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Nicaragua Cichlid – Hypsophrys Nicaraguensis


Common Name: Nicaragua Cichlid

Scientific Name: Hypsophrys Nicaraguensis

Average Adult Fish Size: Males can reach a  length of 10 inches / 25 cm. Females normally stay under 8 inches / 20 cm.

Place of Origin: The Nicaragua cichlid is native to Nicaragua and Costa Rica in Central America. It lives in freshwater rivers and lakes along the Atlantic slope, from the San Juan drainage (including Lake Nicaragua) in Nicaragua and Costa Rica to the Matina River drainage in Costa Rica. The typical Nicaragua cichlid habitat is a lake or a river with slow to moderate currents and rocky areas. This fish is found from sea level up to elevations of 200 metres.

Typical Tank Setup: A well decorated aquarium that has rock work and caves with enough hiding places that a female can get away from an overly aggressive male.

Recommended Minimum Aquarium Capacity: 50 gallon / 200 litre for one, 100 gallon / 400 litre or larger for a pair.

Compatibility: Moderately aggressive to very aggressive. Should be housed with similar sized cichlids with similar temperament.

Temperature: 74 – 80 Deg F  / 23 – 27 Deg C

Water Chemistry: pH 6.5 – 7.5

Feeding: The Nicaragua cichlid is an omnivore that needs a varied diet to thrive. In the wild, this cichlid feeds on plant seeds, leaves, bottom detritus, snails and other molluscs. Juvenile specimens feed primarily on aquatic insects. This fish is not a picky eater in captivity and will accept anything from flakes to live and fresh food. You can for instance use a high quality flake food or pellet as a base and supplement with brine shrimp, blood worms, blanched zucchini, peeled and headless shrimp or shelled mussels.

Sexing: Sexing this species is not very difficult, because the female is smaller and displays much brighter colors. Unlike the male, her dorsal fin is not pointed and she will not develop any hump.

Breeding: Nicaragua cichlids forms patriarch-matriarch families and are generally good parents to their offspring. It can be hard to obtain a compatible pair, but once such a pair has been established the rest of the process is normally without any major obstacles.

If you want to breed Nicaragua cichlids, a water temperature around 79-82°F (26-28°C) is recommended. The couple will start digging out a big pit in the substrate, often under a rock or inside a cave. The eggs are then deposited and fertilized in this pit. The eggs are not sticky and can therefore not be attached to the walls or roof of the cave. In most cases, only about 20-50% of the eggs will hatch. If you have a young and not yet fully mature male, the hatching rate can be even lower.

The eggs of a Nicaragua cichlid will normally hatch within three days and the fry will be free swimming after 4-5 more days. Both sexes are devoted parents; the female will fan fresh water over the eggs and guard eggs and fry, while the male will protect the territory around the spawning site from any intruders. One the fry has consumed the yolk sac, you can start feeding them newly hatched brine shrimp, and/or very finely crushed flake food.

Additional Information: A very beautiful mid-sized cichlid. There exists several different color and pattern variations within this species and each geographical population has its own characteristics. Wild F-1 specimens are often much more beautiful than their captive raised counterparts.