The slim-bodied Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid has been likened to a ‘torpedo’!

The colorful Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid Taeniacara candid,dubbed the Torpedo Cichlid, is a beautiful and relatively small cichlid most appropriate for experienced aquarists. The descriptive names Black Stripe Dwarf Cichlid and Torpedo Cichlid can easily be accounted for as this little fish has a narrow streamlined body, a black racing-type stripe running down the center of its body, and the males have a flare-type tail that is painted in reds.

The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid shares its origins in the Amazon river in South America with many other species of dwarf cichlids, but presents a much slimmer body than other dwarfs. It was previously described as Apistogramma weiseiand is thus also commonly known as Weise’s Dwarf Cichlid. However, the scientific name was changed because it differs from the closely related Apistogramma by its unusually elongated body. It only reaches a length of just under 3 inches (7 cm) and the female is even smaller reaching about 2″ (5 cm). Being short as well as slim makes it appear much smaller than its counterpart dwarf cichlids as well.

Although a challenge to keep, the Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid is a rewarding fish for the more advanced cichlid enthusiast. Their small size makes them some of the easier cichlids to house, only needing about 30 gallons for a pair, but its requirements are more stringent. It needs an environment similar to the other dwarfs yet requires more care and maintenance to keep it healthy and thriving.

They can be moderately difficult to care for due to their water chemistry requirements. They do best in soft acidic water with low nitrate levels. Water changes need to be performed frequently to keep the nitrate levels low. Tank bred specimens are now available that are not as delicate as their wild caught counterparts, but they still demand certain water conditions to thrive. If water quality is ignored, as with all cichlids, disease and death can occur. Just a little dedication will reap pleasurable results from this little fish.

The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid can be kept in a community with other peaceful cichlids of similar size or smaller. Other small fish that swim primarily close to the surface, such as some of the Characins, can also make good tank mates. These small surface dwelling fish serve another function as well, they act as ‘dither’ fish to draw the male’s hostility away from the females. Provide a substrate of fine dark sand along with rocks and pots to create plenty of caves. They enjoy a densely planted aquarium and floating plants will help to diffuse the lighting.

Taeniacara Candidi vs Artemia Salina (day 48)

Scientific Classification


Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid – Quick Aquarium Care

Aquarist Experience Level:Advanced
Aquarium Hardiness:Difficult
Minimum Tank Size:30 gal (114 L)
Size of fish – inches3.0 inches (7.62 cm)
Temperature:74.0 to 83.0° F (23.3 to 28.3&deg C)

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid Taeniacara candidi was described by Myers in 1935. This fish was first described in the Apistogramma genus as Apistogramma weisei, but later described in their own genus, Taeniacara. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. They are found along the Amazon River to the Tapajos River as well as in the Amazon River basin in Brazil. This little fish is found in the lower Negro River as well. Other common names they are known by are Torpedo Cichlid and Weise’s Dwarf Cichlid

They primarily occur along shallow riverbanks with very soft acidic water. They hide in the dense coverage of rocks, roots, wood, and heavily overgrown vegetation.

  • Scientific Name: Taeniacara candidi
  • Social Grouping: Harems
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed


The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid is a small, colorful, and elongated fish. Its body has a more slender and torpedo like profile as compared to other dwarf cichlids. Mature males have a more pointed dorsal fins than the females. Males have a large spade-shaped tail fin that extends into a point at the end, while the females have shorter fins. The males can grow up to just under 3″ (8 cm) while the females only up to about 2″ (5 cm). This fish can live up to about 5 years with proper care.

The body has a base color of silver above a black horizontal stripe that runs from the head to just before the tail, though the stripe may be absent from some specimens. There is a slightly lighter silver/white on the belly in front of the anal fin. The fins are colored with blue, yellow, red, and brown. The female has less intense coloring, yet is still a pretty little fish.

All cichlids, along with some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish, share a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth located in the throat, in addition to their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.

