One very common fish tank species that is popular all over the world is the convict cichlid and in this post, we’ll share a few convict cichlid tank mates that will keep a peaceful aquarium.

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This striped beauty is one of the most widespread types of cichlid and it is the least demanding fish you will ever come across. There are a lot of interesting things about the fish and one of them is how it takes care of its fry, which can be a bit exciting to see.

The only thing as interesting as the fish may be that the convict cichlid is named ‘Convict’ for a reason: this species is particularly aggressive towards its tank mates. This is the reason why having a small tank may not be the best idea if you want to keep a couple of these fish.

Equipment You Might Need For Your Convict Cichlid Tank

  1. Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter
  2. NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light
  3. Tetra Aquarium Heater
  4. Python Pro-Clean Gravel Washer and Siphon Kit
  5. Marina Algae Magnet Cleaner
  6. API Freshwater Master Test Kit

Facts about the Convict Cichlid

With an average lifespan of around 8 to 10 years, this is a fish that will stand the test of time given the right care and conditions. They can even live longer if you take good care of them.

Convict cichlids have around 9 vertical stripes of black against a lighter-colored tone and that is what makes them look like convicts. The color intensity of the fish varies and you can find many of them with a pinkish hue.

In the wild, this fish is mostly found in the larger rivers and streams where they shelter themselves near rocks and sunken branches.

They are particularly popular among cichlids because they are a low-maintenance fish that can last a long time. They are also excellent when it comes to breeding because of their receptiveness to mates.

Did you know you can keep some Cichlids in tanks as small as 10 gallons? Read our guide and Find out which Cichlids can live in a 10-gallon tank.

Tips to Help You Keep Convict Cichlids Happy and Thriving

The convict cichlid is an aggressive and territorial fish. It is not very easy to get them to play well with a lot of other fish species in the tank.

While it is not difficult to take care of the species in and of itself, there are some considerations you need to take in order to make sure that they are properly cared for.

 

Convict Cichlids

Deanpemberton [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Care Level: Very Easy to Take Care
Max Size of Fish: 5 inches to 6 inches
Temperature Range: 70 to 82 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 6 to 8

The information above clearly shows how easy it is to maintain ideal conditions for the convict cichlid. These are the normal conditions for most other fish tank species.

Of course, any additional tips will always be useful when it comes to making sure that the fish is happy, healthy and thriving in the tank, right?

  • You need to have a sizeable tank for the convict cichlid. The smallest size of tank you should use is 30 gallons, but not any less. We would, however, recommend you keep the size of the tank larger than 40 gallons due to their aggressive nature.
  • They are omnivorous fish, which means they can eat both plant and meat matter. Ideally, their core diet should be high-quality pellets or flakes but not just any flakes – you need to get flakes made for cichlids.
  • Convict cichlids do need to hide when they are feeling uneasy. In fact, they really love hiding under rocks and sunken branches in their natural habitat so you should add that as much as possible to their tank. Plants are not as necessary but plants such as Amazon Swords or Java Fern work well.
  • Of course, they are very active fish and they move around a lot. Expect your tank to always have some debris in the water column to combat this make sure you have a high-quality filtration system for the cichlid fish.

Best Convict Cichlid Tank Mates

When it comes to the convict cichlid, beginners should try to keep their convicts in a separate tank due to their aggressive nature. The reason being is that the convicts may fight it out with the others due to their territorial nature so what should you do?

Well, it might be a bit of a surprise for those who don’t know, but you do have some options for convict cichlid tank mates.  We have gone through the painstaking effort to research and compile a comprehensive list, which consists of the top ten convict cichlid tank mates.

Keep in mind that this species is very timid by nature and typically only become aggressive when they want to be, especially when they are breeding.

1. T-Bar Cichlids

t-bar cichlids in fish tank
Pawel Czapczyk [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Care Level: Very Easy to Take Care
Max Size of Fish: 6 inches
Temperature Range: 73 to 82 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 5 to 8

What better to live with cichlids than other kinds of cichlid, right? The T-Bar Cichlids are an attractive looking species of cichlids that do well in a community consisting of other fish, especially if they are similarly-sized cichlids. They are similar to the convict cichlids in the sense that they are peaceful generally, but they can get extremely aggressive during breeding. The fact that the two species can actually interbreed makes the T-Bar Cichlid the best tankmate for convict cichlids.

2. Honduran Red Points

Honduran Red Points
Cedricguppy – Loury Cédric [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Care Level: Very Easy to Take Care
Max Size of Fish: 3 inches to 4 inches
Temperature Range: 72 to 80 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 5 to 7.5

Another one of the best tank mates for the convict cichlids is the Honduran Red Point. When you compare their nature to that of the convict, the red points are definitely more peaceful. Despite the fact that they are tinier, they can get aggressive when they need to be and can hold their own in a fight. Another cichlid, this fish also needs a good amount of space to thrive.

3. Green Terrors

Green Terror
Elma from Reykjavík [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Care Level: Very Easy to Take Care
Max Size of Fish: 4 inches to 12 inches
Temperature Range: 68 to 75 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 5 to 8

A beauty in its own right, the Green Terror is not as terrifying as the name suggests (if you are putting it in the same tank as the convict cichlid). The thing is, this fish is also inherently aggressive but beautiful. Another species of cichlid, it can hold its own against the convict and knows better than to be unnecessarily aggressive in the fish tank. The best thing about it is that you do not have to worry a lot about taking care of this species.

