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Written by: Dan Colodney

The Cichlids of Lake Nicaragua - Part 2

Dan, the original author of this series was very ill with cancer and passed on June 24th 2007. Dan would have wanted his work completed but I an not an expert like Dan. "Q" a forum member and I have put together some informational charts for the fish in part one of article. Most of the information was gleaned from reputable websites (i.e., fish base) and placed in this form. Click on any fish thumbnail to zoom out the fish picture. Rest in peace

Badman

 

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Dan doing one of the things he loved most. Please click here to read and see more photos from his last adventure.


Dan doing one of the things he loved most. Please click here to read and see more photos from his last adventure.


 

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Lake Nicaragua
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map



 

 

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This is a fine example of a juvenile of the albino form. Please click here to view additional photos from the gallery.

The Midas Cichlid has a very aggressive personality, so choose its tank mates carefully. A Midas Cichlid should only be housed with other fish that can defend themselves.

An open spawner, the Midas Cichlid is not particular about its spawning substrate. Spawning will occur on horizontal, slanted, or vertical hard surfaces, with as many as 1,000 eggs being dropped at a time. The Midas Cichlid forms pairs, making a nuclear family, with both parents caring for the fry. The eggs hatch after 3 days and are placed in pits for protection. In an additional 5 days the young are free-swimming and eat a mucous secretion produced from the skin of the parents.

The Midas Cichlid is an omnivore. It prefers a balanced diet of foods such as Cichlid pellets, ocean plankton, quality flake food, and occasional brine shrimp or bloodworms. Ideal tank mates include similar sized: Loaches, other South American Cichlids, Plecos, Scavenger Catfish, Sharks and similar sized, miscellaneous fish.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Amphilophus citrinellum
Common Name: Midas Cichlid
Size: 12 in (30 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Omnivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,72-77F (22-25C), KH: 3-21, GH: 3-18, pH: 7.0-8.0
Minimum tank size: 75 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Not suitable because of its aggressiveness.

 


 

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Images from Yahoo Image Search, Please click here to view the complete results of the image search.

A cichlid very similar in body shape to the Firemouth Cichlid. The steep forehead gives the fish an oval-shape, not including the caudal fin or the penuncle. The back is gray with seven to nine short bars, that extend from the top of the back to the lower part of the back. The first bar extends from the eye to the forehead while the last ends near the end of the base of the dorsal fin. The mid-section of the body is marked with four to five splotches that form a broken marking that extends from the gill cover to the middle of the fish. Just above, behind, and below this marking is an iridescent green area. This green color quickly becomes golden and then orange and finally leads to a bright red belly. The lower part of the head is bright yellow to gold. The iris of the eye is bright red. The fins have turquoise spots and stripes, while the dorsal fin includes a red edge.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Amphilophus longimanus
Common Name: Red breast cichlid, Long fin Cichlid
Size: 8 in (20 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Herbivore, insectivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,77-84F (25-29C), dH 2-15 (5), pH 6.7-7.7 (7.0)
Minimum tank size: 55 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Not suitable because of its aggressiveness.
Suitability: Good, will breed anywhere

 



 

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Images from Yahoo Image Search, Please click here to view the complete results of the source page.

Amphilophus rostratum (or rostratus) is one of the few Central American cichlids suitable for the community tank. By and large they exhibit quiet, peaceful behavior, showing little or no aggression to other species provided all have adequate space. Even intraspecies aggression, when it occurs, is relatively tame by cichlid standards and rarely results in injury. Nevertheless, it is probably best for all concerned that they not be housed with others of their species.

An open spawner producing many small eggs, Amphilophus rostratum forms a nuclear family group with both parents caring for fry. Secondary sex characteristics of the species are subtle, with the male being generally somewhat larger and having brighter dots on his fins.

Amphilophus rostratum is an herbivore and insectivore and, like many neo-tropical cichlids, will sift the substrate extensively for anything edible. For this reason, smooth-edged gravel or sand is a must, with plenty of open area for access. Once acclimated in the aquarium, Amphilophus rostratum will readily accept most commercial cichlid foods. Worms and meat, particularly beef heart, are a favorite and beneficial dietary supplement.

