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Cichlids / Central America / Cichlasoma / Redheaded Cichlid

Quetzal Cichlid, Redheaded Cichlid, Firehead Cichlid
"Cichlasoma" (Paratheraps) synspilum

Synonyms: Cichlasoma hicklingi, C. synspilus
Physical description: An oval shaped fish, which develops are large hump on the top of the forehead. The head to just past the gill cover is red. This red area is followed by a white area, which is followed by a mix of green, gold, red, orange, and blue hues. The dorsal and caudal fins are also multicolored, although dominated by gold and orange colors. The anal and pelvic fins are dominated by green and blue colors.
Size/Length: To 14" (36 cm)
Similar species: Hypselecara temporalis, Cichlasoma bifasciatum, Cichlasoma maculicauda
Habitat: Found in muddy, slow-moving water. Central America; from the Rio Usumacinta Basin in Mexico and Guatemala to the Belize River in Belize.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A tank of 48" (122 cm) with a capacity of 70 gallons (266 L) is necessary for adult fish because of their size. Preferably a longer tank can be used. Young individuals can be kept in smaller tanks. The bottom should be sand and fine gravel. Provide plenty of shelter and hiding places with driftwood, rocky areas, stone plates, and caves. Only use sturdy, well-rooted plants, for this fish has a habit of snacking on plants and burrowing in the substrate. Use dimmed light. Frequent water changes are necessary for this large cichlid to prosper. The Redheaded Cichlid does best with peat filtered water.
Water chemistry: pH 6.8-8 (7.0), dH 2-15 (4), 75-82°F (24-28°C)
Social behavior: A peaceful fish when kept with medium to large cichlids. However, among themselves, they are territorial and aggressive. Keep two as a pair.
FOOD: The Redheaded Cichlid needs a varied diet to develop its beautiful coloration. If fed the same foods, their colors will fade. Live; insect larvae-especially bloodworms, Brine Shrimp, larger crustaceans, insects, earthworms, Tubifex; pellets; vegetables; spinach, peas, lettuce; chopped meat.
Sexual differences: Older males have a large hump on their forehead and have brighter colors. Males have a pointed genital papilla.
Breeding techniques: Breeding the Redheaded Cichlid is often difficult because of poor compatibility among pairs. The best way to prevent poor pairing is to acquire at least 6 fish when they are young. At 4" (10 cm), the fish begin to pair off. At that time, get rid of the other fish and keep only one pair. Up to 1200 eggs are laid on a previously cleaned substrate. The fry hatch in 2-3 days and are free-swimming after 4-5 more. Remove some of the fry as they often do poorly of they continue being raised by the parents. The parents protect and lead the young. Start feeding with Artemia nauplii, roftiers, and crushed flake foods.
Breeding potential: 8. A difficult fish to breed, mostly because of the troubles in pairing.
Remarks: Fish that have grown up together usually form better pairs. Fights between pairs often lead to death of the weaker mate. Different color variations are known.
Difficulty of care: 7. This fish needs a well-balanced diet with live food given on a regular basis.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com