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Spiny cichlid - Archocentrus spinosissimus

Spiny cichlid - Archocentrus spinosissimus

Scientific name: Archocentrus spinosissimus

Common name: Spiny cichlid

Family: Cichlidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 13 - 15 cm (5.12 - 5.91 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 7 - 7.6

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 5 - 12°N (89.29 - 214.29ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 23 - 27 °C (73.4 - 80.6°F)

The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning

Where the species comes from: Central America

Temperament to its own species: peaceful

Temperament toward other fish species: peaceful

Usual place in the tank: Bottom levels


The Spiny cichlid originates from Central America where they inhabit waterways that are dense in vegetation and this should be replicated in the aquarium.

Short description

Like most cichlids these fish are renowned for having an aggressive nature but if given the room they are not as hostile as some of the more aggressive species. They are referred to under a few common names such as Spiny cichlid, Spinner cichlid or even Spinos cichlid but they are the same fish with the Latin  name of Archocentrus spinosissimus and they display a range of colouration varying from grey to black with purple markings. Adult specimens will reach a size of 6 inches and if cared for correctly will live for many years. They are classed as bottom swimmers as they look for food in the substrate but during the hours they will occupy all levels.


If cared for correctly the average lifespan of the Spiny cichlid is expected to be between 6-7 years.

General care

The Spiny cichlid like space so the minimum aquarium size required for these fish should be at least one capable of holding 40-50 gallons in water volume. They prefer well planted aquariums with lots of hiding places, this will make them feel more at ease but allow for open swimming spaces at the front so keep the planting to the sides and rear of the aquarium. Additional rocks or wood can be added to provide even more hiding places. The water temperature should range between 23-27°C (73-80°F) and keep the pH slightly alkaline if possible although a range between 7.0-7.6 will suffice.

They are high waste producers so use a filtration system rated for the water volume of the aquarium and back this up with regular water changes. The Spiny cichlid is not overly aggressive compared to some of the other cichlid species but as expected aggression will increase during spawning times if this takes place in the main aquarium.


Feeding is not a problem with the Spiny cichlid as they have a voracious appetite and should accept all foods offered. They are classed as omnivores so use a quality flake or cichlid pellets for the main diet but this should be varied with extra vegetable matter and meaty foods. Vegetable matter can be offered in the form of blanched peas, cucumber or zucchini that has been chopped and there are many live or frozen meaty foods such as brine shrimp, blood worms etc.


Mature males tend to be larger than the females with a stockier body shape.


The Spiny cichlid are substrate spawners and are not too difficult to breed if given the correct conditions. It may be best to breed in a separate tank due to the increased aggression levels  and this also makes protecting the fry a lot easier. They will require some artificial caves to select as spawning sites, upturned terracotta plant pots, aquarium ornaments etc. are ideal and when ready to spawn the male will invite the female into the cave to deposit her eggs which are fertilised immediately. The eggs should hatch in 2-3 days and if there are plants in the breeding tank the parent fish may move the wrigglers into them for extra protection. Once the fry are free swimming they will require feeding, initial feeds should include newly hatched brine shrimp, artemia or even a commercial egg layer fry food.

As the fry grow they will start to feed on the same food as their parents but to start with any flake or pellets should be crushed as they only have small stomachs and very small mouths.


Spiny cichlid Spiny cichlid, 1 Spiny cichlid, 2

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