Parachromis motaguensis

Parachromis motaguensis

Parachromis motaguensis is a big, predatory cichlid native to Central America. Just like the other members of the genus Parachromis, it is often referred to as Guapote fish. Parachromis motaguensis is one of the most commonly kept Guaoptes, chiefly thanks to the very beautiful coloration worn by breeding specimens. Its common name in English is “Red Tiger Cichlid”, a name derived from the look of the breeding females. The species is also known as False yellowjacket cichlid.

Parachromis motaguensis can be found along the Atlantic slope of Guatemala and Honduras (in the Motagua River basin) as well as along the Pacific slope of Guatemala and Honduras from Rio Naranjo River to Rio Choluteca. It inhabits both lakes and rivers and prefers the moderate to fast flowing waters of the lower and middle river valley sections. Their natural habitat is usually filled with rocks and fallen trees and mimicking such conditions in the aquarium is recommended.  


Parachromis motaguensis can adapt to most water conditions as long as you avoid the extremes. The water in their native habitat is relatively soft but alkaline, from pH 7.0 to 8.0. The water hardness normally stays in the 9-20 dH range. The recommended water temperature in the aquarium is 25 – 30°C, but wild specimens have been found in waters where the temperature sometimes drops down to 20°C.

Parachromis motaguensis is a comparatively sturdy fish when it comes to nitrogenous waste, but poor water quality will still have a detrimental effect on their growth rates and increase the risk of disease. Changing 50% of the water once a week is recommended.


Wild Parachromis motaguensis feed on fish (especially small cichlids and livebearers) and aquatic and terrestrial insects. They are less piscivores than their bigger relatives from the genus Parachromis.

Breeding Parachromis motaguensis

Dealing with aggression is one of the hardest aspects of breeding Parachromis motaguensis. An established couple will fight other fish violently, and they can also turn on each other. Plenty of hiding spots are a must and you should be ready for emergency evacuations. During the breeding period, both sexes will develop stronger colors and display in front of each other. They can for instance flare their gills, lock jaws and charge each other.  

The female can produce several hundred eggs during her first spawning. Older females that have spawned several times can produce an excess of 2000 eggs per batch. The eggs are beige, roughly 2 mm in diameter and will normally hatch within 72 hours. After another four days, the fry will become free swimming. You can feed the fry newly hatched brine shrimp. As they grow bigger, large brine shrimp can be combined with Tubifex worms, and you may even be able to make them accept prepared foods. Keeping them on prepared food alone is however not recommended.

Parachromis motaguensis couples are normally devoted parents and should be allowed to raise their young ones. They will protect both eggs and newly hatched fry from any other fish. The female stays close to the batch while the male guards the surrounding territory from any intruders. If you put your hands in the aquarium, e.g. to carry out maintenance, the male will not hesitate to bite you. He can even jump out of the aquarium to attack, but not stress him by provoking assaults. If the male attacks you each time your try to feed the fry, you may have to move the fry to their own aquarium.

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