The aquarium should afford a large surface area, and offer a few caves or other hiding places, as Amphilophus rostratum is often quick to flee when alarmed. Knowing that he has a safe retreat will keep stress levels to a minimum.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Amphilophus rostratum
Common Name: None
Size: 8 in (20 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Herbivore, insectivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,72-77F (22-25C), KH: 3-21, GH: 3-18, pH: 7.0-8.0
Minimum tank size: 55 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: More suitable than others, Read this article.
Suitability: See above article

 


 

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This is another Albino form. They seem to be very popular and common. Please click here to view additional photos from the gallery.

The Red Devil, Amphilophus labiatum, is a large and stunning cichlid with a pronounced nuchal hump, especially in the males, and protuberant lips, hence 'labiatum'. The pure species has become extremely rare in the hobby, the result of extensive hybridization by aquarists. However, even in the wild, this cichlid displays sympatric behavior with Amphilophus citrinellum, the Midas Cichlid. The two species are closely related, and are known to cross-breed in those lakes where both coexist, so hybridization occurs naturally, as well. Most specimens available today are tank-bred morphs displaying light-orange to deep orange-red splotches on a white to silver-yellow backdrop. Though a pure red form does exist, it is rarely caught, and even more rarely available.

As its name implies, the Red Devil has a well-deserved reputation for aggression and territoriality. They have been known to kill many smaller tankmates, and even some larger, particularly during spawning and nest guarding. Not a very suitable community fish, the Red Devil is best kept in a species tank. Other robust cichlids of greater size might mingle safely, but even then, plenty of hiding places should be provided.

In the wild, A. labiatum is omnivorous, eating small fish, snails, epiphytic organisms, and some plant matter. In captivity, they will accept most commercial aquarium foods voraciously, but this diet really should be supplemented with live foods and fresh greens such as spinach, peas, or lettuce.

In a well-maintained large tank, this cichlid is fairly easy to breed. Groups of six to ten individuals should be permitted to pair off naturally, as forced pairings often end disastrously. Introduction of a 'target fish' will frequently reinforce pair-bonding, but once the bond has been established, the target fish will need to be removed quickly. In nature, the Red Devil is a crevice and cave spawner. In the aquarium, their amber-colored eggs are most often found on vertical surfaces (including the glass), or on rocks on the tank floor. An average spawning yields 600-700 eggs, though as many as 7500 are possible. Once fertilized, the eggs are closely guarded by the female, while the male aggressively defends their territory, keeping all who approach at bay.

Hatching takes place in about three days, and the parents will quickly move the new fry to large, previously-dug pits. Within five to six days the fry will be swimming, and may be fed small live foods. They are often observed adhering to the parent's flanks, where they feed off of mucus secretions much as is seen with A. citrinellum. Red Devil parents are diligent caregivers in the first week to ten days after hatching, and should remain with the fry. Beyond that time, their caring dissipates quickly, and the fry should be moved.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Amphilophus labiatum
Common Name: Red Devil
Size: 11 in (25 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Herbivore, insectivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,75-79F (24-26C), 6-25 dH (12), KH: 3-21, GH: 3-18, pH: 6.0-8.0
Minimum tank size: 75 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Not suitable because of its aggressiveness.
Suitability: Good, cave spawners will breed anywhere

 


 

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A very beautiful cichlid, you can read Dan's Complete article here.

Though first described in 1877, Archocentrus centrarchus, the Flier Cichlid, didn't make it's appearance in the hobby till well over a century later, and is still a rare find in aquaria. In the wild, this cichlid is found in shallow or swampy areas of lakes and rivers and other stagnant bodies, where they seem to thrive. Both males and females exhibit a metallic green-yellow undercoloring, which can change dramatically to a distinct dark blue when breeding. This is often overlaid with speckling or striping of orange, red and yellow. Black splotches on many specimens will morph into bars when the individual becomes aggressive or is defending territory. Males are identifiable primarily by their larger body size and their longer dorsal and anal fins.