Cichlids have one nostril on each side while other fish have 2 sets. To sense “smells” in the water, they suck water in and expel the water right back out after being “sampled” for a short or longer time, depending on how much the cichlid needs to “smell” the water. This feature is shared by saltwater damselfish and cichlids are thought to be closely related.

  • Size of fish – inches: 3.0 inches (7.62 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5 years

Fish Keeping Difficulty

This species is not for beginners and should only be housed by aquarists with a great deal of experience. They are very sensitive to water changes and water conditions. They prefer live foods and will not always take dried foods. They require very soft and acidic waters that can pose a problem while choosing appropriate tankmates.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Difficult
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Foods and Feeding

The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid is a carnivore that feeds on insect larvae and other small live foods in the wild. In the aquarium it can be fed newly hatched baby brine, frozen brine shrimp, freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, and high quality flake food. This diet is especially easy to feed to tank bred Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlids.

Wild caught specimens will have to be provided with a live diet until they accept prepared foods. Feed them chopped earthworm, blood worms, and mosquito larvae. Feed 2 to 5 small pinches of food a day in smaller amounts rather than a large quantity once a day. This will keep the water quality higher over a longer time. All fish benefit from vitamins and supplements added to their foods.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Occasionally – Can be trained but difficult.
  • Tablet / Pellet: Occasionally
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Most of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Unknown
  • Meaty Food: Most of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

Do water changes of 30% to 50% biweekly or weekly, depending on stocking numbers. If water quality is ignored, as with all cichlids, disease and death can occur. These fish need a very strict tank maintenance regiment to survive long term. It is important to vacuum the substrate thoroughly making sure to remove all waste and debris. When adding new water make sure to condition the water and warm it in a bucket with an aquarium heater to ensure it is the same condition and temperature as the water you are replacing.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly – Weekly or bi-weekly depending on stocking numbers.

Aquarium Setup

A minimum 30 gallon tank is suggested for a pair, with 55 gallons or more if in a mixed tank. They prefer slow to moderate moving water along with good efficient filtration. The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid does well in acidic water with low nitrate levels. A mature tank with soft water and a pH of acidic to neutral is best. Also, oxygen levels must be maintained for best color and health. The aquarium should have a cover and low to moderate lighting.

Provide a substrate of fine dark gravel along with rocks and pots to create plenty of caves. Caves formed from rockwork or synthetics like coconuts or clay pots will provide a refuge for the fish as well as a place for breeding. They enjoy a densely planted aquarium. Floating plants help to diffuse lighting. If using live plants, dense plantings that will provide shade for your fish will need time to grow out before providing optimal cover for the fish. Rosette plants like the Amazon Sword, Vallisneria, stem plants like Wisteria, and other acidic tolerate plants work great.

When using substrate or rocks, be sure they do not leach into the water and affect the pH. Substrates such as limestone can increase the pH level. It is recommended to not use sand that is intended for specifically marine aquariums. Driftwood is a big help in keeping pH low and contributes to the “tea stained” coloring of the Amazon River.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gal (114 L) – 30 gallons for a pair and at least 55 gallons for a community.
  • Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate – normal lighting
  • Temperature: 74.0 to 83.0° F (23.3 to 28.3&deg C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 82.0° F – 82 or greater is best for breeding.
  • Range ph: 5.5-7.0
  • Hardness Range: 0 – 15 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Middle

Social Behaviors

The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid is a community fish that can be kept with other peaceful cichlids of similar or smaller size. They are territorial with their own kind, but can be kept alone or in pairs in a 30 gallon tank. If interested in keeping more than a single pair in one tank, be sure the tank is at least 55 gallons are larger. Having other Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlids in the tank helps the female to develop more of a maternal instinct, and she may be a little more protective of the fry. If there is no threat, a female will not guard her young with the normal intensity. As the parents share this “guarding” of the fry, having other individuals in the tank also helps to strengthen their bond. Take caution adding multiple males as the dominant male will normally attack and kill the weaker males.

