10 Most Popular Central American Cichlids with Pictures (Large, Small, Full List)

Central American Cichlids

Central America is a haven for fish lovers, and the region’s diverse Cichlid species provide enthusiasts with many options when it comes time to start their aquarium collections.

These colorful, intelligent cichlids come from various environments, including volcanic lakes and fast-flowing rivers/streams. Some have even adapted themselves toward brackish waters.

Central American cichlids are some of the most social fish around. They form mated pairs, spawn in caves or on rocks to protect their young ones from predators while both parents help take care of them.

When it comes to personality, the SA/CA Cichlids are my favorite. They’re much more intelligent and personable than Africans! The African Cichlids have some great colors, but they just seem like they’re going through a series of behavioral routines until they play a nip and chase game.

With these small but vibrant Central American cichlids that have more social dynamics to their interactions, you can actually see how much personality goes into every single behavior displayed on their little faces.

If you are on the hunt for your first CA cichlid, you have a lot of options. In fact, there are so many intriguing fish to choose from that some aquarists have trouble picking!

That’s where this list of Central American Cichlids will come in handy. Given the wide variety of CA Cichlid profiles available, I’m going to break this article up by genera and most popular species.

No further ado, let’s get started!

Amatitlania nigrofasciata (Convict cichlid)

Female Convict Cichlid

Amatitlania nigrofasciata, also known as Convict Cichlid and Zebra Cichlid, is one of the most popular Central American cichlids due to their interesting coloring and low care requirements.

Convict cichlids are named for their dark vertical bands that run down their greyish-blue bodies. Various color patterns are available based on age, gender, and type. The female convict has bright gold markings on the belly and dorsal fins.

The Convict Cichlid is an aggressive and territorial fish that can only be kept with similarly sized or much larger fish with the same temperament. One convict cichlid alone or matched pairs in a species only tank are two common choices.

You might be interested to know: How Big Do Convict Cichlids Get?

Scientific Name:Amatitlania nigrofasciata
Common Name:Convict Cichlid
Care Level:Beginner
Lifespan:10 years
Size:Male: 5 – 6″, Female: 3 – 4″
Temperature:74.0 to 82.0° F
Water hardness:10 to 15 dH
Minimum Tank Size:30 gallons

Amatitlania Sajica (Sajica Cichlid)

Amatitlania sajica, the Sajica cichlids or T-bar cichlids, are more colorful than their popular cousin, the Amatitlania nigrofasciata (Convict cichlid). They are peaceful compared to other Central American cichlid species.

The fish’s body is a beautiful tan with seven faint bars. The third bar shows prominently and gets paired up with a dark horizontal stripe that runs from gills forms a “T” bar, making it unique among other species. The mature male Sajica has elongated fins which equal his tail in length, while females have a beautiful yellow hue on their dorsal fins.

Sajica cichlids are mildly aggressive can be kept in community tanks with 1 male and several females, but do not keep more than one male in the tank to prevent fighting. The males can be really aggressive with a female that is not ready to spawn, even going so far as to kill her.

Scientific Name:Amatitlania Sajica
Common Name:T-bar cichlid, Sajica cichlid
Care Level:Beginner
Lifespan:2-5 years
Temperature:76 – 80°F
PH:7.0 -7.6
Water hardness:7 to 15 dH
Minimum Tank Size:30 gallons for a single fish, 60 gallon for a pair
Temperament:Mildly Aggressive

Amatitlania Septemfasciata (Seven Stripe Cichlid)

Seven Stripe Cichlid

The Amatitlania septemfasciata is another relatively peaceful, smaller growing Amatitlania member available. The fish are most often found in the San Juan River and the Banano River in Central America.

In general, males grow larger than females. The males can grow up to 5 inches long, but females only reach 4″. Their blue-grey body is covered in six vertical bars on each side, but females have a noticeable black spot on the dorsal fin that’s complemented by streaks of metallic coloration.

Like Sajica cichlids, they will not be as aggressive as other large Central American cichlids. It is best to keep this species in a tank with compatible pair. Stocking them with robust, hardy, and similarly-sized cichlids in a fairly large community tank that provides plenty of hiding places is practicable.

Scientific Name:Amatitlania Septemfasciata
Common Name:Seven Stripe Cichlid
Care Level:Beginner
Lifespan:2-5 years
Water hardness:Hard
Minimum Tank Size:60 Gallons
Temperament:Mildly Aggressive

Amphilophus Labiatus (Red Devil Cichlid)

Red Devil Cichlid
Photo: mesmerising

When it comes to the coolest fish in town, nobody beats Red Devil Cichlids. Its striking appearance and charismatic personality make it one of the most interesting CA Cichlids among aquarium enthusiasts everywhere.

Red Devil Cichlids are quite robust with pointed dorsal and anal fins. They also have large and thick lips that tend to be a bit smaller in the home aquarium, which can be either black or orange.

Their large, sharp teeth and strong jaws are capable of doing a lot of damage. Not only do these fish have the power to attack prey in aquariums, but they can also tackle their natural predators with ease out in the wild.

Owners of the Red Devil Cichlid will tell you that these fish are more than just aquarium companions. They have been known to form relationships with their owners. They can be very devoted and dramatic when it comes time to show off in front of an aquarist or even beg food like a dog!

Scientific Name:Amphilophus Labiatus
Common Name:Red devil cichlid
Care Level:Intermediate
Lifespan:12 years
Water hardness:6 – 25 dGH
Minimum Tank Size:55 gallons for a single fish
Temperament:Large Aggressive (Predatory)

Amphilophus Citrinellus (Midas cichlid)

The Midas Cichlids, Amphilophus citrinellus, are natively found in the San Juan River and the adjacent watersheds of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Today you can find them in the state of Florida. With its showstopping coloration and variety, this species will surely make a striking addition to your collection.

The fish’s body is generally dark brown with six stripes and a large spot on one side in the wild. There’s also naturally occurring in this variety which has a yellow coat.

Captive bred coloration ranges from black to orange, white, and red. It’s no wonder that the name of this fish is called “Midas”, the most common color is usually a creamy yellow, golden, or orange with blotches.

Due to its large size and natural aggression, the Midas Cichlid demands a large aquarium of at least 200 gallons. They can be kept alone or in a pair. The Midas will become very aggressive in a small tank and may wipe out your entire setup.

The Midas Cichlid has an almost identical appearance to the red devil cichlid, but it’s a totally different species.

Scientific Name:Amphilophus Citrinellus
Common Name:Midas cichlid
Care Level:Intermediate
Lifespan:12 years
Water hardness:10 – 20 dGH
Minimum Tank Size:55 gallons for a single and 125 Gallons for a pair
Temperament:Large Aggressive (Predatory)

Herichthys Cyanoguttatus (Texas Cichlid)

Texas Cichlid
Photo: swo_aquarist

The Herichthys cyanoguttatus (Texas cichlid) is the only cichlid species that originates from the United States. This large, bold, iridescent fish is an excellent choice for any aquarist who wants to take their tank game up a notch.

The territorial Texas cichlids can reach up to 13″ in length when fully grown. A large freshwater tank is required. It’s best to keep them on their own in a 75 gallon aquarium, but it can be housed with other large Central American cichlids in a tank of at least 125 gallons. Breeding pairs need at least 125 gallons, but be prepared to divide the tank into two separate parts in case of incompatible.

This fish is known for its stunning look. A juvenile Texas cichlid has pearly gray with white dots on its fins. As it ages, two black dots will appear in the middle of the body and the caudal fin. A mature fish displays a golden shade with pearly iridescent speckles.

Like its Central American relatives, the Texas Cichlid is fairly undemanding and adapts well to range water conditions in the aquarium. However, some specimens are exceedingly aggressive, not recommended for beginners.

Scientific Name:Herichthys Cyanoguttatus
Common Name:Texas Cichlid
Care Level:Intermediate
Lifespan:15 years
Water hardness:8 – 15 dGH
Minimum Tank Size:50 gallons for a single fish and 100 gallons for a pair

Herotilapia Multispinosa (Rainbow Cichlid)

Rainbow Cichlid
Photo: Orlando C

The rainbow cichlid is a very popular species in the freshwater aquarium trade. They’re not just beautiful; they have an interesting behavior that makes them worth getting.

While these fish can reach 6 1/2 inches (17 cm) in the wild, they are significantly smaller when grown at the home aquarium and only grow to be about 3 inches long, considered to be the smallest of the CA Cichlids.

They are fairly peaceful, especially by Central American standards, an excellent choice for beginners who want to try their hands at caring Cichlids. You can keep the rainbow cichlid alone or in pairs as well as in a community tank.

