This has got to be one of THE most popular cichlids in the fish-keeping hobby today! An amazing little fish, their popularity has seen them line-bred into an interesting selection of color morphs, with Banded, Albino and even a so-called 'Calico' colored version available for purchase! All of these different color variations will behave the same and are kept in the aquarium to identical standards. To call these cichlids merely 'spunky' would be a classic understatement, as a Convict will bring a whole level of aggression and dominance to any aquarium it is stocked in, far in excess of it's actual size. These pugnacious fish are definitely best regarded as 'Tough Guys', in every sense of the word. Females are easily distinguished from the larger growing, chunkier males by a orangey/red area coloration on the belly that will only become more larger in size and intense in coloration in readiness to spawn. Which, in the Convict cichlid, means just about all the time!
The ol' saying that these fish started spawning IN THE BAG on the way home from the Pet Store, is not too far from the truth!
Beware of conspecific aggression in this species. A spawning Convict pair is only really assured of long-term, adult sized compatibility with each other, when stocked in four foot long aquariums. To keep more than one pair together of this feisty little fish in an aquarium, a six foot long tank is considered the minimum size. Stocking a spawning pair of Convicts in 'mixed' species community tanks, should probably be considered a 'challenging' undertaking, at best. They are very protective - aggressive - parents. A six foot long tank is recommended as the minimum size for keeping this cichlid as a spawning pair in a tank set up like this. Keep with tank mates that are 'robust' and hardy in nature, but not so large in size they will just simply eat your pair!