An omnivorous substrate sifter, A. centrarchus will readily accept commercial flake or pellet food, which should be supplemented with beef heart and live bloodworms or earthworms, as well as fresh greens. Though not difficult to keep, they are best housed as a single compatible pair in a species tank, or as a single individual in a community tank. Never place more than one pair in the same tank, as conspecific aggression is the norm for this cichlid. Their tank should be large enough to afford them plenty of open swimming area as well as some rocky caves. Hardy plants may survive with them, but smaller fish most definitely will not.

Breeding is similar to the Convict Cichlid, with the female standing close guard over the eggs while the male patrols for intruding predators. Aggression with this species peaks during spawning, when the pair will produce as many as 1,000 beige, ovoid eggs. As with many cichlasomines, it's not uncommon for a pair to eat their first few clutches, but given time, they will ultimately develop more nurturing parenting skills. Once the fry are free-swimming, about four days after hatching, they can easily consume newly-hatched brine shrimp and finely powdered prepared foods.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Archocentrus centrarchus
Common Name: Flier cichlid
Size: 6 in (15 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Herbivore, insectivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical, 78-96°F (24-26C), GH: 1-4, KH: 2-4, pH: 6.5-7.2
Minimum tank size: 55 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: A member of an established and compatible pair in a species tank, or as a single individual in a community tank
Suitability: Good, cave spawners will breed anywhere

 


 

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Not a very good picture if you have a better one please let me know.

The Blue-eye Cichlid is the Atlantic sibling species of the Convict Cichlid, and is quite similar in many respects, both physical and behavioral. It is also another of the very few Central American cichlids suitable for the community tank. Generally placid in temperament, Archocentrus spilurus will do well with all but very tiny fish or those with long, extravagant fins. Males may exhibit aggression toward other males, but still may be housed together so long as sufficient space with plenty of caves and hideaways is available. In the wild, A. spilurus inhabits the shallow and slow-moving waters of lakes and rivers. In the aquarium, very low current with plenty of plants and rocky territories will help the Blue-eye Cichlid to thrive.

This fish is not a fussy eater. Naturally omnivorous, they will accept commercial flake and pellet foods readily. Frozen bloodworm and beef heart are eagerly consumed, and live blackworms will invite a piranha-like feeding frenzy.

A. spilurus is something of a chameleon. Generally olive-green to yellow-brown in color with varying degrees of vertical black striping on their sides, a golden-yellow extends from their mouth down through their belly, and dorsal fin and tail appear reddish with blue spangling. Of the two, the female tends to display less intense coloration, though her vertical stripes are generally more pronounced. All of this is subject to change, however, when the Blue-eye Cichlid is ready to breed. Ventral fins, throat and belly of both sexes become jet-black, and the vertical striping morphs into a horizontal bar pattern.

Cave and crevice spawners, an average A. spilurus clutch contains about 200 ovoid eggs, each about 2mm in length, which the female guards intently. Newly-hatched fry will feed off their egg sacs until depleted, at which point they may be fed powdered flake. Fry should be left with parents until they are free-swimming, generally about seven days after hatching, at which point they are best separated. As with many other cichlids, the nurturing instinct of the parents fades quickly when their offspring begin to behave like dinner

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Archocentrus spilurus (Cryptoheros) spilurum
Common Name: Blue-eye cichlid
Size: 6 in (15 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Insectivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,75-79F (24-26C), 4-9 dH, pH: 6.5-8.0
Minimum tank size: 75 gallon, for communities smaller in a species tank.
Care: Easy
Communities: Peaceful and should be kept with similar tankmates.
Suitability: Good, cave spawners will breed anywhere

 


 

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A very beautiful Female convict. Please click here to view additional photos from the gallery.

The Convict Cichlid is sometimes called Zebra Cichlid, but should not be confused with Pseudotropheus zebra, the African Zebra Cichlid. The Convict Cichlid has a pattern of black stripes on a grayish background and a greenish tint on the fins. The female has orange scales on her lower body and dorsal fins, and the male is larger, less colorful, has a steeper forehead, and longer fins. As it ages, the male will acquire a fatty lump on the forehead. There is also an albino or 'pink' variety.

