Cuban Cichlid
Cuban Cichlid

Cuban Cichlid, Biajaca

cuban cichlid
Cuban Cichlid - Picture by Full3R

Common name: Cuban Cichlid, Biajaca
Scientific name: Nandopsis tetracanthus
Synonyms: Cichlasoma tetracanthus
Size: 10 inch / 25 cm
pH: 7-8
Temperature: 75.2 - 86°F (24 - 30°C)

As the name suggests, the Cuban cichlid is native to Cuba. It inhabits rivers and lakes and can often be found close to dense vegetation. It is still fairly unusual in the trade but is becoming more and more common. It is considered a beautiful cichlid and it grows quite big. It has a whitish base with gray/black spots and stripes. Some people think it resembles the jaguar cichlid and jaguar cichlids are sometimes sold as Cuban cichlids. (The other way also occurs but is much less common.) I personally think that although the species share certain similarities it isn't too hard to separate a Cuban cichlid from a Jaguar cichlid, especially not when they are young. See the picture to see what a young Cuban looks like.

Opinions are greatly divided in regards to the aggressiveness of this fish. Some people refer to it as more friendlily than many other large Central American cichlids, while others thinks it is one of the most aggressive cichlid species there is. Those two opinions are of course not necessarily mutually exclusive as a comparatively friendly Central American cichlid still can be very aggressive compared to other fish and cichlids from other parts of the world.


If you want to keep a Cuban cichlid I recommend you get an aquarium of at least 55 gallon / 200 L. Decorate the aquarium with large rocks, driftwood and boulders creating hiding places that are large enough for this large fish while still leaving areas open for the fish to swim in. Only use floating plants and very hardy plants such as java fern as other plants will be destroyed.  Plants are not necessary but recommended. It is important to decorate the aquarium so that natural territorial boundaries are formed.  The aquarium should be well filtered as the Cuban cichlid produces large amounts of waste.

The water temperature should be kept between 75.2 - 86°F (24 - 30°C) and the pH between 7 and 8. Moderate water hardness is to be preferred. Keep the water quality up. Some extra aeration is recommended.

The Cuban cichlid is best kept with other large Central American cichlids and large catfish/plecos.

Feeding Cuban cichlids

Cuban cichlids accept most food types and should be feed a varied diet containing meaty food. Cuban cichlids will usually accept cichlid pellets and flakes. Feed young fish 2-3 times daily and adult fish once every day.

Sexing Cuban cichlid

This species is not easy to sex but it can be sexed by the fact that the adult males are usually larger and more colorful than the females. A more reliable way of sexing them is to look at their genitalia. The genitalia of a female fish is more rounded while the male fish has pointier genitalia. This is easiest to observe close to spawning, but a skilled eye can sex adults and sub adults between spawning periods as well.

Breeding Cuban cichlids

Cuban cichlids are relatively easy to breed once a pair has been established. The best way to get a pair is to let a group of young fish grow up together and form pairs. Once pairs have formed you remove the excess fish from the tank. The eggs are laid on a flat surface and the fry can be feed newly hatched brine shrimp. The parents will protect their fry until they start getting ready to spawn again.  Cuban cichlid fry grows quickly.