Do Cichlids Have Teeth? Do They Bite? [3 Ways To Avoid Their Bite]

Image of cichlids with teeth

Cichlids have tiny sharp teeth to scrape algae from the rocks. Conversely, carnivore cichlids have large fang-like teeth to help them grab the moving prey. Also, some cichlid species have pharyngeal teeth in their throat to help them crush and chew their food.

Let’s now understand if all types of cichlids have teeth.

Do All Types Of Cichlids Have Teeth?

All types of cichlids have teeth. Herbivore cichlids have small rows of flat teeth to scrape algae and other plant matter. In contrast, carnivore cichlids have large fang-like sharp teeth for catching prey. These teeth are designed to sink into or slice through the flesh of the moving prey.

The herbivore cichlids that primarily depend on algae and plant matter for their diet have sturdy and small teeth.

Their mouth and teeth structure is designed to eat the algae from rocks and other surfaces effectively.

Some cichlid species are carnivores and piscivores.

These fish have long fang-like teeth designed to sink and latch onto smaller moving fish and snails.

Cichlids have teeth but don’t have tongues. So they use their teeth to taste food without the tongue.

Do Cichlids Bite?

Although most cichlids are aggressive, some bite while others don’t. Some cichlids are aggressive toward each other but never actually bite. Cichlids bite to defend their territory, catch prey, or flirt with the female fish. The level of aggression depends on the type and size of the cichlid.

Territoriality and aggression are the main reasons why some cichlid species are not considered for community tanks.

Most of them chase and bite the docile fish to display dominance and establish control.

The dominant male flirts with the female during the mating season to woo and mate with her.

These male cichlids chase and even bite the female fish without harming them.

Moreover, smaller cichlids will not attack intentionally but can bite out of fear.

A cichlid will rarely attack its owner.

However, the bigger and more aggressive cichlids like the Red Devil, Dovii, Jaguar, Midas, and Hoga are most likely to attack and bite a moving hand inside the fish tank.

Also, Central American cichlids are more likely to bite their owners than African cichlids.

Do Cichlids’ Bites Hurt?

Cichlid bites are painful if they have fang-like sharp teeth that are designed to catch or pull a chunk of flesh out of their prey. Most large fish have long fangs that can cause injury. Bites of some small cichlid are mild but can leave a tickling sensation.

Small cichlids have small teeth, and they generally don’t bite very hard.

Their teeth structure is designed to eat plants and scrape algae. They don’t have sharp teeth, so their bites don’t hurt.

On the other hand, the bigger the cichlid, the sharper its teeth, and the more likely it will cut your skin or inflict an injury.

Typical areas of cichlid bite marks include the knuckles, fingers, and the back of the hands.

The South American cichlid is known for its powerful jaws that can easily break through the human skin and cause an injury.

However, unlike some other pets, the wound inflicted by a cichlid bite will not result in diseases.

Such wounds can be treated at home and don’t need any special attention in most cases.

Why Do Cichlids Bite?

Cichlids are aggressive species and want to display their dominance inside the tank.

However, the dominant fish and even the docile cichlids can become aggressive.

Given below are some of the reasons why cichlids bite.

1. To defend their territory.

A cichlid defending its territory

Cichlids tend to be very territorial, especially the dominant male cichlids.

They don’t like other fish or even their owners intruding in their territory.

Cichlids perceive any intrusion as a threat to their dominance and vigorously defend their territory.

So they will attack and bite the intruder to establish their dominance in the tank.

2. To protect their eggs or mates.

Cichlids are very aggressive during mating and protect the female cichlids.

Both the male and female cichlids will also attack to protect their eggs.

Cichlids don’t like any interruptions during their mating ritual.

The male cichlid woos the female and takes her near an already dug hole in which the female can lay her eggs.

The male cichlid then fertilizes these eggs.

When this process is taking place, cichlids dislike interruptions.

So they will chase away any fish or your hand to complete their breeding process.

3. Out of fear.

Cichlids can also attack if they are scared.

For example, they get scared when your hand enters their territory while cleaning the tank.

So they will get stressed and may bite your hand.

They may also seek refuge or hide behind a decor after biting your hand.

However, this behavior is just a reaction and not an intention to inflict injury.

How To Avoid Getting Bitten By Cichlids?

Given below are some ways using which you can avoid getting bitten by cichlids.

1. Avoid inserting your hand in the tank.

Since cichlids aggressively defend their territory, it’s best to avoid confrontation with them by inserting your hand in the tank.

If avoiding is not an option, use a piece of equipment instead of putting your hand inside the tank.

For example, scrub off algae using a magnetic remover or a sponge with a handler.

You can also use a python hose for changing water inside the fish tank.

Different types of equipment are available nowadays to fix holes dug up by cichlids, move rocks and stones, and remove the leaves lying at the bottom of the tank.

2. Don’t scare your fish.

If you move your hand in front of aggressive cichlids, they will attack you.

To keep your cichlids calm, make sure you have fed them well and avoid sudden hand or body movements.

It’s also a good idea to have some plants in the tank for cichlids to hide during a water change.

This will avoid any confrontation and help your cichlids stay calm and away from you.

3. Use a temporary divider.

You can push your angry cichlids to one side of the tank by using a divider.

This will give you enough time to remove the debris and clean the tank.

This technique is also helpful if your cichlids are breeding.

You can use a divider to separate the parent cichlids and newborns inside the tank.

Do African Cichlids Have Teeth?

Yes, African cichlids have teeth.

As algae grazers, they have small sandpaper-like teeth that help them to scrape and crush algae from rocks, stones, and substrates inside the tank.

Do Convict Cichlids Have Teeth?

Yes, convict cichlids have a standard set of teeth in their mouth.

They also have well-developed pharyngeal teeth located in their throat to crush the food.

Do Peacock Cichlids Have Teeth?

Yes, peacock cichlids have teeth. They use their teeth to catch their prey.

However, peacock cichlids are peaceful and rarely try to bite your hand.

Do Parrot Cichlids Have Teeth?

Yes, parrot cichlids have tiny teeth to grip their prey and strong teeth in their throat to crush it.

They suck food inside their mouth and then crush it using the pharyngeal teeth in their throat.

Do Jaguar Cichlids Have Teeth?

Jaguar cichlids have strong teeth than other cichlid species. Their bottom jaw has two to four sharp incisors.

Jaguar cichlids also have a set of pharyngeal teeth in their throat.

Do Malawi Cichlids Have Teeth?

Malawi cichlids have small rows of flat teeth to scrape and crush algae and other plant matter.

Using their teeth, they can also eat insects and tiny snails.

Do Oscar Cichlids Have Teeth?

Oscar cichlids have regular teeth in their jaws and pharyngeal teeth in their throat.

The teeth in their jaws are smaller in size and used to catch the prey, while the teeth in their throat are used for crushing and chewing the food.

Do Firemouth Cichlids Have Teeth?

Firemouth cichlids have a standard and pharyngeal set of teeth.

The regular teeth in their upper and lower jaws help them to catch the prey, which is then crushed into pieces by the solid pharyngeal teeth inside their throat.

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