A stunning addition to any aquarium, the Convict Cichlid is not recommended for the community tank due to its aggressive tendencies. It requires a 29 gallon minimum tank, with a gravel bottom, rocks, and plenty of hiding places among the rocks or some inverted pots. Floating plants are recommended as a form of cover. Because of its aggressive nature, the Convict Cichlid should only be housed with other more aggressive fish of the same size or larger.

The Convict Cichlid is a cave-breeder and will accept a range of water conditions. Increase the water temperature between 75-79F. Some females will spawn between a cave and an open area. The Convict Cichlid readily pairs and forms a patriarch/matriarch family, and both the male and female will care for the young. The fry will respond to signals from both the male and the female. In nature the Convict Cichlid is Insectivorous but in the home aquarium will eat most prepared and frozen foods, including freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and ocean plankton, as well as flake food and Cichlid pellets. Ideal tank mates include similar sized: Loaches, other South American Cichlids, Plecos, Scavenger Catfish and similar sized, miscellaneous fish.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Archocentrus (Cichlasoma, Cryptoheros) nigrofasciatus
Common Name: Convict Cichlid
Size: 6 in (15 cm) usually smaller
Lifespan: 5+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Insectivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,68-79F (20-26C), 9-20 dH (12), pH: 7.0-8.0
Minimum tank size: 29 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Suitable with same size companions, aggressive during breeding.
Suitability: Good, one of the Easiest fish to spawn

 

 

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I wish these were more common, very nice indeed. Please click here to view additional photos from the gallery.

The Rainbow Cichlid is capable of altering colors according to its moods. The background color is a lemon yellow to golden color, with a horizontal black bar running from just behind the eyes to the base of the caudal fin. When showing its most brilliant coloration, usually during breeding, the scales may have alternating rows of blue on the latter half of the body and the edges of the anal, pectoral, and dorsal fins, and may also have a brilliant blue tint. The Rainbow Cichlid, Herotilapia multispinosa genus is monotypic, meaning, it is the only species in this genus.

The Rainbow Cichlid requires a minimum tank of 50 gallons with a fine gravel bottom, and rocks and roots for hiding. Hardy, well-rooted plants are recommended, as well as upturned pots and shards for additional hiding places. Rainbow Cichlids do not usually burrow, so most plantscapes should stay in place. It is a peaceful fish that is territorial and rarely aggressive, except during spawning. It can easily be kept with other medium-sized cichlids such as Convicts and Firemouths.

It is difficult to differentiate between the male and female Rainbow Cichlid. The male tends to be larger and longer with pointed anal and dorsal fins. The female has a short ovipositor. They will form lasting pairs and make a nuclear family. The fry are usually well cared for, but the parents may eat some of them. Rainbow Cichlids are open breeders and the female will drop from 600-1,000 eggs on rocks and roots. The female will circulate water over the eggs by fanning them with her fins, carefully guarding them in pits.

In nature the Rainbow Cichlid is an Herbivore but in the home aquarium they will eat most prepared and frozen foods, including freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and ocean plankton, as well as flake food and Cichlid pellets. Ideal tank mates include similar sized: Other South American Cichlids, Plecos, Scavenger Catfish and similar sized, miscellaneous fish.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Herotilapia multispinosa
Common Name: Rainbow cichlid
Size: 6 in (15 cm) usually smaller
Lifespan: 5+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Herbivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,68-79F (20-26C), 9-20 dH (12), pH: 7.0-8.0
Minimum tank size: 50 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: A fairly peaceful cichlid. Suitable with companions that are the same size and temperament
Suitability: Good

 


 

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Photo from Jeff Rapps  Tangled Up in Cichlids A great place to find the rarer Cichlids.

