Green terror Cichlids

Green terror Cichlids

The Green terror cichlid is a fascinating aquarium fish, but it is not recommended for aquarists with aquariums smaller than 55 gallons/209 liters. If you wish to house the Green terror cichlid with other fish, the aquarium must be even larger, and it is very important that you select suitable tank mates since the Green terror cichlid is a highly aggressive species. It is not considered dangerous to humans, but it can be very violent towards fish.

The scientific name for the true Green terror cichlid is Aequidens rivulatus, but several other fish species are sold under the name Green terror cichlid, including the Blue Acara (Aequidens pulcher). The Blue Acara is another cichlid belonging to the same genus as the true Green terror cichlid.

The natural habitat for the Green terror cichlid is found in Ecuador and Peru in South America, where the Spanish speaking population commonly refers to it as Vieja fish. The typical Green terror cichlid environment is the coastal streams that you can find on the Pacific side of these two countries. The Green terror habitat begins in the River Esmeraldas in Ecuador and continues to the River Tumbes in Peru. Today, the Green terror cichlid is also breed in aquacultures for the aquarium trade. The species is not a popular food fish and it is not included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Wild Green terror cichlids have a minimum population doubling time of less than 15 months, so the Green terror cichlid population is comparatively resilient in this regard.

The Green terror cichlid is found in warm waters in tropical Ecuador and Peru, and will require a water temperature of 20 - 24° C (69-75° F) in the aquarium. The preferred pH is near 7 (neutral), but Green terror cichlids can adapt to slightly alkaline as well as slightly acidic conditions. Keep the pH above 6.5 and below 8.0 and avoid the extremes, as well as rapid changes within this interval. The dH range for the Green terror cichlid is 25.

The Green terror cichlid has a stunning appearance and the adult specimens feature a bright and sparkling green or green-blue coloration. Every scale is decorated with a marking of a darker green color that together forms sets of broken stripes along the body of the Green terror cichlid. The back of the body has an olive green shade covering the upper part, while the flanks tend to be of paler color. The underside is pink or brownish. Up to four golden lateral stripes on the main body will serve to make the Green terror cichlid even more beautiful. You can also see sparkling turquoise streaks and dots on the cheeks, and the fins are decorated with blue or green markings. You can obtain two different color variations of Green terror cichlid. The edges of tail and dorsal fins will be yellow to orange in the first variant and pure white in the second.

If you purchase a juvenile Green terror cichlid, it might not be green yet. The colors will develop when the fish matures; young Green terror cichlids are always camouflaged by a tan base color with silvery blue speckles. If the colors of your adult Green terror cichlid start to fade, there is most likely something wrong with the water quality in the aquarium. Sufficient filtration and frequent water changes is necessary to prevent the Green terror cichlid from turning dull.

As recognized from many other cichlid species, the male Green terror cichlid features a large and prominent head with a big hump (a so called nuchal hump). Adult fishes of both sexes have long and flowing fins that add to their beauty. The body of is deep and oval. The caudal fin is rounded.

Male Green terror cichlids can grow up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) in length, but this is quite uncommon and roughly 20 centimeters (8 inches) is a more reasonable expectation. The largest females grow up to 20 centimeters (8 inches), while a majority of the females stay smaller than 15 centimeters (6 inches). Some studies indicate that a sub-species of Aequidens rivulatus might exist, and this is a dwarf variant that never becomes bigger than 13 centimeters (5 inches).

Picture of green terror cichlid
An adult green terror cichlid. Copyright

The Green terror cichlid is a benthopelagic creature in the wild and when you place it in your aquarium it will not stay within a limited depth region. Its habitat will stretch from the bottom to the surface and it will search for food in all parts of the tank.

The Green terror cichlid can typically be trained onto a wide range of different foods, including flakes and pellets, since it is an omnivore opportunist. Larger specimens will naturally prefer large food particles like big pellets or big live food, rather than tiny pieces of flake food. A varied diet is recommended and live food is always appreciated.

As mentioned earlier in this article, the Green terror cichlid is an aggressive fish species and you must carefully plan the aquarium set up and tank mates. The juvenile specimens frequently sold by fish stores will eventually turn into highly aggressive adult specimens, and if they are kept with unsuitable species they might kill them even if they have lived together for a long time. Never combine your Green terror cichlid with small fish that can’t fend for them selves. Similarly aggressive cichlids that will not tolerate being bullied are a better choice, and fights can usually be prevented by keeping your fish in a large and well decorated aquarium. Choose fish of similar size, or fish bigger than your Green terror cichlid. Big barbs are one suggestion, and sturdy schooling fish is also frequently kept with the Green terror cichlid. Since a male Green terror cichlid can grow up to 20-30 centimeters (8-12 inches) and must be kept with other fish of similar size, a community aquarium containing a Green terror cichlid must be very large.