Their brilliant “rainbow” color is certainly worthy of their name. Rainbow cichlids normally display colors from gold to orange with black bars on their bodies that run the length of it, making them look quite impressive!

Scientific Name:Herotilapia multispinosa
Common Name:Rainbow Cichlid
Care Level:Beginner
Lifespan:7 – 9 years
Water hardness:5 – 20 dGH
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons

Rocio octofasciata (Jack Dempsey Cichlid)

The Jack Dempsey Cichlid (Rocio octofasciata) is one of the most well-known Central American Cichlids. With its aggressive behaviors and stocky body, the common name for this fish comes from its similarity to the famous 1920s boxer Jack Dempsey.

These fish have long fins and large oval bodies decorated with dark purple-grey with iridescent gold flecks. The colors change with age, and Juvenile Jack Dempseys are naturally less colorful than adults. Adults are truly stunning with bright blue-green flecks.

The Jack Dempsey is a fun fish to have around, and it’s easy for beginners because they don’t need much care. These bruisers prefer to stay on their own and are not good community fish. Don’t keep them in pairs because they become more territorial and aggressive. 

Scientific Name:Rocio octofasciata
Common Name:Electric Blue Dempsey, Blue Dempsey, Neon Blue Dempsey
Care Level:Beginner
Lifespan:15 years
Water hardness:8 – 12 dGH
Minimum Tank Size:40 gallons

Thorichthys meeki (Firemouth Cichlid)

The firemouth cichlid is a beautiful and vibrant freshwater fish with a lot to offer. They’re so entertaining; you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat for hours as they swim around.

The appearance of the firemouth cichlid is really what makes them stand out. The fish gets its name because of the fiery coloration on the underside of the body. Males are typically brighter than females, while females have a larger and rounder belly. Both males and females have a black mark located on the lower half of the operculum.

The recommended tank size depends on how many you’re keeping, but a minimum of 30 gallons should suffice for just one fish. Firemouth cichlids are peaceful, so they’re a good choice for large community tanks. You can also keep them with other Central American Cichlids.

You might be interested to know: Firemouth Cichlid Size: How Big Do Firemouth Cichlids Get?

Scientific Name:Thorichthys Meeki
Common Name:Firemouth Cichlid
Care Level:Beginner
Lifespan:15 years
Water hardness:8 – 15 dGH
Minimum Tank Size:30 gallons

Vieja melanurus (Redhead Cichlid)

Vieja melanurus
Photo: Bert Muller

While they may not be as popular as Rainbow Cichlids or Jack Dempseys in the hobby, the Redhead Cichlids are an excellent choice for those looking to keep Central and South American cichlids.

Viejas melanurus, also known as the Redhead Cichlid and Quetzal fish, is a stunning Mexican species that matures to pastel colors. The Redhead Cichlid is so named due to its head’s pinkish-red coloration.

The most eye-catching feature is the nuchal hump that grows on the head of males. Adults develop brilliant colors such as a red forehead, vivid greenish, red, orange, and blue tones on the body. 

Redhead Cichlids are perhaps the most gentle species in this genus. They’re territorial when it comes time for them to spawn, but not excessively violent or aggressive like some other types of fish can be during these moments.

Breeding the Redheaded Cichlid can be difficult because of its low compatibility among pairs. It’s best to keep a group of six juveniles to pair off for successful breeding.

Scientific Name:Vieja melanurus
Common Name:Redhead Cichlid
Care Level:Beginner
Lifespan:10 years
PH:7.5 – 8
Water hardness:10 – 15 dGH
Minimum Tank Size:75 gallons

Full List of Central American Cichlids

GenusRecognized Species
AmatitlaniaAmatitlania altoflava
Amatitlania coatepeque 
Amatitlania kanna
Amatitlania myrnae
Amatitlania nanolutea
Amatitlania nigrofasciata (Convict cichlid)
Amatitlania septemfasciata (Seven Stripe Cichlid)
Amatitlania sajica (T-bar cichlid, Sajica cichlid)
Amatitlania siquia
AmphilophusAmphilophus amarillo
Amphilophus astorquii (Black Midas Cichlid)
Amphilophus chancho (Chancho Cichlid)
Amphilophus citrinellus (Midas cichlid)
Amphilophus flaveolus
Amphilophus globosus
Amphilophus hogaboomorum
Amphilophus labiatus (Red devil cichlid)
Amphilophus lyonsi (Lyonsi Cichlid)
Amphilophus margaritifer
Amphilophus sagittae 
Amphilophus supercilius
Amphilophus tolteca
Amphilophus viridis
Amphilophus xiloaensis
Amphilophus zaliosus (Arrow Cichlid)
CryptoherosCryptoheros chetumalensis
Cryptoheros cutteri (Cutter’s cichlid)
Cryptoheros panamensis
Cryptoheros spilurus (Blue Eye Cichlid)
CichlasomaCichlasoma bocourti
Cichlasoma istlanum (Redside cichlid)
Cichlasoma pearsei (Pantano cichlid)
Cichlasoma urophthalmus (Mayan cichlid)
HerichthysHerichthys bartoni (Barton’s Cichlid)
Herichthys carpintis (Pearlscale Cichlid)
Herichthys cyanoguttatus (Texas Cichlid)
Herichthys deppii (Nautla Cichlid)
Herichthys labridens
Herichthys minkleyi
Herichthys pantostictus
Herichthys steindachneri
Herichthys tamasopoensis
HypsophrysHypsophrys nematopus
Hypsophrys nicaraguensis
NandopsisNandopsis beani
Nandopsis grammodes (Mini Dovii Cichlid)
Nandopsis haitiensis (Haitian Cichlid)
Nandopsis ramsdeni
Nandopsis salvini
Nandopsis tetracanthus (Cuban Cichlid)
Neetroplus Neetroplus nematopus
ParachromisParachromis dovii (Wolf cichlid)
Parachromis friedrichsthalii (Yellow Jacket Cichlid)
Parachromis managuensis (Jaguar cichlid)
Parachromis motaguensis (False Yellowjacket Cichlid)
Paraneetroplus Paraneetroplus bulleri (Sarabia cichlid)
Paraneetroplus gibbiceps (Teapa cichlid)
RocioRocio ocotal
Rocio octofasciata (Jack Dempsey Cichlid)
Rocio octofasciatum
Rocio spinosissimus
Rocio spinosissima
RheoherosRheoheros lentiginosus (Freckled cichlid)
Rheoheros coeruleus
TherapsTheraps godmanni (Southern checkmark cichlid)
Theraps intermedius (Northern checkmark cichlid)
Theraps irregularis (Arroyo cichlid)
Theraps wesseli (Wessel’s Cichlid)
Theraps microphthalmus
ThorichthysThorichthys affinis
Thorichthys aureus
Thorichthys callolepis
Thorichthys helleri (Yellow cichlid)
Thorichthys maculipinnis (Spot Cheek Cichlid)
Thorichthys meeki (Firemouth cichlid)
Thorichthys panchovillai
Thorichthys pasionis
Thorichthys socolofi (Chiapas cichlid)
Thorichthys meeki (Firemouth cichlid)
TomocichlaTomocichla asfraci
Tomocichla tub
ViejaVieja bifasciata (Twoband cichlid)
Vieja breidohri (Angostura cichlid)
Vieja guttulata (Amatitlan cichlid)
Vieja maculicauda (Blackbelt Cichlid)
Vieja melanurus (Redhead cichlid, Synspilum Cichlid)
Vieja zonata (Oaxaca cichlid)
Vieja guttulata (Amatitlan cichlid)
Vieja Hartwegi (Tailbar cichlid)

Final Words

As you can see, the Central American Cichlids are a lively bunch! They come in all shapes and sizes and have a lot of personalities.

The small, peaceful, and colorful rainbow cichlid and unique Convict Cichlid can be an interesting choice for beginners. For the experienced cichlid owners, the large and beautiful Jaguar Cichlid and Texas Cichlid will prove to be a fantastic addition. 

We hope this list helps you find the right Central American Cichlids for your home tank. If there’s anything we can do to answer your questions, please feel free to contact us! We’re always eager to help readers who need advice on what fish would best suit their setup.

Happy fishkeeping!

Jaguar Cichlid Size: How Big Do Jaguar Cichlids Get?


The Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis managuensis) is an interesting and large Central American cichlid, a popular choice among more experienced fishkeepers. What’s more, this species tends to be more and more beautiful as it ages.

As juveniles, these fish display black bands on their bodies and tail coatings that form a recognizable ‘J’, older ones will lose these features in favor of something more intricate known as “jaggy” markings, which can be seen all over this creature’s body!

