Vieja melanurus

Aquarium fish: Vieja melanurus (Paraneetroplus synspilus)
Size: 35 cm
Origin: America
Water temperature: 24-30 ° C
Aquarium volume: 240 l

Vieja melanurus (Paraneetroplus synspilus ) – a beautiful, colorful and large aquarium fish from the cichlid family.


Central America. Endemic species, occurs only in the Usumacinta River basin in western Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Found in slow-flowing and stagnant freshwater – rivers, lakes, and sometimes in brackish waters.

Characteristics and disposition

Adult male can be up to 35 cm long, female up to 30 cm long.

The species is characterized by a beautiful multi-colored coloration. In adults, the head and gill covers are pink and red, the center is greenish blue, and the back and sizable tail are orange-yellow. There may be dark spots near the tail and along the lower abdomen. The dimorphism is clearly marked. With age in males, a large fatty hump appears, the dorsal and anal fins are elongated and color more intensively.

Females are smaller, less colorful and more rounded. They show great territorialism and aggression towards their species, and in too small a space also towards other fish. It is best to keep in an aquarium singly or in pairs.

Nutrition and feeding

In nature, they mostly eat algae and small invertebrates. Feeding them in the aquarium is not a problem.

To a large extent, they should eat special plant foods for cichlids, supplemented with live and frozen foods, e.g. shrimps, mussels, fish meat.


Due to the fact that the male shows a lot of aggression during the breeding period, a pair will need an extensive min. 240l tank. Vieja melanuruss prefer sand as a substrate, they eagerly and often dig in it, changing the aquarium decor from time to time.

They require a lot of hiding places, they can, for example, be created with stones, sea wood, roots, pots and PVC pipes. Plants are not recommended, and if anything, only the hardy ones and planted in pots. With such large fish, filtration will be necessary, but the water current will not be too strong. Quiet rivers and stagnant waters inhabit their natural habitats. Regular weekly water changes are also recommended.

In very large aquariums they can be kept with other Central American cichlids, but it is important to provide enough hiding places to define territories for all inhabitants. The matched pair usually lives in harmony, but you have to be careful with the male’s excessive insistence.


A well-chosen pair of multicolored cichlids willingly breed in the aquarium. The difficulty, however, is in choosing partners. Breeders recommend buying young fish and allowing them to recover naturally.

Adult fish from different sources should not be combined, as this usually results in the death of the female. The pair selects and clears a spawning site, most often it is a large smooth stone, and sometimes a cave. Spawning begins with the male’s aggressive behavior towards the female, this is normal, but if it is too exaggerated, the female should be separated. Hatching takes place after 2-3 days. After another 4 days, the fry begin to swim on their own.

In the initial period, brine shrimp larvae should be fed, with time passing to micro nematodes and crushed dry foods.


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