The Convict Cichlid is a species of fish that is incredibly popular in the fish keeping hobby due to their low care requirements, their beautiful colouring and they are easy to breed.
Perfect for beginner aquarists, the Convict Cichlid is a relatively small fish that will grow up to around 15cm in length for males, and around 10cm in length for females.
In their natural habitat, the Convict Cichlid can be found in streams and rivers across the entire length and breadth of Central America. These are incredibly hardy fish that can survive and thrive in a variety of different water conditions.
Since the Convict Cichlid is most commonly found in moving rivers, these fish love a little bit of a current to play in, as well as plenty of rocks, plants and roughage that they can hide in. Plants are not necessary, but some strong plants can be a good addition to your tank.
The name ‘Convict’ is drawn from it’s convict like colours of black and white stripes however there is also a pink/white variation which is also popular.
While this particular species of fish is generally very timid, they can become extremely aggressive when they want to be, especially when they are breeding. We would recommend keeping Cichlids on their own, in their own separate tank (they are beautiful and active enough to enjoy this way) to prevent any issues, but if you are interested in keeping them in a community tank, then make sure it’s substantially larger than the minimum tank size (200 litres at least) and that the tank is not too overcrowded.
Convict Cichlids are far from fussy eaters. They will eat pretty much anything you throw in the tank, but obviously, the goal is to raise your fish as healthy as possible, so here are our recommendations for the optimal Convict Cichlid Diet.
The bulk of their diet should come from a high-quality fish flake or pellet. The majority of brands will work well, but we highly recommend that you choose a food that is specifically made for Cichlids, such as the Fish Keepers Choice Cichlid flakes and pellets.
To supplement the high-quality fish food, we would also recommend a regular feeding of both live and frozen foods such as blood worms, Tubifex worms, brine shrimp and Daphnia.
Fresh is obviously optimal, and it would be a great treat for your Cichlids but obviously, not everyone has access to live foods, so frozen will do just fine.
In the wild, Convict Cichlids tend to enjoy munching on small insects and larvae, so if you can throw a few live insects into the mix, or a few mosquito larvae, they will be sure to appreciate it.
Just like the entire breeding process, sexing a Convict Cichlid couldn’t be any easier. The males are almost always larger by a couple of inch, and the females will generally develop a yellowy red colouring to their underbelly once they reach sexual maturity.
These fish are incredibly easy to breed, and they breed very often, so if you are ready to start breeding them, expect a batch of at least 20 – 30 little convicts within the space of a few weeks.
Convict Cichlids can spawn from a very young age, and they do not require a suitable breeding mate. Any male Convict will breed with any female Convict. No funny dancing, no chasing around the tank. Just add a male and a female to a big enough tank with the correct layout, and you will be the proud carer of Convict Cichlid fry in no time.
In the wild, the Convict Cichlids will lay their eggs on rocky overhangs, and in caves, so it’s important that you try to replicate this as much as possible.
Flat stones placed on top of each other are probably the best way to go about this, but clay pots and even PVC pipe will get the job done. It doesn’t matter where you place these rocky overhangs, because the Cichlids will move everything around to their liking anyway.
Plants will be demolished and substrate will be pushed aside. Although they are not picky over their mating partner, they are definitely fussy over where the magic happens!
If you leave a male and a female together for enough time, and you feed them plenty of food, you can expect to see a batch of eggs on the upper part of the ‘caves’ within a few weeks. While the eggs are maturing and preparing to hatch, the female Convict will guard them constantly, and the male will swim around, attacking any other fish which dare to come near.
Convict Cichlids are incredibly good parents, and they will literally fight for their lives in order to protect their eggs and their fry. Once hatched, the Convicts will help their fry find food, they will create safe burrows for them, and will fight with any species of fish if they feel threatened. It’s rare to lose a live Convict Cichlid fry.
- Species – Amatitlania nigrofasciata
- Common Name – Convict Cichlid
- Origin – Central America, being native to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
- Diet – Omnivores
- PH Range – 6.5 – 7.5
- Temperature – Tropical 22°c – 28°c
- Breed Type – Egg Layer
- Current Size – approximately 5cm (Grows to approximately 15cm)
- Sex – Un-sexed