Besides the captivating looks, the Jaguar Cichlids are easy to care for. When it comes to keeping this fish in a home aquarium, there are some things you should know. The most common questions asked by new owners are “how big do jaguar cichlids get?” and “what size tank do Jaguar Cichlids need?”

Keep on reading to find out.

How Big Do Jaguar Cichlids Get in the Wild and Captivity?

Jaguar cichlids are fairly large, highly predatory fish. Jaguar Cichlid size can vary, depending on the region they originate from.

In the wild, an adult Jaguar cichlid will typically grow to around 21″ to 24″ (55-63 cm) long and can weigh as much as about 3 1/2 pounds.

Fortunately, both males and females kept under captive conditions tend to grow smaller than those in a natural habitat. In captivity, male Jaguar cichlids can reach lengths of 16 inches (40 cm), while females only grow up to 14 inches (36 cm).

The full-grown size of a Jaguar cichlid can vary depending on its natural habitat, genetics, and nutrition. Jaguar Cichlids raised in captive conditions usually won’t reach the same size as those living free since captivity imposes limitations to their growth.

How Fast Do Jaguar Cichlids Grow?

Jaguar cichlids are considered relatively “slow” growers when compared to other Central American Cichlid species. You can expect a healthy juvenile Jag to grow quickly in the first six months. I remember mine grew an inch (sometimes a little more) every month in my 180g aquarium! The rate slows down once they get 6-8″, around a 1/4 to 1/2 inch per month.

How fast your Jaguar grows depends on several factors, such as balanced nutrition and ideal water parameters. Some aquarists reported their male Jags grew by nine to ten inches over 10 months, while others say their Jags took two to three years to grow from a two-inch baby Jaguar to a nine-inch fish.

What Minimum Tank Size Do you Need for Jaguar Cichlids?

Many aquarists follow the general rule of allotting a gallon of water for every inch of the fish.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with a Jaguar cichlid or most fish in the family Cichlidae, especially these predatory species. Advanced Jaguar aquarists recommend a minimum aquarium size of 125 gallons. If you want to give your Jaguar Cichlid the best comfortable life, more space is always better.

If you have a juvenile Jaguar cichlid, a 30-gallon fish tank is sufficient. However, it would be best to remember this fish can grow up to 16 inches. And if you’re successful in mimicking its natural habitat, your Jaguar might even surpass its maximum size.

What Tank Size Do I Need for a Breeding Pair Jaguar Cichlid?

female jaguar cichlid size
Photo: rodneysfishtank

The Jaguar Cichlid is moderately easy to breed. The breeding generally occurs when their environment and feeding habits seem to be “just right.”

However, it’s crucial to provide the pair with sufficient space to swim freely and look for a spot to bury their eggs until they hatch.

Hence, a 125-gallon aquarium won’t be enough. The minimum fish tank size you can get for a Jaguar cichlid breeding pair is 180 gallons. There will always be instances when one of your Jaguars will become aggressive. Increasing the tank size to 180 gallons should give the other Jaguar enough room to hide or steer clear of the other’s space.

How to Make Jaguar Cichlids Grow Faster?

Some Jaguar cichlid owners report a rapid growth of their fishes, while others grow at a snail’s pace. So, what gives? Here’s how you can make your Jaguar cichlids grow faster.

Provide a Balanced Diet

As carnivore predators, the Wild Jaguar cichlids eat almost anything that fits in their large mouths, including crickets, tadpoles, earthworms, and small fishes like goldfish. This fish is near the top of the food chain in its natural habitat.

Hence, I would recommend that it would be best to give your Jaguar cichlid its diet in the wild. That’s why many aquarists suggest feeding Jaguar cichlids with crayfish and cut-up fish. You can also try dry and freeze-dried foods. 

I advise not to give your Jaguar beef heart, and other warm-blooded animal meats. These foods have high fat and protein content, not what you’d find in the Jaguar’s natural diet.

I recommend training your Jaguar cichlid to eat pellets and flakes for a more balanced diet. You can start giving these foods when your Jaguar is still young, ensuring they fit into the young fish’s mouth. 

Jaguar cichlid pellets are specifically formulated for Jaguar cichlid growth. These fish pellets contain all essential nutrients to make your Jaguar grow faster, including minerals, vitamins, amino acids, high levels of fat, and antioxidants. If you’re looking for the main food source for your Jags, NLS Thera A along with Spirulina 20 would be a popular vote amongst cichlid keepers.

Juvenile cichlids are known for being greedy little creatures, but you might be surprised to learn that they actually need our help! It’s true; without proper care and feeding, your fish can become sick or even die. You should feed them once per day, with fasting one day weekly as an extra strategy in order to maintain high levels of water quality over time.

An efficient way to feed Jaguar cichlids is by using one of the automatic fish feeders while being away on vacation. The Jaguar cichlid cannot compete with other fish for food when you use an automatic feeder to slowly release small amounts at regular intervals throughout the day.

Maintain Proper Tank Conditions 

Jaguar cichlids are very sensitive to the quality of their environment, so it’s important to make sure that your water parameters are up-to-par all the time and match their natural habitat as closely as possible. 

Native to the relatively neutral and warm rivers in Central America, the wild Jaguars can tolerate 97-degree waters. Jaguar cichlids thrive best in 73 to 82-degree Fahrenheit water, with 75 to 77 degrees as ideal. Of course, that’s pushing it for your captive Jaguar. 

The water should also have a hardness level of 10 to 15 dGH. Jaguars grow best in a water pH of 7.0 to 8.7. If you’re breeding your Jaguar cichlid pair, it’s best to raise the water temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

You might be interested in: Do Jaguar Cichlids Have Teeth?

A Bigger Tank will Help

Jags are known for being aggressive and territorial towards other species. Although we said that a 125-gallon fish tank is sufficient for a Jaguar cichlid’s optimum growth, getting a bigger aquarium can help it grow faster. 

A bigger tank will provide Jaguar cichlids with a bigger territory to swim around in. Jaguar cichlids are very active fish. If you want your Jaguar to be healthy, it needs exercise by swimming around in its aquarium. 

I include sand substrate at the tank’s bottom and dry leaves on the surface to mimic its cloudy and murky natural habitat. I also add rocks, driftwood, caves, and other sturdy decorations around the tank’s perimeter. 

Final Thoughts

Jaguar cichlids are some of the largest cichlid species you can ever get for an aquatic pet. Although they might be smaller than their relatives in the wild, your Jaguar cichlid can reach its maximum size if you feed it a well-balanced diet and provide the ideal water parameters. 

More importantly, the larger the fish tank, the faster your Jaguar cichlid will grow and the healthier it will be. 

We’re always open to suggestions, so if you have a brilliant idea that would make our care guide better, feel free to let us know!

Firemouth Cichlid Size: How Big Do Firemouth Cichlids Get?


When I first took care of firemouth cichlids, I noticed that they were taking their time to grow. With my experience taking care of them, I better understand their growth rate and size. 

In this article, I am going to share what I know about firemouth cichlid size and growth rate. From their slow growth process to what helped me ensure that they get the most help possible to make sure that they live to be healthy fish for a long time.  

Firemouth Cichlid Size: How Big Do Firemouth Cichlids Get?

The Firemouth Cichlid is one of the smaller Central American cichlids when it comes to size. They are known to grow 6.5″ (17 cm) in the wild, and tend to be smaller in captivity, with a male Firemouth cichlid will grow to be 5″ (12.7 cm), while females reach up to about 4″ (10.15 cm).

To help Firemouths grow to their potential, you must take care seriously from day one by maintaining the right water conditions, offering high-quality food, and giving them a little bit of room. Even so, they do not reach their full potential in home aquaria.

How Fast do Firemouth Cichlids Grow?

Unlike some bigger CA cichlids that grow faster during the first year, Firemouths are relatively slow growers, especially in a smaller tank. Not mentioned that they have a long lifespan, about 10 – 15 years.

To reach their full size, it would usually take up to 4 to 5 years of making sure that everything from tank condition to nutrition is conducive to helping them grow, whether male or female. 

Some fishkeepers have claimed that some specimen grows fast, but that hasn’t been the case in my experience of taking care of a moderately sized Central American cichlid. 

Regardless, the growth rate will depend on a variety of things, including diet, genes, and environment, to name a few. 

How to make Firemouth Cichlid Grow Faster?

In my experience, we need patience and time when it comes to growing Firemouths. I have three Firemouths (1 male and 2 females) in my 72″ long 210 gallon CA cichlids aquarium, and it took me 12 months to grow them from 1.5″ to 4″. 

