The Red Devil Cichlid, also known as Amphilophus labiatus, has a unique look that makes it very popular amongst aquarists.

Beyond their attractive appearance, there are certain things you should know about this fish to enable you to raise them successfully.

Our article will go over everything you need to know about Red Devil cichlid from its appearance, care, lifespan, etc.

Once you have the correct information, you can decide if you want to raise a community of this cichlid. Let’s get started.

Red Devil Fish Stats

Aquarist Experience Level Intermediate
Lifespan 10-12 years
Temparament Aggressive
Average Size 15 inches
Minimum Tank size 55 gallons
Breeding Easy
Water Hardness 6-25 dGH
pH 6.5-7.5
Temperature 75-79
Diet  Omnivore

Fish Overview

Red Devil cichlid is a beautiful fish with a charismatic personality. Like dogs, these cichlids develop a bond with their owners; they can show off for you or even beg for food in the cute way dogs do. It is not all rosy with the Red Devil Cichlids; they can be a handful, and thus, are not recommended for beginner aquarists.

You can find Red Devil cichlids in Nicaraguan lakes, Lake Xiloa, and Lake Managua in the wild. Initially, these cichlids were classified under genus Cichlasoma. However, that classification is now obsolete because Red Devil cichlids no longer fit the description of Cichlasoma labiatum.

The Appearance of the Red Devil Cichlid

You will find that Red Devil cichlids come in different colors, from green to white, red and pink. Some even have black bands on their tails and fins. In the wild, they have darker colors like dark brown and grey that help them blend in with their surroundings.

You may see some of them with thick orange or black lips in the wild; however, the lip size tends to be smaller in captivity-bred Red Devil cichlids.

Red Devil cichlids have pronounced dorsal and anal fins that are more pointed than rounded. The fin design helps provide them with speed and agility in the water.

– Size

The average Red Devil Cichlid size is approximately 15 inches at maturity. Yes, they are enormous, compared to other freshwater fish species you will encounter in aquariums. Male Red Devil cichlids tend to grow bigger than their female counterparts, proving a way for you to tell them apart easily.

– Sexual Dimorphism

Male and female Red Devil cichlid have are almost identical. However, there are slight differences to help you tell them apart. The most noticeable one is the presence of a nuchal hump on the male Red Devils. Unlike captive-bred male Red Devil cichlids with the pronounced nuchal hump, the nuchal hump of wild bred Red devils only becomes visible during the breeding season.

Also, male Red Devil cichlids are bigger than their female counterparts. They also have pointed genital papilla.

– Average Lifespan

With proper care, the red devil fish lifespan in captivity is around 10 years. However, we have reports that some aquarists have managed to get their fish to live for up to 12 years. The trick, they say, is to maintain the correct water quality and provide a favorable living environment for your fish.

Fish Behavior

Red Devil cichlids get their name from both their personality and their appearance; they are fierce. Their fierceness is even more highlighted by their big sharp teeth, powerful jaws, and buff bodies.

It is not really out of place to find them attacking other fish just for the fun of it. They prefer the bottom layers of the tank and love to dine on other bottom dwellers like small fish, snails, worms, insects, and larvae.

When Red Devil Cichlids are not aggressive and territorial to other fish in the tank, they actively try to destroy anything they can lay their mouths on. As a result of this, putting plants in their tank is not practical. They are very active cichlid fish and do a lot of swimming. So, you will need a tank with plenty of room for them to explore.

Regardless of their aggressiveness, they grow attached to their owners and likewise the owners too. The love is somewhat like that between dogs and their owners; Red Devil cichlids show off for their owners, follow their owners’ movements and even allow their owners to pet them. So, it is not surprising that their owners still would not give them up; who wouldn’t want that kind of unconditional love.

Red Devil Cichlid Care

Red Devil cichlids are generally hardy and relatively easy for experienced aquarists to care for. However, thanks to their fierce temperament, they are not the best fish species for beginner aquarists. Red Devil cichlids can withstand different water conditions, but they will never attain their full potential unless they are well cared for.

Perhaps, you have tried without luck to raise these fiery cichlids. The problem may simply be that you’re going about it all wrong.

In the next section, you will find crucial information on how to best care for your Red Devil cichlid so that they remain happy and healthy.

– Tank Setup

The tank will be your fish’s home for as long as they live, so set it upright. One trick to help you correctly set up a tank for Red Devil cichlids is to mimic their conditions in the wild as closely as you can. That means replicating the tank aquascape, water conditions, tank mates, and much more.

Red Devil cichlids can become even more aggressive when their tank does not suit their needs, especially when they have very little room to swim in.

To avoid all of the added aggression and destructiveness, we have put together some crucial steps to help you set up a tank for these beautiful fish species. Read on.

1. Tank Size

The first and perhaps, the most critical factor is the tank size. It would be best if you got a tank large enough to cater to your Red Devilfish. For a fish of the Red Devil Cichlids’ size and temperament, we recommend at least 55 gallons for one fish.

