Best Cichlid Rocks – Review & Guide

If you have an aquarium that contains cichlid fishes, you must be well aware of the importance of having rocks in such a tank. The cichlid rocks not only beautify your tank but keeps your cichlid’s in line. Cichlid fishes are generally territorial, and these rocks make it possible for them to mark out their territory.

These rocks also provide shelter and give your cichlids a place to lay their eggs. They can be used to make caves, which separates cichlids from the others in the aquarium because cichlids can be aggressive. These rocks can either be natural or man-made; either way, they all aim to serve one purpose, creating harmony in a community aquarium.

However hard it might be to find the right cichlid rock to place in your tank, it is essential you get your rock from a safe source. That is a source that decontaminates the rocks before selling it out. You can also pick out your own rock but ensure it is adequately treated before placing it in your tank.

Cichlid Rocks Reviews

Underwater Galleries Ceramic Rock

These ceramic rocks manufactured by Underwater Galleries are not natural but are made from non-toxic materials. It’s ceramic is lead free and has been treated for any harmful bacteria.

These rocks are capable of being stacked to correspond with the natural habitat of your cichlids. Its cave opening ranges from 1 3/4 ” to 2 3/4 ” making them suitable for larger cichlids.

This stone is great for community tanks because it creates harmony. Each stone has one cave that can be claimed as a territory. In other words, a fish will not venture into the territory of another.

This hallow ceramic rock looks natural at a glance, and their shapes were designed to resemble the real thing. In summary, they are ideal for territorial fishes.


  • Does not affect the chemistry of your water
  • Suitable for creating a sophisticated environment of caves.
  • Each stone has only one opening and can be claimed as a territory
  • Suitable for both small and large cichlids


  • This ceramic rock is not durable and prone to breakage.
  • They are not natural but made from ceramics

MF CICHLID STONE Ceramic  Rock Cave

The cichlid ceramic rock manufactured by Dr. Moss is ideal for your cichlid aquarium. It comes with already inbuilt caves that make for great hiding spaces for your cichlids.

Although it has some sharp edges, its surface is smooth both on the interior and exterior. As a result of this feature, the rock is an excellent breeding ground for your fishes.

This ceramic rock gives your aquarium a natural appeal, and although it is not too large, it can accommodate several cichlids. This gives your cichlids enough room for spawning and marking off territories.

It is made of 100% ceramic, but it is hard to tell the difference between it and a natural rock. It has been decontaminated, treated, and tested, making it safe for your aquarium.


  • The texture and coloration of the rock add a natural atmosphere to your aquarium.
  • It comes with caves that are perfect for your cichlids.
  • It is made from ceramic and capable of cleansing your water.
  • It can be utilized in both freshwater and saltwater aquarium.


  • This rock comes with a few sharp edges
  • It is too small for some species of cichlids
  • This ceramic rock cave is not durable 

Seiryu stone rock

Seiryu stone rock manufactured by SevenSeaSupply comes in a unique bluish-grey color. It is capable of beautifying your aquarium with its natural look and pleasant color.

This rock has sharp edges, but you can use a rasp to file it down and create smooth rims. They do not come with caves but can be glued together to form one.

This rock is not suitable for central or south America cichlids because it contains calcium carbonate, which can increase the hydrogen of your water. But it is, however, ideal for African cichlids.

It should be noted that RO water and driftwood can counteract the effects of the seiryu stones in your water. It has to be rinsed out upon purchased before it is placed in your aquarium.


  • This stone rock is suitable for African cichlids
  • It has been treated and can be used almost immediately upon purchase
  • These rocks can be stacked upon to make caves


  • This stone rock has sharp and rough edges
  • It needs to be thoroughly rinsed before used because of curing.
  • It can raise the GH, KH, and PH of your water.

Carib south sea base rock bag

This rock by TopDawg Pet Supply is obtained directly from the Caribe South Sea. Simply put, it is a natural rock similar to the one’s your cichlids would have in the wild.

It is an effective rock that can be used for growing coral. Its rugged exterior makes it easy for algae or coral to thrive on it. Its white color also helps to beautify your tank.

