The Jaguar Cichlid Parachromis managuensis (previously Cichlasoma managuense) is a large, semi-aggressive and beautiful cichlid that is a popular and fun companion for the more experienced fishkeeper. Unlike most cichlids the Jaguar doesn’t present a permanent patterning until it has fully matured, and its visuals will change as it ages. For instance, while younger Jaguars display prominent vertical black bars, the adults tend to lose these bars and replace them with the eponymous “Jaguar” patterning.

In addition to the name Jaguar Cichlid, these fish are also commonly known by other descriptive names such as Jaguar Guapote, Guapote Tigre, Spotted Guapote, and Tiger Guapote. Other common names are derived from their scientific name, such as Managuense Cichlid and Managua Cichlid, and still others describe the fishes’ place of origin, such as Aztec Cichlid.

In the wild these fish will reach up to two feet (24″ or 63 cm) and can weigh up to about 3 1/2 pounds. Fortunately, they are much smaller in the aquarium, only reaching about 16″ (40 cm). Due to their large size and semi-aggressive temperament, they are a great fish for a huge system of large South and Central American fish but should not be kept with smaller or less aggressive fish. Use dark gravel to bring out their light purple base color.

The Jaguar Cichlid or Managuense Cichlid is moderately easy to care for as long as they have a large tank and appropriate tank mates. They are predators and will eat smaller fish and invertebrates. Many do not tolerate any other fish in their tank unless they are a male/female pair or if the aquarium is sufficiently large enough (200 gallons or larger). Even then the male may attack and kill a newly introduced female. They become more aggressive when they are in breeding mode and should either be isolated to their own tank or all other fish should be removed at that time.

They will dig in the substrate, so provide a bottom of coarse gravel with some rocks and wood for places to hide. They will also need a large rock for spawning. Don’t include plants as they will be torn apart. Be sure you also have a tight-fitting lid as they will jump out at times.

Jaguar Cichlid with Tank Mates

Scientific Classification


Jaguar Cichlid – Quick Aquarium Care

Aquarist Experience Level:Advanced
Aquarium Hardiness:Moderately hardy
Minimum Tank Size:125 gal (473 L)
Size of fish – inches24.0 inches (60.96 cm)
Temperament:Large Aggressive – Predatory
Temperature:75.0 to 82.0° F (23.9 to 27.8&deg C)

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Jaguar Cichlid Parachromis managuensis was described by Gunther in 1867. They were previously described scientifically as both Nandopsis managuense and Cichlasoma managuense. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List.

They are found on the Atlantic slope of Central America from the Ulua River in Honduras to the Matina River in Costa Rica. Unlike many aquarium fish the wild Jaguar Cichlid becomes large enough to warrant human consumption and are used for food in their native lands, and are also considered pests in some localities. Other common names these fish are known by are Managuense Cichlid, Managua Cichlid, Jaguar Guapote, Aztec Cichlid Guapote Tigre, Spotted Guapote, and Tiger Guapote.

They like turbid waters with muddy bottoms and are found in warm, low oxygenated water in springs, ponds and lakes. They are highly predatorial and feed on small fish and larger invertebrates.

  • Scientific Name: Parachromis managuensis
  • Social Grouping: Pairs
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed


Jaguar Cichlids tend to have very elongated and oval shaped bodies. They are some of the largest South American cichlids and can reach over 24″ (63 cm) and weigh as much as 3 1/2 pounds in the wild. They are much smaller in the aquarium and will only reach about 16″ (40 cm) for males and about 14″ (36 cm) for females, but even this length is enough to maintain their status as one of the largest aquarium cichlids. They have a general lifespan of about 15 years, but with diligent care and good maintenance they are known to live quite a bit longer.

