Synonyms: Acara crassa, Acara temporalis, Astronotus crassa, Cichlasoma arnoldi, C. coryphaenoides, C. crassa, C. goeldii, C. hellabrunni, C. temporale, Chuco axelrodi, Heros crassa, H. temporalis
Physical description: An egg-shaped fish with a small mouth. The iris of the eye may range in color from amber-gold to bright red. The body color is a mustard-yellow with a large, characteristic black blotch at the mid-section of the body. On the caudal penuncle are some similar, but smaller markings. The belly and throat regions are bright red as is the area near the gill covering and the surrounding parts of the eye. The fins are red with some mustard-yellow areas.
Size/Length: To 12" (30 cm)
Similar species: Cichlasoma synspilus, Cichlasoma bifasciatum of Central America. Several Chocolate Cichlids are known to the hobby, although this species is by far the most common. H. coryphaenoides , another Chocolate Cichlid from Guyana and Brazil is occasionally available.
Habitat: Found in still and slow-moving water with heavy vegetation in Lake Hyanuary, Lake Saraca, and the Hyutay River. South America; Brazil.
Aquarium: A tank measuring 48" (122 cm) or 55 gallons (209 L) is recommended. This fish prefers large, roomy, tall tanks. Use tall plants and rocks structures to provide hiding places. The plants used should be hardy and well-rooted for this fish may burrow. This fish prefers peat filtered water. Suggest bog wood to make the water soft.
Water chemistry: pH 5.2-7.2 (6.4), dH 0-12 (2), 77-84°F (25-29°C)
Social behavior: A peaceful cichlid despite its size. However, this species is often aggressive towards others of its own kind. This fish can be kept with tetras to other large fish.
Suggested companions: Cichlids (Waroo, Discus, Angelfish, Festivum, Severum), catfish (Loricarids, Armored Catfish, Doradids), characins (large tetras, Silver Dollars, Leporinus, Anostomus)
FOOD: Live; insects, insect larvae, crustaceans; flakes; pellets; tablets.
SEX: Older males have a nuchal hump on their forehead.
Breeding techniques: Breeding is somewhat difficult. Up to 1000 eggs are laid on vertical surfaces such as stone plates (slate), glass, and plants. The fry are taken to cavities where they are guarded by the parents. Start feeding with Artemia nauplii, and roftiers. Often the pair do a poor job caring for their young during their first brood. In successive broods, the parents take better care of the fry. Usually the pair breaks up after spawning season.
Breeding potential: 7. A moderately difficult species to breed.
Remarks: Frequent water changes are necessary for this fish to develop its beautiful colors and stay healthy. In nature, the Chocolate Cichlid takes insects from the water surface. Most fish now available to the hobby are captive bred in Florida or the Far East. Sexually mature at 4.7" (12 cm).
Difficulty of care: 5. The Chocolate Cichlid is a large, peaceful fish that requires a diet including live foods.