As a breeder, you want to do everything in your power for your fish’s healthy and timely growth. You can start by:

Maintaining Proper Tank Conditions

These Firemouth cichlids are pretty manageable for any aquarium enthusiast due to their adaptability in many different types of environments. 

Poor water quality inside a fish tank would cause sickness and stunt their growth. Keeping the environment at optimum condition is paramount for your fish’s overall wellbeing. 

One of the most important aspects of promoting your Firemouths’ growth is routine water changes. Poor water quality is a major cause of infection and fish stress; regularly changing a portion of the aquarium water is the easiest way to reduce it.

As a general guideline, I advise doing a 10-20% water change weekly in a small tank and a 20-30% change in a larger aquarium once a week. 

Some hobbyists prefer doing a 40-50% larger change every two weeks, but I believe this can be harmful since the dramatic chemistry changes will stress the fish.

Providing a Balanced Diet

If something is critically important to your Firemouth Cichlid’s growth rate, then the diet is a crucial factor. 

The diet should contain the right balance of nutrients to ensure they grow to their full potential. The color formation process will also be assisted by what you feed them!

The Firemouth Cichlids are omnivorous eat all kinds of flake and live foods. In addition, offer them a variety of vegetables like cucumber and carrots as it helps cichlids grow.

If you’re looking for a way to enrich the diet of your Firemouths, adding in some protein-rich snacks like brine shrimp or blood worms is an excellent choice. 

The foundation of Firemouth Cichlid Food, Hikari Cichlid Gold is my favorite. I love the color enhancers in this food which help bring out the natural beauty and proper form!

Upgrading to a Larger Tank

Although the size of the tank is not the determining factor that can limit a Firemouth Cichlid’s ability to grow properly, it can exacerbate other problems. 

When it comes to small tanks, pollution can become a big problem. Nitrate or other pollutants will build up more quickly. As such, the level of those elements can have detrimental effects on Firemouth cichlids by stunting growth potential and stressing them out-making these fish act more aggressively. 

A minimum 30 gallon aquarium is recommended for a single Firemouth with no other fish. Go with a minimum 75g tank for a pair of Firemouths. There are a variety of factors that can impact the right tank size, such as tank mates, decors or aquarium types.

Preventing Fish Diseases

Another thing to prevent stunting your Firemouth Cichlid growth is to ensure that your fish is at its healthiest. Yes, fish, just like any other pets, are susceptible to diseases, but there are measures to prevent fish diseases from happening. 

This includes optimum water quality, good diet and nutrition, a sizeable tank. Another factor is keeping your Firemouth Cichlid stress-free. 

Firemouth Cichlid is not the most aggressive in the usually bold Cichlidae family, but of course, they also have a mean streak when provoked. This is especially true during the mating season, so building a stress-free environment for them is integral. 

This stress-free environment would require a lot of hideouts that they could use to nest their eggs and as a territory. 

Final Thoughts

Firemouth cichlids are one of the late bloomers in the animal kingdom. Although little growth is apparent, there is satisfaction when your little fish grows. Many factors could contribute to how fast they grow, like diet and environment, so making sure they get proper nutrition and have the best living conditions. 

Follow these tips to take care of your firemouth cichlids and help them reach their potential. 

We’re curious about your thoughts on how we can best present the information in this guide, so please send us a message if you have feedback!

Do Wolf Cichlids Have Teeth? (Do They Bite?)


Are you looking for a large predatory and beautiful fish for a CA aquarium? The Wolf Cichlid (Parachromis dovii) is a perfect addition.

They can reach over 28″ (72 cm) in length, and they are by far one of the most aggressive cichlids in the world. Because of its size and aggressive temperament, this species really captures the spirit and majesty of its namesake.

If you’re looking to get your hands on this intelligent fish, there are some things you need to know. But the first thing you might be curious about is “do wolf cichlids have teeth” and how sharp they are. 

In today’s guide, we will be discussing all the things related to wolf cichlid teeth. So keep reading!

Do Wolf Cichlids Have Teeth?

Yes, the wolf cichlids have a large mouth and an evolved pharyngeal set of teeth along with their regular teeth, which allow them to hunt down and consume prey much larger than themselves.

As a voracious predator, it feeds primarily on smaller prey, such as insects and crustaceans in the wild. In addition, their body is cylindrical with solid muscle and the belly is deeper than the top half; the pointed fins and large mouth help them capture food easily. 

Will Wolf Cichlids Bite?

Make no mistake about it: wolf Cichlids will bite you if provoked. Their sharp teeth and strong bite can inflict real damage. It has been recorded from attacking its owner during routine maintenance work on an aquarium, so be careful and prepared with these predators.

Do not stick your hand in the tank to do a water change or clean as these fish are known for their quick strikes and voracity. 

When it comes to feeding them, do not attempt to hand feed them as you can be bitten through your glove or hand.

Are Wolf Cichlid (Dovii) Aggressive? 

Wolf Cichlid, also known as the Guapote, Dow’s Cichlid, and Rainbow Bass, is an aggressive and highly territorial fish. They are one of the predatory large CA cichlid species, as they have been known to bite humans who attempt to catch them from their natural habitat with bare hands.

When the fish are in breeding mode, their aggression level will skyrocket. It’s best to remove all other fish and separate the breeding pair.

How Big Do Wolf Cichlids Get?

As mentioned early, wolf Cichlids can grow up to 28 inches (72 cm) in length. Males are usually larger than females, some mature specimens can reach a length of 30″.

Due to their size, wolf cichlids are a popular food source for locals where they can be cooked in many different ways. If seasoned correctly, anyone traveling in Honduran waters can enjoy this tasty fish.

How Fast Do Wolf Cichlids Grow?

Like other larger Cichlids that tend to have an extremely high growth rate during the first few months of life, the wolf Cichlid is no exception. Every month, their size increases by around one inch. But after reaching 12 inches, they no longer grow that fast. Still, you can notice their growth month by month until they gain their full size. 

It is also possible for them to grow faster by providing proper nutrition and water changes. Remember, these species are carnivores. But still, you can also feed pellets and some frozen foods. They will really appreciate if you provide them with several small meals daily. But take note, overfeeding is not a good idea for their diet.

Are Wolf Cichlids Aggressive Toward Other Fish?

Like other large predatory cichlids, wolf cichlid is NOT a community fish. They are a carnivorous predator, which means they will eat anything smaller than their own size or those that enter their territory. These bad boys will investigate anything you put in front of them and even bond over a shared prey.

That’s why it is recommended that you don’t place almost any other fish with them. They should be housed in a species specific tank. A pair might be working in a community tank, but the female still can be killed in an attack by a male, especially during breeding. The female will need plenty of large rocks, roots, or plants as hiding places.

A 130-gallon aquarium is fine for juvenile and smaller adult specimens. However, the aquarium should be large, at least 210g for a breeding pair or fully grown. 

How Can You Tell if a Dovii is Male or Female?

male wolf Cichlid
Photo: Reddit

The wolf Cichlids will start spawning at about 10 to 14 months of age, and they do so every 4 weeks. 

Males are usually more blue than females, and dominant alpha males will have the brightest blue. The mature male tends to be larger than the female. Also, females have several gold/yellow colorations along their side which are absent in males.

But be careful, because these colors may vary depending on the location where you bought them from.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know all about Wolf Cichlids’ teeth and their aggressiveness, it’s time to decide if this is a fish for your tank.

Doviis are one of the largest predatory CA Cichlids known to man. Do not get fooled by their cute appearance; they will act like any other cichlids if you give them a chance.

We hope this article has proven helpful for any of you who are interested in buying this fish. Do not hesitate to leave us a comment below if you have any questions, we will be more than happy to answer them as soon as possible. Have fun!

Are Convict Cichlids Aggressive? (Males Vs Females)

Are Convict Cichlids Aggressive

The Convict Cichlid is one of the most aggressive and colorful Central American freshwater fish. They got their name because of their striking black bars that give them an intriguing look.

Among first-time fishkeepers, convict cichlids have had a bad reputation because of their aggressive nature, but you will enjoy observing these fish with the right tank mates and an adequate fish tank environment. That’s a guarantee. 

This article will tell you what to expect from convict cichlid’s aggressive nature, based on my experience. 

Are Convict Cichlids Aggressive?

Photo: JAXX

Yes, the convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) are very aggressive by nature. They are known to attack almost any other fish in their territory, including ones up to three times the size!

In my experience, I’ve seen their spunky behavior: one fish encroaches on a convict cichlids’ territory, and you will see them chasing and annoying the other fish as a reprimand. 

