The Convict cichlid is one of the most common cichlids in the Aquarium hobby, and for good reason. They are easy to breed which makes it interesting to keep a pair, they are omnivorous and will eat almost anything offered, and don’t get to large so housing them is not an issue either. They are also one of the toughest fish out there, what they lack in size they make up for with sheer tenacity. A breeding pair will defend their young against almost anything that approaches and that includes your hand.
They come in a variety of color patterns as well. The standard Black and White striped version is the most common along with a “Pink” or Albino convict variant. You can also find the slightly less common Honduran Red Point, which boasts slightly brighter colors and rep tipped fins.
Convict cichlids are found in the lakes and streams of Central America. More specifically you can find them in countries such as Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama. Convict cichlids prefer areas of cover such as rock piles, sunken logs or branches. There are also wild feral populations in Japan, Mexico, Florida and Australia.
At four natural habitats of the Convict cichlid in Costa Rica, the pH was found to range from 6.6–7.8. The GH ranged from 63 to 77 ppm. The daily water temperature ranged from 26–29 °C (79–84 °F) in those locations. (Per Wisenden BD (1995) Reproductive behavior of free-ranging convict cichlids, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum Environmental Biology of Fishes 43: 121–134.)
Scientific Name – Amatitlania nigrofasciata
Common Name – Convict Cichlid, Zebra Cichlid, Honduran Red Point
Potential Size – 6″ Maximum for Males, Females slightly smaller. More common sizes are 3-4″.
Diet – Omnivorous, will eat both plant matter and live prey. Including worms, crustaceans, bugs and very small fish. In home aquaria a high quality staple pellet such as Hikari or NLS is a good diet.
Temperament – Feisty. They are fairly small so they can be kept with a wide variety of fish but can be aggressive so care should be taken when choosing tank mates. A breeding pair will defend territory ferociously, so make sure they have some room if you choose to house a breeding pair with other fish.
Tank Requirements – The Convict does not require much special care. Neutral PH and 80 degree water are good parameters to shoot for. They should be given some caves or driftwood to hide in, as well as breed. You don’t need a massive tank, a 40 gallon breeder tank makes a good tank for a pair.
Tank Terror Notes – Awesome fish to keep, good way to get started into breeding fish. They are as easy to breed as guppies and if you keep larger predatory fish the young make excellent feeder fish. Much better for your predators than feeder Goldfish are.
Click to enlarge and look close. You can see the tiny teeth on this Albino (or Pink) Convict
Another shot of the Albino Convict (or Pink Convict as some call them)
A standard Convict cichlid
Another shot of a standard Convict cichlid