Red Devil Cichlid Care Guide: Your Easy Steps to Success

Caring for a Red Devil Cichlid can be a rewarding experience, and these unique freshwater fish certainly stand out in any aquarium. As you begin your journey with these beautiful and highly sought after fish, there are a few things you should know about their care and requirements.

In this guide, we’ll cover the essential aspects that will help you keep your Red Devil Cichlid happy and healthy. From their omnivorous diet to their aggressive nature, understanding these fish will make your experience as an aquarist more enjoyable and successful.

So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of Red Devil Cichlids and learn how you can create the best environment for these captivating creatures.

Species Overview

The Red Devil Cichlid is a popular freshwater fish known for its vibrant colors and charismatic personality. They form unique bonds with their owners and are known to show off, making them an entertaining addition to your aquarium. However, they can be quite aggressive, so proper care and tank setup are essential to ensure their health and happiness.

Native to Central America, this beautiful fish can be found in rivers and lakes across countries like Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. They can grow quite large, reaching up to 18 inches in length, and have a relatively long lifespan.

Caring for a Red Devil Cichlid requires a diverse diet, a suitably large tank, and maintaining well-balanced water parameters. It’s essential to be mindful of their active nature and compatibility with other fish, so be prepared to tailor your tank setup to their needs.

Here’s a table with all the essential information you need to know when caring for a Red Devil Cichlid:

Property Information
Scientific Name Amphilophus labiatus
Common Names Red Devil Cichlid
Distribution Central America (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama)
Size Up to 18 inches
Lifespan 10 – 12 years
Diet Omnivorous
Temperament Aggressive
Minimum Tank Size 55 gallons
Temperature 75°F – 79°F (24°C – 26°C)
pH 6.5 – 7.5
Water Hardness 6 – 25 dGH
Care Level Moderate
Filtration/Water Flow Moderate
Water Type Freshwater
Breeding Egg Layers
Breeding Difficulty Moderate
Compatibility Careful tank mate selection, generally best with other large aggressive cichlids

To care for your Red Devil Cichlid, make sure their tank environment meets these requirements and provide a varied diet that includes both animal and plant-based food sources. Remember, every fish is unique, so monitor their behavior and adjust the tank conditions as needed to ensure their optimal health and wellbeing.

Origins and Natural Habitat

The Red Devil Cichlid is native to the rivers and lakes of Central America, specifically in the countries of Nicaragua and Honduras. In the wild, these fish are found in a variety of environments, such as slow-moving rivers, ponds, and marshes.

Your Red Devil Cichlid’s origins can be traced back to Nicaraguan lakes, particularly Lake Nicaragua, Lake Managua, and Lake Xiloa. These vibrant and charismatic fish are known scientifically as Amphilophus labiatus and have been moved to their own genus due to their distinct features.

As a friendly note, it’s essential to consider your Red Devil Cichlid’s natural habitat when setting up their aquarium and environment. Providing suitable conditions that mimic their wild surroundings will help ensure your fish thrive and stay happy in its new home.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Shape

Red Devil Cichlids are large and impressive fish that you can enjoy watching in your aquarium. In the wild, they can grow up to 15 inches (38 cm) in length and weigh up to 1.5 pounds (680 g), but in aquariums, they tend to be slightly smaller. Males are generally larger than females.

These fish have a long, thick body with a muscular build that tapers down from their midsection to their caudal peduncle. Their head is quite large, featuring a protruding lower jaw that adds character to their appearance.

Color and Markings

One of the most striking features of Red Devil Cichlids is their vibrant colors. While they are often associated with their vivid red or orange hues, they can also display a variety of colors ranging from white, yellow, and even blue. These colors may become more or less intense based on factors like age, diet, and stress levels.

In addition to their solid colors, Red Devil Cichlids can also exhibit dark, irregular markings, especially around their lateral line. This pattern can add further interest to their already striking appearance.

As you care for your Red Devil Cichlid, be sure to provide them with a proper diet and a stress-free environment to help maintain their beautiful colors and markings. A well-cared-for, healthy Red Devil Cichlid will certainly be a stunning addition to your aquarium.

Lifespan and Growth Rate

The Red Devil Cichlid is known to have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years under proper care and optimal tank conditions. Proper care can even extend their lifespan to a longer period. They grow quite fast, reaching adult size within three years.

