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Convict Cichlid (Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus)

Photo of: Convict Cichlid (Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus)

Scientific Name(s): Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum, Heros nigrofasciatus


Common Name(s): Convict Cichlid, Black Convict Cichlid, Zebra Cichlid, Pink Convict Cichlid, Calico Convict Cichlid, Marble Convict Cichlid


Family: Cichlidae


Species Type: Central American Cichlids


Maximum Size: 7 inches


Life Span: 10 years


Natural Habitat: Central American Streams


Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallons


Tank Region: All over


Possible Tank Mates: Firemouth Meeki, Green Severum, Salvini Cichlids, Plecos



The convict cichlid is a hardy species that can adapt to just about any water conditions. This is one of the reasons this fish is suitable as a first cichlid for beginning aquarists. Convict cichlids should have at least a 40 gallon tank for a pair. Convict cichlids can sometimes be white aggressive towards other fish which means that they shouldn’t be kept with other small or timid fishes. Keeping them alone will make it easier to observe their fascinating breeding behaviour including the rearing of the fry. You can always add a pleco with convicts because the water requirements are nearly identical for most plecos and convicts.


An aquarium intended for convict cichlids should be decorated with a few flat stones and perhaps a cave or two. Plants are not necessary and most plants will be destroyed by the fish. However, there are a number of hardy plants that can be kept with convict cichlids such as Amazonian swords and java ferns. Using plants of this type can be beneficial by making the fish feel more at home and by making the aquarium more beautiful to look at. The fact is that convict cichlids will make themselves feel at home no matter how you decide to decorate.


Temperature Range: 68°F - 80°F



pH Range: 6.2 - 8

pH 5.0
pH 6.0
pH 7.0
pH 8.0
pH 9.0


Hardness Range: 10° - 20°



Breeding Information: An extremely easy to breed cichlid. Provide a pair caves for breeding and they will breed quite easily.


Sexing Information: Males tend to be larger with a more pronounced hump on their head. Females have some orange coloration to the underside of their belly.


Diet: Omnivorous - does well with flake or pellet food supplimented with fresh green vegetables and protien rich foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp and beef heart.


Temperament: Aggressive especially while spawning or guarding fry.


Common Diseases: HITH - Hole in the Head


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Central American Cichlids


Keith Pardee

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