Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Convict Cichlid!

The Convict Cichlid

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Convict Cichlid!

Of the aggressive freshwater fish people keep as pets, the Convict CichlidAmatitlania nigrofasciata is among the most popular. They are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. They are also commonly called Zebra Cichlids. They are from Central America and are one of the smaller breeds.

Here are a few reasons Convict Cichlids are popular freshwater fish. They only reach 5 or 6 inches in length and are quite hardy. They require minimal care and are great for beginning aquarists. They can be kept in aquariums with several other “aggressive” fish as long as the other fish are not so big that they will swallow the convicts! They also have rambunctious little personalities and can hold their own against fish up to three times their size! Another plus is that they are very easy to breed for people who are looking into fish breeding!

The Convict Cichlid’s habitat in the wild is in Central America. They are found in rivers from Costa Rica to Guatemala and from Honduras to Panama. Specific rivers include the Guarumo River, the Tarcoles River, and the Aguan River. They live in shallow areas with lots of rocks and plants.

The care and feeding of the Convict Cichlid is pretty simple. They are omnivores and can be fed most vegetation (spirulina is a good choice) as well as worms and small pieces of beef heart. Feed them a few times a day with just a few small pinches. Once full grown, they should be kept in a minimum of a 50 gallon aquarium for a pair; a larger aquarium for any more than that. The temperature range is a comfortable 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide them with sand on the bottom and plenty of rocks and plants. They love to rearrange their “furniture”! Because these fish are aggressive, they should only be kept with other aggressive fish. Generally you will want these other fish to be larger than your convicts so that they don’t pick on them. You will also probably not want more than two convicts because they often will not get along with others of the same species.

If kept in a clean aquarium with a healthy diet, the Convict Cichlid will usually have minimal problems with fish diseases. One common problem among many freshwater fish is Ich. Ich looks like little white dots covering your fish. It is generally easily treated by raising the water temperature up to 86 degrees for about 3 days or by using a copper based medication purchased from a pet store. Other diseases to watch out for include parasites, fungal infections, skin flukes, and bacterial infections.

The Convict Cichlid is one of the easier fish to breed in captivity. So if you are interested in breeding fish – you may want to start with them! Having a small group of convict cichlids will result in at least one pair by about the time they are a year old. When they are ready to mate they will do a little “dance” and then make an area to spawn in (usually in the sand or near rocks). The female lays around 20-40 eggs which the male will then fertilize. The male will protect the spawning area while the female directly “fans” the eggs. The young fry will hatch in 48 to 72 hours. Within a week they can swim freely and will start to eat crushed flake food. By three weeks old they can be fed regular flake food. Removing the fry from the parent tank after a few weeks is a good idea because the female may eventually try to eat the young.

If you are interested in more facts on these cichlids, please visit Animal-World’s Convict Cichlid page!

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Zebra Cichlids

January 24, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Zebra CichlidsZebra Cichlids
“Zebra Cichlids are from Lake Malawi and are rock-dwellers! Also called Mbuna Cichlids, here you can find out about their care!”

One of the most popular Lake Malawi Cichlids are the Zebra Cichlids!

Zebra Cichlids, or Mbuna Cichlids, are from Lake Malawi in Africa. These are popular cichlids – and they are known for their aggressiveness and their activeness. There are many species that belong to 12 genera and they are all rock dwelling cichlids. The word “mbuna” is African and means “rockfish.”

Zebra Cichlids are the most popular of the Mbuna group cichlids. All Mbuna Cichlids used to be in the Pseudotropheus genus, but now there are several other genera that many have been moved to. Now Zebra Cichlids include Pseudotropheus, Tropheops, and Maylandia genera. All of these cichlids are very attractive and are often kept in good size community tanks together.