As a Red Devil Cichlid owner, it’s essential to provide all necessary nutrients and maintain optimal water parameters so your fish can flourish. A balanced diet, composed of pellets specifically made for cichlids, vegetable-based flake food, and occasional treats of live or frozen food, will help your fish grow healthy and strong.

Monitor the water quality in your tank, as poor water quality can have a severe impact on your fish’s growth and overall health. Perform regular water changes and check the water parameters, such as temperature, pH, and hardness, to ensure it remains within the acceptable range for Red Devil Cichlids (temperature of 75-79°F, pH of 6.5-7.5, and dH of 6-25).

Providing ample space for your Red Devil Cichlid to grow is crucial. They can reach lengths of 12 to 15 inches when fully grown, with males being larger than females. Therefore, it’s essential to house them in an appropriately sized tank – a minimum of 75 gallons for a single fish, which can be increased as they grow or if you plan on adding tank mates.

To keep your Red Devil Cichlid healthy, maintain optimal water conditions, provide a proper diet, and ensure enough space for growth in the tank. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to enjoy their bold personalities and witness their impressive growth throughout their lifespan.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Red Devil Cichlid a well-balanced diet is essential for their overall health and well-being. They are omnivorous by nature, which means they enjoy both meaty foods and plant-based options.

To provide your fish with the variety and nutrients they need, offer them a combination of high-quality pellets or flakes and a variety of live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods. Some suitable options include brine shrimp, bloodworms, krill, and spirulina algae. Remember to balance their diet, as too much protein can cause health issues.

When feeding your Red Devil Cichlid, keep in mind that they have a hearty appetite. Offer them small amounts of food several times a day, rather than one large feeding. This will help mimic their natural feeding routine and prevent overeating. A good rule of thumb is to provide only as much food as they can consume within a couple of minutes.

Additionally, be mindful of the water quality as you feed your fish. Uneaten food and excessive feeding can lead to a buildup of waste and deteriorate water quality. Remove any leftover food promptly and monitor your aquarium parameters regularly to ensure the optimal health of your Red Devil Cichlid.

By following these dietary guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your Red Devil Cichlid healthy and happy. Remember, a well-fed fish is a happy fish!

Behavior and Temperament

Red Devil Cichlids (Amphilophus labiatus) are known for their lively and charismatic personalities. These energetic fish can form bonds with you, often showing off and occasionally begging for food like a cherished pet.

When it comes to their temperament, these fish are known to be quite aggressive. They typically do not interact well with other fish, as they tend to be territorial and willing to protect their personal space. As a result, it’s best to provide them with enough room in the tank to avoid any unwanted altercations.

It’s essential to be aware of their bold nature, as they could even nip at your fingers when you’re maintaining their environment or feeding them. To minimize the risk of injury for both you and your Red Devil Cichlid, always exercise caution when interacting with them.

Remember to also provide your Red Devil Cichlid with plenty of hiding spots and visual barriers in their tank. This can help reduce their stress levels and give them places to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed. Suitable options include rocks, caves, and thick plants, as these will make your fish feel more secure and less prone to aggression.

In summary, it’s crucial to understand your Red Devil Cichlid’s behavior and temperament to ensure a mutually enjoyable experience for both you and your fish. By taking appropriate precautions and providing them with a spacious and well-decorated tank, your Red Devil Cichlid can flourish and become a fascinating and entertaining pet.

Care and Tank Requirements

In this section, we will discuss the essential care and tank requirements for your Red Devil Cichlid, ensuring a healthy and happy environment for your fish.

Tank Size

When planning to keep a Red Devil Cichlid, tank size is an important consideration. Red Devil Cichlids can grow up to 12 to 15 inches, with males often being larger than females. A 55-gallon (208 liters) tank is recommended for housing one fish. As your fish grows, you may need to upgrade the tank size to accommodate its needs.

Water Parameters (Temperature and pH)

Proper water parameters are crucial for maintaining the health of your Red Devil Cichlid. The recommended water temperature is between 75°F to 79°F (24°C to 26°C), so ensure you have a reliable aquarium heater to monitor and control the temperature. The ideal pH range for these fish is 6.5 to 7.5, ensuring a slightly acidic to neutral water environment. It’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality water testing kit, allowing you to regularly check and maintain these parameters.

