possible you’ve recently added new fish in with the already existing cichlids. This can throw off the balance of the pecking order in the tank for a time, which should resolve itself over time if no further fish are added.

Bad Water Parameters

One of the most common reasons your cichlids might be staying on the bottom is if something is wrong with their water parameters. This can include any of the following: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.

These all contribute to stress in your fish’s life, which can lead to them being on the bottom of the tank.

You should test your water parameters at least every two weeks to ensure that everything is in check.

Your Tank Is Overcrowded or Too Busy

Sometimes having too much going on in a tank might cause cichlids to be stressed and not very active.

This is usually the case when there are too many cichlids in a tank for it to handle, or if there aren’t enough hiding places and shelter as well as room for swimming.

Too much activity can cause some aggression among your fish as well, which will also contribute to them staying on the bottom of the tank.

They Feel Like They Are in Danger, or Being Bullied

If you have bullies in the tank, your cichlids might feel threatened by them and try to avoid this threat by hiding at the bottom of the tank.

This happens if one or more of your cichlids is being bullied for whatever reason. Unfortunately, it can be hard to determine exactly what’s going on that’s natural vs unnatural because of the way cichlids pecking order works.

Cichlids have an alpha, a second, a sidekick (who tends to just watch), and the lowest on the pole who tends to get picked on no matter what. And then once you throw in other fish into the pecking order, it becomes quite difficult to determine whos who and what’s what.

Some species of cichlids are more aggressive than others as well, so if you’ve got a particularly aggressive species or mixed species, it could cause some bullying as well.

Too Much Water Current

You can check out here for appropriate levels of current in your cichlid’s tank.

Sometimes cichlids just don’t like too much current in their environment and might spend more time hanging out or sleeping on the bottom of the tank rather than swimming around getting exercise.

Too much current is exhausting for cichlids and can make them feel like they are in more danger than if there was less current. They might also not be able to find enough shelter or hiding spots on the bottom of your tank with too much current.

They Are Sick

Sometimes cichlids will spend a lot of time hiding because they’re sick. This is especially true if they have a disease that makes them feel weak and sick all of the time.

Cichlids that are stressed will also spend a lot more time on the bottom of your tank because that’s where they can be more protected from other fish in the tank as well as any predators outside it.

If you notice your cichlids spending a lot more time on the bottom of your tank and hiding than normal, you should try to determine what’s going on with them and why they might be doing this.

This can help eliminate many health concerns pretty quickly because when cichlids are sick or feel threatened, they tend to stay in one spot so they don’t get bullied or picked on.

Check for white spots, Bloating, Hole in the Head, fin rot, or anything else that can cause them to be lethargic.

How Do I Stop My Cichlids From Hiding?

The best way to stop cichlids from hiding is to make sure you’ve got an appropriately sized tank.

You should make sure you aren’t overcrowding the tank because cichlids need their space to feel safe and secure.

They also like to have plenty of hiding places, so if they don’t feel like there’s enough room for them to hide, they might stay on the bottom of your tank.

You should install plenty of driftwood as well as rock caves and other hiding places for your cichlids to feel secure in their own environment. Make sure they have a place where they can go to get away from the rest of your tank, especially if you have bullies or aggressive fish in there.

If your cichlids are spending a lot of time in one corner of the tank and not moving around too much, you should check their water quality. Is your water overly dirty?

That could cause them to feel sick and want to hide out more often than usual.

Be sure to cut down on the current if there is too much in your tank. You should also check to make sure your rocks and driftwood are secure in the substrate because if they aren’t, it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress for your cichlids when they try not to move around too much.

Be sure to offer them plenty of food as well because that’s going to help with their energy level. If they don’t feel like they have enough food to eat, they might spend more time hiding than moving around and getting their exercise in.

If you’ve tried everything and your cichlids still seem to be spending a lot of time on the bottom of the tank for no reason, you should test your water and keep track of the pH level.

If they are new additions to your tank, they might just need some time to adjust. Sometimes it takes them a few days or even weeks to feel comfortable enough in their new environment for them to start moving around and exploring again.

And always keep an eye on their health and any signs of disease or illness that can cause them to behave differently than usual. Medicate when necessary in a quarantine tank so you can keep track of what might be going on with them and how your treatment is working.


Owner of AquariumGravel.com and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!