Jaguar Cichlid Care and Breeding Guide

Hobbyists with an affinity for larger tank fish may find the jaguar Cichlid a lovely tank pet. One fact worth noting though is that it does better for the advanced fish keepers. Newcomers may find it a little cumbersome as it is fairly aggressive and has quite a number of needs. All the same, a hobbyist willing to take the jaguar challenge is welcome on board.

Also known as Parachromis managuensis, the jaguar cichlid is no doubt a very beautiful fish. With its elegantly dotted body and lovely shape, it can make for a wonderful tank companion.

Appearance Jaguar Cichlid

jaguar cichlid

The Jaguar has an elongated body that is oval shaped. In the wild, it can grow to be as long as 60cm with a weight of approximately 3.5 pounds. In captivity however, it grows to about 40cm with less weight.

Juvenile jaguar cichlids, both males and females, have black bands on their profiles. The bands extend throughout their backs to finally stop somewhere near the lateral line. As they mature, these markings tend to diminish, leaving behind spots instead. It is from these spots that the fish obtained the jaguar name, because it actually resembles one.

Two dark bars dot the back of their eyes. The first one is horizontal, with a broken extension towards the first bar (which is vertical). The second runs down diagonally, extending towards the gill cover. As they mature, the males shed off this bar to develop a jaguar like pattern on their bodies. This is evenly distributed. Females on the other hand, maintain this bar, with some losing it altogether. Those that lose it obtain black dots across their bodies.

Most jaguar cichlids are anywhere from silvery to light purple. A good number are in between light blue and light green. On the head is light tan of yellow and burgundy red. For an exciting color experience with the fish, ensure the water is clean. Clear water seem to help its color radiate in sufficient light. If well taken care of, the jaguar cichlid can live up to 15 years.


The Jaguar cichlid was noticed for the first time in 1867 by Gunther. It is most popularly known to inhabit Central American lakes, rivers and basins. It is widely found in the waters of Nicaragua’s Managua Lake, River Ulua in Honduras and the Matina River found in Costa Rica.

Currently, owing to marine exports and imports, the fish is found in various countries including the US, Mexico, Singapore, Guatemala, Salvador and Panama. In most of these water bodies, there is said to be considerable damage to flora and other marine animals. It is a fairly aggressive fish that is also gluttonous.

Tank Requirements

Owing to its huge size, the fish deserves a big tank. 100 gallons and more should be sufficient. Other tank requirements are:

  • Enough substrate as they eagerly dig into it. Rocks and some wood are necessary
  • Provide floating plants as it is a bottom dweller that may not allow rooted plants to stand firm
  • Use dark gravel such as ADA AquaSoil to help highlight its lovely colors
  • Keep the temperatures between 24 and 30 degrees centigrade. Although studies indicate that it can withstand a little drop in temperature, maintaining the desired temperature helps keep it in top form. High temperatures also make it aggressive towards other fish species if the tank is shared.
  • A pH of about 7 is appropriate
  • Maintain a water hardness of between 15 and 25 dH
  • Ensure the aquarium lid is tightly closed since it jumps really high
  • Keep the lighting to moderate
  • Provide sufficient filtration so that its water remains clean. Its radiance is more noticeable when the water is clear


It is a wide feeder that enjoys eating flesh. If housed with smaller sized fish, the jaguar can easily make a meal out of them. When not well fed too, it becomes quite aggressive. Its meal times should therefore be observed to avoid unlikely situations.

Meals that appeal to the jaguar cichlid in captivity are:

  • Small feeder fishes like the sword fish
  • Frozen and dried foods
  • Fish pellets
  • Cut up fish like crayfish
  • Tadpoles
  • Bloodworms
  • Earthworms
  • Crickets

While feeding it flesh, ensure some vitamins are added to help boosts its overall health. Avoid giving them beef or poultry feeds as these may harm them. Remember, their systems are not accustomed to some of these feeds and avoiding them will help keep the pet healthy.

The jaguar should be fed once a day. If possible, let it starve one day each week or fortnightly to help strengthen its resolve. This helps when one may be away for longer than expected.


If kept in a community tank, it is best to separate them during spawning. For successful breeding, the following tank conditions are necessary:

  • 300 liters tank capacity. The huge tank is necessary as the male seems to be very aggressive, more so towards its species.
  • Enough rocks with caves and substrate where the female may hide in case the male begins to antagonize it.
  • Plenty of dried and floating plants where the female.
  • Water temperatures to be increased slightly by about 4-6 degrees.
  • Proper feeding to help reduce the male’s aggression.

The process

The male begins to display some fondness towards the female which may last longer or shorter depending on various factors.

The female lays eggs on a flat stone or large snag. It can lay about 5,000 eggs or more. The eggs appear transparently yellow.

The pair can be transferred back to their tank once this process is complete so that they do not feed on their fry.

After about two to three days, the eggs hatch and the fry appear. For the first few days, they feed on the yolk sac. After they begin to swim, they can be fed on crushed grains and tubifex.

The juveniles often grow differently. Some grow big faster than the rest. They can be separated according to their sizes so that the bigger ones do not feed on their smaller counterparts.


The jaguar cichlid is rather aggressive and is best kept with fish its own size. If stocked with smaller fish, it can make a meal of them.

When they have to be kept with other types of fish their size or bigger, a bigger tank is necessary. More caves and hiding places are also required. This helps the other tankmates when the male becomes aggressive towards them.

While the Jaguar cichlid is a lovely tank animal, it is best kept by experienced hobbyists as its needs may elude first timers.

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