Caquetaia spectabilis can be incredibly easy to look after if you know what you’re doing.

Taking care of Basketmouth cichlids includes a spacious tank setup, high water quality, and the right diet. But, there’s more to proper fish care than that.

That’s why our article is full of viable info from professional fish keepers on all things Caquetaia spectabilis.


Scientific name: Acara spectabilis;  Caquetaia spectabile
Common name: Caquetaia spectabilis
Habitat: South America; Brazil and Guyana
Tank 4-6 foot tank, with plants and stones
Diet: Beef heart, small fish and shrimp; dry food is accepted as well.
Behavior: Caquetaia spectabilis is a calm, large cichlid
Water parameters: pH neutral to ensure optimal health.
Water temperature: 78 to 83 Fahrenheit
Care: Easy
Communities: Should not be kept with smaller fish, (because they think it is food and they will eat them)

Getting To Know Basketmouth Cichlids

Science tells us that there can be multiple reasons behind the evolution of brightly colored fish. Generally, marine wildlife is more colorful, owing to the diverse underwater ecosystem.

But, every so often, nature will make an exception and produce a vivid change for the freshwater variety. That’s where the Caquetaia spectabilis come in.

Native to the South American Amazon River Basin, the Spectabilis is unique among the Cichlid genus for various reasons. For example, you know you’re in for a treat when the fish’s name includes the word ‘striking.’ That’s right, the word ‘spectabilis’ is an ode in Latin to the species’ vivid red, green, orange, and blue hues.

The males of this species are larger in size and much more vividly colored than the females. They also have more defined fins, dorsal and pelvic.

However, that doesn’t mean the females are any less attractive. Additionally, both genders of the species have a pearly iridescence, thanks to the compound guanine.

That means these fish give off an almost kaleidoscopic glow under bright lighting. There aren’t any definitive marks or stripes,  but every so often, you’ll spot a Basketmouth with black spots near the caudal fin and lateral line.

What Does Caquetaia Spectabilis Care Involve? What Factors Matter Most?

Most first-time fish parents find the Caquetaia spectabilis size a little too intimidating. The truth is, despite their large size as adults, Basketmouths aren’t too challenging in terms of care. This section considers the four most important factors fish parents need to focus on to ensure their pets thrive.

– Tank Size

Big fish require big tanks, and the Spectabilis are no different. Most of the experts we referred to recommended either four or six-foot tanks for a pair of Basketmouths.

We’re sure you’re not planning on stocking up on aquariums, which is why it’s wise to get the right-sized fish tank the first time around.

If you’re considering getting an aquarium but are short on space, it’s best not to opt for fish like the Spectabilis. Adults of this species, especially the males, can grow pretty big and need plenty of space, scroll down for stat-related info.

– Water Quality

Another essential feature of Spectabilis care is water quality. Being a sizable species, they also eat more than other fish. That also means their waste-producing ability is higher than others.

So, you can expect to change the water in your tank regularly, despite a robust filtration system, to ensure the fish don’t develop bacterium-related concerns.

It’s also a good idea to measure the pH levels of the fish tank to ensure the water isn’t too hard or soft. Basketmouths do better in neutral pH surroundings.

Finally, being riverine and freshwater fish, the Caquetaia spectabilis prefer 78 to 83 Fahrenheit water temperatures.

– Diet

In the wild, Caquetaia spectabilis inhabit waters near-shore vegetation. They’re ambush predators and will eat anything that fits in their mouths. That may not sound like much, but Basketmouths get their name because of their protrusible jaws.

In simple terms, the structure of a Spectabilis’s jaw allows it to extend or contract its mouth at will. The extension of its mouth cavity enables it to increase its food intake, and you may be surprised at the size of prey this species is capable of going after.

Thankfully, because of their opportunistic nature, they’re not too difficult to please in captivity. You can opt to feed them Cichlid sticks, frozen beef heart, shrimps, and dry food at times.

– Habitat

Basketmouths like to spend their time cruising the vegetation near a river’s shore banks. That means they’re not going to be very appreciative of a sparsely decorated aquarium,  with no plants, sticks, or stone structure to hide themselves in.

To make sure your fish are happy in the habitat you’ve provided them, make sure to add fine gravel, sand, driftwood, rocks, and live plants like moneywort.

