Thursday, March 8, 2012

Aquarium Fish, Convict Cichlid-Archocentrus Cichlidae

Male and Female Convict Cichlids With Fry

Aquarium fish, the most popular aquarium fish is Convict Cichlid gets its name from the distinctive 6 to nine stripes that make them easily identifiable from any other tropical fish and Convict cichlid markings resemble 19th century prison uniforms worn by the inmates.

Convict cichlid are carnivorous, herbivore this animal needs their greens Convict Cichlid eat a variety of common fish food and plants and have no special dietary needs. Their habitat does not need anything special although they do prefer a natural colored gravel bottom with large rocks and caves like structures, such as clay flower pot with hole in the bottom and use floating aquatic plant vegetation is always necessary to help with dimming lights from your aquarium hood lights and set your hood lights with and inexpensive timer that will automatically shut off the lights after being on for eight hours remember this cichlid thrives in low light.

Plant in substructure Amazon swords, Christmas moss and lie on top of your substructure moss balls further (never ever use plastic flower pot when the female lays her eggs she won’t know the difference between plastic or clay but her eggs will not adhere to the plastic surface) for the convict cichlid remember this fish is a heavy digger and tearing up plants is a given but plants are necessary for the cichlid overall growth and development.

The Convict Cichlid is a tropical fish and prefers warm water that is in the range of 74 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so the aquarium will require a good, reliable aquarium heater. Because the convict cichlid nature to dig in the gravel, under gravel filters do not make the best filters for Convict Cichlids.

You should choose a good canister filter because your convict cichlid will be breeding; I use Aquaripure because it eliminates weekly water changes and keeps my aquariums nitrate balanced so I’m able to maintain and breed all types of tropical fish.

Originally I purchased Aquaripure because it reduced water changes, pH and disease problems that were occurring in my tanks; the breeding of my fish just happen because their water conditions had became so much better the nitrate, pH were in balance; I know this because I test my water routinely.

Convict Cichlid Require Large Amount of Aquarium Real-estate as Their Own.

The biggest concern with these fish is that they are territorial. They will get along well with other fish of the same breed but there must be enough room for them in the aquarium. While these fish do not grow as large as other tropical fish, like Tiger Oscars, they still need their space; convicts will attack other fish if they are not kept in a large enough aquariums. It is not uncommon for them to attack other aggressive tropical fish including much larger fish like Oscars. These fish will fight and can inflict damage to each other if they are provided enough space to allow them to claim their own territories. Providing enough space for convict will also allow them to grow to their full size and they will be much healthier long term.

Convict Cichlids is one of the easiest Cichlids to breed and are a great choice for the first-time breeder; aquarium of at least 60 gallons in size or 227.124707 liters; if you provide convicts with a good diet and they will soon spawn with out any extra special care from the aquarium owner. The pair will chose a flat surface which can be a rock inside your tank or the top of their cave and females will lay hundreds of eggs. Both the male and female will protect the eggs and fry.

Convict Cichlids Are Most Studied Fish World Wide

With a few precautions, this fresh water fish the convict cichlid makes a great fish for anyone who wants to keep tropical fish. Many enthusiasts continue to keep them because their unique appearance and easy care makes them highly desirable. Once the basics of tropical fish care and handling is understood, some may choose to expand their set-up to include larger tropical fish like African Cichlids or Asian Cichlids or even Salt Water Fish.

What is the Best Convict Cichlid Food to Use? – Your Need to Understand Benefits Convict Cichlid Effective Diet

Convict cichlid in their natural habitats, this species feeds on crustaceans, (definition crustaceans: class of mandibulate arthropods including: lobsters; crayfish; crabs; shrimps; woodlice; barnacles; decapods; water fleas;) small fish, insects, various worms, plants and algae; further social status and associated stress can affect digestive function in convict cichlids. Providing the best cichlid food for your convict is one responsibility that an owner makes to his or her cichlids.

Aside from providing the best environment, food is basically one of the most important needs of fish that must be given importance. It is the key to their survival. Most of the time, it is the essential tool for their growth, reproduction and appearances. Nevertheless, large number of cichlid species being sold today in the market has diverse feeding requirement. Thus, it is hard to identify what is the best food to give them. The food that you give them need not only satisfy their hunger. But also provide proper nutrition for them to use in their lives.

Good source of protein are live crickets, they eat insect larvae, so go buy a pack of frozen (not freeze dried) bloodworms. They will enjoy those. Floating cichlid pellets aren't a terribly good staple diet anyway because they tend to cause constipation if used alone. As well as wet frozen bloodworms, you could also try frozen krill, frozen brine shrimps and chopped seafood of various types (prawn, clam, and squid). Some people have success using freeze-dried foods but in over 35 years of fishkeeping I have yet to own a fish that enjoyed them! Hence I recommend the wet frozen foods you store in the freezer. All fishes go wild for these.

