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Convict Cichlid
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
South American Cichlids
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Archocentrus nigrofasciatus

Convict Cichlid

Quick Stats:   Convict Cichlid

Family: Cichlidae
Range: Central America
Size: Up to 6 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Tank Set-up: Freshwater: Gravel bottom, rocks or inverted pots for hiding, floating plants
Tank Conditions: 68-73°F; pH 6.5-8.0; dH 9-20
Minimum Tank Capacity: 30 gallons
Light: Medium
Temperament: Aggressive
Swimming Level: Middle to bottom
Care Level: Moderate
Reproduction: Egg Layer

The Convict Cichlid is sometimes called Zebra Cichlid, but should not be confused with Pseudotropheus zebra, the African Zebra Cichlid. The Convict Cichlid has a pattern of black stripes on a grayish background and a greenish tint on the fins. The female has orange scales on her lower body and dorsal fins, and the male is larger, less colorful, has a steeper forehead, and longer fins. As it ages, the male will acquire a fatty lump on the forehead. There is also an albino or 'pink' variety.

A stunning addition to any aquarium, the Convict Cichlid is not recommended for the community tank due to its aggressive tendencies. It requires a 30 gallon minimum tank, with a gravel bottom, rocks, and plenty of hiding places among the rocks or some inverted pots. Floating plants are recommended as a form of cover. Because of its aggressive nature, the Convict Cichlid should only be housed with other more aggressive fish of the same size or larger.

The Convict Cichlid is a cave-breeder and will accept a range of water conditions. Increase the water temperature between 75-79°F. Some females will spawn between a cave and an open area. The Convict Cichlid readily pairs and forms a patriarch/matriarch family, and both the male and female will care for the young. The fry will respond to signals from both the male and the female.

The Convict Cichlid is omnivorous and will eat most prepared and frozen foods, including freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and ocean plankton, as well as flake food and Cichlid pellets.

Ideal tank mates include similar sized:

Photo courtesy of T.F.H. Publications, publishers of the Burgess Atlas.

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