Other small fish that swim primarily close to the surface can also make good tank mates. Some of the characin species like hatchetfish, pencilfish, and some of the tetras will work well. They can also serve another function as ‘dither’ fish to draw the male’s hostility away from the female.

South American cichlids tend to be less aggressive than their African cousins, but space is very important. They are still a cichlid and are semi-aggressive, so they may not work well with non-cichlid tropical fish when spawning. They will work great with dwarf cichlids of the Apistogramma genus in a large enough tank; provide at least 55 gallons in this mixed situation.

  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes – Males are aggressive with other males. A male can be kept with multiple females.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: May be aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sexual differences

Males are larger with more coloring and longer appendages on the fins, especially the extended middle of the tail fin.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlids are cave spawners with a patriarch-matriarch family in the wild. Males generally form harems but have a tendency towards a nuclear family. Females will spawn about 60 – 90 eggs, which are deposited on the ceiling of a cave where they attach. In a harem situation, they are usually cared for by the female while the male guards the territory. However, as pairs the male may also participate in brood care.

For breeding in the aquarium a male with 3 – 4 females is fine, or they can be bred as pairs. For a pair obtain 6 juveniles and let them grow up together. At least one male-female pair will form from this arrangment. You may or may not decide to remove the others, depending on your tank size. Condition them with meaty foods like white worms, mosquito larvae, blood worms, and even clean chopped earth worms every day.

They appreciate upturned flowerpots, fake “coconut caves,” bogwood, and broad leafed plants for cover and as spawning sites. They need to have a pH around 5.5 to spawn. As with other dwarfs, this lower pH may also be needed for the eggs to hatch. Basically the more acidic and soft the water, the happier they are, with 0 hardness being ideal. Some breeders use rainwater or phosphoric acid to lower the pH. If using acid, add it to a bucket of conditioned water and leave it for a few days before adding it to the tank, do not put it directly in the tank.

The female will become heavy with eggs and will pick a spawning spot. She will lay 60 to 90 eggs on the surface of her chosen site. The male will fertilize them and promptly leave the cave to patrol the outside. The males are quite aggressive guarding their territories, and will even attack larger fish to repel them. If during this time other fish in the tank are too terrorized to eat, you may need to remove them.

The female will actually turn yellow and black during this brooding period. She will keep popping her head out of her “cave” to make sure the coast is clear. The eggs will hatch in 48 to 60 hours at a temperature of 82° F (28° C). After 7 days the fry will follow her out and start grazing on algae in the tank. The male will keep other fish at bay when the family is out. The female will stay above the fry and flick her fins to signal to her young.

The fry will eat newly hatched brine shrimp and microworms and should be fed every day, several times a day. The fry grow fast. In one month, if the water is kept clean and they are fed well, they can grow up to 3/8″. In two months they can be over 1/2″, which is half of the adult size of a female. See more about cichlid breeding in: Breeding Freshwater Fish: Cichlids.

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult

Fish Diseases

The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlids are susceptible to typical fish ailments, especially if their water is stale and of poor quality and oxygenation. They tend to be susceptible to illness when stressed, usually caused by not providing ample hiding places. One common problem is Ich. It can be treated with the elevation of the tank temperature to 86° F (30° C) for 3 days.

Be aware of the following diseases that are found in the Amazon (per Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.) including White spot Disease known as Ich (Ichthyobodo Infection), Costia Disease, Flatworms (Metacercaria Infection), Cestoda infestation (Tapeworms), Metacercaria Infection (Flatworms), Bacterial Infections (general), Bacterial diseases, and Turbidity of the Skin (Freshwater fish). One common problem is Ich. It can be treated with the elevation of the tank temperature to 86° F (30° C) for 3 days.

As with most fish these cichlids are prone to skin flukes and other parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), fungal infections, and bacterial infections. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Black-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid is often available online and are moderately expensive, with a pair usually being double in price. They are a rare find in fish stores, but can usually be special ordered if you are willing to wait.



 Featured Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock