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FAQs on Convict Cichlid Stocking/Selection

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Female black convicts, stkg./sel., comp., sys.   12/6/11
Good evening,
I have been looking at fish for a while now and I think this is what I would like to have in my tank. I have an established 37 gallon tank and a 75 gallon tank (not setup yet) the 37 gallon tank at the moment has 4 cherry barbs
<These are very small fish to keep with Convicts!>
and 2 rubber lip suckey fish in it.
<Do you mean Rubber-Nose Plecs, Chaetostoma species?
These fast-water fish are reasonably easy to keep, but they do need a lot of oxygen and despite high water temperatures. So ensure good filtration, excellent water quality, and a temperature no higher than 24 C/75 F.>
(used to establish the tank) There are 3 live plants and a pot and a cave.
The heater is 150 watt and the filter is a aqua clear 70. I have not seen much info on keeping female convicts together. I do not want breeding convicts so I was thinking about getting two or three female convicts.
Would this be a bad idea or would they get along being together?
<It can work. But Convicts are unpredictable fish; at least, in the sense that's it very hard to say that Convicts will ever behave well. Females, if you can identify them properly, should be less territorial and less waspish. But they're still bullish fish that can throw their weight around.
I would honestly hold out for two other species. One is the excellent Rainbow Cichlid, another South American species noted for its pretty colours and surprisingly gentle personality. It's not at all shy, and makes a great character fish. Pairs work well, too. Rainbows are unusual among Central American cichlids in largely leaving plants alone. Another species is the Honduran Red Point, a close relative of the Convict, but with nicer colours and a more peaceful personality. It's not as safe with plants as the Rainbow Cichlid.>
Thank you for your time and great website, very informational.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Female black convicts  12/6/11

Good morning,
Thank you for the reply and all the info.
<Glad to help.>
First off, to clarify the Cherry Barbs and one of the Rubber Nose Plecs (I stand corrected and yes, your right on the money) will be moving to the 75 gallon to start establishing that tank.
<The Chaetostoma WILL NOT do well in an un-cycled tank. But the Cherry Barbs could do okay, provided you keep nitrite and ammonia below 0.5 mg/l.>
Maybe a plant too.
I have bumped up the heat (now at 75) I did forget to mention, the back bubble wall (wand) and bubble volcano connected to a Tetra Whisper 60 regulated dual output air pump. (I think that is what it is called) I am more less looking for a fish some what similar in personality to the Tiger Oscar I used to have but much smaller in size.
<I see. Lots of options. The Rainbow Cichlids would be good. Angels can also be very tame. Bolivian Rams are reliable, unlike the Common Rams. A step up in size is the Blue Acara, good specimens of which are very pretty, and these are bold fish easily tamed. Do also think outside the cichlid paradigm. Sleeper Gobies, e.g., Mogurnda, and some of the Gouramis, e.g., Trichogaster leeri, can add character to medium to large community tanks.
Predators can work well too, like Spiny Eels and Hujeta Gar, if you can deal with their diet. My Hujeta Gar are weaned onto floating Cichlid Gold pellets so aren't difficult to keep, but I can hand feed them bits of fish and prawn if I want, and they're completely peaceful towards fish too large to be swallowed, such as Corydoras and Ameca splendens.>
He knew when I was around played with ping pong balls ate everything fed to him. I will research the fish you have listed, thank you very much for the info. From this being said, does any other fish come to mind?
<See above. But do understand Oscars are uniquely intelligent in a way few other fish are, so it's hard to promise anything would be exactly the same.>
I am trying to keep the fish to about 6 inches give or take.
<A good size range for tanks in the 40-100 gallon bracket.>
Thank you again.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Female black convicts  12/6/11

I just your email to me again just after adjusting the temp. Then just adjusted the temp back to 72 degrees. I read that wrong and corrected my mistake. No harm done.
<Indeed. Low-end tropical temperatures in the 22-25 C/72-77 F range are best for a surprisingly large range of aquarium fish: Corydoras, many Plecs, many barbs, Danios, Neon tetras, Acara cichlids, etc. Keeping them too warm shortens their lives and wastes money on heating bills!>
(Still drinking my morning coffee) By the way your website is now book marked on my pc, tablet, and phone. You are doing an excellent job. Thank you.
<We're all volunteers here, so your kind words are much appreciated.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Female black convicts  12/6/11

Good afternoon,
Thank you for the info and advice on fish to consider, I will do more research before making a decision.
<Glad to help.>
Point taken, I will not add the Chaetostoma in the uncycled tank.
<Wise. These are lovely fish, but slightly sensitive to pollution, as you'd expect from fish adapted to cool, shallow, well-oxygenated streams rather than rivers or swamps.>
You have been a huge help and really fast responses.
Thank you for your time.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