Although beautiful no matter what stage of their life they are currently in, Jaguar Cichlids do go through significant patterning changes over the course of their lives. When young, both the male and female Jaguar will present several dark bars extending from the top of the back and abruptly terminating around the lateral line (or roughly midway between the top and bottom of the body). They can have 2 dark bars just behind their eye; one that is horizontal and broken extending to the first vertical bar on the body, and the other running diagonally down to the gill cover.Mature, full grown males lose these bars and develop a ‘jaguar’ patterning evenly distributed over their body and fins. In contrast, the adult female may or maynot maintain these bars while also forming a line of several large black dots across the body. The background color of this cichlid is slivery mixed with a light blue-green to light purple hue. There is some light tan-yellow to burgundy-red on the head. Very clean water will bring out their colors and patterning the best.

All cichlids, along with many saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish, have a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth located in the throat, along with 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: 24.0 inches (60.96 cm) – The Jaguar Cichlid grows to a length of just over 21″ to 24″ (55-63 cm) and 3 1/2 pounds in the wild. In the aquarium, males get to about 16″ (40 cm) and females to about 14″ (36 cm).
  • Lifespan: 15 years

Fish Keeping Difficulty

This fish is not difficult to care for as long as a huge tank and large filters are provided. This being said, these fish are not for beginner fish keepers. They are large, aggressive predators that require an experienced fish keeper to give them the best possible life.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Foods and Feeding

The Jaguar Cichlid is a carnivore, a predator that feeds on other smaller fish and large invertebrates in the wild. In the aquarium they will eagerly accept large live foods such as goldfish and other small fishes, crickets and other insects, earthworms, and tadpoles.

Though various types of live fish are their main food they can also be fed large chunk foods such as cut up fish and crayfish, and they may also accept large pieces of freeze dried and dry foods. They should be fed once a day, and some experts now suggest that fasting your fish for one day once a week can be beneficial. This strategy is meant to keep the water quality higher over a longer period of time. All fish benefit from vitamins and supplements added to their foods.

Note: it is not recommended that you not feed your cichlids warm blooded animal meats, such as beef heart or poultry, as these foods contain high amounts of fats and proteins not normally found in a cichlid’s natural diet. While it is acceptable to feed these types of foods every once in a while (mabye once a week), you should be careful to not overfeed them as they can cause cichlids to develop damaging digestive system blockages.

  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Flake Food: Occasionally – When young they can be trained to eat flake.
  • Tablet / Pellet: Occasionally
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Most of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Unknown
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Daily – Some experts suggest fasting your fish for one day once a week.

Aquarium Care

TheJaguar Cichlidare fairly easy to care for provided their water is kept clean and will likely need large cannister or simp filters to adequately clean their water. Aquariums are closed systems and regardless of size all need some maintenance. With home aquariums the nitrate and phosphates build up over time and the water hardness increases due to evaporation. Because these fish are very sensitive to pollutants and pH instabilty, it is important that at least 20 – 30% of the tank water should be replaced bi-weekly, especially if the tank is densely stocked. When performing water changes always use a gravel cleaner to make sure all of the decomposing organic matter that has built up is removed. The majority of of problems that occur with tropical fish tanks usually come down to one cause, decomposing organic matter.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

The Jaguar Cichlid needs a tank of at least 125 Gallons. These are very aggressive fish and need an enourmous tank that can have defined territorial lines and an area for hiding if planning on having other fish. The decor should be very sturdy, made up of large rocks, driftwood and caves, and large gravel for a substrate. There is no need to add plants as these large fish will likely destroy them quickly! Jaguar Cichlidsfish originate from a very murky and muddy habitat, so to simulate this atmosphere you can add a few handfuls of dried leaves and a bag of aquarium safe peat in the filter. Leaves will need to changed out every few weeks.

They need good water movement along with strong and efficient filtration. It is recommend to use external tank equiptment as these fish can do a lot of damage to internal heaters and filters. A sump style filter with heaters in the sump works very well and saves the cost of replacement equiptment.