This rock as been adequately cleaned and can be placed in your aquarium right away. No curing is required, and this rock is ideal for your aquatic life.

It is safe, hasn’t been dyed, and cannot leak chemicals into your water. This rock can be stacked up to make caves, giving your cichlids space to swim about, breed, or mark territories.


  • This rock requires no curing and can be utilized immediately
  • The rock is durable and does not easily dissolve in water.
  • Does not leak chemicals into the water
  • It is not dyed, and as a result, no harmful toxins can be leaked into your water.


  • The rock is big and heavy
  • It displaces water because of its weight.
  • This is only a rock, not a cave. 

Penn Plax stone replica

This stone manufactured by Penn-Plax is riddled with enough openings for your cichlids to swim through. It is designed to control territorial fishes by enabling them to mark out their territories.

The downside of this rock is that it has little caves, and only small cichlids can swim through. A large cichlid would likely not pass or get stuck at the entrance.

They are ideal for dwarf cichlids and not for any fish bigger than this species. They have a rough surface and sharp edges on a few of its entrance which has to be filed down

There are capable of beautifying your aquarium, especially when they are stacked on each other. These stones are not made from granite, but it is hard to tell them apart from the real thing.


  • Suitable for dwarf cichlids and juvenile Mbuna,
  • Comes with caves for your cichlids
  • This stone can give an aquarium a modern look
  • This stone has already been treated and tested.


  • Rough surface and sharp edges capable of harming your fishes
  • Only suitable for small cichlids.
  • Has to be thoroughly rinsed before it can be used. 

Pisces 9 lb Maple Rock

This rock by Pieces USA is a gorgeous sandstone rock that resembles petrified wood. Its texture adds to the beauty of your aquarium making your fishes feel more at home.

The best part about this rock is that it has no effect on your water chemistry. However, it has to be treated and rinsed off before you can place it in your aquarium.

The edges of this rock are sharp and, if not filed down, are capable of harming your fish. You can also place these rocks on each other to form a cave for your cichlids.

This unique rock is interlaced with white quartz that sparkles beautifully when the light catches it. It is suitable and can accommodate any type of cichlids.


  • It is extremely durable and does not dissolve in water
  • Only one rock is large enough to be a centerpiece for your aquarium.
  • It does not affect the water chemistry of your aquarium
  • Suitable for any species of cichlids.


  • Needs to be treated and tested before use
  • Has sharp edges that can harm your cichlids 

Nature’s ocean coral base rocks

This base rock by word wide imports ENT. INC. is an all natural aragonite rock. This rock is extremely coarse and riddled with natural holes and crevices, making them perfect for algae and coral growth.

The remarkable shape of this rock makes it possible to stack them on top of each other. Hence you can form as many shapes as you need to beautify your marine environment.

These porous rock characteristics make it a natural biological filter. As a result of this feature, your aquarium will be able to denitrify marine bacteria, therefore, decreasing nitrate in your aquarium.

This rock is one of the best cichlid rock for your tank because it is gotten right from the ocean. These rocks are large and heavy and are capable of displacing water in your aquarium.


  • Its distinct structure makes it easy to stack this rock up to form a cave.
  • Ideal for decoration
  • It is a natural sterile dry reef rock.


  • This rock does not come in the shape of a cave.
  • It is extremely dusty can take a while to rinse the dirt off
  • This rock is not very porous.

Natural slate stone

This stone by Small World Slate & Stone is the go-to rock for building caves. Its flat surface makes it extremely easy to stack up to create caves without it crumbling in the long run.

Slate stones have been treated and tested; it is safe for your aquarium. However, the stone is required to be rinsed before it is placed in an aquarium.

Although the edges are a little rough, they are not sharp and can cause no harm to your fishes. It is suitable for all types of cichlids. It’s grey, and black colors complement any tank.

This stone can only be used to make small caves that can only house small fishes. Bigger rocks are needed if you intend to build spacious caves.


  • Suitable for any kind of cichlids
  • This stone does not release any chemical toxic into the water
  • Does not deteriorate in water
  • This stone has already been decontaminated and treated


  • Its edges are rough and need to be smoothened.
  • Not safe for fresh water tropical fishes.
  • It cannot be used to build large caves. 

