The convict cichlid is a very popular aquarium fish among the aquarium hobbyist which is also known as zebra cichlid. It occurs along the eastern coast of Central America from Guatemala to Costa Rica and on the western coast from Honduras to Panama. It is frequently found in moving water of stream and lakes of shallow rocky areas where cracks and crevices are available.

Convict Cichlid’s Overview

The Convict Cichlid has a stocky oval disc shaped body with pointed anal and dorsal fins.  Body is blue-gray, cream or blue-lavendar in color with 8 to 9 dark vertically running bands. The fins are clearish to light yellow in color. Back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral and pelvic fins have spiny rays while the front part of these fins is soft.  Males are larger than females of the same age. Females usually have pink or orange belly and dorsal fin while the males have longer dorsal fins and more rounded head profile. It grows up to 15.24 cm in length and 34-36 grams in weight. The convict cichlid can reach sexual maturity at the age of 6 months. It can live up to 10 years or more.  It prefers pH, hardness and temperature which range from 6.0-8.0, 6 – 8 0dGH and 72 – 82 0F, respectively.

Scientific Name: Amatitlania nigrofasciata

Common Name: Convict Cichlid, Zebra Cichlid, Albino Convict

Origin: Central America – Pacific side from Guatemala to Costa Rica, Atlantic side from Honduras to Panama

Adult Size: 15.24 cm

Behavior: Aggressive

Tank Level: All

Minimum Tank Size:  20 gallons

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Egg layer

Care level: Easy

Water pH: 6.0-8.0

Water Hardness: 6 – 8 0dGH

Water Temperature: 74 to 820 F

Water Movement: Moderate

Lighting:  Moderate – normal lighting

Lifespan:  10 years or more

Background of Convict Cichlid

The Convict Cichlid was described by Albert Günther in 1987. It belongs to the family Cichlidae under order Perciformes of class Actinopterygii. The common name convict cichlid is derived from the vertical black stripes on the body which are reminiscent of the striped prison uniforms of British convicts while the species name ‘nigrofasciatus’ literally means black-striped. At present this species is not listed on the IUCN Red List.

Housing Convict Cichlid

The cichlid convict is a very popular fish due to their good coloration and personality. It is very easy to care for and it is best for beginners due to their hardiness. It requires 20 gallons tank with plenty of space for swimming. The tank should have sandy substrate with rocks, roots and pieces of driftwood. They enjoy plants, especially floating plants to help subdue the light. The tank should also have good water movement and efficient filtration with wide range of pH that ranges from 6.0-8.0. The Convict Cichlid is an aggressive cichlid that should be kept with similarly sized or larger fish with same temperament. Suitable tank mates include the Blue Acara, Rainbow Cichlid, Jack Dempsey, Green Terrors, Jewel cichlids, Salvini, catfish, plecostamus as well as other convict. It should not be housed with fish that are peaceful, semi-aggressive and small sized fish. 25 – 50% of the tank water should be replaced at least once a month. If the tank is densely stocked 20 – 25% should be replaced weekly or every other week.

Recommended Plants

Check out recommended plants for Convict Cichlid

Feeding Convict Cichlid

The convict cichlid is an omnivorous fish and in wild condition it takes a wide variety of foods such as crustaceans, small fish, insects, worms, plants and algae. In captive condition, it accepts most prepared and frozen foods like cichlid flake food, pellets and vegetable based foods with Spirulina, blanched lettuce or other veggies. It also eats beef heart, freeze-dried bloodworms, Tubifex, plankton and worms. Feed should be supplied 2-3 times a day.

Breeding Convict Cichlid

The convict cichlid is cave spawner and it is one of the easiest fish in the world to breed in captive condition. Breeding tank water should have suitable temperature and pH which range from 77-82 0F and 6.0-8.0, respectively. Parents should be conditioned with live foods, such as bloodworms, Daphnia and brine shrimp to prepare for spawning. Feed should be supplied continue until spawning takes place. The mature female lays 100-300 eggs on the walls or top of the flower pot. After laying eggs, the female fans the eggs while the male keeps an eye on the nest and patrols the outside of the nest. The eggs hatch within 3-4 days. Within another 6-8 days the fry becomes free swimming. Newborn fry should be fed with crushed flake food, Daphnia, baby brine shrimp and pellet food for omnivorous cichlids.

Sexing Convict Cichlid

It is relatively easy to make differences between the male and female.  Males are larger than females of the same age. The body of the male Convict is bluish gray in color with 8-10 black vertical stripes along the body. The female convict have bright colorful bodies and intense black stripes, while the male’s stripes are somewhat dulled. Females also have pink or orange belly and dorsal fin while the males have longer dorsal fins and more rounded head profile.

Convict Cichlid for sale and where to buy

The Convict Cichlid is readily available both in fish stores and online with moderate price. You can buy it from online aquarium fish shop from your home by ordering them. To buy this fish, look below online vendor and ask them for details.