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Black convicts color up at spawning time. This male likes to play "tag" with the other cichlids.
Pink Congos were a variant of the good, old Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum or convict cichlid from south of the NAFTA
border. The normal bluish grey with black
bars version grows wild in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Panama.
By the way, the nigrofasciatum in their name means black bars.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term “cichlid,” these are the
south of the border version of the centrarchids
-- our sunfishes. They are just as
scrappy as our version (and probably as tasty).
Do not mix these with most community fishes (except other cichlids).
They need lots of elbow room and will beat many competitors to death.
Pink Congos (or more commonly today, pink convicts) breed just as
readily as the regular convicts. And
since they are the same exact species, they readily spawn together.
The barred version mated with a pink convict will usually yield all
barred progeny. The barred
coloration is dominant. Mating
their offspring will give you about 25% pink babies.
get down to serious egglaying at a very young age.
Many cichlids think about these things after they turn one year old.
Convicts are quite precocious. Most
will pair off under six months of age. Many
parents spawn before they reach two inches in length.
Convicts breed at a small size. This
means most wind up in small tanks (10 gallons and under).
This stunts their growth so they top out at three, maybe four inches.
But if you give them plenty of space and food, they will grow to six
inches -- especially if kept away from the opposite sex.
Most convicts are more interested in breeding than feeding.
Constant egg production probably inhibits part of their growth
Male convicts of the same age as females are larger, more colorful
(with the exception of the female’s gold abdomen), longer finned, and bluer.
The males get a blue sheen when the light hits them right.
You can really see their sheen when you net them.
When ready to breed (which is most of the time), their body darkens and
their bars turn a dark jet black.
Female convicts are usually plumper, a shade less aggressive, and have a gold
belly -- especially if you look at them in a net under strong light.
The gold gets much brighter at breeding time.
This sex-based color variation is apparent on both the regulars and the
Try to find potential breeders about the same size.
The larger male convicts can easily overpower the weaker females.
This results in her trying to hide lying on her side at the top of the tank (which,
by the way, rarely
The three above are pairing off in a half-gallon critter cage. Of course
they need more room.
The three above are pairing off in a half-gallon critter cage. Of course they need more room.
Male convicts quite often beat the tar out of their females --
especially in small tanks. They
beat on them, rip off scales and fins, and often kill them.
As a result, there are many more large males out there than large
females -- maybe ten to one. At least once a week someone will come
in looking for a “large” female convict cichlid.
At least once a week someone will come in looking for a “large” female convict cichlid.
The female needs several
places to hide. If she can’t get
away from the male, he may kill her. Ceramic
caves make easily defended hiding places and spawning sites.
Rock jumbles and bunches of plants also help.
Any driftwood, PVC pipe, plastic plants or shipwrecks will give her a
place to get away from his not always wanted (and sometimes deadly) attention.
Once she lays her eggs, he better watch out. Some females will run off
or kill their former spouses. Say no more. C'est l' amour.
Once she lays her eggs, he better watch out. Some females will run off or kill their former spouses. Say no more. C'est l' amour.
Females usually pick a cave to spawn in (but not always).
If you want to watch their eggs develop, put a ceramic cave in the front
where you can easily see it. Of
course, they reserve the right to spawn wherever they decide to spawn.
Convicts breed without special diets.
However, certain foods and feeding practices will get their little
over-juiced hormones flowing even faster. Feed them four times a day -- not
huge amounts, just enough to pooch out their little bellies.
Give them more than one type of food.
You will see their colors brighten.
After one of their daily feedings, slip them some extra nutrition from
this tasty list:
live brine shrimp
cut in half
If you drop an unsuspecting female convict into the same tank where a large male
has lived alone for a while, her chances of survival are limited.
He owns the joint. All
intruders will be whupped -- even potential mates. Better:
Put him in an isolation tank for a week. Let
her take over the spawning tank and set up housekeeping.
Put him in after she “owns” the tank a week or so.
Her chances for survival increase dramatically. However, she
still needs cover.
However, she still needs cover.
Go to Convicts 3
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