Due to their aggressive nature, they’re not the kind of fish you want to keep in your community tank, especially when mating. These guys can be very aggressive, and they will do anything to protect the fry, even kill their own species if need be! 

Is Male or Female Convict Cichlids More Aggressive?

Convict Cichlids, whether male or female, generally engage in territory encounters. The only difference between them is how they show their aggressiveness versus other fishes, both different and intra-species. 

Females used more frontal confrontation and biting. They also spend more time showing their aggressiveness to other species in close proximity. 

On the other hand, the male convict cichlids move around their opponents; they show dominance in a lateral display and are more prone to tail beating than the female Convict Cichlids during agonistic encounters. 

Are Convict Cichlids Juvenile Aggressive?

Photo: MyEvilMonkeys

Studies found that young convict cichlids are prone to high aggressiveness when food is abundant and a low rate of aggression when food is excess or scarce. This dome-shaped pattern of aggression is the response to changes in food abundance. 

Are Convict Cichlids Aggressive Towards Other Fish?

Like any other member of the Cichlidae family, Convict Cichlids are aggressive around other fishes. This aggressiveness comes with direct fight instinct when they feel like their territory is threatened. Among juvenile cichlids, the aggression is more on interaction and food competition. 

Although breeding this species is a breeze, most breeding pairs should be kept in a species only tanks. They’re the best cichlid parents around here, and they’ll protect them to the death.

How to Reduce Convict Cichlids Aggression? 

I have been keeping CA cichlids for over 10 years. One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to keep them from getting aggressive no matter which species is in the aquarium. In my experience, nothing else has worked in the long term. It’s finally come down to just that: removing or shuffling fish. 

Unlike most South American Cichlids and Lake Malawi Cichlids, which often fight to the death in aquariums (there are some exceptions), Central American ones are adapting in their ways, including convict cichlids. 

At the end of the day, there are few solutions that can only reduce aggression for a CA or convict cichlids tank but never end it.

Get a Bigger Tank

When territorial aggression is triggered by a desire to protect something that’s special, such as a particular plant, rock, or other decoration, the convicts will often go into attack mode. The solution to this problem is as easy and straightforward – just invest in a larger fish aquarium!

The larger the tank, the happier your convict cichlids will be. They’re much more territorial in large tanks and can tolerate other peaceful fish without feeling threatened or insecure about their space- which is why it’s important to give these guys enough room!

A minimum of 30 gallons is recommended for convict cichlids. If you want to keep a mated pair, invest in a bigger 40-gallon tank.

Consider the Personality and Temperament

Do convict cichlids have personalities? They do! We all know that cichlids are typically territorial and sometimes aggressive, especially towards their own kind.

However, just like people, there are always exceptions. They all have their own complicated personalities. When you’re dealing with living creatures, the world is not simply black or white. Sometimes, a passive convict cichlid will be peaceful, amiable, and won’t bother other inhabitants in an aquarium. 

Be prepared to deal with varying personalities! 

Convict Cichlid-Only Tank

The ideal way to counter Convict Cichlid’s aggressiveness is by keeping and taking care of one pair at a time. When they reproduce and their offsprings start to grow, keep them in the tank until they pair up in their juvenile stage, then it’s time to separate them again. 

If you want to keep a Convict Cichlid-only tank, keep the ratio of male to female Convict Cichlid to 1 is to 3, one male for every three females. More females in a sizeable tank of Convict Cichlid will cause less trouble. 

Create a Barrier

Convict cichlids are known for their aggressive tendencies and love of territory, which is why a barrier is always desirable. However, it only works in large tanks. 

With a large barrier, more docile cichlids are able to escape scrutiny. It also breaks up the line of sight for their dominant aggressors.

When I got this big “Greek Ruin” decor, it really helped me out with this problem. The smaller ones would go through these pillars and escape from their chasers, while the bigger ones just went round and round the ruins until they gave up. 

A Separate Tank for Breeding Pairs

As a convict cichlid enthusiast, I observed that convict cichlid is extremely easy to breed, making these fish a popular choice among many experienced aquarists. They’re known as the ‘rabbits of the fish world’. 

Convict cichlid parents are very aggressive when there are eggs and fries involved. You will need to move the breeding pair into a separate tank and bring them back after the eggs have hatched.

There is the option of keeping multiple pairs to keep a vibrant tank but make sure that the tank is growing with the population to decrease aggressiveness among one and the other. 

You can keep an already paired Convict Cichlid straight from the fish store. At the same time, you could get a bunch of juveniles, watch them pair up, and separate the outcasts from the pairs to keep them from getting hurt. 

Final Thoughts

So, are convict cichlids aggressive? Yes, Convict Cichlids can be aggressive, but with the right tank conditions, whether solitary, in pair, or a tank full of predators, this fish will thrive. 

Follow the tips I shared above to ensure that your convict cichlids will live happily and healthily.

I am always open to new ideas and suggestions, so please feel free to leave me a comment if you have any thoughts or opinions on this!

Convict Cichlid Lifespan: How Long do Convict Cichlids Live?

Convict Cichlid Lifespan

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!

Convict Cichlid Size: How Big Do Convict Cichlids Get?

Convict Cichlid Size

The name Convict cichlid comes from the darkish vertical bands, which give the fish a standard “jailbird” look. If you are a convict cichlid pet lover, you should better know the tips on how to ensure their health and foods to feed them for fast growth. 

Convict Cichlids interested me a lot since my friend gifted them to me, and I love their great coloring, not to mention they are cheap. So, let us discuss how to successfully keep and breed the Convict cichlid in your aquarium according to their sizes. First, let us know how big do convict cichlids get – the average convict cichlid size. 

Convict Cichlid Size: How Big do Convict Cichlids Get?

Convict Cichlid size

The convict cichlid is one of the smaller CA cichlid species. The males can grow up to 6 inches (15cm), while the females can grow to an average of 4 inches (10 cm). They have a deep body, which makes their sizes easy to underestimate. 

The males will grow bigger than females, but the females have unique colors. Due to their size and aggressive nature, you should keep them with similarly sized or larger fish in a very large tank. For beginners, I strongly recommend keeping them in a species only tank.

The breeding pair is generally extremely aggressive when mating. They will kill anything that gets in their way. I have seen them take on larger Oscars 3 times larger than themselves!

How Fast do Convict Cichlids Grow?

When it comes to the growth rate of convict cichlids, you can expect your fish to take around 2-3 years to reach their average size, depending on how you care for them. 

Like most cichlids, the environmental quality of their habitat determines how fast they grow and their overall health. 

The life span of a convict cichlid is 10 years. Make sure you get your young ones off to the best start in order for them to have long, healthy lives!

How Fast Do Baby Convict Cichlids Grow?

Compared with larger Central American cichlids that generally grow faster during the first few months- up to an inch per month, the baby convict cichlids grow pretty slow. As mentioned early, it takes about 2 years for a convict to reach 4-5 inches at maturity.   

How to Make Convict Cichlids Grow Faster?

The convict cichlid is fairly easy to take care of, making it a beginner-friendly fish. Maintaining the correct water situations, creating the proper environment, and feeding your convict cichlid are simple, easy duties.

Here are some additional tips that you should follow to make your convict cichlids grow faster.

Maintain Water Quality

To keep your convicts happy and healthy, replacing at least 15- 20% of the tank water every week is important. This way, they can adjust themselves accordingly without any stress from pollution or pH stability in their environment, especially if your tank is densely stocked.

I advise using a gravel cleaner to remove all the decomposing organic matter built up. A healthy environment is essential for your convict cichlid to reach her full potential and live as long as possible.

Offer a Balanced Diet

The convict cichlid is an omnivore fish that will eat just about anything. The convicts’ food plan consists of assorted sources together with crustaceans, small fish, insects, worms, vegetation, and algae in the wild.

A balanced diet is recommended to encourage your convicts to grow faster. Feed your fish with high-quality food, including commercial omnivorous cichlid food, veggies with spirulina, mixed in beef heart, or even worms as a treat. 

Don’t overfeed! You should feed 2-5 small pinches of food a day instead of one large serving. Once your convict cichlid reaches maturity, feed him only once a day to keep him in prime health. 

The Omega One Freeze Dried Bloodworms should give her all the nutrients and color enhancers she needs.

Manage Stress and Illness

When it comes to growth rate, stress and illness can really affect the way that your fish grows and feels. On the other hand, cichlids are susceptible to fungal infections, especially when they’re stressed or have had injuries in the past.

