Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Convict Cichlid Systems

Related Articles: Convicts, Freshwater Angels, Discus, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Convicts 1, Convicts 2, & Convict Identification, Convict Behavior, Convict Compatibility, Convict Selection, Convict Feeding, Convict Disease, Convict Reproduction, & Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,


convict cichlids, repro. beh.; plus water trtmt.        9/19/15
My convict cichlids are raising their second set of young. The fry are about 2 to 3 weeks old already. Mom protected the young for the most part
by herself. Then a week ago dad finally started to help with the job.
Both mom and dad have had the same blue with dark black stripes while raising the young.
However, today I noticed dad has the same colors and is the only one protecting the young chasing mom away as if she were any other fish. Mom's colors are lighter with no defined stripes, however she has an orangish color where the fins meet the body and her tummy isn't its normal red, it is more gold colored. She isn't protective of any specific location as if she was trying to lay more eggs either.
<All natural behaviours>
The only change I've made in the last 3 weeks was a water change last night. I only removed about 17 gallons out of a 55 gallon tank. I normally remove more water as I always forget to clean the filter using the pressure from the vacuum. I added water conditioners to remove the chlorine and heavy metals just like I always do.
<I strongly suggest you store the water to be changed out a week or more ahead of use. Municipal water is not a consistent product.... sometimes has a great deal more sanitizer, floc et al. in it. READ here:
and the linked files above>
This time I also put the decorations back in the same place. I did not clean the decorations or rocks near the babies.
They did not do this last time and they had about 40 fry, this time there's only around 10 - 15 fry. Is dad rejecting mom now?
<Doubtful; attentions are traded, shared; like birds watching a nest>
I love to watch them raise their young for me it's like watching the animal channel.
Thank you for your help and for actually answering people's questions.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: convict cichlids      9/21/15

Thank you for your quick response. I'm glad it's normal behavior.
I did read the link regarding municipal water. I use Aqueon water conditioner (contains polyvinyl compounds) at .5 ml per 5 gallons when adding water.
<This is a good copy/formulation>
I also have a Fluval C4 filter with a 2 stage mechanical sponge filter, carbon (Sea Chem Matrix Carbon), ammonia removing c-nodes, & bio screen 5 stage filter.
I add the water conditioner as I aerate the water when filling the bucket.
I always clean the bucket out prior to use by running it through the rinse cycle only in the dishwasher. No rinse aid is used in the machine at all, I use Lemon Shine (crystallized lemon acid for calcium removal and spotless dishes) with my detergent. We have very hard water that is high in calcium. So, we get lots of calcium deposits on the tank filter and light lenses.
<We call our water "liquid rock" in San Diego>
I don't really have anywhere to store water in a way that would keep parasites, bad algae, dirt (sand from dust storms), other contaminates, or pollutants out of the water until it's used. I usually do changes every 2 weeks but waited 1 week longer due to the fry.
Is what I'm doing sufficient to keep them healthy and prevent them from getting sick from the chemicals in the water or should I be doing more? I didn't mention that the tank also is home to my Plecostomus.
<Unfortunately, the periodic "pulsing" (adding a multiplied dose) of sanitizer (Chloramine) is still a threat. The best way to guarding against this is the use of a test kit for it... to monitor just ahead of using the treated water. Bob Fenner>

