The convict cichlid is very easy to breed - the fry here are about 1½cm
Along with the Angelfish, the Convict cichlid is propably among the most well-known cichlids.
Written on 08-11-2005 23:59 by cab
I have kept Convict cichlid several times, also in my very first tank. It was among the first egglaying fish I got fry from and also one of the very few where I managed to raise the fry to adult size. In 2003 I traded a batch of Angels for a very nice couple of convicts, some guppies, some Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia and some cash, and (obviously) they spawned almost instantly and repeatedly. I gave away some of the fry, and traded the rest (about one hundred) for 6 small kribs and a red Zebra female. The Convict cichlid is not an easy fish to sell, primarily because they have lots of fry and people who buy them usually only purchase a couple at a time and they are very resistent against poor care. Don't breed convict cichlids for the money, do it to observe a very interesting parental care for the fry. They are so eager to protect the young that they will even attack the aquarist along with anybody else who dare to breathe near their young. They also like to dig a lot, especially if they don't have a cave, but all those things apart, they are generally a very easy fish to keep.
The convict cichlid was earlier called Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum, but then it was first moved to Archocentrus nigrofasciatus and later to Amatitlania nigrofasciata. I have heard several aquarist claim that it was moved again, now to the Cryptoheros genus, but I am unable to find any documentation for that anywhere. In danish it is called "Zebra cichlid" and they can also be found in an albino variant (no red eyes though), called ivory cichlid (at least in danish), but the colour is more pink than ivory. The females of both type have a red spot, especially around their stomach and fins. On some convicts these spots are missing, probably due to poor inbreeding, but generally the convict is a very attractive fish.
The convict cichlid is among the very easiest species to breed, if you have a male and a female, they will practically always breed sooner or later. Due to the rather large size difference it is fairly easy to tell the sexes apart as the male is twice as large as the female, but furthermore the male have longer and more pointy fins and the female has red spots on the belly as earlier mentioned.
They usually prefer to spawn in a cave, but in lack of such they will readily spawn in a small hole, dug by the male. The eggs hatch after 2-3 days and the fry start to swim after 6-7 days. They are able to eat freshly hatched artemia from then, but they will also eat all sorts of flake foods if it is small enough - you can crush the flakes between your fingers. Be aware though that the parents become extremely aggressive towards all other tank mates when they have fry and there will be several tough fights over the fry. To avoid this you can remove the eggs from the parents when they spawn, to ensure that they remain somewhat peaceful.
The convict has a terrific fry care, but they also terrorize every other fish in the tank when they have a batch.
Anonymous wrote at 2012-08-09 20:36:50
Hi I have a 60 gallon tank with one oscar cichlid and two convicts. The female had her third batch of fry when she unfortunately died. My question is will the young fry be able to live in the same tank or should I find them anew home? There is no aggression between the oscar or the father convict.
Reply from webmaster: Usually the male will protect the fry for a while, but not forever. At some point the might be in danger of being eaten by the oscar or even the male convict, so if you want them to survive they should be moved. However, it is often difficult to find homes for a batch of convicts so you could also take your chances and hope that a few will survive growing up with the oscar and the convict.
Anonymous wrote at 2011-07-12 04:40:41
My male convict ripped the whole tale of the female...and keeps chasing her. I seperated them but he still chases her...any help?!?!?!
Reply from webmaster: Not really, I'm afraid. I would guess they are simply not suited for each other or they are not ready for spawning yet. It's normal that there will be some chasing but it shouldn't be too violent and if it is, normally the female will continue to try to get away.
Alex wrote at 2010-01-21 23:19:53
I have a pair of Convicts in my 10 gallon tank. I want them to breed but the male keeps chasing the female. What should I do?
Reply from webmaster: Not much, but wait - the chasing part is usually the stage before the breeding begins and often occurs when the fish is not fully mature.
Fungusar wrote at 2010-01-17 20:35:00
Hej mester, min zebra hun (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) vrikker og ligger på bunden, hun har ingen tegn på sygdom og når hannen kommer rejser hun finnerne og svømmer normalt, efter en stykke tid vrikker hun igen og det ser ud til hun bliver træt, hun gemmer sig eller ligger på bunden og ser død ud. det har stået på i en uge nu. Har du en ide hvad det kan være? Jeg tror hun har fået skadet svømmeblæren ved leg, kan også være en infektion. vil helt ikke aflive henne da hun ikke ser ud til at lide og jeg er rigtig glad for henne. Er der noget medicin jeg kan prøve? jeg prøvet nogle bruse piller (kan ikke huske navnet, men de var gule) og en varme kur uden hjælp.
