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Red Terror Cichlid - A Fish with Attitude

Updated on April 19, 2011

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The author's adult female Red Terror Cichlid
The author's adult female Red Terror Cichlid

The Red Terror cichlid has been assigned and re-assigned various scientific names including Cichlasoma festae, Heroes festae, Amphilophus fesate, and ExCichlasoma fesate. It is a large growing South American cichlid with an extremely aggressive disposition. Many experienced hobbyists consider Red Terror cichlids as one of the most aggressive aquarium residents and they are often difficult to maintain with other species. A small 3" Red Terror may get along with a group of other similarly sized cichlids until they reach about 6"-7" inches in length at which time they will wreak havoc on other aquarium residents. Although there can be variation from fish to fish, Red Terrors as a whole are very aggressive and territorial.

Males typically reach 15"-16" and females usually top out at 12". A single specimen requires a 75 gallon aquarium and a pair will need a minimum tank size of 125 gallons. Although juvenile Red Terrors can be housed in smaller aquariums it is important to be able to devote a large aquarium to their needs as large fish have a large waste output. The largest possible tank should be utilized, especially if one anticipates attempting to house a Red Terror with other species. A breeding pair of Red Terrors should not be maintained with any other tank residents as their aggression goes into hyper-drive when spawning and this will result in the death of tank-mates.  

Due to their large size and large appetites, strong filtration is a must in a Red Terror Aquarium. Appropriate filtration methods can be achieved through the use of large hang-on-the-back power filters, canister filters, or wet-dry sump filters. Large and frequent water changes are also required to maintain optimal health and 50% water changes can be performed at least once a month. If time permits it would ideal to perform water changes every 2 weeks to keep your Red Terror in prime condition. Appropriate tank parameters include a Ph range of 6.5 to 7.5 and temperature ranging from 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Red Terrors are hardy aquarium residents that will consume almost all foods offered and foods should be matched with their size. Smaller Red Terrors can be fed various items including cichlid flakes, small cichlid pellets, bloodworms, beefheart, mysis shrimp, and brine shrimp. Larger Red Terrors should be fed bulkier items to maintain their health such as large cichlid pellets/sticks, krill, earthworms, and cut fish fillets.

As a final note, Red Terrors have a ton of attitude and personality, they like to dig in the gravel and will rearrange tank décor to their liking. Large Red Terrors will often challenge and display to humans who peer into their watery quarters and sometimes will bite the glass to protect their territory from the perceived intruders. Red Terrors often times recognize their owners and will beg for food at the front of the tank in a fashion similar to that of Oscars. If you are looking for a pet fish with attitude and bright colors then look no further than the Red Terror cichlid!  

The author's adult male Red Terror Cichlid
The author's adult male Red Terror Cichlid


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    • profile image

      John c. 

      22 months ago

      I have a male red tiger Montaguense cichlid and female red terror cichlid these are my favorite cichlids to breed I can't wait for the babies to come.

    • profile image

      we are the red terror cichlid&red tiger motaguense cichlid crew. 

      2 years ago

      To my red terror & red tiger motaguense cichlid crew are you ready to challenge the red devil and midas cichlid hobbyists and let them know the red terror and red tiger motaguense cichlid is the best.

    • profile image

      wolfman jenkins 

      2 years ago

      I have a male red terror cichlid that I will be breeding with a female red tiger motaguense cichlid to make cichlids I call the (RED PHOENIX KING CICHLID). But we do have a hater in our mists it a petstore called gunpowder aquatics they try to tell you what you can or cannot breed they are the worst I told them my cichlids will be the GREATEST OF ALL TIME. And that he should stay in his lane.if any red terror cichlid hobbyists run Into this petstore tell them they're losers.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Oh yeah: and the convict cichlids won't bully It again either. Did y'all know there is a YouTube video of a pair of convict cichlids attcacking a sinsle male red terror cichlid. Thats why I'm gonna make my red red terror/red tiger motaguense cichlid hybrid pairs as well just in case any con's want to try to jump it. It will be called the (phoenix king cichlid).

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      The red terror cichlid and red tiger motaguense cichlid is my favorite. I have a male red terror in one tank and a male red tiger motaguense cichlid in the other. I will soon get my male red terror cichlid a female red tiger motaguense and a female red terror for my male red tiger motaguense cichlid to make my huge hybrids that way red devils,midas,flowerhorns, jack Dempsey's and Oscars will never pick on another red terror cichlid again.

    • SomethingFishy84 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Indiana

      Thank you for the kind words marvel!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      hey awesome hub hope to see more of your work in the near future!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the comprehensive, easy to follow article. I had to smile about the red terrors "redecorating" habits.

    • SomethingFishy84 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks Casey, this is my first hub and I appreciate the recognition!

    • Casey White profile image

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

      8 years ago from United States

      Great stuff. Love the photos and voted you UP.


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