The Green Terror
With a name like the Green Terror, you might automatically think of some monstrous super villain from the pages of a comic book! If you are a freshwater fish hobbyist, you may already recognize that this name belongs to a fish! And not just any fish! With a name like that, how could this fish be anything but a cichlid?! And what an appropriately named cichlid! It's green! And it's a terror! Cue the spooky music! It's the Green Terror!
The green terror is a prime example of why I became a devout cichlidiot! The green terror is one of the more colorful freshwater fish available for the home aquarium. It is truly a beautiful fish to behold. The green terror's body is green and each individual scale has a black spot on it. The green terror's fins are also tipped with orange, red or white, making this fish much more than a "green" terror!
It's easily understood how the green terror gets the first half of its name. If you have dealt with cichlids for any period of time, you can suspect how the green terror earned the second half of its name! Many cichlids can be true terrors, not only to other fish, but often to their own species. When you think of "terrorizing" cichlids, you might think of the red devil, the jaguar cichlid or the convict cichlid. The green terror should also be included in this "terrifying" group.
Green terrors can be a terror not only to other fish in their tank, but they are often a bigger terror amongst themselves! Many hobbyists choose to keep only one green terror per tank. In many cases when the green terrors are kept together in one aquarium, the fish will become very intolerant of each other. However, if the green terror is kept by itself, it will often grow into a large, beautifully colored adult.
It is often suggested that if you want to keep more than one green terror in an aquarium, you should only do so if you are wanting to breed the fish. The first thing you will have to do is make sure you have a male and female green terror. The female green terror is usually darker in color than the male. The female is often about 1/3 smaller than the male and not as elongated. As the green terrors mature, the male will develop a hump on his head.
Despite their bad reputation, green terrors are excellent parents, and are usually easily bred in the home aquarium. Green terrors are easiest to breed while they are still young. The green terror will begin breeding often at a size of four to five inches. In many cases, the male and female green terrors may begin their courtship as "enemies." However, once one of the two fish establishes "tank dominance," the male and female will often spawn. The female green terror will lay nearly 300 eggs on a flat rock, often found in some type of cave-like structure. Both parents will then tend to and protect the eggs. In a beautiful display, the parents will fan the eggs with their fins to keep the water circulating! Once the fry hatch, both parents will continue to watch over and protect their young from any predators. Initially the fry grow slowly, but with a diet of newly hatched brine shrimp the fry tend to grow quicker.
Raising your own green terrors may not be your cup of tea. You may want to acquire some green terrors simply because they are such an attractive fish. It is still possible to keep more than one green terror in a tank. If the tank is large enough for both green terrors to have their own territories that don't overlap with the other's territory, the green terrors may get along. Many hobbyists choose to add some "dither" fish to distract the green terrors from attacking each other. Just make sure you don't include fish that are small enough to fit into the green terror's mouth. The green terror is a very quick predatory fish that won't hesitate to gobble up any smaller fish!
To play it totally safe, many hobbyists stick to the "one green terror per tank" rule. However, now you have to decide which fish will make good tank mates for the green terror. More importantly, you'll have to decide which fish the green terror will actually get along with! Green terrors tend to get along better with similar sized fish that are able to fend for themselves. Many hobbyists have found success by keeping the green terror with such fish as plecos, large pacus, silver dollars, gars, oscars, Jack Dempseys, jaguar cichlids and other similar sized cichlids. However, green terrors should never be kept with any African cichlids!
One way to ensure the green terror doesn't terrorize its other tank mates is to make sure there is enough space in the tank for all of the fish. The green terror does grow to be somewhat large for a cichlid. An adult green terror will range in size from 8 to 12 inches in length. Keeping in mind how much space a green terror will need for its own territory, this fish is best kept in at least a 55 gallon aquarium.
Like many cichlids, the green terror is a hearty fish. The green terror is often able to withstand varied water conditions. However, to keep the green terror healthy and happy, or at least as happy as a green terror can be, you should set up its tank to reflect its natural habitat. The green terror is a native of Ecuador and Peru. In the wild, the green terror is often found in underwater caves and open areas. In the home aquarium, the green terror will need plenty of rocks, driftwood or plastic plants to establish as their own territories. If you choose to use live plants, you may want to use potted plants. Like many other cichlids, the green terror will uproot any planted plants!
The green terror will appreciate plenty of open water to swim in. The water itself should have a pH between 6.5 and 7.5, with a temperature anywhere between 70 to 82 degrees. The water will also need to have good filtration. Regular water changes will also be necessary to keep the green terror healthy. It's even believed that regular water changes will actually help the green terror grow up healthier and faster.
Like many other cichlids, you shouldn't have any trouble feeding the green terror. This omnivorous cichlid will eat nearly everything! Favorite foods of the green terror include flake foods, cichlid pellets, shrimp, bloodworms, plankton, green peas, earthworms, beef heart, krill, goldfish and other feeder fish. It is suggested that you provide a variety of foods in the green terror's diet to prevent the fish from becoming addicted to one type of food. This will also prevent any digestive disorders in the green terror. Keep in mind that the better the green terror is fed, the more vibrant its coloration will be.
The green terror is not found in pet stores as often as other cichlids. For this reason, the green terror may be a little more expensive than other cichlids. If you are fortunate enough to find a green terror in your pet store, make sure you are actually getting what you are paying for. Sometimes the green terror is confused with the blue acara. This could be because the green terror used to be known as Aequidens pulcher, which is actually the blue acara. Now the green terror is identified as Aequidens rivulatus, a separate species altogether. And in some pet stores, the green terror may be sold as a rivulatus.
If you are shopping for a green terror, you should also be aware that there are some variations of this cichlid. There is one variation that has white edging to their tails and unpaired fins. The other variation will have orange or red edging. While these are apparently the same species, there is still another type of green terror that many hobbyists opt for: the dwarf green terror. These dwarf green terrors only reach an adult length of 5 inches. But don't let the green terror's size fool you! Dwarf or full size, the green terror is one truly "terrifying" beauty!