Reply from webmaster: Det har jeg aldrig selv oplevet, og jeg har ikke noget bud på hvad du kan gøre ved det. Hvis den ser ud til at have det ok, er der vel ikke meget andet at gøre end at vente. Beklager at jeg ikke kan hjælpe.
Rachel wrote at 2009-11-30 21:35:51
My two convicts have had about 100 fry. Due to the male and female fighting, i decided to take out the female who was wounded. When I add her back to the tank with the fry, will she try to eat the fry? If the male is taken out and added back in with the fry will he try to eat the fry as well?
Reply from webmaster: Yes, I think you can expect that. After a short while the parents will loose interest in the fry and begin preparing for the nest batch and I think a separation from the fry will speed up that process.
Anonym wrote at 2009-11-14 04:01:12
hvorfor snakker de engels lige pludselig. hwy are all talking english.
Reply from webmaster: That's a good question - maybe because english is their native language...
rey wrote at 2009-03-21 02:58:12
i have five convicts three females and two males. all under 3in. can i put them in same tank as african calwed frogs
Reply from webmaster: Sorry, I don't know how the frogs and the zebras would react to each other.
Shane wrote at 2009-01-11 10:31:30
Can i move my convict fry of 1week old into my guppy tank
Reply from webmaster: You will run quite a risk to do so - the guppies can easily eat them at that size...
doods wrote at 2008-11-04 13:05:45
i just had my first batch of fry, Im like really excited about it and wanting to seperate them. Is 2 weeks enough or if I feed the parents well, theres a posibility that they will grow 1" with them.
Reply from webmaster: It's no problem to seperate them, but sometimes they will also survive even if they stay with their parents. 2 weeks should be an okay timing for separating them.
ton_gwa7 wrote at 2008-11-02 06:52:48
what is the size of a full grown convict?
Reply from webmaster: Approximately 15 cm. (6") for the male.
Cub wrote at 2008-08-16 17:39:43
how long does it take for onvict fry to start looking like there parents?
Reply from webmaster: I don't recall exactly, but I think it is about 1-2 months.
Sam wrote at 2008-08-11 16:58:43
Female convict in a 10 gallon tank. Will she be lonely. If I must can I keep corys, betta, african frogs, and a pleco with her? Will she be fat if she ate them all? Will she eat feeder minnows?
Reply from webmaster: I haven't tried all that and I wouldn't recommend trying that. I' don't think she would be lonely though but the tank is a bit on the small side. The Corys might be doable but the tank is not that big.
pete wrote at 2008-06-26 01:18:25
cheers. one last queere is there any thing i can do 2 speed up the chance of having more baby cons cuz first batch disapeard and no sighns of any more and thats bin bout a munth
Reply from webmaster: A good varied diet with frozen foods and live foods as an addition to the flake food or pellets you use. Other than that arm yourself with patience and give them some peace and quiet - imagine yourself in the same situation ;-)
pete wrote at 2008-06-23 02:28:33
will a mle covict breed with more than 1 female in a tank of seven i have 4 female and 3 male
Reply from webmaster: No, not under normal circumstances. They pair up and usually stay with the partner.
Jeatta wrote at 2008-06-16 01:57:42
HI! I was wondering if you could put 1 cm long black convict cichlid fry,that are swimming about, with 1 cm long orange zebra malawi fry? I am looking to move them in a week.
Reply from webmaster: That should not be a problem. I have had convict fry with various Malawi fry without any noticeable problems.
Anonym wrote at 2008-04-07 05:09:10
john:my convicts just had a batch of fry will the parents kill of my other tropical fish
Reply from webmaster: Not necessarily, they will just keep them away from the fry with all means. It also depends on your tank size and fish stock level. I would keep an eye out and remove the fry if the parents gets too aggressive.
Drew wrote at 2008-04-03 23:02:51
i have two female convict cichlids, i didnt get a male because i didnt want fry. but one of the females constantly chases the other, nipping at its fins and such. i even added another female to try and see if that removed some of the aggression, but now the dominant female chases and nips at both of them. any idea of what i could do?
Reply from webmaster: Well, most obvious answer is to get a male. It is normal cichlid behaviour that one of the females will become dominant. So either you have to live with the aggression of get a male.
anonymous wrote at 2008-03-18 14:08:12
i have a 10 gallon tank will they lay eggs?
Reply from webmaster: Yes, that is almost certain. They will lay eggs under almost any circumstances, but I would suggest that you either get a bigger tank or switch to smaller fish.