If you intend to have a pair of these fish, we recommend getting a 125-gallon tank. For more than three fishes, we advise that your tank measures at least 200 gallons. In summary, more giant tanks are better for Red Devil cichlids because they are active and require a lot of space to swim in.

2. Water Parameters

The key to raising a happy and healthy Red Devil Cichlid is staying on top of water conditions. There is some form of wriggle room for you regarding the favorable water parameters for Red Devil cichlids; however, it is paramount that there are no sharp changes.

  • The recommended water temperature range is 75 to 79℉. Increasing the temperatures slightly induces spawning
  • The recommended pH level is 6.5 to 7.5, just slightly acidic and not overly basic
  • Recommended water hardness for Red Devil cichlids is around 6 to 25 dGH

Regular water changes help keep diseases at bay and keep the tank water clean. You can use a test kit to certify that these parameters are within range. Remember, significant health complications can arise from poor water conditions.

3. Substrate

Red Devil Cichlids are diggers, so it is best to layer their tanks with fine sand that cannot harm their abdomen. Gravel and hard substrates will only cause them harm when they try to dig in.

4. Airstones

Red Devil Fish thrive in highly oxygenated water. Thus, we advise that you install airstones in your tank to keep the water oxygenated. These airstones also help keep the fish looking vibrant and attractive.

5. Filtration

Filtration is another vital aspect of tank setup. We advise that you purchase dual filters to ensure that the tank is well filtered. If you cannot get dual filters, pair the traditional canister filter with a sump set up to achieve the desired effect.

What to Put in the Tank

When setting up a tank for full-grown Red Devil cichlid, you must understand their love for rearranging their environment. Red Devil cichlids love to hang around in crevices, so be sure to fill up their tanks with lots of hiding spaces. You can use rocks, woods, and caves to create hideout spots for them.

As a rule of thumb, place your rocks firmly in the substrate to avoid the fish toppling them over. You can anchor smaller pieces of rocks to the base of the tank via fish-safe epoxy.

– Tank Mates

We cannot overstate the brutal nature of Red Devil Cichlids. When choosing tank mates for this cichlid species, you must always have it at the back of your mind that these fish species are very aggressive and territorial.

Their super-strong jaws and sharp teeth make them even more dangerous. Red Devil cichlids have no qualms destroying aquarium equipment, ramming into the glass of the tank, and even biting you; imagine then what they can do to other fish species.

If you intend to raise a community of these fish, we advise that you do so in a vast tank, with enough space to allow them to swim. Add the tank mates when the Red Devil cichlids are yet juveniles, and you may stand a chance of raising a happy community of cichlids.

However, once they reach adulthood, they do not do well with other tank mates. You have instances of them hurting and even killing themselves and other fish species.

Breeding

Red Devil cichlids have been successfully bred in captivity for quite a while now. The truth is, breeding them is an easy task even for beginners. Their monogamous nature takes some of the common breeding issues off your chest. You should start the breeding process by transferring the breeding pair to the conditioning/breeding tank.

– How to Condition This Fish for Breeding

The first step in the conditioning process is to move the male and female pair that have already established their love connection to a breeding tank. The tank should have slightly elevated temperature levels, say around 77℉, to mimic the naturally warm waters in the Red Devil Cichlids’ natural habitat.

Feed the conditioning pairs high-quality live foods like bloodworms and Daphnia. The abdomen of the female Red Devil Cichlid becomes rounder as she fills up with eggs. Next, she selects a flat or inclined substrate as her breeding area and lays between 600 and 700 eggs at once.

The Red Devil cichlid eggs have an amber hue to them and are translucent. Once the eggs are laid, the male cichlid fertilizes them, and the eggs hatch in three to four days. Both the male and female Red Devilfish participate in raising the fry.

Sometimes, the parent cichlids may move the fry to another location in the tank in a bid to offer it better protection against predators. The fry should be free swimming after a few days.

Proper Diet

Like other cichlid species, Red Devil Cichlids are omnivores and will eat pretty much whatever you put in front of them. Since they are predators, they require enough protein sources. Try Bloodworms, crickets, and earthworms. You can also offer them fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried foods.

Despite Red Devil fish’s aggressive nature, they are not carnivores, so you’ll need to add vegetables to balance out their diet. Fresh vegetables protect your Red Devil cichlids from diseases and help them maintain optimal health.

In summary, good nutrition sources for Red Devil Cichlids include:

  • Beef heart
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Red meat
  • Carotene
  • Cichlid pellets
  • Bloodworms
  • Flakes
  • Krill
  • Red meats
  • Shrimps
  • Spirulina, etc.

Exercise caution when feeding your fish chicken and beef because these are not part of their diet in the wild. Too much of it can cause Red Devil cichlids to have intestinal issues; thus, we advise that you give beef and chicken as treats rather than the main course.