Rule number one to reduce stress is keeping their living conditions are fairly consistent, with no sudden changes. A major water change or temperature fluctuation from a heater failing can lead to an immense amount of stress for your convict cichlid.

The most common disease seen in a convict cichlid aquarium is ich, which can be treated by increasing the tank temperature to 86° F (30° C) for 2-3 days. Try to use many over-the-counter medications for ich during the severe stages of the disease. 

Give Him Room

Convict cichlids are most comfortable when providing them with a large aquarium with plenty of areas. You can hold two juvenile specimens in a 20-gallon tank, though you will want to improve the setup to something bigger (55 gallons or more) once the fish turn out to be fully grown.

A Sandy Substrate with Rocks

As one of the cave spawners, the convict Cichlid will feel at home in an environment with a sandy substrate, rocks, and driftwood.

They will then clean an area and dig a depression in the substrate around rocks, flowers pots, or caves when they are breeding.

When you set up an aquarium, be sure that planted plants are anchored to the bottom of your tank, so they don’t fall off. The fish sometimes likes removing gravel and substrate and re-arranging your tank.

Follow these tips to ensure that your fish will grow faster. It is every fish keeper’s goal, after all. So, again, give him room to grow, maintain water quality, and help manage stress and illness, to name some.

Final Thoughts

When you bring home a convict cichlid, your little friend will be sure to keep surprising and delighting you with their ongoing developments. They may take months or even years of patience before they finally come out into the world at large – but this journey is always worth taking!

I hope this article gives you the information that you are looking for about convict cichlids. So, if you want to keep this fish, go ahead. It is good to keep because it is beginner-friendly and not hard to maintain. 

Stay tuned for our next blogs in fish keeping. If you liked this post, share it on social media today!

Convict Cichlid Male or Female (How to Sex?)

Convict Cichlid Male or Female

How many of you have put two Convict Cichlids in the same tank and waited a few months for your tank to fill with small fry before realizing that the two fish were of the same sex? These fish are prolific breeders. Still, the key is knowing how to tell a female convict cichlid from a male, as the two look very much alike.

In this article, we are going to discuss how you can determine the difference between a male or female convict cichlid by examining body shape, size, coloration, fin length, and other factors.

Convict Cichlid Male or Female? How to Sex?

Female convict cichlid has orange on the belly

The monomorphic appearance makes juvenile convict cichlids challenging to spot until they reach maturity and start showing their color patterns. Males are larger than females, and they don’t have any orange coloration on their lower bodies and dorsal fins

The differences are subtle, but they’re there. Let’s take a look at the most obvious ones below!


It turns out that males of most cichlids species are more colorful than females. But not always, as is the case with convicts! Male convict cichlids typically have brighter coloration overall than what we see with females, including various shades or vertical striping patterns.

When a female matures and prepares for breeding, the belly will turn a pale to bright orange. Dorsal fins are also dotted with speckles that match this hue as well.

Body shape and size

Male cichlids are comparatively larger than females, with the average length being 6 inches, and the females grow to a size of 4 inches in the aquarium.

This is not as evident as is the case with some tropical fish, but males develop a steeper forehead with a vestigial fatty lump. Like most male CA Cichlids, the males of this species also grow longer, pointed anal and back fins as they age. 

Fin length

In convict cichlids, males have sharp, pointed dorsal fins that extend past their tail fins, while females have shorter, fan-shaped fins that stop short of the tail fin. 

However, this may not be the most reliable way of telling the differences between the sexes in these fish. Hobbyists have noted that some females have extra-long fins and that some males may sport rounded, shorter fins.

Different Gender Papillae

Males and female convict cichlids can be told apart by their genital papillae. These are tiny tubes arising from the urogenital openings in some fishes. Their purpose is to expel sperm or eggs. 

The gender papillae on a female convict cichlid is flat to facilitate eggs. The male’s gender papillae protrude slightly to assist with egg fertilization.

Different Egg Tube and Vent 

I would personally find that the males have an egg tube that points straight and downward, but the females face backward, and their vents are slightly larger than the anus to facilitate laying eggs. 

Males are significantly more aggressive

Closely monitor the behavior of your fish in the tank. Male convict cichlids tend to dart around in the tank, chasing almost any other fish in their territory.

The convict cichlids are known for their aggression and are not good for the community tank unless you have other robust similar sizes Central American Cichlids in a very large aquarium.

How to Tell if a Black Convict Cichlid is Male or Female?

Determining the gender of a black convict cichlid is tricky because the orange belly of the female may not be as obvious. Inspect the belly of the fish carefully for a bit of glowing orange. 

The female’s fins will also be shorter and rounder. If they were bred in the same batch and are the same age, then the male will be larger than the female.

How to Tell if a Pink Convict Cichlid is Male or Female?

The pink female convict cichlid will be smaller than a male and also have shorter rounder fins. It will also have an orange glow on its belly that might be hard to detect against the hue.

How to Tell if a White Convict Cichlid is Male or Female?

It is easiest to tell the difference between a male and a female with the white convict Cichlids because the orange belly of the fish really stands out against the white color. Like most, the male is bigger and has longer fins than the female.

Can Convict Cichlids Change Gender?

Male Convict Cichlid

No, convict cichlids do not change gender. However, the female convict cichlids are great actors. The next female in line will act as a male and be able to fertilize the eggs when a dominant female isn’t paired off.

It’s common for two females to lay eggs together in Central American fish species. They can change their coloration to prevent attacks from other fish species and fool each other!

Final Thoughts

The key to sexing convict cichlids is always to use your keen powers of observation to inspect the belly of the fish. Almost always, unless the fish is such a deep black that it really is not visible, you will be able to detect the orange basal side of the female. Behavior can be telling, as the males are more aggressive. In general, but not always, the male is slightly bigger than the female convict cichlid.

How Long Do Cichlids Live? (SA & CA)

how long do cichlids live

Cichlids are the most popular and beautiful freshwater tropical fishes ever to grace an aquarium, they are the fascinating fish of your dreams. They have been found to be highly intelligent, very interesting personalities with evolved parental skills, making them a very attractive choice. 

If you’re looking to add cichlids to an aquarium, there are a couple of things to know. Your first question should be, “how long do cichlids live?”

Here’s all you need to know about their life span. 

How Long Do African Cichlids Live in Captivity?

Though we know of 1,600 species of cichlids in the wild, mainly in Africa and South America, there are still hundreds more that have yet to be discovered. 

Provided the ideal water condition, proper care, balanced diet, and big tank, most of the African Cichlids that you’ll find in personal aquariums can live for around 8 years on average in captivity. 

As mentioned above, African cichlid is a pretty broad term and contains hundreds of types. The maximum lifespan will vary from species to species. As you might know, some genus, such as Oscars or Flower Horns, can live up to 15 years in captivity.

Are African Cichlids Hard to Keep Alive in Captivity?

African cichlids are known as tough and aggressive fish. Sometimes, African Cichlids, or to be more specific, species from Mbuna and Malawi cichlids, get a bad reputation for being difficult to keep alive in captivity because of their compatibility and behavior. 

Some of them are quite cute and peaceful when young. The hard part is you never know if it is a monster that kills off other fish when they get older, especially you don’t have fish to disperse its aggression. 

African Cichlids ARE not beginner-level fish. 

Lifespan of Most Popular African Cichlids

The Cichlidae family is so vast, some species live longer than others. Below, we have listed the lifespan of the well-known species from the enormous African Great Lakes.

Common NameScientific NameLifespan (with proper care)
Acei CichlidPseudotropheus Acei8 years
Auratus CichlidMelanochromis auratus5 years
Blue Peacock CichlidAulonocara nyassae10-12 years
Bumblebee CichlidPseudotropheus crabro10 years
Cobalt Blue Zebra CichlidMetriaclima callainos 10 years
Demasoni cichlidPseudotropheus demasoni10 years
Electric Blue HapSciaenochromis fryeri7 – 10 years
Electric Yellow CichlidLabidochromis caeruleus 6 – 10 years
Kenyi CichlidMaylandia lombardoi10 years
Livingstoni CichlidNimbochromis livingstonii10 years
Maingano CichlidMelanochromis cyaneorhabdos9 years
Red Empress Cichlid Protomelas taeniolatus 7 – 10 years
Sunshine Peacock CichlidAulonocara Stuartgranti6 years
Venustus CichlidNimbochromis venustus10 years
Yellowfin Borleyi CichlidCopadichromis borleyi 7 – 10 years

How Long Can Cichlids Go Without Food (Eating)?

While most beginners assume that tropical fish are constantly hungry and need to be fed every day, this is not always the case.