Anonym wrote at 2008-03-11 17:08:06
Hej Jeg har stort par som næste hver uge har unger, med de sidste ca 5-6 gange der har været æg er der ikke kommet noget ud af det.. hvad kan være årsagen til dette?? hun passer æggene i 2-4 dage og så er de væk og der er ingen unger???
Reply from webmaster: Du har ikke skrevet om de går sammen med andre fisk - det er normalt den mest oplagte årsag. Det kan også være fordi forældrene er stressede af en eller anden årsag, men det er svært at sige med nogen sikkerhed. Jeg kan ikke sige hvad du skal gøre udover at være tålmodig.
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote at 2008-03-04 17:12:46
my convict babies has come out of the clay pot and is still hanging around. When will they be alright to swim alone and will the algea eater eat them?
Reply from webmaster: They should be swimming freely very soon - actually since you wrote your question two days ago, they should be swimming now. I'm not sure if the algea eater will try to eat them, but isn't the parents around? If they are they will keep all other fish at arms lenght.
gary wrote at 2008-02-24 22:19:03
i feel so good when i get one tomorrow and take care of it.
Reply from webmaster: Good luck with it.
Anonymous wrote at 2007-10-10 17:09:25
my fry convict are getting big and i need to know when should i separate the fry from the parents?
Reply from webmaster: Well, it's hard to say as the parents may decide to spawn again even after just two weeks of parenting and when they do they will usually kill the first batch of fry. On the other hand they might nurse their kids for a much longer period. If you want to be sure that the fry survives you should remove the parents after 2-3 weeks.
si wrote at 2007-08-22 21:44:28
ok thank, i have a bigger tank but scared if i put the convict in the bigger tank they will attacks my smaller fishes. but the tank i was talking about is about 61m is it still small
Reply from webmaster: Yes, I think it's rather small. But you are probably also right that you risk that they will attack smaller fish in the other tank. I understand your dilemma - I have many times wanted fish I didn't really have the space for. In the end you have to choose which ones you want the most.
si wrote at 2007-08-20 23:13:42
i have 13 convicts in a tank maybe about 48cm not 2 sure will they breed
Reply from webmaster: Quite right - I don't think they will either. Even a single pair would be crowded in a tank only 48cm long. I would suggest that you got a bigger tank for them or consider smaller fish.
beggsy wrote at 2007-07-15 12:32:43
Reply from webmaster: No problem - you're always welcome.
beggsy wrote at 2007-07-14 14:39:07
i just added a femal convict about 1 and a half inches long into my comunaty tank. i hav a male convict in ther hes about 2 inches long and he flears his gils up at her what dous this mean and are they redy to bread yet
Reply from webmaster: He's trying to impress her - that's for sure and I would say that this is normal behaviour before they breed. Another sign you should look for is when he starts to dig a small hole or moves in to some sort of cave. Convicts can breed from an early age, so I would guess that they will breed soon.
ryan wrote at 2007-07-05 18:59:49
hi my convicts had eggs 2 days ago how long will it be until they are able to moive. and what should i do.
Reply from webmaster: They should hatch after 2-3 days and begin to swim around after 6-7 days. The best food you can give them are freshly hatched artemia, but you can also give them frozen cyclops or just simply chrushed flake food.
Michael wrote at 2007-07-02 06:25:06
I have a male and female convict, the female has just laid eggs and they are attacking my oscar, will they kill him? or hurt him and should i separate him into another tank??
Reply from webmaster: It depends on the size of your aquarium and if the oscar will take a hint and keep away from the eggs. They might hurt him, but usually they just chase other fish away without hurting them (too much). If it seems to harsh and you have the possibility, you should separate them.
Corinna wrote at 2007-06-28 08:09:56
I Just got a female Convict to put with my male, but when i went to pick her up she was laying eggs in the pet stores aquarium. How long will it take her to bread with my other convict now, and he doesnt seem to like her very much he wont let her near his cave, but when the oscar threatens her he protects her i dont understand! please help!!
Reply from webmaster: Normally Convicts can spawn frequently, I wouldn't be surprised if she is ready to lay eggs again within 2-4 weeks. You should also give the male some time to get used to the new female, it sounds to me like he is sizing her up and "playing hard to get" at the same time. In order to get them to spawn soon, you should feed them good frozen foods daily.
Chris wrote at 2007-06-12 01:33:34
Du har skrevet et eller andet sted, at parret jager andre væk fra deres æg.. Er det sandt ?
Reply from webmaster: Ja, Zebracichlider er normalt meget aktive og aggressive i deres yngelpleje.