Found in still and slow-moving waters of lakes in both Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Hypsophrys 'Corpora' nicaraguensis is arguably one of the most beautiful of the Central American cichlids. Though juveniles exhibit a rather drab gray-to-brown appearance, the colors of the mature Nicaragua Cichlid are nothing less than spectacular. A brilliant yellow-gold body is accented by bright-blue to emerald coloration around the head and some purple appearing around and beneath the pectoral fins. Both dorsal and anal fins are typically edged in blue. Unusual for cichlids, the female is easily the more brightly colored of the two, and when mature, always significantly smaller, so sexing is fairly straightforward.

An omnivorous species, H. nicaraguensis is not difficult to feed in the aquarium. They'll accept flakes and pellets, and live brine shrimp or bloodworms are a favorite. When spawning, it's a good idea to provide them with some softened, blanched greens, particularly if they're in a planted tank, as their appetites seem to tend toward soft-leaved plants at this time.

True to its species, the Nicaragua Cichlid is a territorial fish, but is rather laid-back and peaceful for its size. In a community tank, they may be safely kept with other, smaller cichlids of similar temperament, but should never be housed with more aggressive species. Unlike many other cichlids, a single male and female may be kept together, though they may never pair off and spawn. A compulsive excavator, H. nicaraguensis will need plenty of smooth-edged sand or small gravel to dig in, and any decorations should be securely grounded. Plants may be safe, so long as they are hardy and firmly rooted.

The greatest difficulty in breeding the Nicaragua Cichlid lies in finding a compatible pair, as they are notoriously picky and selective. Cave spawners, they will usually excavate their own cave in the substrate by digging a pit beneath a rock, where they will deposit a clutch of a few-hundred eggs. H. nicaraguensis is the only South or Central American cichlid whose eggs are non-adhesive -- they simply lie on the substrate. Both parents guard the eggs diligently, and if they sense danger, they will take them into their mouths and move them to a safer location.

Hatching takes place in three days, and it is not uncommon for only 20% to 50% of the eggs to hatch. Within four to five days, the fry will be free-swimming and may be left with the parents, provided there are no other predators in the tank.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Hypsophrys 'Copora' nicaraguensis
Common Name: Nicaragua Cichlid
Size: 8 in (20 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Herbivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,73-81F (23-27C), 4-20 dH (12), KH: 3-21, GH: 3-18, pH: 6.7-8.0
Minimum tank size: 75 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Peaceful with same size companions, aggressive during breeding.
Suitability: Good, cave spawners will breed anywhere

 


 

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Not a very good picture if you have a better one please let me know.

Neetroplus nematopus lives among rocks and sunken trees in the lakes and rivers of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It takes its common name from its striking breeding coloration -- a white band in the middle of a gray to blue-black flank -- very reminiscent of the African Tropheus duboisii, which is in fact significantly more expensive. Non-breeding color is almost the photo-negative of this, a dark-brown to black stripe on a bronze background, and the change itself can be quick and dramatic.

N. nematopus is a voracious eater. In the wild, these fish use well-developed dentition to scrape algae from rocks and wood, much like the African Tropheus and pseudotropheus. In the aquarium, however, it will take several days of not feeding before this behavior will be displayed. An omnivore, the Poor Man's Tropheus will accept nearly anything, including flake, pellet, live, frozen, and fresh greens.

Of all the Central American cichlids, N. nematopus is easily the least tolerant of nitrogen cycle fluctuations and water quality issues in general, probably because it prefers medium- to high-current environments where water is constantly being refreshed. As water parameters begin to deviate or deteriorate, N. nematopus' color will darken, respiration will quicken, and the gill filaments will rapidly inflame. Hence, regular partial water changes are imperative for this fish.

The Poor Man's Cichlid can be extremely aggressive. Though males are seldom larger than four inches, they are known to harass and even kill much larger fish, and have been observed driving the 16-inch C. nicaraguensis from their territory. That territory is generally regarded by N. nematopus as encompassing the entire bottom of any tank in which it is housed, and other bottom-dwellers -- even large loricariids and Synodontis species -- will ultimately be killed if no adequate escape is provided. Females, usually attaining a length of no more than three inches, can be even more aggressive than males when defending fry.