Tank Setup and Decorations

Red Devil Cichlids are territorial fish, which means they need ample space to claim as their own and establish boundaries. The tank setup should include:

  • Plenty of hiding spots: Create hiding spots with rocks and caves, providing your fish with a sense of security and a place to retreat.
  • Open swimming areas: Ensure there is enough space for your Red Devil Cichlid to swim and explore.
  • Substrate: Use sand or fine gravel as the substrate for your tank, making it comfortable for the fish to dig and sift through.
  • Plants: Live plants are not necessary, but if you choose to include them, choose hardy plants that can withstand the cichlid’s digging behavior.

Filtration and Aeration

Due to their large size and messy habits, Red Devil Cichlids need effective filtration and aeration in their tank. Invest in a high-quality filtration system that can handle the tank’s size and bioload. Proper aeration and water movement are essential to maintaining good water quality and oxygen levels within the tank. Ensure your filtration system creates sufficient surface agitation to keep the water well oxygenated. It’s also a good idea to have a backup air pump with an air stone to further promote adequate oxygen exchange.

Suitable Tank Mates

When looking for suitable tank mates for your Red Devil Cichlid, it’s essential to consider their aggressive nature. To create a harmonious community within your aquarium, opt for tank mates that can withstand the Red Devil’s temperament.

  • Another Red Devil Cichlid: Interestingly, Red Devil Cichlids are monogamous, meaning that they will get along with a mate of the opposite gender. Pairing two Red Devils can be a good option for maintaining a peaceful environment.

  • Similar-sized cichlids: Fish of comparable size and temperament, such as other Central American cichlids, can potentially coexist with the Red Devil. Some compatible cichlids include the Jaguar Cichlid, the Convict Cichlid, and the Jack Dempsey Cichlid. Keep in mind, however, that compatibility is not guaranteed, and individual fish personalities can vary.

  • Catfish: Larger catfish species, such as the Pictus Catfish or Plecos, are often capable of holding their own in a tank with a Red Devil Cichlid. Since they generally occupy the bottom of the tank, territorial disputes can be reduced.

To promote a peaceful environment for your Red Devil and its tank mates, ensure that your aquarium is spacious with plenty of hiding spots and territorial boundaries. Adding rocks, caves, and driftwood can help prevent conflicts among your fish.

Remember that your Red Devil Cichlid’s individual personality may affect its compatibility with certain tank mates. Always monitor your fish closely and be prepared to take action if aggression becomes a problem.

Breeding Process

Breeding Red Devil Cichlids can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to follow a few guidelines to ensure the health and safety of your fish. In this section, we will walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to successfully breed Red Devil Cichlids.

Step 1: Prepare a Separate Breeding Tank

First, set up a separate breeding tank for your Red Devils. A tank size of 50 to 75 gallons should suffice. Make sure the water parameters are stable and the tank is well-maintained, with hiding spots and flat surfaces for the fish to lay their eggs on.

Step 2: Select a Compatible Pair

You’ll need a male and female Red Devil Cichlid to breed. Observe their behavior and compatibility, as these fish can be aggressive towards each other. A compatible pair will generally show signs of courting, such as the male displaying his fins, or both fish spending time near each other.

Step 3: Introduce the Pair into the Breeding Tank

Once you’ve identified a compatible pair, gently introduce them into the prepared breeding tank. Make sure to do this in the evening, as Red Devil Cichlids tend to be most active during this time, and the darkness can help reduce stress.

Step 4: Provide a High-Quality Diet

Ensure that your Red Devils receive a high-quality diet rich in nutrients, including a mix of live and frozen food, pellets, and vegetables. This will promote overall health and encourage successful breeding.

Step 5: Observe Courtship and Spawning

Keep a close eye on your fish as they court one another. The male will display his fins and perform a dance around the female, who will respond by cleaning a flat surface to lay her eggs. When the female has laid her eggs, the male will fertilize them, and both parents will guard and fan the eggs to keep them clean and oxygenated.

Step 6: Monitor the Fry

Once the eggs hatch, you’ll see small fry swimming around the tank. It’s essential to ensure they receive the proper nutrition by offering them finely crushed high-quality foods. Keep a close eye on water quality during this stage, as fry are more sensitive to changes in their environment.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to successfully breeding Red Devil Cichlids. Always keep in mind their aggressive nature and be prepared to make adjustments as needed to ensure the health and safety of your fish throughout the process. Happy breeding!

