Have you recently bought – or been heavily thinking about buying – a Texas Cichlid (otherwise known by their scientific name Herichthys Cyanoguttatus)? Well, this fish is perfect for you if you’re into keeping large freshwater fish!
Texas Cichlid are extremely impressive fish due to their size, iridescent beauty and interesting behavior.
They’d be a stand out for any fish tank and are great for anyone who’s looking to advance their knowledge and skills when it comes to being a fishkeeping enthusiast and aquarist.
It’s worth noting that these fish are notoriously difficult to take care of due to their aggressive and dominant behavior. In the wild they’ve actually become an invasive species because of this temperament that they hold.
So, you’ll need to be an advanced aquarist to handle these fish and, if you think you’re up to the challenge, here is an expert guide on how to keep your new texas cichlid and take care of them so you never come across any major issues!
Texas Cichlid Background
Texas Cichlids are part of the popular Cichlidae family of fish and their actual scientific name is Herichthys Cyanoguttatus. But, they can also be known as Pearl Cichlids or Rio Grande Perches.
Their most common name is still Texas Cichlid, though, due to the fact that they’re usually found in rivers and lakes in south Texas. In fact, interestingly, they’re actually the only species of cichlid that originally come from the United States.
They also inhabit rivers and lakes in the north of Mexico, as well, which is, of course, on the border of Texas, so it’s natural they would stray a bit.
They might not be the most well-known species of Cichlid, but they’re still widely available and extremely popular amongst aquarists. You can buy them online or from pet stores and they usually won’t cost you more than around $35.
The most important thing you have to know about Texas Cichlids regarding their behavior is that they’re a very aggressive species of fish, and are far more aggressive than other species of Cichlids.
If they get the chance, they’ll happily attack more vulnerable fish and potentially eat any that are smaller than them. They’re even aggressive towards their own kind so they definitely aren’t schooling fish.
Their aggressive behavior is largely due to the fact that they’re incredibly territorial creatures, so anyone that invades their space will be made to pay for it.
They’re very active throughout the day, and they like to dig in the substrate, have a go at the plants by uprooting them, and dart around the tank.
Because they’re so erratic they will happily cover all levels of the tank when they swim around and they can also mark their territory in this way.
Texas Cichlids also appear to be intelligent fish and are often seen to go up to the front of the tank and look at their owners when they know it’s time to be fed, meaning they’re quite an interactive fish to own.
Texas Cichlids can grow up to 12 inches long, meaning they’re pretty big fish. But, what makes them so distinct, and is probably also the reason they’re so popular amongst aquarists, is their stunning appearance and iridescent color range.
The most common color choices aquarists usually go for are either red, green or electric blue.
Whatever color they happen to be, though, they’ll be undeniably beautiful and will brighten up your tank so much you’ll always have people turning their heads to check them out whenever they walk past!
There’s normally some sort of variation involved with these fish, but generally they have a unique dotted pattern consisting of spots that are of a different size and can be any color from blue to green.
These dots also glow under the tank’s light, meaning the fish are basically neon colored – their fins also play a big part in making it look as though they’ve been lit up because they’re extremely thin and they disperse the light.
In terms of their shape, their bodies begin with a fin base which is mildly curved and eventually forms a slope, leading down to where their fins are located.
As touched upon previously, Texas Cichlids’ natural habitat is located in the United States in southern Texas, and also in the northern part of Mexico, where they live in a section of the Rio Grande River that flows through both countries.
This is the reason why they’re nicknamed either Texas Cichlids or Rio Grande Cichlids.
As tends to happen with most animals, they’ve strayed over the years into lakes, tributaries and ponds that neighbor their native home, so they can also be found elsewhere outside of the Rio Grande River.
Their native river contains warm water that’s soft and slightly acidic, has a strong flow, and has a substrate that predominantly consists of pebbles and sand, plus some flora and bigger rocks. It essentially has everything this species of fish needs to survive.
Possibly the most important consideration when it comes to keeping Texas Cichlids is the size of the tank, as they’re quite big fish when fully grown and will quickly outgrow a smaller tank because they grow extremely fast.
So, it’s recommended that they have a tank which is either 55 gallons or more; you definitely don’t want to be getting anything that’s less than 55 gallons for them to live in.
And if you’re planning on keeping them with other fish, you’ll need a tank that is at the very least 125 gallons because, as mentioned previously, they’re very territorial fish who like their own space and will become aggressive if other fish intrude on that.
In terms of water conditions, they’ll obviously need something similar to their natural habitat.