A cave and hole spawner, N. nematopus will gladly excavate their own site if no location they deem adequate is provided. They are vigorous and determined diggers, so all rock-work should rest securely on the bottom of the tank. Aggression seems to be a significant basis for the pair/breeding bond in this species, and the addition of a fast-moving target fish against whom both male and female can defend their territory is sometimes a necessary catalyst for spawning. Once the female has undergone the 'photo-reversal' color change described earlier, and has displayed that coloration for two to three days, it's safe to assume that spawning has occurred. Again, it can't be emphasized enough that both sexes collaborate in the defense of their spawning territory, and that defense is both ferocious and persistent.

Egg clutches for the Poor Man's Tropheus tend to be small, seldom numbering much more than 40-50 eggs, though the red-brown eggs themselves are relatively large at 2.25mm. They hatch within 24 hours and the fry, large by Central American cichlid standards, emerge from the spawning shelter about five days later. N. nematopus are diligent parents, regularly raising their fry to independence at 8-10 weeks, and have even been known to defent older fry who have already attained half their parent's size.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Neetroplus nematopus
Common Name: Poor man's tropheus
Size: 6 in (15 cm)
Lifespan: 5+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Herbivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,75-79F (24-26C), pH: 7.0-8.0
Minimum tank size: 55 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Not suitable because of its aggressiveness.
Suitability: Good, cave spawners will breed anywhere

 


 

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Typical cichlid care, don't mess with them!. Please click here to view additional photos from the gallery.

Parachromis dovii, the Wolf Cichlid, is an enormous and incredibly efficient predator. In Nicaragua, where it is known as the Rainbow Bass, it's considered a game fish and a fierce fighter. One of the largest wild-caught specimens measured nearly 43 inches, though in captivity they generally grow only to an average of 20 - 30 inches, with females being significantly smaller at around 15 inches. Typical of predators, their eyes are set well back on their head, facing forward. Their lean and slender bodies are nearly all muscle, designed for speed, and their jaws are among the most powerful of any cichlid species. As if any further advantage were necessary, the Wolf Cichlid is also one of the most intelligent of all cichlids. This combination of size, speed, dentition and intelligence render P. dovii deadly to most any other fish it is kept with, and it has clearly developed a taste for other cichlid species.

Undoubtedly not a good choice for the novice aquarist, the Wolf Cichlid needs a bare minimum of 200 gallons to itself as either a single specimen or breeding pair. Much more than a mere excavator, this large fish is truly a mover and a shaker. Even large and heavy tank decor must be stable and firmly secured, or disaster is likely to ensue. The heavier males also have a tendency to damage, and even break, filter intakes and heaters, so these items will need to be safely fenced off with either egg-crate or drilled plexiglass. Clearly, anyone hoping to keep P. dovii successfully will need to have some experience with large and aggressive cichlids.

A piscivore both by nature and design, captive Wolf Cichlids have been known to accept pellets, but these should never be considered a dietary staple. All that muscle requires massive amounts of protein to maintain, so live-bearers, goldfish, krill, and fish meat need to be provided regularly and generously.

The male P. dovii typically displays a greenish-tinted white background with a slight purple sheen, especially around the head. The smaller and less colorful female is a mustard yellow hue. Both sexes exhibit the black lateral splotches typical of mature guapote, as well as black body speckling tending more toward green around the face.

Surface spawners, the courting of Wolf Cichlids grows in apparent violence as they mature. Both sexes display head quivering, jaw locking, gill flaring, and lunging at one another without physical contact. A mature female may deposit anywhere from 500 to 3,000 eggs, which will hatch at about three days. The parents will then feed organic matter sifted from the substrate until the fry become free swimming around 4-7 days, at which point they may now be fed crushed flake, baby brine shrimp, cyclops, and daphnia.

