Red Devil Cichlid Care And Breeding Guide

For a hobbyist with the desire to keep a large, charismatic fish, the Red Devil Cichlid should be a perfect choice. It is known to spruce up a tank with its strange yet appealing color, not to mention its enthusiasm in an aquarium.

The red devil also comes in a variety of colors including yellow, dark brown and even bright red. Some are white, while others have a mixture of two or more colors. These color variations could be as a result of cross breeding.

Appearance of Red Devil Cichlid

Red Devil Cichlid

The red devil cichlid, also known scientifically as Amphilophus labiatus, obtained its name from its aggressiveness towards other fish species. Not only that, it can literally devour plant life inside the tank owing to its strong set of jaws, and teeth.

It has a robust personality with pointed dorsal and anal fins. In the wild, it is dark brown, with some adorning the grey coloration. In captivity, the colors can vary from bright red to almost pure white. The more colored ones commonly have tails and fins that are black-tipped.

Some of the fish species have thick, orange lips. Others may spot black lips. In the wild, the lips are more pronounced. In captivity, reverse is the case. So far, not much explanation has been done to explain why the lips look smaller when the fish is kept in a tank.

Most of this fish species grow quite big. Their sizes in the wild are bigger compared to that in captivity. In their natural habitat, they can be as huge as 15 inches. To reach maturity and attain full size, they require an average of 3 years. Most of them live for approximately 10-12 years. Others can live longer depending on the kind of care they receive in a tank.


It is native of Central America near the Atlantic Ocean towards Nicaragua. It dominates most Nicaraguan lakes like Managua, Xiloa and Nicaragua.

Around the 1980s, there were other fish species described to be in the same genus. However, after careful research, they were moved into their very own genus.

Tank Requirements

The Red Devil Cichlid is a hardy fish that can survive most tank conditions as long as they (tank conditions) are reasonable. However, first time hobbyists may find some difficulty keeping this fish due to the fact that it grows huge with time. If the tank is relatively smaller, it may be very aggressive towards other tank mates. It may also destroy the tanks arrangement like rocks and plants.

Some requirements to put in place for the fish is a minimum of 55 gallons tank for one fish. For a pair, the tank should be 125 gallons or more. Moderate water movements. Strong and efficient filtration. A sump style or canister filter would be a great idea for the fish.

Sufficient oxygen to keep its color well highlighted and health in top form. Airstones can be added to the tank to keep the oxygen in required level. Provide rocks and fine sand. The fish enjoys swimming and even hiding at times. Some wood can also be provided. Remember the fish can disrupt the layout of the tank. Ensure they are well bedded.

Plants that support the fish can be incorporated in the tank. As they are likely to be disturbed, they can be planted along the edges of the glass. In this case, the tank has to be sizeable so that the middle part is left bare for the fish to swim in. Any equipment used in the tank needs to be protected from destruction. For this reason, outlets or inlets and heaters can be placed outside the tank if better protection inside the tank cannot be guaranted.

Provide moderate lighting conditions. A pH of 6.5-7.5 is ideal. Water temperature of between 75 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit is necessary.


They are omnivorous in nature and likely to consume a number of foods. To keep a proper balance in terms of meals, the following foods are important:

  • Cichlid pellets. They ought to be of high quality
  • Vegetables like lettuce
  • Frozen shrimp, bloodworms, earthworms and crickets
  • Carotene rich supplements
  • Flake foods and pellets
  • Meaty foods can be provided too. Boiled meat is digestible and can be a specialty

The red devil cichlid is a heavy feeder. It requires several servings a day. With a good diet, it can grow to an enormous size.


The males tend to grow bigger than the females. The male also has a pointed papilla while the female’s is blunt. In captivity, males grow a nuchal hump that becomes prominent during breeding. The red devil has been successfully bred in captivity. A hobbyist can do this too with plenty of patience.

The cichlid is an open spawner. It prefers the inclined substrate which should be provided for success. The female lays approximately 600 to 700 eggs. They are transparent, with some looking amber yellow. The females care for these eggs until they hatch in about three days. The temperatures should be maintained at 77 degrees Fahrenheit for the eggs to hatch.

After about one week, the fry are able to swim around the pond. During this time, their best feeds should be Artemia nauplii. When they turn three weeks old, they get extra nourishment from their parent’s skin.

Social Behavior

Are quite aggressive, not easily accepting fish of the same or different species in the tank. They therefore need to be kept in their own tanks unless there is a possibility of keeping it with other aggressive tank-mates in a very large aquarium.

While juveniles, they are more tolerant. As they mature, their tolerance levels change and they are unable to accommodate any other fish sharing the same tank with them. When planning to keep them with other types of fish, a larger tank is a requirement.


They get attacked by illness if the water conditions are not right. To avoid this kind of situation, the water needs to be changed occasionally. Excess food should also not be provided if there are no cleaner fish or crab to eat them away.

The most common problem with fish is ich. This can be dealt with by the tank temperature being elevated. In case this does not work, copper based medicines can be introduced into the aquarium. When using copper, ensure the instructions are followed fully.

The Red Devil Cichlid comes in plenty of colorations for a hobbyist who needs a slightly larger fish to spruce up the tank.

1 thought on “Red Devil Cichlid Care And Breeding Guide”

  1. I have a red devil and a red Oscar in an 80 gallon tank. They are both adults. Bought them both around the same time but from different stores. They were both about the size of a quarter at the time of purchase. Also purchased a black pleco of similar size where the Oscar was purchased. All 3 are very beautiful. No scars or marks on them from fighting. But on occasion they do appear to be in conflict with one another. However none of them appears to be more aggressive than the other two. They seem to just have their day occasionally. These 3 have been sharing this 80 gal aquarium for approximately 6-7 yrs now without a problem. So are we past the point where I need red to worry that one day the aggression will spike on the part of the red devil and it hurt the Oscar? Is there any way to send you a pic of my fish. They really are quite beautiful and big!


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