Common Diseases

Red Devil Cichlids do not have any exclusive disease that plagues them. However, they are susceptible to the common illnesses that affect freshwater fish. The most common of these diseases is Ich.

1. Ich

Ich is a highly contagious disease that is caused by a parasite. Fish infected with Ich have white spots covering their fins and body, are lethargic, weak, and display strange swimming patterns.

– Treatment

You can treat Ich effectively by raising the tank’s temperature to 86℉ for three days. You can also use over-the-counter copper-based medications to tackle Ich. Remember to inspect your tank filter to ensure that the medicines do not tamper with your tank’s integrity.

2. Hole in the Head Disease

Red Devil cichlids can also be affected by the head disease’s hole, also known as lateral line disease. The Lateral Line Disease is a common freshwater disease that leaves visible pits on the face and head of the affected fish. Experts claim that this disease is due to poor water quality and nutrient deficiency.

Treatment

  • Frequent water changes. You should replace at least 25 percent of the total water in the tank weekly
  • Incorporation of powerful filters to remove organic waste
  • Feeding fish with high quality live and frozen food
  • Monitoring the water parameters to ensure they are within the recommended range

3. Fish Dropsy

Fish dropsy is a typical fish disease caused by bacterial infection of the kidneys. The condition causes fluid retention in the kidneys, causing the fish to take on a bloated appearance.

– Treatment

You can treat fish dropsy with over-the-counter antibiotics and proper care. While treating your fish with antibiotics, ensure that it does not mess up your biological filtration. We advise that you monitor your ammonia and nitrite levels closely to ensure they are within range.

a) How to Prevent Diseases

Different kinds of diseases affect Red Devil cichlids, from bacterial, to fungal and even parasitic. The good thing is that you can protect your Red Devil cichlid from falling prey to these diseases by following the steps we have detailed below.

  • Ensure that you purchase good quality Red Devil cichlids from reputable breeders or pet stores
  • Isolate and observe new fish for any illness before adding them to your already established aquarium
  • Ensure that you disinfect new equipment thoroughly before introducing them to your fish tank to reduce the risk of contamination
  • Avoid exposing Red Devil cichlids to sudden changes in tank conditions
  • Provide your Red Devil cichlids with balanced, high-quality food that meet their nutritional requirements
  • Avoid overfeeding Red Devils as it could lead to a considerable amount of stress for them
  • Maintain pristine water quality and monitor the pH, hardness, and temperature of the tank water

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Red Devil Cichlids Good for Beginners?

No, the Red Devil fish is not great for beginners because of its aggressive nature. We recommend that only seasoned aquarists raise these fierce cichlids because raising them requires a certain degree of experience and expertise.

Do I Need a Large Tank?

Yes, you do. Red Devil cichlids are big fishes, measuring up to 15 inches, so they need a lot of tank space. They are also very active fish species that love to spread out and swim, and so your tank must provide them with enough space to do that.

Red Devil fish aggression can spiral out of control; add that to their territorial nature, and perhaps you can understand why having a large tank is an absolute must.

How Many Should I Keep in My Tank?

We recommend that you keep only one Red Devil cichlid in your tank. The reason for this is their fierce temperament and territorial behavior. Stick to one in a large tank, and you’ll enjoy the beauty of this cichlid species.

Can I Use Rocks and Gavel as a Substrate?

No. Rocks and gravels have rough edges that can scrape and injure the abdomen of your Red Devilfish. We recommend instead that you use fine sand as a substrate.

Do I Need to Have a Dedicated Breeding Tank?

Yes, you do, especially if you have other fish in the tank besides the mating pair. The separate breeding tank allows you to ensure the safety of everyone involved, Red Devilfish and humans alike.

When Should I Move My Fish to the Breeding Tank?

Only move your Red Devil cichlid to the breeding tank when they have formed an attachment and paired up. If you move them before they pair up, you expose the female to increased violence from the male. To ensure your female Red Devil cichlid is safe, we advise that you keep her separated from all males.

What Should I Feed the Red Devil Cichlid Fry?

Nutrition is essential if the fry is to reach its maximum potential. Therefore, we advise that you give the Red Devil cichlid fry, high-quality food in powdered or liquid form. Take care not to overfeed the fry; tiny portions of food at regular intervals work best.

How Many Times Should I Feed Red Devil Cichlids?

Red Devil Cichlids should be fed small portions of foods several times a day to avoid overfeeding. The rule of thumb is to provide them with bits of food they can finish in under 3 minutes. This practice helps reduce the amount of organic waste you are left to deal with in your aquarium.

Conclusion

  • Red Devil cichlids are aggressive cichlids and are not suitable for beginner aquarists
  • They measure a whopping 15 inches and need a lot of tank space to function optimally
  • With proper care, these cichlids can live for as long as 12 years

Red Devil cichlids are a delight for many experienced aquarists regardless of the challenges in caring for them. With proper knowledge, you can raise this magnificent and playful fish species successfully. We’d love to hear all about your experience raising this unique cichlid.

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