A word of caution is in order here. Once the fry become free swimming, the male's aggression typically ratchets up to a level that can best be described as insane. Trespassing fingers, hands and forearms are as subject to viscious attack as any other interloper, and dividers will become an absolute must for performing any sort of tank maintenance.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Parachromis dovii
Common Name: Wolf Cichlid, Guapote
Size: 20 in (50 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Piscivore, though also eats crustaceans and insects in smaller numbers
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,75-79F (24-26C), 6-20 dH (12), KH: 3-21, GH: 3-18, pH: 6.0-8.0
Minimum tank size: 75 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Not suitable because of its aggressiveness.
Suitability: Good

 


 

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Photo from Jeff Rapps  Tangled Up in Cichlids A great place to find the rarer Cichlids.

Parachromis loisellei, occasionally referred to as Loiselle's Cichlid or the Yellow Guapote, can be found in lakes and rivers throughout Nicaragua's Pacific slope region, extending north into Honduras and as far south as Panama. It is a sibling species of the Atlantic slope P. friedrichsthalii, distinguishable by a pronounced blue-turquoise sheen above the lateral line, a somewhat taller-bodied shape, and a total absence of vertical banding. Though frequently observed in flowing waters of medium current, it definitely seems to prefer the slower-moving and still waters of swampy areas, where the substrate is soft and the bottom areas are choked with vegetation. Among the smaller of the guapote cichlids, P. loisellei reaches a mature adult size of only twelve inches, with the females being slightly smaller.

A carnivore by nature, Loiselle's Cichlid feeds upon insects and small fish in the wild. They will readily accept pellets as a dietary staple in the aquarium, but these should be generously supplemented with fish, shrimp, and other meaty foods. Vegetal-based foods may be offered occasionally as variety, and will usually be accepted.

Like all of the guapote, P. loisellei is aggressive. They are best kept singly in tanks no smaller than 55g, or as a breeding pair in a tank of at least 75g capacity. Both sexes display a distinctive yellow base coloration, the male's being generally brighter, with the previously noted blue-turquoise sheen above the lateral line, again being particularly noticeable on the males. Black lateral markings or splotches are a typical guapote feature, and males may display a vaguely reticulated pattern on their flanks and tails.

The Yellow Guapote is a substrate/surface spawner, preferring to deposit their eggs on flat rocks, which they will prepare meticulously. The species can be quite prolific, though breeding is often difficult due to a marked tendency on the part of the males to become overly aggressive. The female may need plenty of hiding places if the spawning process is to be successful.

Breeding pairs are best formed by allowing several specimens of both sexes to mature together. Pairing will then occur naturally, and the pairs should be removed to their own tank as they form. Forced pairing is seldom, if ever, successful.

The female will deposit a clutch that may include as many as 1,000 eggs, which are then guarded in typical cichlid fashion. The female hovers close, while the male patrols the entire territory which, except in the very largest aquariums, will likely be the entire tank. In 2-3 days, the eggs will hatch, and the fry may immediately be offered crushed flake and baby brine shrimp. Parents will care for the fry until they are free-swimming, at which point they may very well be already preparing to spawn again.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Parachromis loisellei
Common Name:  
Size: 10 in (25 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Piscivore, though also eats crustaceans and insects in smaller numbers
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,75-79F (24-26C), 6-25 dH (12), KH: 3-21, GH: 3-18, pH: 6.0-8.0
Minimum tank size: 75 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Not suitable because of its aggressiveness.
Suitability: Good

 


 

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If a name ever fit a fish this would be it. A lean mean eating machine. Please click here to view additional photos from the gallery.

The Managuense Cichlid, also known as the Guapote tigre and the Jaguar Cichlid, is a beautifully marked cichlid. Young Managuense Cichlids are dull silver/gold with spots running along their bodies. As they mature, they become duller. When sexually mature, the drab blotches become darker, eventually turning black with an irregular pattern like that of the jaguar cat. The background color is pearly with a light purple cast. The blotches are less extreme in females. The lower lip often extends up over the upper lip, sometimes revealing some of the front teeth.

As a juvenile, the Managuense Cichlid can be housed in a 50 gallon minimum aquarium. The adult requires an aquarium no smaller then 70 gallons. It requires plenty of open swimming room, as well as places to hide. The bottom of the tank should be coarse gravel, without plants, as the Managuense Cichlid is a burrower and will tear up plants.

