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Cichlids / Central America / Cichlasoma / Black Belt Cichlid

Black Belt Cichlid
"Cichlasoma" (Theraps) maculicauda

Synonyms: Astatheros maculicauda, Astronotus parma, Chuco globosum, C. manana, Cichlasoma globosum, C. manana, C. nigritum, C. parma, Heros parma
Physical description: This cichlid has an oval-shaped, laterally compressed body. The head is rounded and the caudal fin is fan-shaped. The anal and dorsal fins come to a point. The base body color is white to dark gray with a characteristic wide, transverse black band that is located around the mid-section of the body. Sometimes the band may be broken, while at other times the band runs unbroken from the tip of the mid rays of the dorsal fin, down to the belly. The throat to the lips is bright red as is the caudal fin. Depending on the color variation, a portion of the scales may be spotted. A black area encircles the eye and often includes the iris. The anal and dorsal fins have black spots, and the last rays are red. In some variations the rays leading up to the red parts are yellow and green before becoming red. Some variations have a short, broad, lateral marking on the caudal penuncle. Older fish, especially males, develop a hump on their forehead.
Size/Length: To 12" (30 cm)
Similar species: None
Habitat: Central America; from Southern Mexico south to the Panama Canal. Found on the Atlantic slope of Central America.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A 48" (122 cm) tank is needed to keep adult fish. This 55 gallon (209 L) tank should have large hiding places provided. These can be rocks, caves, wood, roots, or a large over-turned flowerpot. Leave open swimming areas. Plants can not be used as these fish are herbivores by nature.
Water chemistry: pH 6.5-8 (7.0), 4-15 dH (6), 72-82°F (22-28°C)
Social behavior: An aggressive and territorial species that can be combined with other large Central American cichlid species. The parents become even more aggressive when caring for the young. The pair form nuclear families and are excellent parents. Try to obtain a compatible pair by the pairing off method.
Suggested companions: Cichlasomines, other South American cichlids, Loricarids, Pimelodids, large Characins, Hemichromis, Tilapia.
FOOD: Vegetables; peas, lettuce, spinach; live; fish, earthworms, insects, Tubifex; large flakes, pellets; tablets.
Sexual differences: The male is larger, with more intense colors, and with age develop a hump on their forehead. Males have a pointed genital papilla.
Breeding techniques: Use water with a temperature from 75-82°F (24-28°C), a pH from 6.7-7.5, and a water hardness from 4-10 dH. 500-600 eggs are laid on a flat stone or rock . The eggs are aggressively protected and cleaned by the pair. The fry hatch in two to three days and are moved to previously dug pits. The fry remain in these pits until they are free-swimming 6-7 days later. Start feeding with Artemia and dry foods.
Breeding potential: 7. Breeding is moderately difficult.
Remarks: Because of the Black Belt's wide distribution, several color variations exist, thus leading the number of synonyms.
Difficulty of care: 5. A hardy, but aggressive cichlid.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com