Red Terror Cichlid - A Fish with Attitude
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!