Essential Basketmouth Cichlid Stats You Should Know

Size is a relative term in the fish kingdom. But, generally, medium-sized Cichlids will grow up to 3 inches upon maturity.

Spectabilis, on the other hand, can grow up to 12 inches upon maturity, depending on their sex. That definitely ranks high up on the large-sized Cichlids list. The good news is the Caquetaia spectabilis reach adulthood in one to two years, which means you’ll have plenty of time to get used to their dimensions.

Another important stat for fish parents to be aware of is the Caquetaia spectabilis lifespan. Under ideal conditions, you can expect Basketmouths to live anywhere from 8 to 12 years. However, when it comes to longevity, external factors can make an impact.

So, for example, if your fish develops a disease or is living in less than ideal conditions, its lifespan can be affected. That’s why it’s best to think of lifespan details as guidelines rather than gospel.

What Does Breeding Spectabilis Cichlids Involve? Is It Easy To Do In-Home Settings?

There are mixed reviews when it comes to fishkeepers who try to breed Caquetaia spectabilis. The Spectabilis are egg-layers and nest builders, much like all other types of Cichlids.

That means, once the fish are paired off, they’ll excavate a cave or hole in the substrate layers of the tank to lay the eggs. That’s also where fertilization will take place.

If you’re planning on breeding the pair of Basketmouths you have, you’ll have to ensure there’s plenty of gravel, sand, or peat moss, so that the fish can build their nest. The species can lay anywhere from 400 to 1500 eggs in one go.

On average, Basketmouth eggs will take about four to five days to hatch. Once that happens, the parents will usher the fry to enclosed spots between rocks to defend them and keep them safe.

Despite the parents’ valiant defense of the eggs, not many will make it to the fry stage if there are other fishes in the tank.

Plus, the fry themselves are cannibalistic, which means survival of the fittest comes into play. If you’re looking to ensure maximum survival, it’s best to keep the little ones well-fed with baby brine shrimps.

Tank Mates For Caquetaia Spectabilis – Choose Carefully!

When choosing tank mates for Basketmouths, it’s best to remember three details. First off, these fish have cannibalistic tendencies and are opportunistic eaters. That means a missed meal or two may lead to the Spectabilis chowing down on its smaller tank mates.

Secondly, these fish have protrusible mouths and can go after a prey size you wouldn’t normally expect. And finally, they have conspecific aggression, which means they don’t play well with fish of their own species.

However, experts confirm that the temperament of the Spectabilis Cichlids can vary among individual specimens. That’s possibly why some Basketmouths do very well with similarly-sized fish of other species. They’re more of a danger to the smaller-sized specimens in a tank rather than the bigger ones.


Caquetaia spectabilis, or Basketmouth Cichlids, can make a colorful and vibrant addition to your aquarium. Here are some of the crucial highlights of Spectabilis maintenance.

  • A pair of Basketmouths will do well in four or six-foot fish tanks.
  • Apart from a strong filtration system, you’ll also have to ensure the water pH is neutral to ensure optimal health.
  • Basketmouths can suffer from Head or Lateral Line Erosion if water quality isn’t maintained by regularly changing it.
  • The Caquetaia spectabilis prefer water temperatures of 78 to 83 Fahrenheit.
  • The species are ambush predators and will eat anything that fits in their mouths.
  • Spectabilis are opportunistic feeders that do well on a diet that contains Cichlid sticks, frozen beef heart, shrimps, and dry food at times.
  • To ensure adequate habitat recreation, add substrate layers of fine gravel, sand, peat moss. Also, add driftwood, rocks, and live plants so that the fish feel at home.
  • Spectabilis can grow up to 12 inches upon maturity, depending on their sex, and reach full maturity at one or two years of age.
  • Basketmouth Cichlids are substrate egg-layers and nest builders.
  • Once the eggs have hatched, you can feed the fry a diet of baby brine shrimp to ensure survival.
  • Spectabilis will fare better with similar-sized fishes of other species as opposed to smaller tank mates.


While the Caquetaia spectabilis don’t require strenuous care, we’d still recommend this species for fish parents with considerable experience. That’s because some aspects of Basketmouth maintenance may be a little taxing for beginners, such as the large tank size and its cleaning and maintenance requirements.

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