How to make Jaguar cichlids happy, How to breed these cichlids & Forum
This page is devoted to Jaguar cichlids and to raising these cichlids in fish tanks. We'd love to hear about your Jaguar cichlids, use the form at the bottom of this page to share your experiences or ask questions, please! Also consider visiting the following page: Jaguar cichlid profile with forum!
The Jaguar Cichlid has its origins in Eastern Honduras, Lake Managua, Lake Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The common name ’Jaguar Cichlid’ comes from all the dark spots like on the jaguar cat. In a fish tank, this beautiful fish can grow up to 35 cm (~ 14 inches) and it’s a predator that likes to eat any smaller fish that fits into its mouth. You should keep Jaguar Cichlids with other large cichlids in a tank which length is at least 6 times bigger than its adult size. The minimum tank size that I would add the Jaguar Cichlid to is at least 450 litres (~ 119 US gallons, 99 Imperial gallons) of water volume and at least 48 inches (~ 122 cm) in length with 18 inches (~ 46 cm) from back to front, these fish are very active and they must be able to turn in the tank, if they feel cramped then it has been known for them to charge the glass and injure themselves. Of course, if you keep this fish in an aquarium that is smaller, it should grow smaller, but it will be more aggressive. Females aren’t as colourful as males and, if fed well, they’re much plumper. When purchasing the Jaguar Cichlid always inspect the fish carefully, any signs of a sunken belly is a sure sign that the fish hasn’t been eating properly or is lacking some vitamins. A healthy specimen should have a lifespan of at least 10-15 years; they are a long-lived fish if cared for properly.
Tank Setup and Care
The Jaguar Cichlid easily adapts to a wide variety of water conditions. Nonetheless, they need clean water, which makes their colours look best. The water pH should vary between 7 and 8 and they also like soft water more than hard. They appreciate a lot of rocks and caves as well as low lighting, so they’ll feel like they are in their natural environment. You have to keep the water temperature about 25 °C (77 °F). 50 US gallons (190 litres, 42 Imperial gallons) per 1 fish is enough (see minimum tank size note). They are a very active and inquisitive species of fish, you must leave them plenty of swimming room in the tank so keep the décor to a minimum, if the décor isn’t heavy they will move it around to suit themselves anyway. I always use a heater guard with these fish, they tend to knock the heaters about so this prevents any injuries and if possible use a strip thermometer as any internal thermometer that is mounted by a suction cup will become a toy to the Jaguar Cichlid. As with all large cichlids, they are high waste producers so ensure that your filtration system is of the best quality that you can afford and make sure that it turns over the total aquarium water volume at least once per hour.
Suitable tank mates for the Jaguar are other similar sized cichlids such as Oscars, I kept these fish together for many years and never had any problems, and in fact the Jaguar turned out to be the more peaceful of all of the tank mates. Smaller tank mates will be seen as food and the jaguar Cichlid will prey on them, this usually occurs after lights out while the fish are starting to slow down in preparation for the night.
If the Jaguar Cichlid is given plenty of tank space and kept with the correct tank mates their do show a peaceful temperament but they can hold their own against other fish if they have to but these should be isolated incidents.
The Jaguar Cichlid likes live food, beef heart, worms, pellets and small fish. They have a huge appetite and they’ll be eating all the time. As juveniles I have found it best to feed these fish twice a day, as they mature a meal every other day should be plenty. As well as live or frozen foods they will also accept meals of large cichlid pellets and to supply them with vitamins and minerals, I personally found the best food to offer them was Hikari Gold pellets, they used to love that food.
Only use feeder fish as a last resort as feeding with these can increase the chances of introducing viruses and diseases to the tank plus this practice is now being frowned upon in most parts of the world.
Breeding the Jaguar Cichlid
Breeding the Jaguar Cichlid can be tricky with some pairs of these fish so you may need some patience before you actually get a brood. As juveniles it is virtually impossible to sex the Jaguar Cichlid, males and females all look the same, as the fish mature and reach a size of 4 - 5 inches (~ 10 - 13 cm), the male will lose his dark stripes and will grow quicker than the female, his markings will turn to darker speckles and his background colour will take on a gold appearance.
To stand any chance of success you must use a separate breeding tank, during the breeding time the Jaguar Cichlid becomes very aggressive and can even attempt to attack its own owner if you decide to place your hand in the tank. The male will show some aggression towards the female so this should be watched carefully, if it becomes too intense it may be necessary to add a divider in the tank until the male calms down, and then try again.
Use sand for the substrate and add some flat rocks to act as potential spawning sites. The female will deposit her eggs on the chosen site after it has been cleaned, expect up to 500 eggs with each batch. The eggs are fertilised immediately by the male and will then guard the spawning site. The female will fan the eggs with oxygenated water and after 2-3 days the eggs should hatch.
Do not attempt to feed the fry at this stage, they will feed from their yolk sacs for a few days and only once these have been consumed should the fry be fed.
Jaguar Cichlid fry will feed on commercial egglayer fry food initially or you can use hard boiled egg yolks, squeezed through muslin, once they grow slightly they will accept newly hatched brine shrimp or crushed flake.
It is quite common for the parents to move the young around the tank, this is an inbuilt reaction from the Jaguar Cichlid hiding their young in the wild from predators.
I have had the best success with breeding the Jaguar Cichlid when the tanks are lit naturally and no artificial light is added to distract them.
Like all large cichlids, Jaguar Cichlids will uproot live and plastic plants in an aquarium. If you want to have any rooted plastic plant in your cichlid tank, glue gravel onto their bases to keep them from floating. If you use dark gravel, it will make your Jaguar cichlids darker. Darker gravels also brings out that purple sheen.
You can find more info about this fish here.