4. Jewel Cichlids

Jewel Cichlid
Hectonichus [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Care Level: Very Easy to Take Care
Max Size of Fish: 1 inch to 11 inches
Temperature Range: 70 to 74 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 7 to 7.5

Jewel Cichlids are a species of fish that is incredibly beautiful and at the same time, unsuited when it comes to the regular community fish tank. The reason is that it is similar in nature to the convict cichlid and that also makes it one of the Convict cichlid tank mates. They are easy to take care of, live in similar conditions and get aggressive only while forming pairs.

5. Salvini

Salvini Cichlid

Care Level: Very Easy to Take Care
Max Size of Fish: 6 inches
Temperature Range: 72 to 81 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 8

Also known as the Salvini’s Cichlids, this species of cichlid is also known as the yellow-belly cichlid because of its yellow underside. It has a yellow body with two black lines of flower-esque designs running along the sides while the upper side also features the same black lines. Aggressive towards other species of fish, they are moderate when it comes to other kinds of cichlids and that is why they are among the Convict cichlid tank mates.

6. Jack Dempsey

Jack Dempsey
Zhyla (?) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Care Level: Very Easy to Take Care
Max Size of Fish: 15 inches
Temperature Range: 72 to 86 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 6 to 7

The Jack Dempsey is another one of the species that can be considered as one of the best tank mates for cichlids, but there is a catch here. They are the same in nature as convicts and they are quite a sight to look at in the tank. While you can expect them to get along well with convicts, there will come a time that territorial issues can be an issue between the two cichlid species. It is a carnivorous fish, which eats insects, crustaceans, worms, and other fish. Note: This is not a fish for beginners to keep in the tank.

7. Pictus Catfish

pictus catfish
Claire H. [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Care Level: Very Easy to Take Care
Max Size of Fish: 3 inches
Temperature Range: 75 to 81 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 7 to 7.5

And finally, an entry on the list of the convict cichlid tank mates that is not another species of cichlid. The Pictus Catfish is a small fish, which is a scavenger that eats anything it can find. A very peaceful fish, the Pictus actually gets along well with the convict cichlids. They share similar ideal conditions when it comes to the tank environment that makes them a good tank buddy for convicts.

8. Giant Danio

Giant Danio
Faucon [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Care Level: Very Easy to Take Care
Max Size of Fish: 4 inches
Temperature Range: 72 to 81 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 6 to 8

The Giant Danio is in no way a large fish as the name suggests, but it is definitely a good companion for the convict cichlid in the tank. The reason why this fish makes it on the list of the Convict cichlid tank mates is the fact that it is a very less aggressive fish, which likes to keep to itself and it moves really fast. That comes in handy whenever the convict cichlids are in the mood for some aggression because they know how to keep their distance. Tiny and colorful, the Giant Danio is a very vibrant and lively fish to look at in the tank.

9. Clown Loaches

Clown Loach

Care Level: Moderate
Max Size of Fish: 12 inches
Temperature Range: 72 to 86 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 5 to 7.5

Clown loaches are one of the best tank mates for convict cichlids. They are a relatively larger fish that stay primarily on the bottom of the tank. They like doing their own thing, are calm and like their own space.

Just make sure that some of these will reach up to a foot in length so you will need a decent sized fish tank if you want to accommodate them with your cichlid.

10. Common Pleco

pleco

Care Level: Moderate
Max Size of Fish: 20 inches
Temperature Range: 72 to 86 degree Fahrenheit
pH Range: 5 to 7.5

The Pleco is also known as suckerfish, this is a catfish species which is the last entry on the list of the Convict cichlid tank mates. They are pretty capable of reaching a larger size (20 inches) which makes them huge in terms of fish tank species but if you are planning to keep a single one of these in the tank with the convict cichlid, everybody will be fine. They are peaceful bottom feeders that keep the tank clean (something you need when you have convict cichlids in the fish tank).

Tank Tips to Make Sure Your Convict Cichlids Stay Safe

Here is a little more information about making the best possible environment for the convict cichlids other than keeping the best tankmates for them in the tank:

  • Keep the capacity of the fish tank at least 50 gallons or more because all of the Convict cichlid tank mates are species which require their own space and space to move around.
  • Make sure that you consider only species mentioned above so that it is easier to keep a handle on the conditions in the fish tank and establish a community.
  • Provide plenty of hiding spots for the convict cichlids and try not to keep too many pairs because of their aggressive nature.

Tank Mates, You Should Keep Away from Convict Cichlids

Convict Cichlids do not get along well with most other kinds of fish. They barely get along with other cichlids so you should understand that the tank mates you should keep away from convict cichlids are pretty much all other species than the ones we have mentioned.

Fun Facts About Convict Cichlids

While you’re going to find plenty of textbook facts about the convict cichlids, here are some interesting things you might not have known:

  • Convict Cichlids are actually pretty shy fish but when it comes to breeding, their protective and territorial instincts cause them to become extremely aggressive
  • If your convicts are in a tank where other fish have established a dominance, their aggressive nature automatically becomes subdued
  • They happen to be one of the most returned fish from the aquarium because people do not know how to take care of the community aspect
  • They love establishing their home and you shouldn’t be surprised if they rearrange the tank from the gravel to the plants.
  • They can hold their own and in fact, pretty much put up a very good fight against fish up to three times their size.

Final Thoughts

When you are taking on the convict cichlids as a pet, you should know that you can either keep them separately from other fish or choose one of the Convict cichlid tank mates noted above if you want to keep things peaceful in the tank. If you can establish a strong community, you will find the Convict Cichlid to be a very good pet that is easy to take care of.

Looking for more fish keeping tips check out the TFCG blog.

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