Archocentrus nigrofasc (Convict cichlid)

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Cichlid Specialist
Apr 27, 2006
New Mexico USA
Real Name
Archocentrus nigrofasc (Convict cichlid)

Scientific Name(s): Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum, Heros nigrofasciatus

Common Name(s): Convict Cichlid, Black Convict Cichlid, Zebra Cichlid, Pink Convict Cichlid, Calico Convict Cichlid, Marble Convict Cichlid

Origion: Archocentrus nigrofasciatus, known as the Convict Cichlid, is a substrate-spawning cichlid native to Lake Atitlan and Lake Amatitlan in Guatemala south to Panama in Central America.

Family: Cichlidae

Species Type: Central American Cichlids

Maximum Size: 4 inches for females 6 inches for males, in rare cases they can reach 8 inches.

Life Span: 10+ years

Natural Habitat: Central American Streams, It's preferred natural habitat is usually rocky areas, rooted areas or over hanging river banks and some cover should be provided to reflect that.
This is a digging species and a small to medium sized substrate is preferred for the base of the tank.
Plastic plants are also appreciated by this species to provide cover.

Diet: These fish are Omnivores and will eat: Algae; live; worms, insets, insect larve, crustaceans; pellet; flake; plant matter; vegetables; chopped meat.

Temperature: 68°- 80°F (20° to 27° C)

PH: 6.0 to 8.0 (very wide range tolerated if kept stable)

Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons for a single fish 20 gallon Long for a pair
55 gallons or larger should be considered if tankmates are present.

Tank Region: All over

Temperment: Aggressive and down right nasty during spawning

Possible Tank Mates: Firemouth Meeki, Green Severum, Salvini Cichlids, Plecos, Jack Dempseys,compatible catfish species and other larger cichlids.

Filtration and Setup:
Being relatively high waste producing, this species requires a high water turn over and good biological filtration.

Ideally the volume of the water in the tank should be turned over 10 times per hour (through bacteria harboring media) when using filters such as 'hang on the back's', 'pre-filtered powerheads' or 'air-powered filters'.

When using more advanced filter's such as 'canisters', 'wet /dry’s' or 'strait sump's' this turn over rate can be reduced to 4-5 times per hour provided the filter holds enough media.


Also known as the "zebra cichlid"; both this and "convict" are good descrïptions of this species. It has black vertical bars on it's bluish-lavender body. There is usually a orange tinge to it's belly, and well-kept fish will have an iridescent pattern on their fins and sides. Both the dark stripes and orange belly become more pronounced during breeding. Males usually have darker stripes and pointier fins (in addition to their usually larger size), and fully mature ones will sometimes have a bit of a hump on their head. Females have orange bellies and are usually rounder.

Available in a variety of color forms, including:
Black— a gray and black striped variety that was the inspiration for the common name "Convict"
Pink— albino variety
Gold— Similar to the black variety, but exhibits lots of gold coloration on the belly
Calico— a fish with a white/gray base, with black and brown spotting
Long Fin Pink— a long-finned version of the Albino fish

Being amoung the most prolific species of cichlid, no specific water parameters are needed to induce spawning. They are a cave spawning species and will often prefer caves or rocky areas to spawn. They will however breed in an open area in some instances if required, and are not overly fussy in choice of a nesting site.

Both Male and female may participate in preparing a surface in which the female can lay her eggs. The female will then fan the eggs to keep temperature stable and provide a flow of water current around the eggs. At this time the male will defend the perimeter of the nest site from intruders.

If the eggs have been fertilized successfully by a male they will appear an amber or brown colour, unfertilized eggs will remain a distinct white. Hatching will occur in around 3-5 days and parental care once born is typically around 4-6 weeks or longer.

Fry will not require feeding during the wriggler stage after hatching and are self-sufficient until free swimming. Once free-swimming fry can be fed on baby brine shrimp (frozen or live), commercial liquid fry foods, egg yolks, microworms or finely crushed flake and pellet foods.

A Female Pic!

Convicts should not be confused with their close cousins...Houndouran Red Points (HRP)

Have fun with your Convict Cichlid!
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