Aqualexs Aquarium Ohko Dragon Stone

This rock is manufactured by Aqualexs and is best suited for African Mbuna, dwarf cichlids, and slightly larger species. This rock is durable thanks to the materials it is made from.

Although they seem natural on first look, they are actually made from ceramics. Placing them in your aquarium gives the illusion of the cichlid’s natural habitat.

Since this rock is hollow and lightweight, they won’t displace the water in your tank. It will also not have any negative effect on your water.

This rock has been decontaminated, saving you the stress of treating it. It, however, has to be cleaned of dust and sand before it can be placed in a tank.


  • These rocks are not as heavy as its counterparts
  • It is not capable of displacing water thanks to its weight
  • Its appearance makes it perfect for aquascaping.
  • It cannot leak any chemicals into your water, making it safe for your fishes.


  • It has to be cleaned before it can be placed in the aquarium
  • They are designed to be laid flat and not upright.
  • It is too small to accommodate large species of cichlids. 

Katzco Large Decorative River Rock Stones

These large decorative stones manufactured by Kayco USA are ideal for your cichlid tank. Although they are not too large, it can, however, be glued together to form caves that your cichlids will adore.

Due to the fact that they are tumbled river stones, they don’t have sharp edges, making it safe for your fishes. You can add color to your aquarium with these pleasantly colored stones.

These stones are perfect for aquarium décor and make your tank look a little bit more natural. They are also incredibly durable thanks to their hard nature.

They can last for decades without crumbling in the water. Although these rocks are beautiful and suitable for a part of your aquarium floor, they cannot be used for any algae, coral, or biological growth.


  • These rocks are smooth and have no sharp edge that can hurt your aquatic life.
  • They come in different beautiful shades of colors
  • Can be glued together to make a cave


  • These rocks contain a harmful chemical
  • Not ideal for coral or biological growth
  • It is capable of leaking toxic chemicals into your aquarium.

How to select your cichlid rocks?

Cichlid is known for its beauty and its stunning patterned scales. That is why aquarium owners decide to have this aggressive fish in their tank. Rocks will help you maintain a peaceful marine environment by deterring the aggressive behaviors of the cichlid and help decorate your aquarium at the same time.

The rocks you place in your aquarium does not have to be real; it should, however, not pose any danger to your fishes. When purchasing Cichlid rocks, it is essential you take into account the following.

The edges

Whether the rock you intend on getting is real or fake, ensure the edges are not sharp. Fishes tend to rub themselves against rocks, and they can be harmed if the edges of your rock are sharp. However, if you really need to get a particular rock but it has sharp edges, you can file down the edges. This task is not difficult, with a rasp or metal hand file, you can smoothen the edges of your rock. But when filing, go slow and apply light pressure to ensure you don’t break anything off.

The size of the rock

Your rock should be a perfect fit for your fishes. For instance, huge rocks with a cave might make smaller fishes feel insecure. An adult severum will not be able to hide in a small cave because of its large size.

Toxicity of the rock

Rocks are common and can be virtually gotten anywhere, but not all rocks can be used in your aquarium. Some rocks are capable of changing the chemistry of the water, or they can release toxic chemicals into the tank, which can be harmful to the fishes.

Also, before adding a rock to your tank, ensure it had been treated. Placing a rock in your aquarium can introduce bacteria and other harmful pathogens that can cause devastating consequences to your water. 

How to care for your cichlid rocks?

A major concern for aquarium owners when purchasing or physically collecting cichlid rocks is whether the rock has been treated and, if not, can they handle this responsibility by themselves. Treating your rock is relatively simple, and this article is going to show you how.


Cleaning your rock before putting it in your aquarium is necessary to remove any bacteria that are present on the rock. A bleach solution can be used to decontaminate your rock. Mix 1 part water with 20 parts bleach and soak the rock in the bleach mixture for several hours. Then rinse the rocks with chemical free soap and hot water until the rocks no longer smell of chlorine. Cover the rocks with water and add de-chlorinator, let the rock soak again for hours. Lastly pour out the water and let your rocks air dry.