Keeping your Green terror cichlid in its own aquarium is another alternative, or dividing the aquarium using glass or a net. Sometimes old Green terror cichlids must be moved to a private/divided aquarium since they can become extremely violent. The appropriate aquarium size will naturally depend on which species you plan to keep your Green terror cichlid with, or if you plan to give it its own aquarium. A young Green terror cichlid that has not grown larger than 5 inches/13 centimeters will usually do fine in a 35 gallon/132 liter aquarium that is at least 36 inches/91 centimeters long. An adult Green terror cichlid will require a 55 gallon/209 liter aquarium or bigger, and the aquarium should be at least 48 inches/122 centimeters long. A tank smaller than 100 gallon/379 liter is not recommended for a community aquarium.

The aquarium decoration is especially important in a community aquarium, but a single Green terror cichlid will naturally also appreciate a well decorated aquarium. The Green terror cichlid is a prodigious digger and plants anchored in the substrate will usually be dug up. Floating plants, or plants that can be secured somewhere else than in the substrate, are better choices. There are also a few very hard plant species that can survive being dug up. Always leave a big open area for swimming in the aquarium. Roots and rocks should preferably always be included in the aquarium set up, and they are more important than plants. Roots and rocks must be safely secured or placed directly on the aquarium glass to avoid accidents.

Green terror cichlids are successfully bred in aquariums and aquacultures, and are considered moderately difficult. Just like many other cichlids, the Green terror cichlid deposit eggs that they guard and care for. The Green terror cichlids will form pairs, and can often be coaxed into spawning by an increased water temperature. Turn the temperature up to 25-27° C (77-81° F) and make sure that the pH stays near 6.5. The recommended water hardiness is 5 to 8 dH. Sexing Green terror cichlids is not difficult at all, since the adult male develops a distinct hump on his forehead. The male is also typically larger than the female. It is easier to make young adult Green terror cichlids form pairs compared to older specimens.

Picture of juvenile green terror cichlid
Juvenile green terror cichlid. Copyright

The Green terror cichlid will need to be given suitable breeding sites in the tank, such as flat rocks. The Green terror cichlid will then carefully clean the site before any breeding takes place. The female Green terror cichlid can deposit up to 300-400 eggs on the flat rock, and some females will even produce more than 600 eggs each spawning. Do not separate the parents from the eggs or larvae, since Green terror cichlids are great parents. Breeding Green terror cichlids should however preferably be separated from other fish. Not because the other fish might eat the eggs or larvae, but because the Green terror cichlid might very well kill of all the other aquarium inhabitants to make sure that the offspring stays safe. The male will protect the flat stone from potential predators while the female care for the eggs. The eggs hatch after 3-4 days and the adult cichlids will continue to guard and care for the larvae. At this stage, the larvae can be fed crushed flakes. After 9-12 days, the fry are big enough to be free swimming. They are highly sensitive to poor water conditions and can easily succumb if you refrain from regular water changes. Free swimming Green terror cichlid fry will eat brine shrimp. When the fry have reached a length of ¾ inches, they will typically experience a growth spurt and rapidly grow bigger.

Didn't find the info you were looking for? Register for free and ask your question in our Aquarium forum !

Our knowledgeable staff usually responds to any question within 24 hours

Related Articles

Altum Angelfish - Information about Altum Angelfish
Angelfish / Scalare history - Information about Angelfish / Scalare history
Chocolate Cichlids - Information on keeping and breeding chocolate cichlids.
Breeding Parachromis - Information about Breeding Parachromis
Breeeding Oscar Fish - Breeding oscars
Cichla - A short introduction to Cichla cichlids
Crenicichla - Information about Crenicichla
Crenicichla Breeding - Information about Crenicichla Breeding
Crenicichla sp. "Pacaya" - A guide to keeping this seldom seen fish.
Crenicichla Types - Information about Crenicichla Types
Feeding Pike Cichlids - A guide on how to best feed your Pike cichlids - Crenicichla -
Introduction to Pike Cichlids - An introduction to pike cichlids and their care.
Keeping Angelfish / Scalare - Information about Keeping Angelfish / Scalare
Keeping Parachromis in aquariums - Information about Keeping Parachromis in aquariums
Keyhole Cichlid - Information about how to keep, care for and breed keyhole cichlids.
Neo-Tropical Dwarf Cichlid Husbandry - A general introduction to keeping and breeding dwarf cichlids.
Oscar cichlids - A short introduction to oscar cichlids
Spangled Pike Cichlids of the Saxatilis Group - none
Dicrossus maculatus - spade tail checkerboard cichlid - The spade-tail checkerboard cichlid is seldom seen and is difficult to breed.
The Spotted Demonfish, Satanoperca daemon - A guide on how to breed the spotted demonfish