Central American Cichlids are well-known for their pugnacious behavior and their stunning colors. Most of these cichlid are large, thus requiring large tanks. Most of the Central American Cichlid belong to a group known as Cichlasomines. These fish inhabit most types of water ways throughout Central America including lakes, streams, rivers, even underground water sources.

SIZE: Many of the fish in the group of Cichlasomines attain a size of 8" (20 cm) or more. In only a few species does the male not exceed 6" (15 cm)

TANK: Cichlasomines need a large, roomy tank with plenty of open swimming areas. Usually a 48" (122 cm) tank with a capacity of 55 gallons (209 L) will do. With their pugnacious nature, the tank should always have large hiding places created for fish that are harassed or ailing. An over-turned flowerpot, a large piece of wood, or a rocky cave will serve as an adequate retreat. Unfortunately, many Cichlasomines have a habit of destroying plants in some way: either eaten, up-rooted, or just demolished.

WATER: Cichlasomines usually inhabit water with a pH ranging from neutral (7.0) to alkaline (8.5). They prefer medium hard to hard with a dH from 8-20. The water temperature is usually from 72-81F (22-27C).

SB: Cichlasomines are known for their aggressive behavior. Battles between mates, males, and other species often leave the tank looking like a war zone. In these conflicts it is common to have an injured fish or fishes. The trick to avoiding these attacks is to provide a large open tank with plenty of territory for each fish. Do not over-populate the tank because cichlids in close confines will fight. Combine fish that have equal power and size so one fish does not have a disadvantage. With all species, the brood is carefully cared for and defended rigorously. Spawning time is probably the most dangerous for other fish in the tank. It is best to remove the other fish in the tank when pair begins to prepare for spawning

SC: Cichlasomines can be combined with each other, along with large, robust catfish such as Pimelodids, Loricarids, and Doradids. In one chooses not to keep a geographically correct aquarium, South American cichlids and African Haplochromines,Tilapia, andHemichromis are also acceptable. Large South American Characins are also suitable tank mates.

FOOD: Cichlasomines will eat almost any food. Most fish enjoy being fed an occasional feeder fish along with frequent helpings of earthworms,Tubifex, insects, insect larvae, and large crustaceans. They will also accept large flake foods, pellets, tablets, and such vegetables as spinach, peas, and lettuce.

B: To attempt breeding Cichlasomines, one must first find a compatible pair. This can be done by obtaining 6-10 juvenile fish and letting them pair off. When a pair that appears suitable for each other forms, use the pair for breeding. Cichlasomines for the most part, are open spawners, who lay large amounts of eggs on a rock, root, or plant. The female usually guards the egg, while the male aggressively defends the territory against all other fish. The parents continue their guard for the fry even when they are first free-swimming. The fry can be raised onArtemia nauplii, dry foods, and other small live foods.

BP: Usually breeding is not that difficult although the parents often cause many problems with their aggressive brood care.

R: The Cichlasomine group is undergoing taxonomic review, after genus ofCichlasoma was taxonomically orphaned. To avoid this controversy and ion lieu of any better suggestions, the fish formerly of Cichlasomawill be referred to with quotation marks "Cichlasoma." In parentheses will be the sub-groupings as suggested by Miller. This section will be organized into the sub-groupings.

DC: For the most part, Cichlasomines are hardy, but highly aggressive fish. They can be combined with each other in large tanks.

By Rhett Butler


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