For this reason, the typically required parameters to keep them in are a water temperature of 68 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit, a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5, and a water hardness of 5 to 12 KH.
Try not to stray outside of these conditions, as even though Texas Cichlids can deal with some flexibility, it’s vital for their health that you maintain their water parameters between the above measurements.
When it comes to decorating the tank so that it’s specifically suited to their needs, it can be quite difficult because they enjoy uprooting plants and digging in the soil or sand of the substrate, so they’ll almost definitely ruin your beautiful creations and hard work.
But, there isn’t much you can do to avoid it, meaning you’ll have to deal with it when it happens. All you can really do from the get-go is try your best to make any decorations you place in the tank as secure as possible and then hope for the best!
Texas Cichlids should be fed twice a day rather than just once a day due to their big appetite, but it’s best to only give them small amounts of food for each meal.
They’re naturally omnivores, so they’re not very fussy about what you pop in their tank for them to eat.
It’s very important not to overfeed them, despite the fact that they have an enormous appetite and will eat everything you give them, as it can lead to obesity, which can eventually deteriorate their organ functions and it can also lead to unhealthy behavioral changes.
To make them stay as healthy as possible, it’s good to vary their diet and provide them with a number of different types of food, including the standard pet shop bought flakes or pellets, which contain a lot of nutrients in them to keep them alive and well.
You also at times need to give them live or frozen foods that are high in protein, such as frozen shrimp, insects, crustaceans, bloodworms, and brine shrimp.
Although you could in theory have a community tank and add other fish alongside a Texas Cichlid, it’s probably not a very good idea due to their aggressive nature.
Certainly if you have a tank that’s relatively small, you’ll want to stay away from getting tankmates for it because it will see any other fish in the tank as an invasion of its own personal territory.
It’s best not to keep multiple Texas Cichlids together in the same tank – it can be done if the tank is very big, but they still might get aggressive towards each other and potentially hurt one another.
If you do really want to keep a single Texas Cichlid together with other fish, though, you need to make sure you get them tankmates who aren’t very aggressive and are of a similar size to them, as if you get fish that are far smaller than them, they might end up eating them.
Some potentially good tankmates include Silver Dollars, German Blue Ram, Jack Dempsey Fish, Giant Gourami, and certain kinds of Plecos.
If you do decide to keep more than one Texas Cichlid together in a tank and one is a male and the other a female, then allowing them to breed within a tank is actually quite an easy thing to do and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go ahead and do it.
But, you’ll need to take some added precautions to make sure everything runs smoothly, as, once again, aggression will play a part with these fish and they can actually become extra aggressive and territorial when they’re in the process of breeding.
In order to do this, you’ll need to breed them separately in a different tank which is 75 gallons, creating water parameters with a warm temperature similar to that of the original tank, a pH balance which is neutral, and medium to hard water.
And you’ll also want to add soft sand and a flat stone.
In this tank environment, the Texas Cichlids should automatically pair off and, when they’re prepared to lay eggs, they’ll clean an area, such as the flat stone, to lay them there. A female usually lays 500 to 1,000 eggs.
Then, around four or five days after the eggs have hatched, the fry will swim around and you should feed them with powdered spirulina or baby brine shrimp.
Texas Cichlids are actually fairly resilient fish and aren’t susceptible to any unique diseases that specifically target their species. The main diseases they can experience are similar to what all other fish have to potentially deal with, such as Ich and fin rot.
If they have Ich, you’ll notice it quite easily because small white dots will show up on their bodies and their behavior might change – for example they could experience a loss of appetite.
It’s easy to treat, though, and you can acquire medication for it over the counter.
Fin rot, on the other hand, is an infection caused by bacteria that makes sections of their fins waste away, and usually happens after they’ve previously injured themselves as the bacteria manages to work its way into any cut they might have suffered.
However, as bad as it may sound, fin rot is also easy to treat with over the counter medication.
Texas Cichlids can live a relatively long life similar to that of a large dog – their typical lifespan is between 10 and 13 years long.
But, you’ll need to take proper care of them for them to be your companion for that long, otherwise they could perish from disease or stress.
With their incredible beauty and amazing neon colors, it’s no wonder you’re considering buying – or have already bought – a Texas Cichlid to live in your tank.
But, despite their amazing aesthetic, they can be a very aggressive species of fish, so you need to know exactly what you’re doing as an aquarist to be able to keep them.
Therefore, we hope this guide has helped you understand everything you need to know about caring for your Texas Cichlid!
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