Haitian cichlid
Haitian cichlid

Haitian cichlid, Black Nasty, Odo

Haitian cichlid
Haitian cichlid - Copyright www.jjphoto.dk

Common name: Black Nasty, Haitian cichlid, Odo
Scientific name: Nandopsis haitiensis
Synonyms: Cichlasoma haitiensis
Size: 14 inch / 35 cm, sometimes up to 16 inches / 40 cm
pH: 6-7.5
Temperature: 73 - 82°F (23.0 - 28.0 °C)

The Haitian cichlid is a large very beautiful cichlid that originated on Haiti where it can be found in rivers and lakes. This species is also known as "black nasty" which tells you something about its temperament. It is widely regarded as one of the most aggressive cichlids in the world and is often more aggressive than Jaguar and Dovii cichlids. The Haitian cichlid is often kept as a solitary fish but it will not come to its full glory unless kept with other equally large and aggressive fish. Doing this will however require a very large aquarium and might not be an option for everyone.

Some specimens of this species are extremely aggressive and will kill almost anything else that you put in the aquarium with them, even if the new tank mate is twice or sometimes even three times their own size. They can for instance end up killing jags and dovii cichlids twice their size. This extreme aggression can to a certain degree be reduced by decorating the aquarium correctly with hiding places and natural territorial borders.

The Haitian cichlid is unfortunately somewhat rare in the trade as it is a fantastic fish for those who have the tanks to house it.


This species grows very large and will therefore need a large aquarium. I do not recommend keeping this species in an aquarium smaller than 400L / 105 gallons. If you want to keep it together with other species or keep several Haitian cichlids together I recommend a considerably larger aquarium.

The aquarium should be decorated in such a way that natural territorial borders are created. This helps reduce stress and allows for several territories to be formed in the same aquarium. Without natural borders the risk is much higher that one fish takes the entire tank as his and kills everything else in it. Decorate the aquarium using rocks and driftwood and make sure to create some hiding places of suitable size for your Haitian cichlids. Plants are not necessary and this cichlid will eat most plants. If you want to keep plants in the aquarium (it can make creating natural territorial borders easier), I recommend trying hardy plants like java fern and crinum. Try to decorate the tank so there isn't always a clear line of sight from one side of the tank to the other so that the fish doesn't always have to see each other.

Good filtration is important as with all large cichlids as they produce a lot of waste. Aeration is also recommended. This species does best in medium hard water. The temperature should ideally be kept between 73 - 82°F (23.0 - 28.0 °C) and the pH between 6.0 and 7.5. This species is however relatively tolerant to different water conditions.

Feeding Haitian cichlids

Haitian cichlids are omnivores and will eat almost everything they are offered. It is important to include vegetable matter in their diet. Make sure you give them a varied diet. They love some live food every now and then but as live food can increase aggression it is up to you whether you want to give them live food or not. Live food is not required to keep or breed this species.

Sexing Haitian cichlid

This species is hard to sex but as with most cichlids they can be sexed by looking at their genitalia. The female genitalia is rounder and larger than the male genitalia. Adult males can also develop a hump on their head that is seldom seen in females and this can make them easier to sex. The hump is however only present on fully developed males and not all males develop this hump. Adult males are usually much larger than females.

Breeding Haitian cichlids

Haitian cichlids can be bred in aquariums but are not bred regularly due to the scarcity of this cichlid. The hardest part in breeding them is usually to get a breeding pair that gets along well. The best way to achieve this is to let a group of young fish grow up together and form pairs. It is not unusual to lose a few cichlids to fighting when this method is used. If the pair isn't right for each other the male might end up killing the female. They can also be bred using a separator that prevents the male from hurting the female. The eggs are laid on a flat surface. The spawning usually results in very few eggs for such a large cichlid. Between 40 and 150 eggs is a common result. The fry is sensitive to poor water quality and indigestion. The female cares for the fast growing fry for 1-2 months.