Texas Cichlid Stats InfographicThe Texas cichlid is also known as Rio Grande cichlid, as it originated from Rio Grande drainage in Texas, the United States, and northeastern parts of Mexico. This species of cichlid is loved by many due to its appearance as well as behavior that people find fascinating.

Caring for this fish is not impossible but not that easy either, so we have everything you need to know about this freshwater fish to make the job easier. Since these fish can be a little aggressive, you might think it is very hard to care for them, but it is not as complicated as you might assume if you are willing to put in some extra effort!

Texas Cichlid Stats

If you want quick information on how to care for these fish, then keep on reading! Here are the basic information and water parameters that you should maintain to care for your wild Texas cichlid.

Care level Intermediate
Maximum Size 12 inches
Minimum Tank Size 55 gallons
Average lifespan 10 to 13 years
Diet  Omnivore
Breeding Type Egg layer
pH 6.5 to 7.5
Hardness 5 to 12 KH
Temperature 68 F to 74 F
Temperament Aggressive
Order Cichliformes
Family Cichlidae
Genus Herichthys
Species Herichthys cyanoguttatus

Appearance: Texas Cichlid Coloration and Body

How to take care of texas cichlidThese fish are pretty large in size and have interesting patterns on their body which makes them famous among fish lovers. It has the typical features of a cichlid as well.

The fish has a wide shape like other cichlids, along with expansive rayed dorsal fins and thick lips. The color of the body is usually grey but can be light green as well. The fish has a very interesting pattern on its body: Starting from mid-body till the tail, there are around five large black spots in a horizontal line.

Moreover, they also have specks all over the body. They are usually blue iridescent in color, and vary in size. The specks even extend to their fins. This makes the fish have a unique appearance. In addition to that, when the light hits their fins, it looks like they have been lit up. In short, their bodies kind of glows under the light!

The green Texas cichlid and blue Texas cichlid are most common, but you can also find a variety of colors among the species. The difference between green Texas cichlids and blue Texas cichlids is not that huge, but they do slightly differ in how their colors look. So you can choose from a variety of colors when looking for a Texas cichlid as a pet. This fish will turn your tank into a neon glowing masterpiece, and who doesn’t want that?

– The Difference in Sexes of Texas Cichlid

Just like most other fish, there are two sexes in these fish, female and male Texas cichlid, but it can be quite tricky to set them apart as they look very similar to someone who has no knowledge of fish.

The easiest way to sex them is to look at their head: The male Texas cichlid will have the traditional nuchal hump on their head, above the eyes. This hump gets bigger as the fish ages and deflates during their breeding session. However, even female fish have started developing these bumps, so sexing them this way is not 100 percent reliable.

However, female Texas cichlids tend to be smaller in size, and their color will be duller. However, this again will not be visible unless you can compare both sexes together. The male fish apparently also has longer and more pointed fins compared to their female counterparts. The best way to distinguish between a female and a male Texas cichlid is by looking for black spots on the dorsal fins, that are absent in male Texas cichlids.

Texas Cichlid Proper Care

Caring for these fish is not that hard if you can get past their aggression and huge size. This is why they are not recommended for beginners, as it might be too much of a hassle for them to properly nurture a Texas cichlid.

To take proper care, you need to ensure that the water parameters are met, and that you can provide them with the right food for their growth. Don’t adopt these fish if you think you might not be able to take care of them, as it would be unfair for the fish to live in a bad environment!

– Texas Cichlid Diet

The diet of Texas cichlid is very important to prevent diseases and depression. Thankfully, they have a huge appetite due to their size and will feed on almost anything that you give them.

It is important to give a variety of food to ensure that your fish doesn’t get bored and eats a balanced diet. You should give them, frozen, live, artificial, and plant-based diet in a balanced way. This will ensure that they grow to their maximum size and remain healthy. Here are a variety of food items that you can feed your wild Texas cichlid.