Although this cichlid is a predator, it can be housed with other large cichlids, but sometimes, will not tolerate other cichlids that are similar in color. Any fish that will fit into its mouth should not be kept in the same aquarium with the Managuense Cichlid. The male is generally larger and has pointed dorsal and anal fins, as well as being more brightly colored. Breeding in an aquarium is often difficult, but Managuense Cichlids are excellent parents and form nuclear families. The female can spawn up to 5,000 yellow eggs.

 

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The Managuense Cichlid in nature is Piscivorous but in the aquarium will eat most prepared and frozen foods including freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and ocean plankton, as well as flake food and Cichlid pellets. Ideal tank mates include similar sized: Other South American Cichlids, Plecos, Scavenger Catfish and similar sized, miscellaneous fish.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Parachromis managuense
Common Name: Guapote tigre, Jaguar Cichlid
Size: 20 in (50 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Piscavore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,75-79F (24-26C), 5 - 18 dH (8), KH: 3-21, GH: 3-18, pH: 7.0 8.7
Minimum tank size: 75 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Not suitable because of its aggressiveness.
Suitability: Highly predaceous

 


 

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Photo from Jeff Rapps  Tangled Up in Cichlids A great place to find the rarer Cichlids.

The Black Belt Cichlid, Vieja maculicauda, likes the shady bank areas of lakes and slow-moving rivers, where it can hide among submerged roots and logs and scavenge the muddy or sandy bottom for snacks. Primarily an herbivore, the detritus and seeds it finds there sustain it between larger meals of fallen fruit or submerged terrestrial and aquatic plants. Though it will accep large flakes, pellets, earthworms and mosquito larvae in the aquarium, this fish definitely needs plenty of fresh vegetables, such as peas, lettuce and spinach, in order to thrive.

Known to reach eighteen inches in the wild, captive V. maculicauda seldom attain more than twelve inches, and slightly less for females. Both sexes exhibit a whitish-to-gray background coloration, often with a blue sheen. The underside, from throat to lower lip, is generally a deep red color, and a wide, black lateral band at mid-flank gives them their common name. Females are usually darker in color than males, while older males commonly develop a nuchal hump.

Like most Central American cichlids, the Black Belt is aggressive, though less so than some. They will almost always display aggression toward smaller fish. A single male may be kept alone in a specimen tank of at least 48-inch length, or with other cichlids of similar or larger size in a tank of at least 100-gallons. Breeding pairs should be kept by themselves in a still-larger tank (preferably 150-gallon or larger), as they become extremely territorial and aggressive when spawning. V. maculicauda is not a fish for a planted tank, as they will eat most any vegetation they can find. Low light is best, as in nature, their preference is for shaded waters.

Flat surface spawners, the Black Belt male chooses the spawning site, usually a flat piece of slate or other rock. Both parents clean the site once it's selected, and then a clutch of 500-600 eggs is deposited. Protection reaches its aggressive peak now, which is why the Black Belt needs to be housed alone when spawning. In 2-3 days, the eggs will hatch, and the parents will move their fry to pits they've dug in the substrate. Black Belt Cichlids are excellent parents, so you need have no concern about leaving fry with them even after they've become free-swimming at about 6-7 days. At this stage, you may begin feeding them artemia and other dried foods.

Family: CICHLIDAE
Species: Vieja maculicauda
Common Name: Black belt cichlid
Size: 12 in (30 cm)
Lifespan: 15+ years
Habitat: CENTRAL AMERICA: streams and rivers and Lake Nicaragua
Diet: Herbivore
Behavior: Typical Cichlid
Water: Not critical,75-79F (24-26C), 6-25 dH (12), KH: 3-21, GH: 3-18, pH: 6.0-8.0
Minimum tank size: 75 gallon, larger would be better
Care: Easy
Communities: Not suitable because of its aggressiveness.
Suitability: Good, flat stone spawners.

 


 

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