Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus)

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Convict Cichlid

Archocentrus nigrofasciatus-2713.jpg
Convict Cichlid

Archocentrus nigrofasciatus

76 Litres (20 US G.)

7.6-15.2cm (3-6 ")




7.0 - 8.0

22 -32 °C (71.6-89.6°F)

9-20 °d

1:1 M:F

Pellet Foods
Flake Foods
Live Foods
Other (See article)

8-10 years



This animal is available captive bred

Additional names

Convict Cichlid, Zebra Cichlid

Additional scientific names

Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum, Claustroheros nigrofasciatus, Heros nigrofasciatus, Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus, Amatitlania nigrofasciata


Streams, pools and ponds of Central America: El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica.


Male has dorsal and anal fin extensions. In many cases, the female will develop orange-red markings on underside and dorsal fin when ready to mate. Another observation is that the dorsal fins of the female will develop a bluish hue.


Just add water and fish! Eggs are laid on a stone, earthenware flower pot, or in a depression dug in the substrate. Both parents provide excellent care and protection of eggs and fry. They will attack anything that enters their territory.
Once a pair is formed, the duo will start digging the gravel to form a nest. If there are flower pots then the area around the pot will be cleared to give a cave like appearance. The eggs hatch in 3 days. If eggs turn white it means that either they are not fertile or they are infected by fungus. Eggs usually hatch in 3 days and result in wrigglers. The parent shift the wrigglers to a safer spot in the cave and it is another 5-6 days before the fry are free swimming.

Tank compatibility[edit]

NOT a community fish. Stock only with large fish which can hold their own in a fight, the convict will easily bully fish twice its size. It is best kept in a species specific tank or with similar sized or larger Central American Cichlids, like the Oscar or Firemouth. Recommended tank size is 76 Litres (20 US G.) long and higher for a pair of convicts. If there are other fish to be considered as tank mates a bigger tank is required.


Convicts are not picky eaters, in fact they can be very greedy. Although they will do well on flakes and Cichlid pellets, they will do even better with the addition of frozen/live food like bloodworms and brine shrimp as well as vegetables like chopped spinach and cucumber.

Feeding regime[edit]

Feed once or twice a day.

Environment specifics[edit]

Provide with hiding places/caves. Can and will dig and uproot fake/live plants.
In the wild, these fish prefer moving water with cover from rocks and sunken branches. Aquarium Convicts love cave areas such as stacked rocks, over turned flower pots, and beds dug out under plants. They are a hardy fish and can adjust to a variety of water conditions.


Convicts mainly stay within their territory, where they do not tolerate other fish. Convicts can be very aggressive and are best suited to an aquarium designed for single species accommodations.


The Convict is available in several colour morphs including a popular "pink" colour morph. The wild colour has a blue-grey base body colour with 8 or 9 dark vertical bands, a dark spot is often visible on the gill cover. These dark bands are absent on the lighter colour morphs.




External links[edit]