Also known as Zebra fish, the Convict Cichlid is an excellent beginner aquarium fish. Relatively small, they are easy to care for and have a striking appearance. It is important to remember, however, that any Cichlid fish will eat smaller tank mates and can be territorial. Do not keep them in tanks with fish that are similar in size or smaller. Convicts can be fun to breed, but it is important that potential owners be aware that breeding can significantly increase aggressive behavior.
Cichlids are very territorial during breeding, perhaps because they are such involved parents. Monogamous pairs will secret themselves away in a cave where they will lay eggs that they guard fiercely from potential predators. They will also fan the eggs all day and all night with their fins to make sure that the developing fry receive enough oxygen. After 72 hours the fry will hatch and 72 hours after that they will be free swimming. During the daylight hours they will be a thick cloud that forages for food, but at night the parents will scoop up three or four fry in their mouths and return them to the cave. Once the entire clutch has been safely retrieved, the parents guard the door and fan the fry though the night. This will last for up to 6 weeks. In captivity, Cichlids have been seen to adopt fry from other parents.
The most difficult aspect of caring for Convict Cichlids is decorating your tank. These fish do best in habitats that mimic their natural environment. Soft, sandy floors kept relatively deep, and places to hide or make caves are necessary to give this fish the environment it needs. Otherwise they do best in water kept between 68-74˚F with a pH of 6.8-7.5. Be aware that if you chose to use live plants in your aquarium, your Convicts will likely eat them.
Convicts are omnivores, and while they will happily eat flake food, they do best with a mix of live food and vegetation. Consider feeding your convict mosquito larvae or blood worms with shredded spinach or lettuce in addition to flake foods as it gives them some variety while meeting their dietary needs.
Size: 6 Inches
Freshwater/ Saltwater: Freshwater
Reef Compatibility: NA
Tank Mate Compatibility: 3
Lifespan: Up to 15 Years