  • Bloodworms
  • Frozen shrimps
  • Crustaceans
  • Dry commercial pellets or flakes
  • Brine shrimp
  • Insects
  • Algae-based food
  • Blanched vegetables
  • Insect larvae

The food that you feed them should be of high quality, but they are not picky eaters, so don’t worry too much. These fish should be fed twice a day but in small quantities. If there is any food left after two to three minutes in the tank, it should be immediately removed to ensure that the water remains clean. Moreover, these fish are pretty sturdy, so you do not need to give them additional nutritional supplements.

In the wild, these fish eat other small fish, plant matter, and insects, but in captivity, it is better to feed them more food. Also, you should never feed them mammalian meat as you can with other cichlids. This type of foot, in fact, is not a suitable food item for Texas cichlids due to its fat content.

– Texas Cichlid Lifespan

This is one of those fish that have a longer lifespan compared to other fishes. If you decide to house Texas cichlid, it will be a long commitment so remember that.

Usually, a Texas cichlid can live for 10 to 13 years, and most specimens do live for more than 10 years even in captivity. Of course, you will have to provide them with a proper environment and nutritious food for them to live a healthy and long life. If the conditions are not met, these fish tend to get depression and various diseases that greatly decrease their lifespan.

Therefore, make sure to have a clean tank at all times, with appropriate water parameters to make sure they can be your companion for long. They can survive for even longer if you know how to provide them with the best conditions.

– Texas Cichlid Size

The Texas cichlid growth rate is pretty fast, so the Texas cichlid size ends up being very big as well. Knowing their size beforehand is important to ensure that you are ready for the commitment of having them.

On average, the adult Texas cichlid size is around 12 inches or 1 foot. In other words, it is a pretty large fish to keep in your house tank. To reach their maximum size, they require a larger tank, which is where most people give up. Taking care of the food and other necessities of the fish is pretty easy, but their size can deter even experienced fish keepers.

Moreover, these fish are quite strong, making them very hard to keep with other tank mates without causing territorial fights in which the other fish is bound to lose.

When they are young, the fish are pretty small and can be kept in a small tank. However, as mentioned before, the Texas cichlid growth rate is pretty fast so it won’t be this size very quickly and you will need to transfer it to a bigger tank. If you can deal with their huge size and aggression, these are exceptional pets to have.

Texas Cichlid Tank

Texas cichlid water requirementsTaking care of Texas cichlids includes providing appropriate tank conditions. If you know what to do, this is not as difficult as it might seem initially. The main thing is to get the appropriately sized tank and a powerful filter.

For water parameters, they should match the conditions of the wild Texas cichlid habitat. That is, a warmer, tropical-like environment. The water hardness should be soft and slightly acidic for their best growth.

The fish can, of course, bear some fluctuations in these parameters, but too much fluctuation can cause harm. The appropriate water temperature should be from 68 F to 74 F, pH should be 6.5 to 7.5, and water hardness should be from 5 to 12 dKH. Here are other tank conditions to keep in mind.

– Texas Cichlid Tank Size

As you might have guessed by now, they will require a huge tank since these are larger fish. You can’t skimp on this, as the space they have at their disposal will determine how big they get and how healthy they stay.

A lot of people say a lot of different things on minimum tank size for one Texas cichlid, but the tank should be at least 55 gallons. Although some people do believe that a 44-gallon tank can work just fine, we recommend a 55-gallon tank to ensure your fish is stress-free.

This size keeps increasing with the number of fish that you will want: For two Texas cichlids, the tank should be 88 gallons to 120 gallons big. Moreover, if you want to keep this fish with other fish, like in a community tank, the minimum size should be around 125 gallons. Basically, the larger the tank, the better for the fish. Since this is already an aggressive fish, in smaller and compressing tanks their aggression can multiply.

– Texas Cichlid Tank Decorations

This can be a little tricky, but you only have to worry about decorations once so that it will be worth it. The thing is, Texas cichlids love rearranging tanks on their whim. So they will rip up plants, rocks, and whatever comes their way whenever they want to.

