Convict cichlid

Aquarium fish: Convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)
Size: 15 cm
Origin: America
Water temperature: 24-28 ° C
Aquarium volume: 80 l

Convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) – a popular and very aggressive freshwater aquarium fish of the genus cichlids.


Central America . The species is found in the areas of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Also found in the USA and Australia. It inhabits various habitats – flowing waters, ponds and lakes.

It does not swim in open space, it mainly stays near hiding places.

Characteristics and disposition

The sex of adult fish is easy to distinguish. Adult males are larger than females and have pointed dorsal and anal fins. Some individuals may have a fatty hump. Females have a characteristic dark spot on the dorsal fin and are more colorful during the spawning season – the lower abdomen is orange.

Extremely popular and easily acclimatizing species of cichlids. It is difficult to say whether they are suitable for a beginner aquarist because despite their endurance and easy reproduction, they are not suitable for a social tank. However, if someone wants to breed zebras and witness their unusual parenting behavior, they are fish worth recommending. It exists in several breeding varieties, including the popular pink , leucist, marbled and elongated fins.

Nutrition and feeding

Zebra cichlids are not picky fish, they eat most of the available food.

A balanced diet will keep them in the best condition.


For one pair of cichlids, an aquarium with dimensions of 90x30x30 cm is recommended, although they are sometimes successfully kept and reproduced in smaller collections. If we want to keep more cichlids or together with other species, a correspondingly larger housing will be needed. Fish need a large number of hiding places made of roots or stones, and places where they can spawn. Additional caves can be created, for example, from pots.

Plants can be used to decorate the tank, but those that are planted can be dug out of the ground, so you should choose those with hard leaves that grow tied to the ornaments. Unfortunately, they often end up in a general aquarium for which they are not suitable. Although they are often recommended for beginners, the best home for them is a species aquarium. The species is very aggressive and territorial and even brutal during the spawning period. It will take up competition even with fish several times bigger than itself and easily wins such a fight.

In a very large aquarium they can be kept with Central American Cichlids.


Zebra cichlids are one of the easiest species to breed in an aquarium. Perfect for those who begin their adventure with cichlids. Specimens measuring 5-6 cm in length are fully sexually mature and ready for breeding. To select a pair of this species, it is usually enough to let the female and the male into one aquarium.

If this does not work, we buy a group of young fish. As soon as the fish pair, if we do not have a huge tank, let’s be prepared to separate other fish. If space is not an issue, you may find that more pairs are formed. The reservoir itself should be prepared as above, i.e. with a lot of caves, grottos and hiding places.

Several clay pots will provide potential spawning grounds. Before the planned reproduction, we feed the fish with a variety of foods and make large (up to 50%) weekly water changes that should encourage them to spawn. The fish show their readiness to spawn with their intense coloration. The female selects and clears the spawning site. After the male’s intense courtship, he lays up to 300 eggs.

He also takes responsibility for their protection and care, while the male patrols the territory and chases away other fish. For such a small fish, it is characterized by surprisingly high aggression and can even attack the aquarist’s finger. Hatching takes place after 3-4 days. Then they are transferred to a previously dug hole in the substrate, where they remain until the gallbladder is absorbed. Within 4-7 days, some pairs can transfer the fry to other wells, after which the young begin to swim freely.

We feed the fry with artemia, gradually introducing crushed flake food. The fish will also scrape off any algae and organic matter they find. Parental care is excellent. Parents stay with their children for several weeks. The cubs swim close to the female, and the male continues to guard the territory.

It is worth adding that due to the ease of breeding, it will be difficult to breed fish. Most aquarium stores will refuse to accept them, and even if so, the price for them will be unattractive.


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