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Rainbow Cichlid

(Herotilapia multispinosa)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 5"
• Minimum Tank Size: 45 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-82° F, pH 6.5-8.0, dH 5-15
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: Amazon Basin, South America   • Family: Cichlidae
• Species: Rainbow Cichlids   • Aquarium Type: Cichlid-New-World

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Species Information

Rainbow Cichlid native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Rainbow Cichlid is a brightly colored, monotypic fish commonly found in the lakes and rivers on the Atlantic and Pacific slopes of Central America. It makes an excellent addition to semi-aggressive cichlid aquariums as well as peaceful community setups; because of this the species is very popular among hobbyists looking for a few larger "community" fish that also fit the bill for the adding some color to their tanks.

The Rainbow Cichlid is unique in that it possesses tricuspid teeth, specifically enhancing its ability to eat filamentous algae which is its main source of food. The Rainbow Cichlid is capable of changing its coloration as its mood changes. The Rainbow Cichlid is an excellent choice for a chance to experience and observe a unique and wonderful fish species without a lot of special requirements and necessary equipment.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Rainbow Cichlid in the home aquarium.

The Rainbow Cichlid should be housed in an aquarium of at least 45 gallons and should be provided with plenty of rock structure (caves) and/or driftwood for shelter; they prefer a sand or fine gravel substrate and appreciate live plants, which help them feel more at home.

Rainbow Cichlid does not usually dig into the substrate or redecorate its environment so live plants and structures should remain unmolested. It's a good idea to provide them with adequate water movement although they have no special requirements above standard, efficient water filtration and lighting. They are a peaceful species that rarely show aggression, although they can become territorial and show aggressive behavior when spawning.

A wide array of tank mates would be acceptable; ranging from medium to large community fish to the smaller or similar sized, semi-aggressive to aggressive cichlids depending on available living space (they have been known to coexist with Convict cichlids as well as Firemouth Cichlids) and tank mates should still be chosen carefully with the help of a little research.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Rainbow Cichlid and provide a healthy diet.

The Rainbow Cichlid is omnivorous and commonly feeds on filamentous algae, small invertebrates, and various insects within its native habitat. In the aquarium, they will consume algae, but should also be provided with meaty foods as well as vitamin-enriched, frozen and prepared food items; live, frozen or freeze-dried brine shrimp, small insects, bloodworms, chopped earthworms, and a variety of small pellet and flake foods would make for a well balanced and healthy menu. Feed once or twice a day and only what they will consume in a few minutes.

Breeding Information

How to successfully breed Rainbow Cichlid in the aquarium environment.

It can be difficult to determine the sex of a Rainbow Cichlid, but the male's anal and dorsal fins are usually more pointed; the females are commonly smaller and have a short ovipositor. Pairs will form a nuclear family and they will care for the fry and defend them (in a community tank as well).

Unlike sexing, they are easy to breed and the water should be at a neutral pH of 7.0 with a soft to neutral hardness of dH 5-10 with a temperature of approximately 80°F. The female with lay around 800 eggs on a flat surface (usually driftwood or rocks/slate) which the male will then fertilize; both parents will take turns oxygenating the eggs via fanning and defending against threats.

The parent will continue to care for the fry throughout their yolk sac to free swimming stages, until they are strong enough to venture out on their own. Fry should be fed daphnia, encapsulated rotifers, or tiny particles of flake food; they will also pick at microorganisms and algae on their own.

After several days, the fry can move on to baby brine shrimp for the first couple of weeks and can then start eating standard brine shrimp, and small pieces of flake food. The fry should be fed twice a day.

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