Convict Cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) are found throughout Central America where they inhabit a wide array of areas. Convicts are commonly found in streams and rivers, but it is also known to live in ponds and lakes with heavy plant cover. That said, Convicts prefer moving water, and is often found sheltering in submerged branches and rock formations.
People keep Convicts for their good looks, hardiness (one of the toughest around) but mostly because they are such avid breeders. Convicts are egg layers and can breed up to every three weeks in the aquarium.
Males grows up to 6 inches (15cm) in length, while the female grows to an average length of 4 inches (10cm). When the females reach breeding maturity, orange splotchings of colour develop all over their body making them instantly identifiable to which is the male and which is the female.
If you are planning to breed convict cichlids, or hopes (and I stress the word hopes) to keep them in a community tank, then they should be kept in at least a 200L fish tank. A pair of breeding convicts will terrorize any tank that they are housed in, and will viciously attack anything that comes near their eggs.
In the wild, convict cichlids primarily feed on small insects, worms, plant matter and algae. In the home aquarium, they will generally accept anything including flake, pellets, vegetables, algae and frozen foods.
Convict cichlids are probably the easiest tropical aquarium fish to breed. Usually any male and female in placed in an aquarium will breed within a matter of weeks.
Convicts will lay their eggs where ever they see fit. Commonly they will go inside an ornament, rock or driftwood, if not often choose a quiet corner of the aquarium. The breeding process will begin often with some substrate movement, followed by with both the male and female “cleaning an area” by fanning the area with their fins.
Eggs are laid, then fertilized by the male, the again the parent fish will fan their eggs as to prevent them turning to fungus.
During this time, the convict cichlid breed pair will viciously attack any other fish in their tank, and few fish. Breeding convicts should be kept in a tank without any other fish present.
The fry will begin to hatch in a few days, and after about a week, the convict cichlid parents will begin to herd the tiny fry around the tank. At this point frozen baby brine shrimp should be fed to the fry three times a day.
Convicts make very good parents generally and will nurture their fry for 2-3 weeks. They generally don’t eat the fry even when they are likely to breed again (often every 2-4 weeks!!)
Minimum Tank Size: 45-60L
Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: PH 6.0 – 8.0
Maximum Size: Males 6 inches / 15cm; Females 4 inches / 10cm