Wolf cichlid stats infographicWolf Cichlid, also known as Parachromis Dovii, is a gorgeous yet dreadful cichlid specimen. They are quite challenging to care for; hence not ideal for the novice aquarist. However, they are very smart and act trained. 

If you truly want to keep a complete pet fish collection, you cannot leave out the Wolf Cichlid. They may be a handful, but they are worth it.

Read this article to learn how to care for your Wolf Cichlids without stress.

What Is a Wolf Cichlid?Ferocious Tropical Wolf Cichlid Care and Breeding Guide

Wolf Cichlid is the largest cichlid species originally from the Atlantic slope; Aguan River in Honduras, the Pacific slope; Yeguare River, then Costa Rica’s Moin and Bebedero Rivers. The Dovii Wolf Cichlids are all from Central America and were first described by Gunther in 1864.

Wolf Cichlid Stats

Common Name Wolf Cichlid, Dovii Cichlid 
Origin  Central America 
Temperature  75 to 82 F
pH 6.8 to 7.8
Average Size 24 to 30 inches
Minimum Tank Size 125 gallon
Life Span 30 years  
Diet Carnivorous

Wolf Cichlid Care 

The Wolf Cichlid care routine is not the simplest because they are aggressive. However, you need to make sure their habitat is comfortable and adequate. Below are some of their basic requirements:

– Diet 

The Wolf Cichlid diet is identical to other carnivorous freshwater fish species. They eat mainly meat like fish, crustaceans, earthworms, and invertebrates. Furthermore, they require supplements too. It boosts the Wolf Cichlid immune system, keeps them healthy, and enhances their color.

Other ideal food suggestions you can feed your Wolf Cichlids include:

  • Crickets
  • Crayfish
  • Mussels
  • Large Staple Cichlid Pellet
  • Whitebait
  • Prawns
  • Cockles
  • Silversides
  • Stick Food
  • Crab
  • Diced Fish Filet
  • Diced Meat
  • Lance Fish

– Unsuitable Food Suggestion

  1. Goldfish feed is inadequate because it does not contain all the nutrients the Wolf Cichlid needs. 
  2. Pork or other fatty food is toxic to the Dovii Cichlids.

– Serving Suggestion

Feed them a proper-sized meal twice daily. You can gauge the quantity based on how they eagerly eat it but not overfeed them. 

– Reasons Why You Should Say No to Strict Live Food Diet

Indeed, a few Wolf Cichlids may only accept live food, but you can teach them to eat pellets and other food. Furthermore, feeding the Dovii Cichlids only life food has some negative effects like:

  • Life food can introduce diseases into the tank, causing a full-blown outbreak
  • Also, it causes the Wolf Cichlids to be more predatory and aggressive towards other tank mates

Hence their diet should be a balanced mix of live food, dead and other assortments.

– Tank Setup

Due to the Wolf Cichlids’ large size, they require a minimum of 125 gallons. However, you need to move them to bigger tanks as they grow because they need more space.

  • Tank Cover

These cichlids are jumpers and may try to escape while in captivity. Researchers claim they can hit the aquarium glass or the lid and break them. So, cover their tank securely and be careful as you feed them because they make a big mess splashing water all over. 

  • Lighting

Although intense light can enhance the fish colors, moderate to normal lighting is great for Wolf Cichlid’s tank. LED is also preferable because it would not cause unnecessary heat in the aquarium.

  • Tank Decor

The Wolf Cichlids are very active and tend to move things around; hence, the decor may be optional. They may hurt themselves or destroy the tank when trying to attack decorative objects.

However, you may put in any following for aesthetic purposes; rocks, plant pots, branches, and driftwood. Also, sand or gravel is ideal for the Wolf Cichlids’ tank because they love digging caverns. 

  • Branches

Branches are necessary for breeding; juveniles need them for hiding. While the females use them to prevent unnecessary injuries, these aggressive fish can cause them while spawning. The Wolf Cichlids are very destructive compared to other fish.

  • Plants and Rock

You should not bother with plants because the Wolf Cichlids would uproot them. But if you insist on having plants, try artificial ones. Glue them to rocks so they stay put. Alternatively, some plants may be tough enough to withstand the Wolf Cichlid destruction but watch out for algae growth.

Furthermore, rocks are great decor choices as they can serve as territory markers. Glue them strongly together so they do not topple over and cause any damage. Some flat boulders are also acceptable as the female cichlid can lay eggs on them.

– Water Parameters

Water parameters are important during tank setup as they can improve or weaken the Wolf Cichlids. For instance, higher temperature tackles ich and enhances fish metabolism. Lower temperatures, in contrast, are not so good for their health. When they are placed in temperatures outside their optimal range for long periods, it stresses them.

Hence, these tropical fish thrive in water temperatures between 75 to 82 F. Also, monitor other water conditions like the pH and KH level. Ensure they remain between 6.8 to 7.8 and 2 to 10dKH, respectively. They do not need much current, so moderate water movement would do.

  • Filtration

Wolf Cichlid produces a lot of waste, unlike other freshwater fish. So, you need to install a large canister filter and three sponge filters to improve their water quality. Because the water conditions can directly affect their health, perform water changes often. Twice or three times weekly would be enough.