A total of 9 genera are in the Mbuna species and these include many different color morphs as well. They are quite beautiful with several different bright colors and patterns. Usually Mbuna females are yellow and Mbuna males are blue, regardless of genera, however they can be colored with black bars as well… Read More

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Lake Victoria Cichlids

December 19, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Lake Victoria CichlidsLake Victoria Cichlids
“Victoria and East/West African Cichlid information, as well as Dwarf Cichlids and Mbipi. Helpful tips on keeping an aquarium with African cichlids!”

The Lake Victoria Cichlids have a huge range of differently colored species!

The most popular cichlid species are typically from Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika, however several other species of African cichlids from other areas are also available for keeping and they add even further variety in terms of beauty and behavior. Lake Victoria Cichlids are cichlids that meet this criteria and are becoming more popular among cichlid enthusiasts.

About 200 species of Lake Victoria Cichlids are out there as well as many East African Cichlids from close by lakes and rivers and some species of West African Cichlids as well.

African Cichlids in general are popular because they have so much variety in their colors and behaviors. They are able to live in many rivers and lakes because of the way they have evolved. Because of this many hundred species of diversely colored Lake Victoria Cichlids are found in Lake Victoria alone… Read More

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Animal World’s Featured Pet of the Week – The Jack Dempsey Cichlid

September 19, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Featured Pets, Freshwater fish

Jack Dempsey

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Jack Dempsey Fish!

Many people are drawn to keeping cichlids in their aquariums – they are fascinating fish, come in many different colors and sizes, and have a variety of personalities! The Jack Dempsey is one of the most popular of cichlids and is often the cichlid which many novice cichlid keepers begin with. Some of their most appealing attributes are their amazing color patterns. They are covered with sparkling blue, green and gold spots over a purple background color (once full-grown), and the males also have bright red areas along the edges of their anal and dorsal fins. It does take over a year for them to develop their full coloration however, so you will have to patient if you obtain them when they are young. A variation on the typical Jack Dempsey is the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey which has been bred specifically for it’s bright color.

Here are some interesting history facts regarding the Jack Dempsey. They were named after a Heavyweight Boxing Champion from 1919 named Jack Dempsey because they were considered very aggressive, just like the boxer! This is even though later cichlids that were introduced were actual much more aggressive then the Jack Dempseys! They originate from Southern Mexico, North and Central South America, Yucatan, Guatemala, and Honduras, mostly in swampy and slow moving waters.

As for keeping these cichlids as pets, they can be challenging yet rewarding. They grow fairly large – up to 8 inches in length and need lots of space. A minimum of 50 gallons is recommended for a full-grown Jack Dempsey, and obviously you will want and need a larger aquarium if you plan to keep more than one fish. They need good filtration, lots of plants and hiding places, and good water movement to thrive. In the wild they will eat insects, smaller fish, worms and crustaceans. Because of this, in captivity they will eat several types of food available at pet stores, including flakes, pellets, and live foods. You will want to make sure to do 20-25% water changes weekly to keep them healthy as well.

Socially, as I mentioned above, these cichlids can be quite aggressive and territorial. Because of this, they generally do not make good community fish. This is especially true when it comes to its own species and other breeds of cichlids. Also, the older they get, the more territorial they get. Because of this, it is best to either keep them by themselves in their own aquariums, or to have a large enough aquarium to keep several in together. This makes them less likely to single out one another and beat up and/or kill their tankmates. You will want to keep several plants and hiding places such as logs in the aquarium as well so that they have places to go by themselves. And of course, if you want to breed them, you will want to make sure you have a male/female pair.

These fish generally fare pretty well if kept well taken care of. The most common disease for these fish, as well as any large cichlids, is Head and Lateral Line Disease (HLLE), also known as “Hole-in-the-Head.” Again, the best way to prevent this is just to maintain the aquarium, with regular water changes and keeping an eye on such things as hardness, pH and temperature.

If you would like to learn more about the Jack Dempsey fish, their history and just general cichlid care, check out theJack Dempsey page!

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.