Where Are Convict Cichlids From: Get to Know Convict Cichlids

Do you want to add a colorful and exciting fish to your tank? If so, you’ll want to consider the convict cichlid. This species is known for its striking colors and lively personality and is an excellent addition for anyone looking for a fish that is both hardy and easy to care for.

The convict cichlids are endemic to the tropical rainforests of Central America. In addition, there are numerous split species. The brook and pacific cichlids have extensive distributions, while only two Asian populations are found in Taiwan and Japan. Some cichlid species live in Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. In addition, some species live around the Caribbean Islands.

Convict Cichlid: Species Overview


Size can vary a great deal between cichlid species. Some small cichlid species are only a few inches long, while others can be 4 to 5 inches long. Larger cichlids may weigh as much as 1.2 to 1.3 ounces or more.


Some cichlid species can live up to 8 to 10 years, while others may only live for a few months. However, many cichlid species won’t live more than four years. They can only survive in temporary water sources and are used as food by other animals in the wild. If a human finds them, he may keep or release them.


Cichlids are a popular aquarium fish because they have many different colors and shapes. Some cichlid species can be pretty significant, while others are much smaller. In addition, many species are very colorful. Most cichlid species have relatively thin bodies, appearing somewhat fragile or “delicate.” However, they can also be quite large and muscular-bodied. Each cichlid may have a different coloring pattern on its body and fins to help identity in the wild; however, these patterns will change as it grows up because of maturation at different ages depending upon their specific morphs.

Behavior & Temperament

As cave dwellers, convicts will enjoy plenty of hiding places in the aquarium. They can also transfer this behavior to the home environment, so make sure to provide them with plenty of places to hide. As a result, they should not be kept with other fish that are too active or territorial because this could lead to aggression. In addition, they are peaceful and tolerant fish and can often be kept together with other small fish species without any issues.

Convict Cichlid Care

Many cichlid species need different types of care, depending on their specific needs. For example, some cichlid species may need live food to survive and require a lot of water movement to oxygenate the aquarium. Other cichlids may not require live food but will still enjoy plenty of swimming space and good quality organic foods. Convicts are considered “bony fish,” which means they have a more challenging time digesting meat, so it is best not to feed them meaty foods.

Tank Size

You can usually house convicts in a small to medium size aquarium. They do best when the aquarium has plenty of places to hide, well-planted, and good quality water movement. In addition, the aquarium must have plenty of hiding places because they can become very aggressive towards males once their breeding season begins. Hence, it’s best to house only 2 or 3 minor female convicts in an aquarium at this time.

Water Parameters

The water temperature for convicts should be around 70 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius), and the pH range should be 6.5 to 8.0. The hardness level of the water should be between 9 and 20 dGH.

Food & Diet

Convict cichlids are omnivorous and will eat various foods, including vegetation, meat, and other types of fish food. It is best to feed them small amounts several times throughout the day rather than one large meal. So, in the wild, convicts would eat algae, but their diet should consist of plant-based foods in an aquarium. Because of this need for variety and plant foods to provide structure, a deep-set substrate is necessary, which will give them places to dig into it and provide plenty of hiding areas so they don’t feel threatened by each other because that can lead to aggressive behavior towards mates. The best food types are freeze-dried bloodworms or frozen food pellets.

Aquarium Equipment

Convicts are avid cave dwellers and will enjoy plenty of hiding places in the aquarium. They also like to eat various nutritious foods, so provide them with seeds, algae wafers, frozen bloodworms, or other appropriate types of food. In addition, give them plenty of hiding places in the aquarium, such as plants, caves, and other areas that they can utilize for hiding.

Common Possible Diseases

Convict cichlids are susceptible to various diseases, so keeping their tank clean and free of bacteria is essential. Monitor the water quality regularly and treat any signs of illness.

Compatibility and Tankmates

Although convicts can be kept with other small, peaceful fish, they are best suited as a single species tank. Additionally, because they like to hide among rocks and crevices in the aquarium, tanks with plenty of plants will give them lots of places to retreat should they become stressed. Because convicts are cave dwellers, they need tankmates that share their interest in hiding. Because of this, they should be kept with other small (under four inches long) peaceful fish such as dwarf cichlids or rainbowfish.


Convict cichlids reach sexual maturity between two and four years old. They are substrate spawners, meaning that they lay their eggs on the surface of the substrate. Males should be introduced to breeding tanks at least one month before females to establish dominance hierarchies. Breeding usually occurs in early summer but can also occur during winter if conditions are right.