Jaguar Cichlids

Jaguar Cichlids

The Jaguar cichlid is renowned for being a vicious and highly aggressive species, but you can actually keep most Jaguar cichlids with other fish as long as you select the right tank mates. The aquarium must also be big and decorated in a way that makes it possible for the Jaguar cichlid to claim a part of it as private territory. The Jaguar cichlid has for instance been successfully kept in the same aquarium as Silver dollars, Convict cichlids and Plecos. Some Jaguar cichlids are however too aggressive to be kept with any other fishes and must be given their own aquarium. You should also keep in mind that Jaguar cichlids are highly aggressive during the breeding period, and a spawning couple should therefore always be kept in their own aquarium or in an aquarium that has been divided by a net or glass. A breeding couple will not hesitate to attack fish that is much larger than them.

The scientific name for the Jaguar cichlid is Parachromis managuense, but you might also encounter the name Parapetenia managuense when you read about this species. The Jaguar cichlid belongs to a subfamily named Cichlasomatinae in the cichlid family Cichlidae. Just like all the other cichlids it is a ray-finned fish found in the class Actinopterygii in the order Perciformes.

The Jaguar cichlid is native to Central America where it can be found in lakes, ponds and springs in Nicaragua, Honduras and Nicaragua. Today, the Jaguar cichlid has been introduced by man to a majority of the other Central American countries and established populations are known from El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama. The Jaguar cichlid has also been introduced to the United States, Mexico, Cuba and Singapore. In Spanish speaking regions the Jaguar cichlid is known as Guapote tigre. Another commonly used name in English is Aztec cichlid.

In the United States, you can find wild Jaguar cichlids in two different parts of the country. One population lives in the Quarry Pond at the University of Hawaii Campus, and a few specimens can also occasionally be found in the Mânoa Stream. The second region in which you can find wild Jaguar cichlids is Utah, where they inhabit a spring pool and a pond near St. George in Washington County. In Singapore, the Jaguar cichlid is a problematic species that have had an adverse affect on the native ecosystem. Jaguar cichlids can for instance be found in the Pandan Canal and Yishun Stormwater collection pond in Singapore and reports suggests that the population have spread to Lake Jurong.

The Jaguar cichlid is not considered an endangered species in its native region and it is not included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is relatively resilient towards over fishing since its minimum population doubling time is no longer than 1.4-4.4 years. The Jaguar cichlid is not only captured for the aquarium trade, it is also an appreciated game and food fish. It is currently being commercially grown in aquacultures.

The Jaguar cichlid prefers highly eutrophic waters with plenty of nutrition. It is frequently found in waters where the bottom is detritus and muddy or sandy. It will do great in turbid waters, but is also common in poorly oxygenated waters. The typical dept range for the Jaguar cichlid is 0-5 meters (0-16 feet).

The Jaguar cichlid is an active and charming fish with a beautiful look. It can survive up to 15 years in a well kept aquarium. The body is golden or yellow and features dark markings. A fully grown Jaguar cichlid will need a big aquarium since an adult male can grow up to 55 centimeters (1.8 feet) in length. Expecting your male Jaguar cichlid to reach a length of 40 centimeters (1.3 feet) is however more realistic. The heaviest male Jaguar cichlid ever recorded weighed 1,580 g (3.48 lbs). A female Jaguar cichlid will typically be smaller than the males and stay below 30 centimeters (1 foot) in length.

One single Jaguar cichlid can be housed in a 125 gallon (473 liter) aquarium. If you want to keep it in a community or habitat aquarium, the other species will naturally affect the recommended aquarium size. It is not advisable to create a community/habitat aquarium with a Jaguar cichlid if your tank is smaller than 180 gallons (681 liters). A breeding Jaguar cichlid couple should also preferably be provided with a 180 gallon (681 liter) aquarium or bigger.

Picture of juvenil jaguar cichlid
Juvenile Jaguar Cichlid. Copyright

Your Jaguar cichlid will prefer a pH between 7.0 and 8.7 since this is the pH value of its native waters. The recommended dH range is 10-15. The water temperature must be quite high in the aquarium; 77 - 97° F (25 - 36° C).

In the wild, the Jaguar cichlid is a skilled predator that feeds chiefly on fish and big invertebrates. Soft rayed fish is preferred, but the Jaguar cichlid is not fuzzy about its food. It will appreciate live food in the aquarium, but training it onto pellets is not difficult. Choose a high quality pellet that has been made to meet the nutritional needs of larger predator fish. If you do not produce your own live food, you should keep in mind that feeder fish from pet stores might introduce disease in the aquarium. Many Jaguar cichlid keepers therefore feed their Jaguar cichlids fish meat instead. Earthworms and krill are two other good choices.

If you want to breed Jaguar cichlids, you must provide the couple with their own aquarium. The couple will become extremely vicious during the breeding period, and they might even attack your hand if you come too close to their offspring. The Jaguar cichlid will usually become sexually mature when it has reached a size of 4 inches (10 centimeters). Until the Jaguar cichlids are mature, they are very hard to sex since they display the same dark stripes. As the male matures, he will however loose his dark stripes, a detail that makes sexing much easier. The male Jaguar cichlid will also typically grow bigger than the female, and display dark speckles on his body against a golden background.

The Jaguar cichlid couple is not only aggressive toward other fish; they can also be aggressive towards each other. You should therefore arrange a breeding aquarium where it is possible for the smaller female to escape the attacks of the larger male Jaguar cichlid. You can for instance divide the aquarium using a net with a hole that is too small for the male to swim through.

Picture of jaguar cichlid
Adult Jaguar Cichlid. Copyright

Their method of reproduction for Jaguar cichlids is similar to that of many other cichlid species. During the spawning, the female Jaguar cichlid will deposit her eggs on a flat surface, e.g. a stone, in the aquarium. A female Jaguar cichlid can produce up to 500 eggs during each spawning. The male will fertilize the eggs and stay around to protect them from predators. The female will provide the eggs with fresh, oxygenated water by fanning the breeding site. After approximately 3-5 days the eggs will hatch. The larvae do not need any food during the initial 5-8 days since they will receive nutrition from their yolk sacs. When the yolk sac has been devoured, the adult Jaguar cichlids will start feeding their young one organic matter. Using a new aquarium with very little organic matter as a breeding aquarium for Jaguar cichlids is therefore not recommended; a well established aquarium is much better. As the fry grow larger, you can star giving them newly hatched brine shrimp and/or powdered flake food. Micro worms are also appreciated. If the Jaguar cichlid batch is large, you must cull it regularly.

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