– Life Span

The Wolf Cichlid lifespan is dependent on the care and nutrition they receive; however, they live for about 30 years.

– Common Diseases

Like every other freshwater fish, the Wolf Cichlid can be infected by various diseases. You should look out for any strange symptoms or unusual behavior. Below are some common diseases:

  • Ich

Ich is quite common and easily detectable. You will see your fish itching against different surfaces in its tank, like the gravel substrate or tank decor.

– Treatment 

You can get rid of ich by increasing the tank temperature to 86 F for three days. Copper medications are also effective but use them with professional guidance.

  • Head and Lateral Line Erosion

This infection, also known as a hole in the head, is caused by poor water conditions and nutrition. They look like cavities on the Wolf Cichlid’s head. In some cases, they may arise when the tank is over-filtered with chemicals.

– Treatment 

Improve the water quality and their diet. Also, feed the fish with various adequate meals; check out some suggestions above.

  •  Skin Flukes or Other Bacterial and Parasitic Infections 

These can occur when a parasite is living and feeding on the Wolf Cichlids. The fish would look withdrawn, may lose appetite, and be itchy. Nonetheless, observe your Wolf Cichlid closely and act immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. When in doubt, call a vet.

Tank Mates

Choosing tank mates for your Wolf Cichlid is a bit tricky because they are hostile. They would pick on the peaceful fish, eat smaller fish and fight with other aggressive species. In extreme cases, the Wolf Cichlid would kill other fish. Hence, the best tank mates for the Wolf Cichlids are other aggressive fish but larger than them.

– Other Suitable Wolf Cichlid Tank Mate Suggestions

In a huge tank with divisions and territories, they would stay with a female Wolf Cichlid or a Jaguar Cichlid. However, you must monitor them and know when to take out the fish, or it may be fatal.

– Unsuitable Tank Mates

– Can You Keep the Wolf Cichlids Alone?

Yes, you can. Because of their aggressive attitude, it may be best they stay alone. However, add decor (like a ping pong toy) that can serve as recreation to keep them happy and healthy.


Wolf Cichlid breeding in captivity is challenging primarily because of their aggressive attitude. However, they have successfully been bred previously. Here are breeding requirements to consider:

– Breeding Pair

You may start with mature male and female Wolf Cichlid specimens or with six to eight juvenile Wolf Cichlid. Put them in a tank, and the young wolf would begin to pair up after a while. At 10 to 14 months, the Wolf Cichlid is mature enough to breed; they can spawn every month. 

However, keep an eye on the female as the male may attack and hurt her during breeding. It is not uncommon that the male is rough and stresses her out, especially if she is unresponsive.

– Water Conditions

Researchers claim that a drop in temperature can trigger spawning. It imitates rainfall and signals the Wolf Cichlids to breed. Mimic this by siphoning 50 percent of your tank water and dropping the tank temperature by two degrees.

– Tank Setup

Separate the tank to have private areas yet enough space for fertilization. The female would spawn in a calm, enclosed place with a smooth surface like a cave. So, put some caves in the breeding tank.

– Breeding Process

Below are a few steps that take place during and after Wolf Cichlids’ breeding:

  • Courtship

The Wolf Cichlid color intensifies when they are ready to spawn. Then the courtship dance starts; it involves jaw locking, head shaking, tail slapping, and gill flaring. 

  • Egg Laying and Hatching

The female Wolf Cichlid lays about 2000 eggs that hatch within a week. Then, the fry begin to swim a few days later. 

  • Caring for the Juvenile Wolf Cichlid

The adult Wolf Cichlids are protective of their young, especially from predators. The male helps their fry eat by chewing up the food, splitting it out, and feeding them. You can feed the juvenile Wolf Cichlid with tiny meat produce or baby shrimps.

After breeding, a separate tank is necessary because bigger siblings (other juvenile Wolf Cichlid) eat the fry. So as they grow, you need to sort them and take them out of the tank. The adults would also eat the fry when stressed or trying to protect them.

– Juvenile Wolf Cichlids

The young Wolf Cichlids are silver with a black horizontal stripe across their bodies. As they mature, the stripe becomes bolder, and their body gradually turns golden yellow.

– How To Differentiate a Male Wolf Cichlid From a Female

  • Female

The female Wolf Cichlid is known as the yellow Wolf Cichlid because its body is bright yellow. However, it has black patches and dots. 

  • Male

The male body, in contrast, is also yellow but with a grayish or silvery background. Its fin is a reflective bluish-black color.

Characteristic and Behavioral Traits of the Wolf Cichlids 

Here are some temperamental traits we should know about these species:

  • The Wolf Cichlid is a large, aggressive, and territorial fish
  • They are active swimmers and enjoy playing
  • They are Intelligent and act like they are trained
  • They study other smaller peaceful tankmates, then attack them eventually
  • The female Wolf Cichlids would hide away most of the time
  • They are more hostile when spawning
  • They are very defensive and may bite your hand as you feed them
  • The Wolf Cichlid bite can be severe

– How Does the Wolf Cichlid Look?