Fishermen in South American waters have a saying, “Fish will bite when they want,” which means that sometimes fish can go for days without biting anything at all.

In reality, most tropical fish naturally can go for several days without eating. A large, healthy and mature cichlid can easily go at least 7 days without food, while baby cichlids will need to be fed after a day or two. 

If you’re going to be on vacation for 2-4 days, the best way to make sure your Cichlid Babies are fed is by getting someone to feed them with following your instructions strictly. 

How Long Can Cichlids Live Without A Heater?

One of the fun and challenging aspects of keeping African Cichlids is learning how to set up a proper environment your fish can thrive. The water temperature is an important thing for a successful African cichlid tank.  

Most Cichlid species originate from giant lakes. The ideal water temperatures fall in the balmy range of 76°F – 82°. 

Do cichlids need a heater? Yes, like most tropical fish, you will need a heater in your cichlid tank to maintain a consistent temperature even when your house cools off at night. 

Expect some cold-water species, mainly from the genus Gymnogeophagus and Australoheros, that can tolerate a fairly lengthy amount of time in cold water (as low as 50 degrees). Cichlids should be capable of surviving for 3-6 days without a heater. 

Almost all Central American cichlids can handle temperatures about 70 degrees or lower if the temperature drops gradually. Many aquarists prefer to house them in unheated tanks. In comparison, South Americans species have a narrower temperature band and can’t withstand low water temperatures except for cichlids from Argentinian and Uruguayan. 

How Long Can Cichlids Live Without an Air Pump?

It is easy to see why new Cichlids keepers often install an air pump inside the tank- the powerful Air Pump can add oxygen to the water. Well, this is one of the most common misconceptions about fish keeping. 

The truth is just the opposite. It will add a little oxygen, and you don’t need an air pump in the cichlid tanks as long as your tank is well-cycled. For the most part, using an air pump to create bubbles or waves is just for visual effect, depends on personal preference. A strong filter is enough to provide all the oxygen the Cichlids require.

Cichlids are gill-breathing fish, and they get oxygen directly from the water. When you notice the fish gasping at the surface or hang out back by the filter output, test your water condition first, especially the levels of ammonia and nitrites. One of the reasons may be the aquarium water temperature if you live in a cold area. 

So, how long can cichlids live without an air pump? It is not nearly as much of a concern as long as your filter is working. An air pump can be a tank saver if something goes wrong, such as the filter stops working randomly or the beneficial bacteria start to die for no reason (They can only survive for a couple of hours without oxygen). 

How Long Do Cichlids Live Without a Filter? 

Unlike an air pump, a decent filter plays a key role in your cichlid tank. Of course, you probably know that the most important duty of a filter is removing waste debris such as uneaten fish food and waste from your water. Moreover, like goldfish and guppies, cichlids are considered to be one of the most waste-producing fish.  

Getting the waste out of there is vital. There are two other reasons that you’re going to need a robust filter in your cichlid tank. First, your filter is the central place where the beneficial bacteria thrive. Second, the filter will adequately aerate your tank. They add oxygen by moving the bottom water to the top surface so it can increase its oxygen concentration. Without oxygen, both fish and microbes would perish.

How long do cichlid live without a filter? It depends on certain conditions, like how stocked your tank is, the type of fish, preparation, etc. According to my personal experience, cichlids can survive without a filter for 3 days by dropping the water temperature, manually removing ammonia and providing oxygenation, as well as continuous water tests and changes. 

Final Words

A healthy cichlid is active and will come with loads of personality. Good care, proper tank mates, and a balanced diet can increase their lifespan. Do right by them, and they can provide years of enjoyment.

Cichlids have a diverse habitat, and so they require different care. Check out the rest of this site for all you need to know about caring for these beautiful fish in your home!

Happy fish keeping!

10 Best Jack Dempsey Tank Mates (Cichlids & Schooling Fish)

Jack Dempsey Tank Mates

If you’re looking for a pet fish that fit your definition of “dainty,” then get yourself a Jack Dempsey, especially the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey. Native to lakes and rivers in Central America, such as Mexico, Belize, Guatemala. They are one of the big and most fierce cichlids in the aquarium with their bright colors and great personalities. 

Like most cichlids, Jack Dempsey is known for its aggressive nature but can get along with other fish in a well-populated tank. Fishkeepers who want to have a peaceful tank for Jack Dempseys must consider their tank mates very carefully. So, what are the best Jack Dempsey Tank Mates?

Read on to find out! 

What Should You Consider When Looking for Tank Mates for Jack Dempsey?

Tank size and tankmates can’t be exclusive from one another, which is the key that can help determine fish compatibility. We always recommend that you don’t go with the general “one inch to one gallon” rule for most territorial fish. 

In fact, the Jack Dempseys will generally grow up to 10 inches in length. The minimum aquarium size recommended for one adult Jack Dempsey is at least 55-gallons. For a pair of adult Jack Dempseys, a 75g tank is minimum, though I wouldn’t really recommend it. 

Personally, 55-gallons is not even worth considering in my eyes. I’ve seen a medium-sized pair of JDs defend their territory of 250 gallons against other cichlids in the murky warm waters in Mexican.

How Big of Your Jack Dempsey

Is your little guy still a juvenile? Then you should be aware of choosing tank mates roughly the same size as your Jack Dempseys in your aquarium. If he’s more than 4″ inches, you will need to add several other school fish because he’ll zero in on any lone fish you introduce, so it will be easy for him to take over his territory. Most freshwater fish are by nature opportunistic when it comes to food, and even the most peace-loving fish will attempt to eat other fishes if they think that they can. 


We know that Jack Dempseys are fall in the middle of the aggression scale so that you would want newcomers can take care of themselves but not be more aggressive, such as Jaguar cichlids or red devils. If you’re going to add another cichlid, be sure to rearrange your rocks and hiding places so territories can be reestablished. 

The South or Central American cichlids are known for being aggressive when they’re trying to reproduce.

Avoid Having More than One Male 

Male fish are notorious for being territorial and aggressive, especially when it comes to mating. This is most common in cichlids but can happen with other species as well. You should be careful not to have more than one male of the same or closely related species living together if there are females nearby because they might fight each other over territory- a very dangerous situation!

I would recommend against putting in more than one, even a female Jack Dempsey! A pair of JDs would team up on the same size tank mate and kill it when they are trying to pair up and breed. 


In the end, it’s important to remember that no two fish are alike. There are always exceptions to every rule, and sometimes they behave in uncharacteristic ways even when all of the factors mentioned above come into play. The best approach is being prepared for anything – so be sure you’re always ready with a spare tank! 

Big cichlids have much more personality as well!

Now that I just gave you a brief rundown on how to choose the best tank mates for your Jack Dempseys, the next step would be looking into some popular choices:

Jack Dempsey Tank Mates for a 55 gallon or 75 gallon Tank

With a 55-gallon or 75-gallon tank, I would definitely avoid any South American cichlids because they simply can’t compete against a moderately sized Jack Dempsey. If you don’t plan to upgrade the tank size, it is always suggested not to add more same-sized fish in the tank, and you would be better off with the barbs or tetras. 

In a 75 gallon or smaller tank, any fish big enough to fit in a Jack Dempsey’s mouth will be eaten because there is not enough space to escape.

Here are our favorite species for you to consider.

Denison Barbs

Denison Barbs and Jack Dempsey Fish
Photo: jonasflanken

If you’re looking to add some color and activity dither fish into your JD’s aquarium, then the Denison Barbs are just what you need. Native to fast-moving rivers and streams in Southern India, these fish have been highly sought after by the fishkeepers for years now.

A long and torpedo-shaped body with a base color of silver makes it easy to see why many hobbyists call this fish a Red Lined Torpedo Barb or the Rose Line Shark. It’s set off by a black line that runs from the snout to tail along its entire length. The dorsal fin also boasts red edges, while the caudal fin comes with striking stripes in bright yellow and black!

Unlike other barbs, The Denison Barb is a longer fish that can reach 6 inches when fully grown. They are generally schooling fish as well as jumpers. Therefore they should be kept in groups of 6 in your Jack Dempsey aquarium with a tight-fitting lid.  

Scientific Name:Sahyadria denisonii
Origin:Southern India
Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Black, Red, White
Temperature:60-77° F
Minimum tank size:50 gallons



The Plecostomus also called “plecos’, is a great candidate for the Jack Dempseys community aquarium. Native to South America, the Plecostomus is a peaceful bottom-feeder that prefers to rest on the floor of its tank. Their natural abilities as cleaners make them a perfect addition to any aquarium!

