Convict Cichlid

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 Family Cichlidae
Origin Central America
Social Aggressive
Tank Level Mid-dweller
Minimum Tank Size 30 gallons
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Egg layer
Care Intermediate
pH 6.5 to 8.0
Hardness 9-20 dkH
Temperature 68 to 77 F (20 to 25 C)

Origin and Distribution

Native to Central America, the Convict Cichlid has been raised in captivity for many generations, providing some protection for native fishes. Their scientific name, Amatitlania nigrofasciataI, describes them as from a region known for its rustic paper made from the Rock Fig (Ficus petiolaris).

Colors and Markings

The Convict Cichlid most commonly has a grey to silver body with multiple black vertical bars along the length of its body. These fishes may have iridescent patches along their elongated anal and dorsal fins. During breeding, female Convict Cichlid bellies may be slightly orange or red. There is an “albino” variety bred in the aquarium community that is also referred to as a Pink, White, or Gold Convict Cichlid. These leucistic fishes lack the Convict Cichlids’ black barring.


Due to their aggressive nature, be careful when selecting tank mates for the Convict Cichlid. Try to choose similar South American cichlid species that can hold their own. If you plan on breeding a pair of Convict Cichlids, it is best to keep them isolated from other fishes, given the pair will viciously protect their egg mass. Suitable tankmates include Green Terrors, Salvini Cichlid


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