Common Diseases and Treatments

Detecting common diseases in your Red Devil Cichlid early and providing proper treatment can help ensure a long and healthy life for your fish. Here are a few paragraphs discussing common diseases and their treatments.

Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) is a common disease affecting many freshwater fish, including Red Devil Cichlids. You may notice small white spots on your fish’s body, fins, and gills. To treat Ich, raise the tank’s temperature to 86°F for a few days, and consider adding aquarium salt (1-2 tablespoons per 5 gallons of water) to help the healing process. Ensure that you maintain good water quality throughout the treatment.

Fin Rot is another common issue that can result from poor water quality or bacterial infection. Symptoms include frayed, decaying, or discolored fins. To combat fin rot, first, improve the water quality by performing regular water changes and ensuring adequate filtration. Adding commercial antibacterial medications specifically designed for treating fin rot can also be helpful.

A lesser-known but equally important disease is Hole-in-the-head (Hexamita), which manifests as small, round lesions on the fish’s head. This condition can be caused by poor diet, water quality issues, or stress in the tank. To treat Hole-in-the-head, improve water quality and ensure a varied, nutritious diet for your Red Devil Cichlid. If the problem persists, consult a veterinarian for appropriate medication.

Always remember:

  • Maintain good water quality: Regular water changes and monitoring of water parameters are crucial to prevent diseases.
  • Monitor your fish: Keep an eye on your fish for any signs of distress or unusual behavior, which could indicate illness.
  • Avoid stress: Reducing stress in the tank by providing proper tank conditions and compatible tank mates can help prevent diseases.
  • Quarantine new fish: Always quarantine new fish before introducing them to your main tank to prevent the spread of diseases.

By staying vigilant and providing proper care, you can help your Red Devil Cichlid stay healthy and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Red Devil Cichlids?

For a single adult Red Devil Cichlid, it is recommended to provide a tank size of at least 75 gallons. This allows your fish enough space to swim comfortably and establish its territory. If you plan to keep multiple cichlids or other tank mates, it is essential to provide an even larger tank to prevent aggression and ensure a healthy living environment for all inhabitants.

Which tank mates are compatible with Red Devil Cichlids?

Because Red Devil Cichlids can be quite aggressive, it’s important to select tank mates carefully. Ideally, you would want to choose fish species that are about the same size and have a similar temperament to the Red Devil Cichlid. Some examples of compatible tank mates include other large cichlids, catfish, and plecos. However, remember that the compatibility can vary from individual to individual, so close monitoring of their behavior is essential when introducing new tank mates.

What should I feed my Red Devil Cichlid?

A well-balanced diet is crucial for the health of your Red Devil Cichlid. In the wild, they eat fish, crustaceans, and even reptiles, making them natural omnivores. In captivity, you should provide a mix of high-quality pellets or flakes, supplemented with fresh or frozen meaty foods like shrimp, bloodworms, and small pieces of fish. Providing a varied diet will ensure that your cichlid receives all the necessary nutrients for optimal health.

How often should Red Devil Cichlids be fed?

Feeding your Red Devil Cichlid once or twice daily should suffice. However, it is recommended to offer smaller, more frequent meals for younger fish, and reduce the frequency as they grow older. By carefully monitoring your cichlid’s food intake and adjusting accordingly, you can prevent overfeeding and maintain a healthy environment for your fish.

What are the differences between male and female Red Devil Cichlids?

Males and females Red Devil Cichlids have subtle differences in appearance. Males are generally larger than females, with adult males reaching up to 15 inches in length, while females are slightly smaller. Other differences include the males having more elongated and pointed fins, while the females may have rounder bellies, especially when they are carrying eggs.

What is the lifespan of a Red Devil Cichlid?

The lifespan of a Red Devil Cichlid can range between 10 to 12 years if kept in ideal conditions and provided with proper care. By maintaining a clean and well-maintained tank, feeding a balanced diet, and promptly addressing any health issues, you can help ensure your Red Devil Cichlid has a long and healthy life.


Caring for a Red Devil Cichlid can be a rewarding experience. With proper attention to tank size, water conditions, and diet, your vibrant fish will thrive.

Remember that aggression and territorial behaviors are natural traits of this species. Ensuring that tank mates are compatible or housing them alone will lead to a more harmonious aquarium environment. Enjoy the unique beauty and personality of your Red Devil Cichlid!