Testing your cichlid rocks

It is recommended you test your rock for calcium carbonate (CaCO3) before placing it in your tank. This element can introduce both calcium and carbonate into your water. The calcium will increase the general hardness of your water, while the carbonate will increase the carbonate hardness of your water.

You could conduct this test with an aquarium nitrate test kit and replace your rocks if it tested positive for calcium carbonate (CaCO3).

Where to place your cichlid rocks?

Large cichlid rocks should be positioned at the base of your aquarium and buried in the substrate, then smaller rocks can be placed on the larger ones. Your rocks should be carefully placed, and after placement, jiggle or rock them to confirm they are adequately stable. Doing this will ensure your rock does not collapse in the long run.

You can also glue your rocks together if the species of your cichlid are large, and there is the possibility that they can shift your rock. Some glues can be used to glue your rocks together underwater, and they would be safe for your aquarium. However this means that you can’t rearrange your décor freely when you want to 

Reasons for having cichlids rocks

There are various reasons for placing rocks in your cichlid’s tanks, and they include

To reduce aggression

Aquarium owners can minimize the aggression of cichlids by placing rocks in the tanks. Cichlids, especially those from rift lakes in Africa, grew up around rocks and caves. These caves enable them to establish their territory and set boundaries.

Having rocks in your aquarium enables the cichlid to Mark out their territory; the absence of rocks can cause the cichlid to mark the whole aquarium as their territory, and you don’t have to be told that this is bad news. Or the absence of rock can cause your cichlids to become stressed and more aggressive because they have no hideaway. Therefore the best way to care for your cichlids is to add rocks in your tank to provide them with a place they can retreat to.

For mating purposes

Some species of cichlid prefer to lay their eggs on rocks or in the privacy of caves. Rocks are breeding sites for cichlids, and the absence of rocks will deter or discourage them from mating.

For decoration

Cichlids rocks can be used for aesthetic appeal; having showpieces and decorating your tank with a rock can beautiful for your aquatic environment. Creating a natural habitat for your fishes can lead to a balanced tank and happier fishes. 

To alter the water’s parameters

Rocks are composed of minerals which are capable of softening or hardening your water. For instance, calcareous rocks can leak calcium into your water, which can increase the ph value of your water and cause it to harden. This rock will help create a conducive environment for some cichlids that can thrive in hard water. 


What types of rocks are safe for cichlids? This depends on if your cichlids are from Africa or America. The best rocks for African cichlids are small slate rocks or soft ceramic rocks. Overall smooth and large rocks with caves that have enough space for your cichlids to swim in are best.

Why must I test my cichlid’s rocks? Rocks can raise the hardness of the water, and this would not be suitable for cichlids that thrive in softer waters. This is why it is necessary to test your rocks before placing them in your tank.

How can I set up my cichlid’s rocks? Firstly, Ensure there are no sharp edges by filing the edges down. Then you can secure them upon either, but if you are using rock substrate or gravel, make sure they are at the base of your aquarium. Cichlids also prefer their rock cave to be in the middle of the tank. Place the caves at a distance from one another in order for the cichlids to have enough room.

Can I search for and use the found cichlids rocks? It is advisable to purchase your cichlids because these rocks have already been treated. But if you what to find these rocks by yourself, you are free as long as you are ready to take the necessary steps in ensuring the rocks are safe for your tank. You have to decontaminate and treat your rocks before you can place it in your aquarium.

Why are rocks necessary for cichlids? Almost all cichlids are territorial, and having rocks in your aquarium is important for a variety of reasons. First, the cichlids can mark out their territory with the rocks, and the rocks serve as borders preventing other fishes from going in. Secondly, some species of cichlids like to hide out in a cave, and they also use rocks when breeding. 

The YouTube link below, explains the importance of rocks or cave in your cichlid aquarium


Rocks are essential in a cichlid tank and are simple to acquire as long as you know what you are looking for. Cichlid needs rocks to play, hide, or for privacy generally.

These territorial fishes need to find a space marked out specifically for them. Do you have cichlid? If you do, rocks must be incorporated into your aquarium for the reasons listed above.

If you have a cichlid, the comment section below is open for any advice you may have for new cichlid owners. Readers are also welcome to ask questions that weren’t answered in this article.