  • Body

The Wolf Cichlid species are muscularly built, making them tough enough to attack other large fish. They look similar to black basses, but unlike them, Wolf Cichlids have single nostrils on each side of their head. Also, they have a dual part discontinuous lateral line, and their mouths are large. 

  • Coloration

They both sometimes have a reddish, orange, or green hue on their head and dorsal fin. Their tail and fin may also have green or blue coloration. Furthermore, the Wolf Cichlid’s eyes are large with a bronze-colored iris. 

  • Teeth

The Wolf Cichlid teeth are a combination of both normal and pharyngeal teeth.

  • Average Weight

The Wolf Cichlid’s weight is dependent on the nutrition it receives and its well-being. A healthy adult Wolf Cichlid would weigh up to 0.22 lb.

  • Average Size

The Wolf Cichlids grow so fast, to an average size of 24 to 30 inches. They are pretty big cichlids and are considered the largest in the world. The male is significantly bigger than the female, so they are the ones that grow up to 30 inches.

– Other Names

The Dovii Wolf Cichlids are also known by a number of popular names. Here are a few:

  • Guapote Blanco
  • Heros Dovii 
  • Nandopsis Dovii 
  • Dow’s Cichlid 
  • Cichlasoma Dovii 
  • Guapote
  • Lagunero

– Where To Buy Wolf Cichlid 

You can easily buy these pet fish at your local aquarium store, or you can get them from online aquarium shops. Some hobbyists may also have a few for sale, and you just need to ask your aquarist community.

Red Dovii Cichlid (Parachromis Dovii “red”)

Red Wolf Cichlid tank setup and disease preventionThe Red Dovii or Gold Dovii is a variant of the Wolf Cichlids with less yellowish pigment. They are quite rare in the wild but are now commonly bred by aquarists. 

– Origin

The Red Wolf Cichlids are aquacultured in Asia, but researchers have sighted them in Rio Peurto Viejo and Lake Nicaragua. 

– Overview

Red Dovii species is named after a captain steamer in the Panama railway company “Guatemala.” The avid fish collector, John Dow Latinized his name to Dovius and transformed it to a genitive Dovii. The name Dovii is ironic as it translates to a peaceful dove, but the Red Wolf Cichlid is not peaceful in any way.

– How Does the Red Dovii Look?

The Red Doviis’ genetics seems unclear because they transform from a pale white to red-orange as they mature. They appear like they have a light background coat of gold with an iridescent hue of reddish-orange.

– Red Dovii Size

The Red Dovii grow so large like the Wolf Cichlid and require at least a 100-gallon tank. In addition, the average size of an adult Red Wolf Cichlid is 20 inches.

– Tank Setup

  • Water Parameters 

The Red Dovii thrive in tropical water; hence their water temperature should range between 75 to 82 F. Also, a pH range of 7.0 to 8.0 is adequate.

  • Decor

You should design their tank to have room to swim and rocks for hiding. Also, add in other decors like driftwood.

  • Substrate

They enjoy digging, so the sandy substrate is the best for them.

  • Plants

Your aquarium plants should be firmly rooted in your sandy substrate, or the Red Dovii would uproot them.

– Tank Mates

Red Dovii Cichlids are an aggressive species; they will do well staying alone. However, if you must pair them, below are suitable tankmates suggestions for the Red Wolf Cichlid:

However, make sure to monitor them closely, or they can kill their tank mates.

– Diet

The Red Dovii are predators and carnivores. They eat mostly other live fish and smaller aquarium animals like crustaceans and invertebrates. In captivity, you can feed them frozen or homemade food.

– Common Diseases

There aren’t any specific diseases restricted to the Red Wolf Cichlid. But like most freshwater fish, they are susceptible to some infections.

The common one is ich; it is contagious and fatal if untreated. You can treat them by increasing the water temperature to 86F or using copper medication.

Furthermore, the Red Dovii is also prone to intestinal disorders. You can treat the fish using metronidazole. Other diseases the Red Wolf Cichlid may contact include bacteria, parasitic, or fungal infestations. Hence, keep your aquarium clean. 

– Tank Care

Red Doviis tend to create so much mess from their rough eating habits to the waste they produce. 

  • Water Changes

So, frequent water changes are essential; about 20 to 40 percent of your tank water volume should be changed weekly.

  • Substrate Cleaning

Use a substrate vacuum cleaner to clean your tank bottom. Make sure to remove all the remnant food and organic wastes. You should also clean out Algae growth.

– A Brief Comparison Between the Wolf Cichlid and the Red Wolf Cichlid

The Red Wolf Cichlids are pale white with a silvery gold background and red-orange coloration, while the Wolf Cichlid body has a gold background with a blue and black coloration.


The Wolf Cichlids are not for beginners, but they are interesting creatures to care for. Below are a few reasons you need one in your tank:

  • They are entertaining swimmers.
  • They live for extended periods.
  • They are very smart.

Although they may try to attack you or jump out of their tank at any chance they get, you will find out these Cichlids are worth the adventure. Why not get one Dovii and try out our easy-care routine and breeding tips?

5/5 - (15 votes)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here