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.>

New Convict Tank   7/25/11
<Hello Hannah,>
So, I have three pairs of juvenile Convict Cichlids in a 25 gallon at the moment. I am aware that this is definitely over crowding them.
<Oh yeah!>
So to remedy the problem I am looking for a new home for one of my pairs, and have set up a another 25 gallon for the other. During set up of the new tank, I encountered logistical problems that required me to put the filter from my established tank onto my new one and vice versa. By a happy coincidence they are the same type of filter, one is just bigger than the other. Anyway, I was wondering how putting the established filter on my new tank effects the cycling time?
<It's like this. A filter needs at least 50% of its media to be mature
(i.e., at least 6 weeks old) to safely filter its aquarium. So, if your donor filter gives up enough media to fill at least 50% of the new filter, then that new filter will be ready to go. If the donor filter gives up only
enough media to fill up substantially less than 50% of the new filter's media capacity, then you should find the tank only partially cycled -- it'll fully cycle quickly, perhaps in as little as a week, but you will likely see non-zero ammonia and nitrite peaks. The smaller the amount of mature media donated, the higher and/or more persistent these non-zero levels will be. So by all means use mature media to jump start the cycling,
but be aware of the limitations.>
Also, I was wondering which pair to move, as it seems that I have one "dominant" pair that basically run the aquarium with the two other pairs hiding the corner.
<Doesn't much matter. Convict pairs will occupy new tanks extremely quickly.>
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Convict Goes Wild, beh., sys.   2/4/11
I have a single male I believe convict cichlid in a ten gallon aquarium. My question is why does he go nuts all the time. Most times he hides in a rock but when he comes out he flips jumps out the water (luckily I have a lid on or he would be in the floor) swims upside down. He will hit the gravel so hard that there are bare spots where there is no gravel. I mean he goes absolutely crazy.
He does this with the light on and off. I'm not quite sure what is going on do you have any advice or any ideas? James
< Chances are your convict is reacting to shadows and foot traffic near the tank that can scare him into jumping out. Move the tank to a different area of the house, add some floating plastic plants or cover the sides so he will not be so scared. In a bigger tank I would recommend adding dither fish like a school of barbs or tetras, but in a 10 gallon the waste products may become too much to handle.-Chuck>

7 Large male convict cichlids in a 35 gallon long tank?
Male Convict Cichlid Aggression   1/21/11

How aggressive are Convict males when there are no females?
< Single males are still aggressive and territorial because they are still cichlids.>
I was wondering if I could put 6 or 7 adult males in my 35 gallon long tank?
< Put them in as juveniles and let them sort out the pecking order before they become sexually mature.>
I know that would be over crowded but I do weekly water changes and over filter the water. I was thinking that any fish that gets bullied could hide in the crowd. With so many fish I was thinking that any aggression would be spread throughout the fish so no one fish is overly harmed. I would put them in all at once (tank is already cycled and currently has my to turtles that I'm moving to a 100 gallon) so none of them have a territory they are trying to defend. What do you guys think?
< It is a idea that is used all the time with Lake Malawi cichlids. It is just that a tank of convict males may be a little boring. They will still set up territories but there would still be less aggression than a spawning

Convict Cichlids, beh., sys.   8/30/10
Hi WWM, I acquired 3 Convict Cichlids about a day ago (1 large male and 2 smaller ones that I do not know the gender of yet) and the 2 smaller ones sit in one corner of my 25 gallon fish tank and the big one sits in my rock formation all day. They do not seem to be active at all, is this a problem?
Also, whenever I turn my fish tank light on the 2 small ones go crazy, they swim really fast in all directions. Is there something wrong with my light?
Thanks for reading my question. You're site is great!
<Assuming water quality and water chemistry are appropriate (i.e., 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10+ degrees dH, 5+ degrees KH, pH 7-8) then this sounds like a psychological problem. Your tank is really much too small for three random Convict cichlids, and the dominant male can, mostly likely will, badger any other males to death. Non-receptive females are likely to come in for a good deal of harassment as well. Like all cichlids, Convicts dislike bright lights, and in a small tank suddenly switching on bright lights will make them feel very threatened and exposed. I really can't see this combination of fish and aquarium size working for long. Back to the drawing board I'm afraid.
I will mention briefly that Convicts are among the most pointless fish in the hobby, and unless you have a darn good reason to need them, they're best avoided. There are many much more beautiful Central American cichlids out there, as well as species that behave much better. Inbreeding has caused massive problems with the species, and it is very common to see
specimens that are stunted, have poor colours, or deformities such as faulty swim bladders that mean they cannot swim properly. Convicts are fine as "filler" in a 200 gallon tank to go alongside larger, more impressive Central Americans kept singly, such as Midas Cichlids or Jaguar Cichlids, but on their own their pretty worthless. Great lab animals, but rather
boring pets that produce vast numbers of fry that pet shops don't want.
Unlike, say, Firemouth cichlids it's almost impossible to keep Convicts in community tank settings. What I'm saying is that if you have the option ton return these fish, and then procure some species better suited to a 25 gallon tank, like a pair of Kribensis for example, then go and do so.
Cheers, Neale.>