Kelia wrote at 2007-06-12 01:31:42
what diseases are my cichlids prone to?
Reply from webmaster: I think it is a rather broad question, so I will answer just as broad, saying more or less the same diseases as other tropical fish. Most cichlids are very hardy though, for instance the convict is a very hardy fish. Off course there are also som cichlids that are very fragile, which brings me back to my initial feeling, that you would have to narrow down your question to get a more specific answer.
Kelia wrote at 2007-06-09 21:30:41
Hvor mange fisk kan man så have i et 300 liters?
Reply from webmaster: Det kommer helt an på hvilke fisk! Man kan vel have omkring 10-15 fuldvoksne Zebracichlider.
ryan wrote at 2007-06-06 22:58:44
the one female convict keeps going after all the other convicts will she breed with any of the males she keeps going after
Reply from webmaster: It sounds like the males aren't really ready yet. You will have to be patient and wait for the males to mature - the female want the male to be strong and respected - the best father in the group.
ryan wrote at 2007-05-31 22:20:23
i have a male and female convict about 2 inch will they breed in a 2 1/2 foot tank.
Reply from webmaster: I am sure they will breed in your tank - they are not very picky when it comes to perfect surroundings. I'm not sure they are mature yet though.
tom wrote at 2007-05-06 00:16:33
how long does it take convicts to breed i got the on the 5 may so wen should they start breeding 1 of them has made a little ditch
Reply from webmaster: You cannot set a certain timelimit - they need to feel comfortable and secure before they consider breeding. If the male have dug a little ditch that's normally a good sign, but it could easyli last a week or more before he is able to convince the female to participate. Give them some time - I'm sure they will breed soon enough.
Justin wrote at 2007-04-13 15:00:30
I have 2 zebra convicts and they had babies there is about 100 of them.When should i take them out of the tank.I was thinking of putting them in a net breeder until they get bigger to defend thereself.I also have 2 firemouths and a pink convict in my 55 gal tank.Am i going to do the right thing to put them in the net breeder? Also if i should move them when should i do it?
Reply from webmaster: The best solution would be if you could move the other fish, but I suppose you don't have that possibility. I am not too hooked on the net breeder idea, I think I would try to let the parents protect them as best possible. Most likely a lot of the fry will disapear but you will also only have room for a few of them - if ten grow up that would be more than enough. If it goes completely wrong and all the fry are lost, don't worry too much - the parents will most likely try again within a month or so.
dean wrote at 2007-03-26 23:20:27
um how do you um keep breeding your convict cichlids
Reply from webmaster: I'm not quite sure what you mean - a pair of convicts will continue to breed if given proper food. Please give me some more details regarding what the problem is and what conditions they are kept under.
Mie wrote at 2007-02-15 14:38:31
Hvor mange fisk kan man så have i et 160 liters? På forhånd tak!
Reply from webmaster: Det kommer an på hvilke fisk der er tale om. Af Zebracichlider kan man nok kun have 5-6 stykker, men jeg ved ikke om det er dem du mener.
hunter wrote at 2007-02-14 21:40:20
what do i do i have eggs! i am only 11 years old.
Reply from webmaster: You shouldn't have to do anything - propably the parents will guard the eggs until they hatch and then take care of the fry. You can feed the fry with fine chrushed flakefoods. What other fish do you have with the convicts?
Anonym wrote at 2006-12-29 05:18:25
how do you know when the male has fertelized the eggs
Reply from webmaster: You only know for sure when the eggs start to develop, which should be visible after a day or so. If everything is ok, the eggs will have a small dot in the middle and the color are yellowish, otherwise the eggs will begin to fungus and become all white and hairy.
Jacob wrote at 2006-10-26 17:50:54
Okay. Men der er jo selvfølgeig den regel med at man kun skal have den art / andre cichlider, ikke ? Mvh Jacob
Reply from webmaster: Nej. der er en del andre central-amerikanske cichlider du sagtens kan have sammen med zebracichliderne, det kræver bare et rimelig stort akvarium.
Jacob wrote at 2006-10-19 19:14:53
Passer zebracichlider deres unger i et akvarie, eller skal man have et andet sted hvor de kan føde ? Du har skrevet et eller andet sted, at parret jager andre væk fra deres æg.. Er det sandt ? hvis det er, så tror jeg måske gerne, jeg vil have et par :D
Reply from webmaster: Ja, Zebracichlider er blandt de mest aktive forældre i fiskeverdenen - ind imellem så aktive at det bliver for meget. Som regel vil forældrene kunne passe så meget på unger at æg at nogle enkelte overlever, selv i et selskabsakvarium.