This doesn’t mean that they don’t need decorations in their tank, though. There is nothing you can do about the uprooting problem, except for arranging things more firmly. Anyways, you should first start with the appropriate substrate. The best substrate at the bottom is fine gravel or sand. Sand is even better than gravel, as it matches the bottom of riverbeds which is their habitat.

Next comes the tricky part of decorations. You should include plenty of smooth rocks, driftwood, and bogwood. The best you can do is plant them in a way that the roots are inaccessible by the fish. Moreover, large rocks and clay pots can act as good hiding spots, especially for juvenile fishes. For plants, choose floating plants as they are less likely to be destroyed and sturdy rooted plants like anubias nana.

Make sure not to overcrowd the tank, though. These fish need plenty of space to roam and swim, so too many rocks and plants can hinder them. Moderation is the best, especially because they will uproot most decorations you have anyways. In addition to that, you will need a heater to maintain the water condition along with a powerful canister filter. Remember to perform regular partial water changes as well.

Texas Cichlid Tank Mates

These are aggressive fish, so finding suitable tank mates can be a challenge. This is why, if you can, then having them in a single species tank is the best way to prevent any disastrous situation later on.

If you want to keep them in a tank with other fishes, you should have a juvenile Texas cichlid live with other non-aggressive fishes. As they grow older, they get aggressive, so they need to be kept with more aggressive fishes. The tank should be large enough to accommodate everyone without them bumping into each other to prevent fights. The tank mates should be large and aggressive as well. Some of the suitable tank mates are listed below.

As you can see, many fishes can be kept with Texas cichlid, but there is no guarantee any of them will be suitable. Some Texas cichlids are more aggressive than others. So it is better to test out what the aggression level of your fish is. Also, it is totally okay to keep the Texas cichlid alone, as in the natural habitat they live separate from other species.

Texas Cichlid Breeding

Now, it is entirely possible to spawn them in captivity if you can ensure that the two Texas cichlids don’t fight each other. These fish are egg-layers, open spawners, which makes them easy to breed compared to other fishes.

When breeding Texas Cichlids, keep the selected specimens in a separate tank, as they are very aggressive during mating sessions. Moreover, the tank should be big enough to accommodate them both. If you have the facilities, you can keep a group of six of these fishes from their juvenile stage and grow together. In this way, they will form their own couple and mate.

Their mating process is very interesting. First, the fish flirt with each other by snapping the other fish’s bodies with their tail. If they both like each other, the Texas cichlid will then turn almost black in color, while their forepart turns almost white. Then the spawning area is cleaned by the fish, which is usually a smooth surface. Next, fertilization occurs, during which the female lays eggs and the male fertilizes them.

Then, the egg stage lasts for two to three days, after which the larvae hatch. The female can lay 500 to 1000 eggs at once. After this, the fry only need a week to start swimming on their own. However, taking care of the younger fish can be a little harder. Just make sure to feed them baby brine shrimp and spirulina.


Texas cichlid careTaking care of Texas cichlids can be hard for beginners; however, it is not that hard for someone who has taken care of fish before. Here is a summary of things to remember from this article about the Texas cichlid.

  • The Texas Cichlid originates from the Rio Grande drainage in Texas, the United States, and northeastern parts of Mexico.
  • They are bigger in size than most fishes and can live for more than a decade with proper care.
  • Texas cichlids are aggressive, so they cannot have many tank mates; besides, they are happy living alone.
  • Of course, they need a huge tank of at least 55 gallons with appropriate water parameters due to their huge size.
  • They eat a lot of things, but it is still important to feed them a balanced diet in moderation.
  • Breeding them in captivity is possible in a separate tank as they become very aggressive during the process and will eat any fish in the tank.

This was all the information you will need to start breeding these sturdy and unique fish: are you up for the challenge?

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