Cichlid Stocking my 130L Tank

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Oct 12, 2023
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The tank dimensions are around 90cm X 30cm x 50cm.

I'm going to put at least 1 fire mouth and 1 electric blue acara in this tank however I'm not sure if I should get a convict cichlid or if will they kill each other. Am I better off going with 2 Acaras and a Firemouth? 1 Acara 1 Firemouth or 1 Acara 1 Firemouth and 1 Convict. All of these will be juvenile fish and grow together. I've never kept semi-aggressive cichlids like these, I currently only keep discus, angelfish and german rams. The angelfish in there currently will be removed.


Hi welcome to the forum :)

So first thing with an American Cichlid tank - it is best to keep South Americans or Central Americans, it is possible to mix them but generally they have different water requirements and their behaviour and aggression is different and displayed differently which can make things harder to manage.

From your list the Firemouth and Convict are from Central America and most Acaras are from South America for example - there is the Green Acara - Aequidens Coeruleopunctatus that comes from Panama but otherwise Blue Acaras, Royals, Yellows etc all come from South America.

In a tank this size I think mixing 2 individuals of the species you've mentioned so far won't end well... Convicts are the most aggressive but either way you are looking at 2-3 mid to upper level aggressive cichlids and I think there are better choices if you hunt out a few specifics.

I'm asumming you have neutral water, but if you have soft or specifically hard water there may be better or other choices. I'd go for Central Americans and I'd look at the calmer Amatitlania species like Cutteri or Nanoluteus, maybe Sajica. I think Rainbow Cichlids are worth mentioning here as well. The tricky thing is working out the game of chess that cichlid stocking is... if you do 2 males of different species you will get a dominant and a sub and the sub will be very miserable, if you get a male and a female of 2 species they will breed and getting a 3rd species is quite hard in here because you would have the most success with another species that does not look like the first 2. The best I can think of suggesting is a Neet but hard to sex as they are monomorphic where as the others are quite easy.

What are your thoughts on doing a group of something like Nanoluteus or Cutteri - Honduran Red Points are worth a discussion in here too or a pair of Rainbow Cichlids?

I think if it were my tank I'd be considering a small group of Nanoluteus maybe 1 male, 3 females - you might manage 2 males though as they are not too aggressive and then pair them with a nice livebearer like some Swordtails or maybe some kind of Goodied - Skiffia, Tequila Splitfins etc.

I've kept many cichlids from south and central America. I actually, way back when, in the 1980a had a tank with blue and yellow acara (1 each) a green terror, a jack dempsy along with 4 convicts, a rope fish and a pleco. They all got along just fine but all the cichlids went in the tank at the same time at about half an inch in size.

The above aside, as it was just stated to point out that it is quite possible to mix fish that normally don't get along, let's look at convicts. If you look them up results will show a maximum size up to 6 inches but I have never seen this with them in captivity. I think that we get fooled sometimes as to mature fish size as the site we see may be giving a max size in the wild which is often much larger then in captivity. Mine never reached more than 2 inches. I really don't know if such exist but it is also possible that I had a dwarf version of convicts. As an example let's take my rope fish. If you look up the max size you are likely to get results up to 15-18 inches but this is just not true in a tank. I have never seen one get over 8 inches even in a 170 gallon tank. My current rope is about 7.5 inches and that was the size when I got well over a year ago.

Some notes if you are going to have convicts...

1) You cannot have just one. Two is a minimum and three or four is best. If just one it will become super aggressive and kill anything in the tank it can.

2) Have several caves or a cave system that has segregated areas.

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