FAQs on Convict Cichlid
Related Articles: Convicts, Freshwater Angels, Discus, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General,
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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 Disease, Cichlid Reproduction,
convict cichlids, repro. beh.; plus water trtmt.
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
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
<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
<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
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
Female black convicts, stkg./sel., comp.,
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
<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
(used to establish the tank) There are 3 live plants and a pot and a
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
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
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
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
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
<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.
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
(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.
<We're all volunteers here, so your kind words are much
Re: Female black convicts 12/6/11
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
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.
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
(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
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Convict Goes Wild, beh., sys.
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
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
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
I was wondering if I could put 6 or 7 adult males in my 35 gallon long
< 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
< 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.
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
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
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.
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
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.>