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Cichlids / South America / Red Terror

Red Terror, Festa's Cichlid
"Cichlasoma" festae

Synonyms: Heros festae
Physical description: An elongated cichlid with a sloping forehead. The body color varies greatly depending on the sex and age of the fish. Adult males have a light green to iridescent green body with six to eight light blue to black, transverse stripes. The belly is rosy pink as is the throat. The dorsal fin is bright blue and the last few rays are violet. The anal and caudal fins are violet-pink in color, and the pelvic fin is sky blue. The colors may vary depending on the population. As if males were not colorful enough, females, in their spawning dress, are bright fire red. The body is marked with six to eight, transverse stripes. The fins are also bright red, and the dorsal fins has a large black spot. The front rays of the dorsal in are black. A black marking runs from the forehead to the eye. At non-breeding times, the female is still quite captivating with a sliver-red body color and red fins, with the alternating black stripes.
Size/Length: Males to 20" (50 cm), females not larger than 12" (30 cm).
Similar species: " Cichlasoma" uropthalmus of Central America.
Habitat: Found along shore areas of rivers. South America; Western Ecuador, on the Pacific slope.
S: bottom
Aquarium: For adult fish a tank greater than 48" (122 cm) is recommended. Young fish can be easily kept in a 48" (122 cm) tank with a capacity of 55 gallons (209 L), although with age, larger tanks are required. The tank should be large and roomy with open swimming areas. Provide plenty of hiding places with stable rock structures and caves. This fish dig and will uproot plants. Regular partial water changes must be performed every 2-3 weeks.
Water chemistry: pH 6-8 (7.0), dH 2-18 (8), 77-84°F (25-29°C)
Social behavior: An extremely pugnacious and territorial fish. The Red Terror can only be combined with other large, robust fish. The Red Terror can be combined in pairs. Incompatible pairings may end in the death of the weaker of the fish. To avoid this problem, raise a group of juveniles until a strong pair forms. Nuclear family.
Suggested companions: Larger Cichlasomines ( C. labiatum, C. managuense, C. octofasciatus, C. cyanoguttatus, ect), Crenicichla, Cichla species, Arawana, Pimelodids, Loricarids, Piranha, Silver Dollars.
FOOD: Live; earthworms, fish, crickets, other large insects, shrimp, snails; pellets; tablets; chopped meat
SEX: Males are larger. Females retain the juvenile coloring of a bright red body color with alternating black bands. Sexual dichromatism occurs at 4-5" (10-13 cm).
Breeding techniques: This cichlid is a crave brooder and lays its egg in caves and in sheltered areas. Several large pits are dug in the gravel before the eggs are laid. Up to 3000 eggs, that are larger than most other "Cichlasoma" eggs are laid. The female cares and guards the eggs while the male guards the territory. After 3 days, the eggs begin to hatch. The young are aided by the father, who pulls the egg shells off of them. The fry are then transferred by the female to the large, previously-dug pits. After 5-6 days, the young can swim on their own, although the parents still guard them carefully. Start feeding with Artemia nauplii, water fleas, fine dry food, and Cyclops.
Breeding potential: 7. The Red Terror is a fairly difficult fish to breed because its size and problems with pairings.
Remarks: If the tank is not large enough, the Red Terror will stop growing.
Difficulty of care: 7. The Red Terror is a hardy, but aggressive cichlid whose diet must be supplemented with live foods. The Red Terror requires a large tank because of the size that it can attain.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com