Cichlidae. Subfamily: Cichlasomatinae
Tends to be found in still or slow-moving, lowland parts of rivers and also numerous lakes. It’s sometimes found in mildly brackish conditions, although it’s unknown if it can survive in these habitats long-term.
Maximum Standard Length
Aquarium SizeTop ↑
48″ x 24″ x 24″ (120cm x 60cm x 60cm) – 500 litres. For a pair of adult fish.
Tank setup is not critical as the fish will arrange the decor to suit itself. Rocks, bogwood and branches can be used but ensure they are securely positioned to prevent the aquarium glass being broken, should the fish dislodge them. Sand or fine gravel substrate is recommended. Lighting levels are not critical and decent filtration should be provided.
Temperature: 76 – 86°F (24 – 30°C)
Hardness: 10 – 15°H
Primarily herbivorous in the wild, this species is not a fussy eater in captivity. Use a good quality cichlid pellet as the staple diet. Supplement this with meaty foods such as prawn, mussel and white fish. Vegetable matter in the form of spirulina or algae wafers should form an important part of the diet.
Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑
A moderately aggressive species. It may be possible to successfully keep this species in a community of robust Central American cichlids, if enough rock and bogwood is provided to form sufficient territories for all the fish. There is no guarantee of success if trying this. A bonded pair will often live quite happily together but care should be taken to ensure the female is not bullied.
The pair will prepare a site for spawning – usually a large stone or sometimes inside a cave. The site will be claened and any detritus or other obstructions removed. Spawning will then begin on the prepared site and during spawning the male can be aggressive towards the female. This is normal but the female should be removed if the violence becomes excessive.
Eggs hatch in 2 – 3 days and fry are free swimming approximately 4 days thereafter. Fry should be offered newly-hatched brineshrimp as an initial food and from there progressed to microworm, fry foods and crushed adult flake / pellets.
Widely and incorrectly referred to as vieja synspillum, this colourful fish is the most commonly available of the vieja species to the hobby. Although not as aggressive as some of its family, it is still a fish to treat carefully.
It can be found in mildly brackish waters in its natural range but this is not recommended or required in captivity.