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.

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Oscar

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

When I hear the word ‘Oscar’ in regards to fish, I immediately think back to when I was 7 or 8 and my regular trips to the local pet store with my dad. I loved going to the pet store with him to look at and pick out our newest fish to bring home. I was especially fascinated by the huge black and red Oscars. I continued asking if we could get an Oscar and eventually my dad gave in and let us get one! We had several large spare aquariums at home and we set one up to put our new Oscar in!

Oscars Astronotus ocellatus belong to the cichlid family Cichlidae and are very popular in the aquarium world! They have been in high demand for years and have seemingly intelligent personalities. They are known for becoming feisty and interactive when you come up to say hi to them or feed them. These fish do become quite large, reaching 12 inches in length once full grown. They are easily bred in captivity, which makes a large variation of color patterns available. The Red Oscar is the most popular for its color patterns because it is red with black spots that are not as muddy colored as wild caught Oscars.

Other Oscar types are the Tiger Oscar and the Speckled Red Oscar. The Tiger Oscar looks more like the wild ones but with more red. The Speckled Red Oscar has black fins and has been developed more recently. There are even variations of these types including the Albino Tiger Oscar and the Albino Red Oscar, as well as lutino varieties. Long finned oscars have also been developed which gives them an interesting look. If you are an Oscar lover there are quite a few types to choose from!

Oscar history: The Oscar was first “discovered” or given a name and described in 1831 by Agassiz. They originate in South America, being found in the Amazon River Basin, the Rio Paraguay, the Rio Negro, and the Parana. They usually stick to the slower moving waters and feed on smaller fish and other small creatures. South Americans value Oscars as a food item too. Oscars have been artificially introduced into China, Florida, and Australia. They are bred in captivity in the United States and elsewhere specifically to be kept as aquarium fish.

The care and feeding of Oscars is straight forward but needs to be taken seriously to keep them healthy. They will eat almost any type of frozen, flake, or live foods because they are carnivores. Feeding them chunks of earthworms, beef heart, good quality pellets, and live guppies and/or goldfish will help them grow and stay healthy.

If you purchase juvenile Oscars it is best to start them out in a large aquarium from the beginning to accommodate their growing needs. A 100 gallon tank is ideal for an adult. Frequent water changes and good filtration is a must when keeping Oscars because of how much they consume and dirty their water. Oscars love to play around with their environment and will constantly attempt to move around and dig out any decorations! Rocks are good decorations that are hard for them to move or ruin. Plastic plants are best if you want plants in the aquarium. Try to bury them deep or cover them with rocks so they are harder to uproot.

Oscars are not community fish and because they are carnivorous, they will eventually eat any other types of fish as they grow larger. You can usually keep more than one Oscar together as long as they are of similar size and if they have grown up together. If you want to breed them it is especially helpful to start out with several Oscars and let them pair themselves (because it is difficult to determine their sexes).

The main disease you need to be on the look out for is Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE). This usually looks like a hole is developing on their head and is thought to be caused by poor nutrition and/or poor maintenance of the aquarium environment. Providing proper care should prevent your Oscars from developing this disease.

Read more about Oscars in general and in more detail on Animal-World’s Oscar 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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Large South American Cichlids

January 19, 2012 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Large South American CichlidsLarge South American Cichlids
“Large South and Central American Cichlids! Here are tips on keeping large cichlid aquariums, different types of cichlids, their habitats, and their personalities!”

These Large South American Cichlids include some amazing and beautiful looking show


Many people really enjoy having show aquariums, especially for large American Cichlids. These cichlids tend to have very interesting temperaments, personalities, and along with their sizes – they really make great show specimens! Large South American Cichlids also interact with their owners and other fish/animals in their environment! These great personalities and behaviors really make keeping them as pets enjoyable!

Large South American Cichlids are part of the large cichlid family, which provides many different types of fish for different aquarium environments. They are usually durable fish. Some large cichlid hybrids are also available and they come in many different colors. Some examples are the Flowerhorn Cichlid and the Blood Parrot.

Some of these larger cichlids are better-tempered than most. All cichlids are aggressive fish, but some of the gentler ones include Angelfish, Discus, and the Severum. These ones can often be kept in community aquariums, whereas most others have to be kept singly… Read More

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Dwarf Cichlids

December 24, 2011 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Freshwater fish

Dwarf CichlidsDwarf Cichlids
“All about the different Dwarf Cichlids, including South American and African Dwarf Cichlids. Learn about their natural habitats and how to keep them successfully!”

These Dwarf Cichlids are perfect for aquarists wanting a smaller aquarium!

Dwarf Cichlids are much smaller than regular cichlids once full-grown and they are also usually more peaceful. This also allows people to keep them in smaller aquariums as well as have a more community type of tank with other varieties of fish. It is also less common for them to have destructive habits such as digging holes in the substrate and destroying aquarium plants that larger cichlids have. All in all they are much better suited for other tankmates and a nicely planted aquarium, which is good for more casual fish keepers.

South American Dwarf Cichlids, as well as Apistogramma, are great for limited space aquariums and are just as amazing to interact with and watch as the large South American Cichlids. Most of them are also fairly easy to breed in the aquarium setting, which is just one more plus side to keeping Dwarf Cichlids… 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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