13 December, 2009

Convict Cichlids, the easiest cichlid to breed

Convict Cichlid, the best beginner cichlid:
If you have a 20gallon tank, you can easily think of keeping cichlid fishes, never before kept any of them. Then try Convict cichlids, Amatitlania (Archocentrus) nigrofasciata. Fairly easy fish to take care of, water chemistry is never an issue for this fishes, the pocket sized monsters who can stand against a fish twice of its size. Even there are instances where a mated pair of convicts kill a twice sized oscar fish kept in the same tank. But I will recommend to first time go with a species specific tank, that is a tank with convicts only.

The albino pair of mine, the front one is the male
Classification of Convict Cichlids:
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae

Genera: Amatitlania (Archocentrus)
Species: nigrofaciata

Size of Convict cichlid:
a full grown convict reaches 5-6 inches (15cm) in home aquarium, females are an inch or two smaller than the male convicts.

Minimum tank size to keep and breed convict:
At least 20 gallons is necessary to house a mated pair of convict.
pH: 6.0 to 8.0 (Convict can tolerate an wide range of pH if kept stable)
Temperature: 68°- 80°F (20° to 27° C)
And an important fact is that they are not in the IUCN Red List.
These fishes are widely distributed in various regions of Central America like Guatemala, El Salvadore, Costa Rica and Panama.
It has black vertical bars on it's bluish-lavender body. There is usually a pink tinge to it's belly, and well-kept fish will have an iridescent pattern on their fins and sides. Both the dark stripes and pink belly become more pronounced during breeding. Males usually have darker stripes and pointier fins (in addition to their usually larger size), and fully mature ones will sometimes have a bit of a hump on their head. Females have pinker bellies and are usually rounder.
There are various morph or variety of convict cichlids present in the hobby., like the pink convict or albino convict and marble convict. These two are little bit difficult to breed in comparison with the normal striped convicts and are costlier and hard to find. At Kolkata, you can find the normal and the albino convict quite regularly at the Sunday market of Galiff street.

These fishes are amazing survivors and adaptors. pH, temperature, if kept stable, are never a problem for them to adjust.

Only one thing to keep in mind is that convicts are not for the weak of heart and for those fishkeepers with peaceful community tank fish. These fishes are NOT known for their gentle dispositions, and need to be kept with other aggressive, larger fish that will hold their own (it can and will harass some fish to death). They are best kept alone or with their own kind, but fascinating fish to watch. Or you can build a CS set up, Central South American community tank with single convict, oscar,green terrors etc. The reason convict should be kept single in a tank with other species is that they becomes most aggressive during the time of spawing.

The free swimming fries, 10 days old

Breeding convict cichlid

Convicts are among the easiest bred fish in captivity, they breed like livebearers, and usually the convict keeper has a problem of keeping the baby fries, they breed in every 2weeks, or sometime less than that. And the parents usually care for the fries for 10days or so, and eat them before the next batch arrives. Sp you have to be sure that you separate all the fries from the parents before that. Only thing you have to provide is a flower pot, or rock made cave where the females will lay the eggs.

Feeding convict cichlid:

Convicts can be fed a variety of foods, including flakes, cichlid pellets, frozen/live brine shrimp, blood worms, and vegetables like chopped-up spinach leaves. You can alkso feed them on chopped shrimps. They will also love occasional treat of feeder guppys. They are omnivorous, and not picky eaters, but very greedy.

The best way to get a pair of convicts is to buy 6 small sized ones, and raised them till a pair is formed naturally, and then remove the rest. I have successfully kept and bred the albino convicts in a 2-1-1(L-B-H) tank. Later I have experimented on crossbreeding one normal striped male with an albino female, but that was a failure.

The set up with a normal male convict with two female albinos.


  1. how do u tell a pink is male or female

    1. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151067684872105&set=a.10150691462207105.380997.542627104&type=1&theater heres a pic

    2. Males grow larger and get a slight hump on the head. Females are smaller, rounder and have a orange belly.

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