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Red Terror Cichlid

red terror cichlid

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Scientific Name:   Cichlasoma festae      
Min. Tank Size:   150 gallons      
Personality:   Aggressive      
Temperature:   77-84°F      
pH:   6.0-8.0/5-18°dGH      
Size:   20"      
Diet:   Omnivore      
Breeding:   Egglayer      


Best kept as a mated pair; with other similarly sized aggressive Cichlids with caution.

Red Terror Cichlid

The Red Terror Cichlid is native to Ecuador and Peru, though an introduced population also exists in Singapore. These fish tend to inhabit rivers and tributaries but have adapted to a variety of habitats. The Red Terror Cichlid received their nickname for both their fiery tempers and red coloration. As juveniles, these fish tend to exhibit a silver coloration with black vertical stripes and red fins. Females retain this coloration as they mature but males of the species often lose the stripes and develop an iridescent green or yellow coloration all over their bodies accented with vibrant red coloration on the throat and belly. The dorsal and anal fins in male Red Terror Cichlids are often bright blue.

Tank Set-up

The ideal tank for Red Terror Cichlids will provide an even blend of open swimming space with shelter in the form of large rocks and driftwood branches. Because these fish tend to dig in substrate, they are not recommended for planted tanks. As their nickname suggests, these fish can be very aggressive and territorial and are thus best kept only with other large, aggressive species. Anything small enough to fit into their mouth will likely be considered prey.


In the wild, these fish feed primarily on aquatic crustaceans and other invertebrates but captive species will eat most foods. Feed your Red Terror Cichlid a variety of live and frozen foods in addition to a staple diet of meaty Cichlid pellets.


Breeding Red Terror Cichlids can be tricky because it is often difficult to establish a breeding pair. Once a breeding pair has formed, however, these fish can be spawned in a large breeding tank decorated with plenty of rockwork as spawning sites. Festivus are cave brooders and will lay up to 3000 eggs in one spawning. Once the eggs hatch 3 or 4 days after spawning, the parent fish will move the fry to pits dug into the substrate where they will guard them fiercely.

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