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A Cichlids Article on: Cichlid Convict
Convict cichlids are native to Central America and are one of the easiest cichlids to keep which makes them perfect for anyone just getting into the hobby. They are very hardy, are able to adapt to a variety of water conditions, and are prolific breeders.
Their dorsal fins will range in colors from yellows to an iridescent green and their other fins may exhibit a greenish tint. Convict cichlids generally only reach around 6 inches at maturity with the female usually being slightly smaller. Aside from the differences in size, males are usually distinguished by a slight humping on the forehead.
The ideal habitat for convict cichlids will include several flat stones and caves. Because of their size, a 20-gallon tank is suitable for a pair of convicts. They need lots of hiding spots and love to borrow down into the substrate, so finer gravels are excellent choices.
The more caves, crevices and hiding areas the better. They will use them for breeding, but also need places to retreat when they feel threatened or scared. Hiding places will also provide areas for tank mates to retreat when they feel threatened by the convicts.
Plants can be used, but are not necessary for them to be happy. Convicts will eat live plants and will generally uproot any plant, live or plastic. The best type of plants to use in a cichlid tank are floating plants. Since they are bottom and middle swimmers, they rarely bother any plants that are floating on the top of the water.
Since they do love to dig in the substrate, they will be constantly redecorating the tank. Lighter tank decorations may need to be removed or weighted by gluing them to heavy rocks. While they will adapt to their environment, a water ph of between 6.5 and 8.5 and temperature between 68 and 80 degrees is recommended.
They are not fussy eaters and will generally accept cichlid flakes, pellets, and both frozen and dried foods. They will also appreciate some vegetable matter from time to time to add variety to their diet as small pieces of zucchini, cucumber, or lettuce.
Despite their size, convicts can be quite aggressive towards other tank mates that are even larger. However, when kept in larger tanks they can often be housed with certain fish. Plecostomus, Firemouth Cichlids, Green Terrors, and Oscars have been reported to be compatible tanks mates. In addition, other Central American cichlids that are of the same size and temperaments.
Convicts are able to spawn at a very young age, often when only 16 weeks of age. They will form monogamous pairs and will choose a cave or crevice in which to spawn. They are egg-laying fish that will continue to care for the young fry for 3 to 4 weeks after they have hatched.
The mating ritual will start with the pair shaking their bodies and chasing each other around the tank. After mating, the female will lay the eggs inside a chosen cave. The male will immediately come behind her and fertilize the eggs. Until the eggs hatch about 72 hours later, both parents will take turns fanning them.
Within 6 to 8 days, the young fry will be free swimming. After the egg sac is gone, you can feed the young fry on flake foods that are ground up, or eggs yolks that are boiled and soaked in water. As they become larger, brine shrimp, worms and larger pieces of flakes are an excellent diet.
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