Although the Jaguar Cichlidcan tolerate a fairly wide range of conditions, it has been suggested that warmer temperatures lead to more aggression in this fish. Many aquarists will keep the maximum aquarium temperature below 77° F to help reduce antagonism.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 125 gal (473 L)
  • Substrate Type: Small Gravel
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate – normal lighting
  • Temperature: 75.0 to 82.0° F (23.9 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 82.0° F
  • Range ph: 7.0-8.7
  • Hardness Range: 10 – 15 dGH
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All

Social Behaviors

The Jaguar Cichlid is not a community fish. This fish is predatory, territorial, and aggressive and becomes even more aggressive when spawning. It needs to be kept with other large Central and South American cichlids, preferably ones larger than your Jaguar. If breeding them do not house with plecostomus as they will eat the Jaguar fry at night. Once the Jaguar pair is ready to spawn, no other fish should be left in the tank.

Managuense Cichlids can be kept singly or in pairs. They are aggressive towards those of the same species and if they are not raised as a pair it can be risky to introduce a female into a tank with a male, especially if the male is the larger of the two. As with all larger cichlids, room is of the utmost importance in keeping aggression low.

  • Temperament: Large Aggressive – Predatory
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes – Needs a large tank to establish territories and females need places to retreat too.
    • Peaceful fish (): Threat
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Monitor
    • Threat
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Threat – is aggressive
    • Plants: Threat

Sexual differences

The male is larger and seems to have more vertical broken bars when young. Once he is full grown, he will not have any bars at all. The female will have thinner vertical bars and a more pronounced dark broken horizontal bar.

Breeding / Reproduction

Managuense Cichlids have been bred in captivity for many years. They will form mating pairs and are excellent parents to their young. However, it is best to raise a group of juveniles together and allow them to form pairs rather than to attempt and introduce a mature female to a mature male in the hopes that they will pair up. This arrangement has a good chance of ending with the death or at least harrassment of the female. Even lifelong pairs should be kept in a tank of at least 180 gallons in order to quell the aggressions of the male.

When it is time to spawn, the male will display for the female and actually take very good care of her. They will excavate an area behind a large stone. Having the area covered and “protected” is desirable to them. After they dig out an area of mutual agreement and as the spawning day gets closer, the male will become less and less tolerant of any tank mates, and even your hand.

If the pair are well fed, doing 50% water changes twice in one week will promote a spawning response. Raising the temperature to 82° F is also needed. The eggs will hatch in about 72 hours at 82° F and the higher temperature will give fungus less time to form. The female will continue to fan the eggs and remove debris and snails from the site. As the eggs get close to the time of hatching, the female will take them to the pit that they made before spawning.

Once the babies are born you may want to do 20% water changes every other day to remedy the additional load on the tank from the feedings the young need once their egg yolk is used up. 4 days after hatching you can feed them Liquifry and baby powder food. It would be a good idea to remove any other fish that may eat the fry during the night like catfish or plecostomus. The fry will tend to grow rather quickly at this point and will soon be needing a transfer to their own tank. See more about cichlid breeding in: Breeding Freshwater Fish: Cichlids.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

Fish Diseases

They are subject to infections as well as other diseases that ail all 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. If that does not cure the Ich, then the fish needs to be treated with copper (remove any water conditioners). Several copper based fish medications are available for Ich. Copper use must be kept within the proper levels, so be sure to follow the manufacturers suggestions. A copper test can be used to keep the proper levels. You can also combine increasing the temperature with an Ich medication treatment. Intestinal disease can be treated with metronidazol.

As with most fish the Jaguar 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.

Remember anything you add to your tank can bring disease to your tank. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria or harmful chemicals. Take great care to make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so not to upset the balance.


The Jaguar Cichlid or Managuense Cichlid are available in fish stores and online. They are moderately priced as juveniles and become more expensive as they age.



 Parachromis managuensis (Image Credit: George Chernilevsky, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)