So I'd buy a small package and try them out first if I were you I would also feed them live white worms and live brine shrimp. They usually contain multivitamins to promote good health. This has the tendency to boost their immune systems as well as help improve the digestive function. These are manufactured to make feeding these to cichlids easier and less stressful for you. The food supplement it contains make it considerable important nutritional source for your pets. Convict cichlid like salad this will be obtained by them munching on algae and aquatic plants. You need to feed them spirulina in flake form or frozen spirulina. 

Algae are food that most herbivorous fish feed on. They can be fed, in the forms of wafers, balls or discs, to provide vegetable-enriched nutrients to your pets. Look for those that are infused with spirulina which is a food supplement widely known for as blue-green algae. They also have excellent nutritional and healing qualities. It is rich in protein, vitamin B-12, Beta Carotene, essential fatty acids and minerals. Herbivorous cichlids need this algae food for strength, stamina and longevity. These are fairly inexpensive, making it a practical food choice.

Processed dry fish flakes, pellets, granules or balls are common food for the fish. They are also the cheapest. In selecting the food to buy, you need to look for those that are packed with meat and vegetables. Select those that are with various nutrients needed by your pets. These nutrients include omega-3 fatty acids for additional energy and fast growth as well as vitamin C for good health. Color enhancers are also added to bring about better coloration to your fish. Others contain different nutrients that add to the needed nourishments.

Organic foods that are fresh and live are important to the health of your fish they are great sources of protein. However do not feed your convicts live feeder fish in addition, be cautious over the live food you buy because they are not always clean or disease free. I use to feed my sale water ells live feeders and my ells would die in a year or two, when I stopped feeding live feeders my ells are now nine years old.

The best cichlid food should not only diminish the cichlid’s cravings; it needs to provide the proper nutrients that are necessary for them to prolong their health and life. Most of the time, feeding is treated as an obligation; but since this is an integral part of the living thing’s existence, it is best to be given utmost consideration and thought; after all, that is a call to responsible ownership of pets.

Monogamous Convict Cichlids Spanning Male and Female Cichlid
Scientific Classification
Kingdom:       Animalia
Phylum:           Chordata
Class:             Actinopterygii
Order:             Perciformes
Family:            Cichlidae
Subfamily:      Cichlasomatinae
Genus:            Archocentrus

Archocentrus is a small genus of cichlid fishes from Central America. The genus currently contains 3 species It formerly included 7 of the species now included in the genus Cryptoheros, as well as the convict cichlid, now included in the genus Amatitlania.  The Rainbow Cichlid, Archocentrus multispinosus, was formerly included in the genus Herotilapia. A 2008 study led by Oldrich Rican suggested that the Rainbow Cichlid is actually more closely related to the Jack Dempsey (genus Rocio) and the cichlids of the genus Astatheros than to the other Archocentrus cichlids, and thus under consideration to be moved back to the genus Herotilapia
Convict Cichlids in Caves
    Archocentrus centrarchus Gill, 1877
    Rainbow cichlid, Archocentrus multispinosus, Günther, 1867
    Archocentrus spinosissimus Vaillant & Pellegrin, 1902


Albert Günther originally described the species in 1867 after Frederick DuCane Godman and Osbert Salvin collected specimens in Central America.[4] In 2007, the species was moved from the genus Archocentrus to a new genus, Amatitlania based on Juan Schmitter-Soto's study of Archocentus species. However, a 2008 study led by Oldrich Rican proposed moving the species in Cryptoheros and Amatitlania, including Amatitlania nigrofasciata into the genus Hypsophrys.

Female Convict Cichlid
The convict cichlid displays significant color variation across its range. Some of these regional variants are now considered different species In the cichlid-keeping hobby, Rusty Wessel collected one such fish Amatitlania siquia "Honduran Red Point" from a stream in Honduras. The Honduran Red Point Convict ranges from Atlantic Honduras south to Costa Rica. Other new species formerly included in A. nigrofasciata are:

    Amatitlania coatepeque, from Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador, and
    Amatitlania kanna, from Panama's Atlantic coast

The type species, A. nigrofasciata, which used to cover all these species, is restricted to the northern population ranging from El Salvador to Guatemala on the Pacific coast and from Honduras to Guatemala on the Atlantic coast

A number of synonyms exist for this species including: Archocentrus nigrofasciatus, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum, Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus and Heros nigrofasciatus.


The common name convict cichlid is, like the species name, derived from the vertical black stripes on the fishes body and their similarity to the striped prison uniforms of British convicts. Similarly, the species epithet nigrofasciatus literally means black-striped.


The wild-type of the species has 8–9 black vertical bars on a blue-grey body, along with a dark blotch on the operculum. Juvenile convict cichlids are monomorphic until they reach sexual maturity. Unusually for fish, the female is more highly colored.

Convict Cichlid
The male is mostly gray with light black stripes along the body. Males are larger than females, and they have more pointed ventral, dorsal and anal fins which often extend into filaments. In addition, older males frequently develop vestigial fatty lumps on their foreheads.