The pleco has been known for its distinctive features, like armored plates on their bodies and sucker-shaped mouths. It will grow to a size of 12 inches, which means that Jack Dempsey will definitely not be able to take on this little guy!  

In fact, there are more than 500 varieties of plecos, so no matter the size of your aquarium or what type of fish you want to keep, there is one that’s right for you.

Scientific Name:Hypostomus plecostomus
Origin:South America
Care Level:Easy
Temperature:72-86° F
Minimum tank size:75 gallons

Jack Dempsey Tank Mates for 125 Gallons & Over Tank

A general rule of thumb for fish keeping is the more space that fish have, the happier and healthier they will be. Keeping Jack Dempseys in a tank of at least 125 gallons will make them very happy. Furthermore, you have more tank mates fit the bill. 

Firemouth Cichlid

Can Firemouth Cichlid live with Jack Dempsey?

Firemouth cichlids are equally colorful that will bring a splash of color to any tank. The native habitat of these beautiful cichlids extends from Central America. 

Most Firemouth Cichlids are coming in an attractive turquoise-blue body and a vibrant orange-red coloration that can be seen on the edges of their scales, plus remarkable turquoise spots on the fins, making it stand out in an aquarium.  

A Firemouth Cichlid is a fast-growing fish with an average size of around 6 inches for males and 5 inches for females, which will not be caught and fit into your JD’s mouth. 

Scientific Name:Thorichthys meeki
Origin:Central America
Care Level:Moderate
Color Form:Blue, Red
Temperature:70-75° F
Minimum tank size:30 gallons

Convict Cichlid

Can Convict Cichlid live with Jack Dempsey?

The Convict Cichlid, also called Zebra Cichlid, are named for their black stripes along its grayish body. Like Firemouth Cichlid, Convict Cichlid also comes from Central America.

The Convict Cichlid is a remarkable fish with many fascinating attributes. Female convict cichlids have orange scales on their lower body and dorsal fins, while males are larger, less colorful, and possess longer fins. The most captivating trait of this species lies in the vertical black bars that run along its length to create an incredible display for hunters looking for prey!

Convict Cichlids have a natural tendency to be aggressive, but they can be housed with your Jack Dempsey because the average convict cichlid size is around 6 inches when fully grown. 

Scientific Name:Archocentrus nigrofasciatus
Origin:Central America
Care Level:Moderate
Color Form:Black
Temperature:68-73° F
KH: 9-20
Minimum tank size:30 gallons

Gold Severum

Can Gold Severum live with Jack Dempsey?
Photo: Matt Frahm

The Gold Severum is a very popular and colorful cichlid kept by hobbyists for decades, which is a color variation of the wild form Green Severum, also known as Banded Cichlid. They are native to South America, including its tributaries and lakes with trees & vegetation under water. 

The Golden Severum is so-named for its brilliant and beautiful gold tint. It has a yellow color over its entire body, except for its dorsal fin. The tail fins are usually whiter, with some hints of yellow specks mixed in. The Green Severums have a tendency to get really dark. 

The Gold Severum has a trusting nature and will often accept food directly from their owner’s hand. It’s a fairly large fish that can grow up to 8 inches in length, but it’s generally pretty mellow and will usually take on the submissive role with more dominant fishes.

Scientific Name:Heros severus
Origin:South America
Care Level:Moderate
Color Form:Tan, Yellow
Temperature:73-77° F
Minimum tank size:55 gallons

Green Terror

Can Green Terror live with Jack Dempsey?
Photo: lkmathew

The Green Terror Cichlid is an excellent option for any experienced aquarist with large tanks. Originally from Peru and Ecuador in South America, these stunning fish are an excellent addition that can bring life and energy to your tank.

The incredible colors and markings make this fish an eye-catching sight. 

The brighter blue markings create a beautiful contrast with the dark, metal-green color all over their face and body. Bright orange stripes can be seen on a lot of specimens as well. 

Since a male Green terror cichlid can grow up to 8 inches, all potential tank mates should be similar. Luckily, the Green Terrors and Jack Dempseys are both pretty evenly matched in terms of temperament and size, and they have fantastic colors that will please anyone! Enjoy!

Scientific Name:Andinoacara rivulatus
Origin:South America
Care Level:Moderate
Color Form:Blue, Green, White
Temperature:72-80° F
Minimum tank size:50 gallons


Can Oscars live with Jack Dempsey?

Native to the slow-moving freshwater rivers and creeks of South America, the Oscar fish has been in captivity since its discovery. These little guys come in lots of colors and make great aquarium pets! 

The common Oscar fish has a dark brown body with yellow, gray, or pale green stripes. The Tiger variety is one of the most attractive and sought-after tank-bred varieties. The most striking feature differentiating wild from domesticated specimens is coloration: while the latter boasts a stunning mix of oranges and red on the dark brown-black body. 

Most Oscar varieties grow to be large, reaching up to 12 to 14 inches. Be very careful when keeping Oscars and Jack Dempseys. Oscars tend to grow very quickly in their lifetime. Jack Dempseys, on the other hand, have a slow growth rate. They may work better only you choose an oscar that is a bit smaller than the Jack Dempsey. 

Scientific Name:Astronotus ocellatus
Origin:South America
Care Level:Moderate
Color Form:Orange, Red
Temperature:72-77° F
Minimum tank size:75 gallons

Salvini Cichlid

Can Salvini Cichlid live with Jack Dempsey?
Photo: cichlid.bros

The Salvini cichlid is one of spark and beautiful mid-sized cichlids, also known as the Yellow Belly Cichlid, found in the lakes and rivers of Southern Mexico and northern Central America. 

The body of this species is bright yellow with turquoise-blue dots scattered and two blotchy dark lines. The fins are long, shimmering in a turquoise hue that beautifully matches the bright red coloration of their tailfin. The head is striped with four horizontals lines running horizontally across the forehead.

Like most Central American cichlids, The Salvini Cichlid can reach around 6 inches in length and is territorial, intolerant and aggressive. Be careful that Salvini cichlids are much more aggressive and agile than Jack Dempseys than people give them credit for when they are in breeding mode. The success of keeping Salvini cichlid with a Jack Dempsey is providing each cichlid two hiding spots in 300 gallons or larger, a group of preferably all females. 

Pro tip: Cichlids should be introduced to a tank all at once so that they can establish their territory and avoid aggression, all being equal.
Scientific Name:Nandopsis salvini
Origin:Central America
Care Level:Moderate
Color Form:Yellow
Temperature:72-79° F
Minimum tank size:55 gallons

Giant Danios

The Giant Danio fish is an excellent addition to any large freshwater tank, and it can be especially beneficial if you’re already raising larger fish such as cichlids. It makes the perfect companion. 

Originates from highly oxygenated fast-running streams in India, also found in Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Thailand. The fish requires a tight-fitting lid or significantly lowered water line to prevent jumping out of the aquarium.

The Giant Danio is a true giant among danios. It can grow to be up to 4 inches in length and should always be kept with at least six other individuals of its social species, preferably more! The Giant Danio is a fast, active swimmer who likes to hang out near the top of aquariums, make excellent additions to your JD’s tank. 

Scientific Name:Danio aequipinnatus
Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Blue, Yellow
Temperature:72-75° F
Minimum tank size:30 gallons

Silver Dollars

Silver Dollars

The Silver Dollar Fish is one of the most popular fish in North America, due to its cute size and unique color. It’s easy to see why this shimmering silver dollar gave them their name! If you want to add some fish variety to your aquarium, Silver Dollar Fish is a perfect choice. These beautiful and energetic creatures are sure not to disappoint!

As the name suggests, originates from the rivers in South America have a tall and flat shiny body, but it becomes more translucent on its fins. 

With a maximum size of 6″, they are perfect for your larger Jack Dempsey’s community tank. Silver Dollars are a lively schooling fish by nature that do much better in a group of three or more. 

Scientific Name:Metynnis argenteus
Origin:South America
Care Level:Easy
Color Form:White
Temperature:72-77° F
Minimum tank size:30 gallons

Bottom Line

As you can see, there are plenty of beautiful cichlids and peaceful schooling fish to choose from when it comes to picking the best tank mates for Jack Dempseys. 

Due to the aggressive nature of Jack Dempsey, if you want to play safe. Keep them in a solo-species tank is always suggested. 

For your best chance to get a compatible and successful pairing, you usually need to start with about 6 juveniles. Let them grow up together in the same aquarium tank, where they will have time to choose their mate as adults.

I hope you got a good amount of value out of this guide. As always, if there is anything on your mind or any advice to share with us, please post it in the comments below.

Good luck with your Jack Dempsey tank!