Convict Cichlid Lifespan: How Long do Convict Cichlids Live?

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Convict cichlid is a small and beautiful cichlid you can find. It’s distinguished through its vibrant color among many fish in the freshwater.

As its name tells, the most common convicts have striking black stripes with grey to silver body coloration, while some varieties come in vibrant orange, light yellow, and others. The Pink convict cichlid or white convict is a popular variety among fishkeepers with its pseudo-albino skin.

As one of the most aggressive Central American cichlids, the Convict Cichlid is not a good choice for community tanks. If you are an intermediate hobbyist looking for unique CA cichlid, this fish is a go-to option.

With so many things to take care of as a Convict Cichlid owner, let’s start to find out how long a convict cichlid lifespan is and some tips for increasing their lifespan. 

Convict Cichlid Lifespan: How Long do Convict Cichlids Live?  

Convict Cichlid Lifespan
Photo: Dan Demczuk

The lifespan of convict cichlids is roughly 8 to 10 years, but there have been instances where these fish has exceeded this range; it all depends on how you take care. If they don’t have the right environment and food sources, their potential lifespan may never be reached! 

One of the most important factors determining how long a convict cichlid will live is genetics. If you purchase from reputable sellers and breeders who care about the well-being of these fish, then yours will most likely live longer with happiness. 

How Long Can Convict Cichlids Go Without Eating?

Usually, a convict cichlid should be fed 2-5 small pinches of food a day. But in case they ran out of food or needed to be left, they can manage to live without food for about 7-10 days if they are a decent size and healthy.

The risk is when your convict cichlids go hungry. They tend to spur aggression over other fish unless your fish lives alone in its species only tank. 

They will eat smaller fish living with them if not taken care of properly because of their aggressive nature. They can even attack Oscars up to three times their size in their territory. 

The best way to make sure your convict cichlids get their proper nutrients while you’re going on an extended vacation is by buying an automatic feeder. They work anytime and dispense food correctly every day.  

When it comes to automatic feeders, there’s always the chance that they may not work as intended. I have been running my Eheim automatic feeder 3 years, and it still works like day 1. 

How to Extend Convict Cichlid Lifespan?

Although Convict is undemanding fish, proper care for them requires understanding the behavior and temperament of these fish. Below are some care tips to extend your convict cichlid lifespan. 

How Long do Convict Cichlids Live
Photo: Arthur Masloski

Maintain Water Quality

Convict cichlids are some of the most durable fish around, with an adaptable nature that allows them to live in wide water conditions. This makes caring and getting them settled in their home easier. 

This cichlid prefers a warm tank and can tolerate a wide pH range. It’s also one of the few that can be kept in slightly brackish water. Ensure the salinity is not over 10% of the normal saltwater tank. 

Knowing what ideal parameters they like will make them live longer.

Temperature74.0 – 82.0° F
Water Hardness6 – 8 dGH
Water MovementModerate

The best way to avoid a bad read is by investing in an accurate testing kit. An inaccurate one can lead you to think there have been water parameters shift when really nothing changed! 

I am so happy I found the API freshwater kit to be a great way of getting an accurate handle on our water quality. I’ve never seen any false readings, and it only takes minutes for results, so there’s no need to worry about waiting around all day! Highly recommend. 

Manage Stress & Aggression

Living in the wild is not very stressful for convict cichlids. As mentioned, the convict cichlid lifespan is longer in the wild. They can also lose their life if their stress is neglected. They also show symptoms of stress like losing appetite and hiding for a longer time than usual. Here are some tips to address their stress and aggression.

They should be sustained with enough space to avoid a territorial fight. If they have to live with more docile fish, cichlids shall be placed later after docile ones set their own nest so that cichlids will not attack them. 

They should be given enough food at the proper time to keep them full. Aggressive cichlids can compete with food as they think they are superior to others.

They can also be mated with species of the same size of the same temperament.

Rocks at the bottom of the tank will serve as territory of cichlids so providing them enough would also be good.

Offer a Balanced Diet & Don’t Overfeed

If you want your convict cichlid to live as long and healthy a life possible, then it’s important that they get the right diet. In the wild, these fish are omnivores who eat both insects or plant matter for nutrition. 

Since they have been bred and raised in captivity, commercial pelleted foods for omnivorous cichlids are good options. This species is even being known to enjoy some vegetable-based recipes with spirulina. 

Like every creature on earth has to feed on their wild food, convict cichlids also need to feed on their natural food such as worms, brine shrimps, algae, etc. Vitamins and supplements are a great way to give your fish the nutrition they deserve.

I feed them with the food coming from their habitat instead of feeding them constantly with pellets. This would also make their lifespan longer. 

You may want to monitor how much food your fish are eating and make sure they are not overfed. This is also a great way to ensure the water quality stays high, and it’ll be easier for you all around.

A Bigger Tank (30 gallons +)

We all know that size matters when it comes to a fish’s lifespan. A larger tank makes your fish happier in life, plus they’ll experience less stress.  

Due to the aggressive nature, I recommend a minimum tank size of 30 gallons for convict cichlids. Though they are smaller central American cichlids that grow up to a maximum size of 4″- 6″ when mature, the extra space will make a huge difference when it comes to keeping these territorial fish happy.

Choose the Right Tankmates

All species live in a balanced ecosystem, whereas living with proper tank mates make them live peacefully without being endangered.

As mentioned, I recommend housing these types alone in their own tank. While if you have a very large tank, other robust CA cichlids will work. Make sure to choose the fish that have similarily size and same temperament. 

Final Thoughts

Convict cichlid’s lifespan may not be that long if not living in their natural habitat. But based on my experience, they can also live longer given the proper conditions. They can also live healthily and happily, just like other pet fish.

Remember to pay attention to their diet and tank’s water quality to extend their lifespan. Give him some room so that he can freely move around and don’t feel suffocated. And don’t forget to choose the right tank mates for him.

Nevertheless, consider the tips I shared above for reference on how to take care of your convict cichlid.

Happy fishkeeping!

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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