She has more intense black bands across the body, and pink to orange colouration in the ventral region and on the dorsal fin. The average standard length of mature males in the wild ranged from 6.3–6.6 centimeters, while breeding–sized females ranged from 4.2–5.5 centimeters.

The maximum standard length has been reported to be 10 centimeters, with total length near 12 centimeters (4.7 in). Body weight has been reported to range from 34–36 grams (1.2–1.3 oz).

Selective breeding has resulted in a leucistic strain of convict cichlids, in which the dark barring of the wild type is absent. These are also known as white convicts, pink convicts, gold convicts and A. nigrofasciata "Kongo",. The leucistic colouration is caused by a mutation in an autosomal gene and is recessively inherited

Range and habitat

A female convict cichlid caught on a hook and line in the heated outflow of a coal power plant in Victoria, Australia.

Convict cichlids are endemic to the lakes and streams of Central America. In particular, the species occurs along the eastern coast of Central America from Guatemala to Costa Rica, and on the western coast from Honduras to Panama. Convict cichlids prefer moving water nd are most frequently found in habitats with cover in the form of rocks or sunken branches. Convict cichlids are relatively tolerant of cool water, an ability which has allowed the species to colonies volcanic lakes at elevations of 1,500 meters (4,900 ft).  At four natural habitats of the convict cichlid in Costa Rica, the pH was found to range from 6.6–7.8, while GH ranged from 63 to 77 ppm CaCO3. The daily water temperature ranged from 26–29 °C (79–84 °F).

Feral populations

The species also occurs outside its natural range in Australia: in the warm effluent of power stations in Victoria, and in tropical Queensland.[21] In addition to Australia, the species has been introduced to Réunion, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan and the USA.

Close up of a male convict cichlid showing teeth

In natural habitats, the species feeds on crustaceans, small fish, insects, various worms, plants and algae. Social status and associated stress can affect digestive function in convict cichlids.


The species can reach sexual maturity at as young as 16 weeks, though sexual maturity more commonly occurs at 6 months. Sexually mature convicts form monogamous pairs and spawn in caves or crevices. In the wild, the fish excavate caves by moving earth from underneath large stones. Females lay the eggs on the upper or side surfaces of the cave to which they adhere.


Like most cichlids, convicts brood (exhibit parental care of) both eggs and free-swimming fry.

After fertilization the eggs hatch after approximately 72 hours. During that time, the parents expel intruders and potential egg predators from around the nest. They also fan the eggs, moving water with their fins over the clutch to bring oxygen to the eggs. They fan the eggs both day and night, using their sense of smell to recognize the presence of the eggs in the dark, and keeping their pelvic fins in contact with the eggs to remain at the right distance for fanning. The parents also recognize each other via their sense of smell, and sniff out and react to the presence of potential predators.
Wild Caught Female Convict Cichlid w/Fry
After hatching, a further 72 hours is required for the larvae to absorb their yolk sacs and develop their fins prior to becoming free-swimming fry.  While in this free swimming stage, fry forage during daylight in a dense school and return to the cave or crevice for the night. Like other cichlids, the parents also retrieve their young just before dark, sucking up three or four fry at a time into their mouth, swimming back to the nest, and spitting the young into it. The parents do this in anticipation of night arrival, using an internal time sense to know that night is approaching, as shown by laboratory experiments in which convict cichlids continued to retrieve even before nights that were not preceded by any signal such as dim light. During the night, the fry bunch up at the bottom of the cave or nest, where the parents fan them.

Both parents remain involved in guarding the fry from brood predators and engage in behaviors to assist feeding such as moving leaves or fin digging. Brood care of eggs, larvae and free-swimming juveniles in the wild can last 4–6 weeks and occurs only once per season for the majority of females. In contrast, females in aquariums are known to breed many times per year with short intervals of 12–13 days between broods, as long as suitable rocks or similar surfaces are available for them to lay their eggs on,

In captivity, breeding pairs of convict cichlids have been demonstrated to adopt similarly aged fry from other parents. In other cichlids it has been suggested this behavior may reduce predation on the fry belonging to the adoptive parents, through a dilution effect.

Aquarium care

Convict cichlids are easily maintained and bred in aquaria. Decorate the aquarium to mimic the natural environment and include rocks and artificial caves for breeding. The species is an unfussy omnivore and most types of prepared fish foods are readily accepted. The species also consumes aquatic plants. Convict cichlids are aggressively territorial during breeding and pairs are best kept alone. Brood care is reduced in aquarium strains. Due to the species' tendency to dig, external filtration is superior to undergravel filter systems. Its relatively small size, along with ease of keeping and breeding, make the convict an ideal cichlid for beginners and advanced aquarists alike interested in observing pair bonds and brood care.

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Convict Cichlid said...

These Zebra cichlids are beautiful!

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