New Tank, overcrowded FW 9/22/05 Hi, <And Hi to you too, Adam J with you.> I made kind of a mistake by buying 3 blue Gourami, a pair of black convicts, a green terror, and a Pleco. I made the mistake by stuffing them in a tiny ten-gallon tank. <Uh-Oh.> In about a day, I will be getting a tank around 46-55 gallons. <Good move.> Can you tell me which fish to put in the new aquarium first? And then which ones to put in after that? <Well unfortunately even with the tank upgrade you wont be able to keep all of the fish you have purchased.  The cichlids are in a completely different class of aggression in comparison to your Gouramis. Eventually they would become lunch or be harassed into eventual death.  The Pleco may be able to avoid the aggression; it really depends on his size in comparison to your cichlids.  In short you are going to have to choose either the Gouramis or the cichlids for this set-up to work long term. Also even with the new tank size it is likely the Pleco will still outgrow it, the fish sold as 'common Pleco.' (Hypostomus punctatus, and a few others) all get to about 12' in length, some even bigger.> Also if you don't mind, I have another question for you. I recently got 2 convict cichlids, after close examination I found that one of them was much smaller and had an orange spot on its belly. The other was bigger and had much more color. I researched it and found out one was a female and one was a male. Sometimes they follow each other in the tank, and when the female gets picked on the male darts to her rescue. Also sometimes the male chases the female's tail and the female chases the male's tail, forming a circle. But in times, they seem to ignore each other. What's happening? <This sounds like 'pre-mating', Convict Cichlids will breed in captive systems.  However while this is amazing and fun to watch I see it as a future problem for you. When the Convicts do decide to breed they will become very aggressive in the protection of their young (even the father and mother may fight). They will harass any other fish in the aquarium with them. If you want to breed them without putting any of your other livestock at risk you'll either have to remove the other fish or move the convicts to another aquarium.> Thanks <Anytime, Adam J>

Setting Up Convict Cichlids  12/30/06 Thanks again! I hate to keep bothering you guys, but I just had a few more questions. You guys are the best source I've found yet! Keep up the good work. :)   I read the pages. I have had the twenty gallon set up for a few days now, and so I bought two convicts at a local trustworthy pet shop. I am almost 100% sure that I bought one male, and one female. The females have an orange-ish belly, right? < The female may have an orange belly. Males usually don't.> That's what I've read...And these seemed to be pairing off and swimming around the tank together more than the others. I have them in a ten gallon quarantine tank right now, since I don't have all the plants installed and the piece of Driftwood hasn't finished soaking. They seem to be doing just fine so far. A bit of the female chasing the male, but not much. They have ample hiding places in the ten, and I'll probably move them into the 20 gallon along with them. Are frozen bloodworms okay for them to eat? < They are part of a varied diet. Offer a quality flake food and some pelleted food as well.> Not every day of course, but maybe once or twice a week... Or not at all if it's not okay for them. I don't have any experience with anything besides African Cichlids, and the ones I've kept are/were all vegetarians. Thanks again! Zhara Zorgon < These cichlids are very easy to spawn as well as interesting to watch too.-Chuck>

How many convict cichlids can you fit in a 29 gallon tank - 7/23/07 Hello I just purchased a 29 gallon tank and I am interested in convict cichlids can I fit in there safely with extra filtration(35 gallons) <Greetings. The issue isn't filtration but behaviour. Convict cichlids are very territorial and belligerent. While a matched pair probably would use a 29 gallon tank safely for breeding, putting two unmatched fish in there will lead to all-out war. Male convict cichlids can and do kill females that don't respond favourably to them. Read some of the FAQs on neotropical cichlids to see past experiences of others along these lines. The standard way to care for convicts is to buy six juveniles and then remove the 4 excess ones once a pair forms. Alternatively, you may be able to buy a matched pair from another breeder, but there's no guarantees the bond will stay in place once you move them to your tank. Just to reiterate the point: if you add a male and female to a small tank (or even a big tank) and they've never met, the male will probably kill the female. Hope this helps. Neale>

Re: How many convict cichlids can you fit in a 29 gallon tank -- 07/23/07 what if I put all males or females in the tank with many separate caves and hiding places would they still attack each other? <What, no "hello" or "thank you"? So much for manners... Anyway, it doesn't matter how many caves or hiding places you use. The convicts will attack each other. It's what they do. If you want fishes suited to a 29 gallon tank, then choose small things like tetras or Corydoras. Much safer. Even dwarf cichlids like Kribs are likely to want to take over something as small as a 29 gallon tank. Please buy or borrow a book about cichlids, and read the articles here at WWM before proceeding. Yours etc., Neale.>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: