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Convict Cichlid Tank Mate Selection and Care

Updated on February 1, 2015
The Convict Cichlid is recognized by it's vertical black stripes which run the length of it's body giving it the appearance of being dressed in a convict's outfit.
The Convict Cichlid is recognized by it's vertical black stripes which run the length of it's body giving it the appearance of being dressed in a convict's outfit.

If you are a beginner or have been keeping aquarium fish for a long time you will agree that keeping tropical fish in an aquarium is a great hobby. For beginning aquarium owners, you might take a look at the Convict Cichlid as a good option for your first aquarium fish. This unique fish is great for beginners because of how hardy it is and how easy it is to look after in a home aquarium. They are easy and fun to take care of, and really do not get that large. There isn't really any special maintenance needs that they require but it is important to watch what other fish you keep in the tank.

Convict Cichlid Care

The Convict Cichlid gets its name from the distinctive stripes that make them easily identifiable from other tropical fish. They eat a variety of common fish food and plants and have no special dietary needs. Their habitat does not need anything special although they do prefer a gravel bottom and some cave-like structures, such as up ended flower pots. Using some form of floating vegetation is a good idea to help with dimming any light from the hood.

The Convict Cichlid is a tropical fish and prefers warm water that is in the range of 74 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so the aquarium will need to be heated using a good, reliable aquarium heater. Because of their nature to dig in the gravel, undergravel filters do not make the best filters for Convict Cichlids. You should choose a good power filter or a canister filter (go with a canister filter if you will be breeding your Cichlids).

Convicts Cichlids Need Plenty of Space

The biggest concern with these fish is that they are territorial. They will get along well with other fish of the same breed but there must be enough room for them in the aquarium. While these fish do not grow as large as other tropical fish, like Tiger Oscars, they still need their space. They will attack other fish if they are not kept in a large enough aquarium. It is not uncommon for them to attack other aggressive tropical fish including much larger Tiger Oscars. These fish will fight and can inflict damage to each other if they are provided enough space to allow them to claim their own territories. Providing enough space for them will also allow them to grow to their full size and be much healthier.

Convict Cichlids are one of the easiest Cichlids to breed and are a great choice for the first-time breeder. A breeding pair should be kept in their own aquarium of at least 40 gallons in size because the breed easily and often. If you provide them a good diet and they will soon spawn with out any extra special care from the aquarium owner. The pair will chose a flat surface which can be a rock inside your tank and lay hundreds of eggs. Both the male and female will protect the eggs and fry.

Convict Cichlids are Great First Fish

With a few precautions, the convict cichlid makes a great first fish for anyone who wants to keep tropical fish. Many enthusiasts continue to keep them because their unique appearance and easy care makes them highly desirable. Once the basics of tropical fish care and handling is understood, some may choose to expand their set-up to include larger tropical fish like Tiger Oscars.

Reader Feedback

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    • Web Gazelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Web Gazelle 

      7 years ago from USA

      @connie - If you are worried about the parents eating the babies you can take them out (or move the parents) once they are free swimming.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      when is a good time to take the babies out of the tank so the parents wont eat them

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 

      7 years ago from East Coast

      They are the aquarium equivalent of yippy small dogs but they are otherwise very good fish to start out with. As a teen I had Red Oscars and Convicts in a large tank (50 or 60 gallons) and can attest to the fact that the Convicts would nip at the Oscars without reason.


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