My Lonely Convict Cichlid Female   6/20/11
Hi, William here,
First off, I'd like to thank you guys for all the help you've given everyone here. Seriously, it is a lot of help. However, I can't seem to find an answer to my question. My female convict cichlid is alone and I was
wondering if anything will happen to her if I leave her alone, like, will her stomach be full of eggs to the point where she's going to have problems or will she just lay eggs that aren't fertile? Yeah, that's it I guess.
I've had her for 3 weeks now, and her belly seems plump.
Thanks for your help.
<Hello Will. A single female Convict will not come to any harm on her own.
In fact this is the best way to keep this species. She won't spawn, and no, she won't become egg-bound. Because female Convicts aren't particularly aggressive, she could even be kept in a mixed species set-up with medium-sized, fast-moving midwater fish such as Australian Rainbowfish or Swordtails. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My Lonely Convict Cichlid Female   6/20/11

Thanks Neale, my worries are put to rest.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Baby convicts... stkg./sel.    6/20/11
Hello, sorry to bother you guys, but don't know what to do. I got a few convicts for our 55gal tank, 2 white & 2 stripped. The 2 darker ones grew up & are males and started fighting so much that I had to move the "bully" into a 10 gal. Was going to bring him to my daughter's home, who has many many tanks. Because of the tank I was told he would go into, decided to keep him. After our visit, decided to adopt her female and put her in with the "bully" male. They laid eggs over Memorial Day weekend.
The parents started to act weird, so yesterday, we pulled the parents and took all the baby's and put them into a 35gal. hex, while the parents were in a bucket. We cleaned the tank they were in, and put parents back into 10gal. He chased her almost to death.
<To be expected in such a small volume>
So we put the female back into 55gal with the other male. He has been chasing her about as bad as the bully.
We have a 125gal, that has the 2 white convicts still, and don't want to up set another tank, but the female is in trouble.
We don't know if we should just put the female into the 35gal hex with her baby's, for fear she will eat them, but don't know what to do.
<I'd place this fish in the 125>
Please help. I have put several plants in the 55gal but doesn't stop the other male from chasing her, I fear we have upset all, and before we kill the baby's by putting her in with them after, I thought we might write to you.
We feel stupid and don't want to do any more harm then we already have.
Please help. My honey has become quite attached to these baby's as this is his first time being a parent.
Please tell us what to do to restore peace and keep the new mom and her baby's from harm.
Should we put the female into the 35gal hex with her baby's or will she eat them?
Thank you for any advice you could give us, as we are feeling really bad right now.
We have this on our favorites and are the only hope we have from making anymore mistakes. Please advise.
Thank you,
Pam & Keith
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Amatitlania nigrofasciata; social behaviour   11/17/09
hello again just want to know..in a 28 gallon tank can i put 2 male convict with 2 female convict together or is it better just to put one couple...tks in adv...
<Keep just a mated pair in a tank this side. Convict Cichlids can be very aggressive when spawning. Do think carefully before buying Convict Cichlids: many pet shops will not take unwanted fry, and you will soon have thousands! Cheers, Neale.>

New cichlid owner, Neotrop. sel.   9/17/09
I am going to buy 2 convicts in a couple weeks,
<Think very carefully about this. Convict cichlids, Amatitlania nigrofasciata, are much better lab fish than they are aquarium fish. They are super-aggressive, not especially pretty, and when they breed, they'll
produce a gazillion fry you won't be able to give away, let alone sell.
Would I ban them from the hobby? No, but I'd certainly make them prescription-only! Yes, they are this challenging.>
I am waiting for my tank to cycle.
<Using a fishless method? Do remember that having a tank filled with water but no ammonia source isn't cycling, it's just wet. The easiest way is to keep adding a pinch of flake food into the empty tank just as if there were some fish there. Every other day should be fine. The flake rots, it produces ammonia, and that cycles the filter. Takes about 3-6 weeks, to complete; use your nitrite test kit to tell when nitrite has spiked and then dropped to zero.>
I was wondering if you can give me any advise on how to set up my tank.
<Lots of rocks! Convicts are territorial and will defend a rocky crevice against all comers. Do see here:
Also i have read some pretty crazy stories on your site about convicts not getting along.
<Not crazy, honest. Males are extremely intolerant of one another, and they can be very hard on the females too.>
if i were to but two babies from the pet store, will they have a better chance of getting along?
<Only until such time as they became sexually mature, at about a year in age. At that point males would get nasty.>
any other advise?
<Honestly Riana, there are so many, more interesting Central American cichlids out there, I'd think very carefully before buying this species. Amatitlania siquia is quite a bit more docile, as well as prettier, and
being rather rarely traded, you'd at least be able to sell some of the fry.
Cheers, Neale.>

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