Wolf Cichlid

Wolf Cichlid

wolf cichlid information:

Scientific name:                 Parachromis dovii
Common name:                Wolf cichlid 
Max. size:                           72 cm / 28.5 inches
pH range:                          6.5 – 7.0
dH range:                           20
Temperature range:         22 - 27°C / 72 - 81°F

The wolf cichlid is a large highly predatory cichlid species that requires very large aquariums. They are very aggressive and can only be kept with other large, robust aggressive fish species. Their size, predatory nature and aggressiveness make them unsuitable as aquarium fish and they are only recommended for fish and cichlids lovers who have the facilities to keep them. Don’t get them unless you can house a fully grow 2ft + / 60 cm + long wolf cichlid. They are easy to care for if you have a large enough aquarium.

They are popular food fish in the areas where they occur naturally and can be prepared in a number of different ways. Grilled wolf cichlid is very tasty if seasoned correctly and is recommended to anyone who has the privilege of travelling in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The name Dovii is very ironic on this fish as it means peace dove and this fish is anything but peaceful.

Wolf cichlid habitat and range:

The wolf cichlid is found in Central America where it inhabits lakes and rivers in a large area stretching from the Aguan River in Honduras to the Moín River in Costa Rica on the Atlantic side of Central America. Its habitat on the pacific side of Central American stretches from the Yeguare River in Honduras to the Bebedero River in Costa Rica. There might also exist established populations of wolf cichlids in Florida.

They are mainly found in rivers but also thrive in lakes and other slower moving bodies of water.

Wolf cichlid common names:

The wolf cichlid is usually sold under the name wolf cichlid but can sometimes be found under the name dovii cichlid or simply dovii. They might also in rare instances be referred to as leopard cichlids, a name which is derived from the German name for this fish Leoparden buntbarsch. Sport fishers often refer to this fish as rainbow bass. In the areas where they are naturally occurring they are usually referred to as guapote (guapote blanco) or lagunero in Spanish and as rainbow bass in English speaking regions.

Wolf cichlid description:

The wolf cichlid has a slender body that is all muscle. It looks like the predatory it is. The body has a silver shimmer to it which sometimes contains a little green. A black stripe runs across the body from the back of the eye to the tailfin. The line looks like it consist of a line of pearls/spots that has grown together making the line look a little blurred. From each of these “pearls” there run one or several grey bands to the top of the fish. The lower half of the body is brighter than the darker higher part.

Wolf cichlid setup:

wolf cichlid
Wolf cichlid picture. Copyright www.jjphoto.dk

Wolf Cichlids require due to their size and aggressive temperament very large aquariums, especially if you want to keep more than one specimen which is recommend to allow the wolf cichlids to display the entire repertoire of their behaviour.

Many recommend a 130 gallon / 500 L aquarium for wolf cichlids and that is fine for juvenile and smaller adult specimens. Fully grown fish will however need considerable larger tanks and I recommend tanks that are at least 4 times wider than the fish is long. The length of the tank should also be at least 4 times the total length of the fish and preferable about 10 times the total length of the wolf cichlid.

The tank should be decorated using rocks and roots. The fish is an avid digger and plants are therefore out of the questions.  Place rocks directly on the bottom of the aquarium to prevent the wolf cichlids from causing it to fall over potentially damaging the aquarium by excavating under the rock. Rock formation should preferable be glued together.  Place the rocks so that numerous large hiding places are created and make sure that the tank contains several natural territorial borders if you want to keep more than one wolf cichlid. Such borders are created by dividing the bottom in segments by placing rocks and roots across the bottom. It is beneficial if the line of site from one end of the aquarium to the other is limited.

They prefer a pH of 7 and a temperature of 22 - 27°C / 72 - 81°F. They are however very hardy fish and can tolerate other water parameters. As an example of their hardiness can be said that they in wild are found in waters with the temperature of 21 – 37°C / 70 - 99°F. That the wolf cichlid can tolerate such extreme does however not mean that you should subject them to it. Try to give your wolf cichlids as ideal conditions as possible.

The wolf cichlid is large predatory cichlids that produce a lot of waste. This means that a good filtration and regular water changes are an absolute must.

Wolf cichlid tank mates:

Wolf cichlids are very aggressive and highly predatory. This means that they only can be kept with other equally large and equally robust fish species. They will consider everything that fits into their mouth as food and will unless the tank is very big kill anything that isn’t strong enough to stand its ground against the wolf cichlid. This is the reason why many people choose to keep a single wolf cichlid alone in an aquarium. It should however be pointed out that these are highly intelligent fish and if you keep them alone you’ll need to provide them with diversions. This is not necessary for the fish survival but will give you a happier more healthy fish. There are numerous ways you can provide them with diversions. One such way is to give them a ping pong ball to play with. I know that this sounds strange but especially larger wolf cichlids enjoy such diversions.

Wolf cichlid care:

Wolf cichlids are easy to care for if you have a suitable aquarium since they are very hardy. You should however remember that these are large cichlids with teeth which they might use against you when working in the tank if they feel cornered or consider your hands a competitor. Wolf cichlids does as most other large predatory cichlids produce a lot of waste products and this makes regular and large water changes an important part of wolf cichlid care. It is also important to have well working filter.

juvenile wolf cichlid
Juvenile Wolf cichlid. Copyright www.jjphoto.dk

Wolf cichlid feeding:

The wolf cichlid is usually easy to feed. Some specimens will however initially only accepted live food. Almost all wolf cichlids can however be trained to accepted pellets, beef heart and other more easily available foods.’

Live food is always appreciated but have certain drawbacks associated with them as they can introduce disease to your aquarium. Never feed your wolf cichlids exclusively gold fish feeders since these are low in nutrient and doesn’t provide everything the fish needs to be healthy.  Live food will also make your wolf cichlids more predatory and aggressive than a diet of strictly pellets and dead food would.

You should ideally feed your wolf cichlid a varied diet consisting of pellets, shrimps, beef heart and other meaty food. Avoid fatty food such as pork as that is very unhealthy for your fish. Whether or not to include live fish in the diet is up to you.

Wolf cichlid breeding:

The wolf cichlid is seldom breed in aquariums but is not hard to breed if you can set aside an appropriate setup. The largest problem to overcome is aggression between the sexes and getting a pair that works well together.  They fish is usually quite easy to sex as the males have loner more pointy fins and small dots on their heads. The females usually lack these dots and have a more yellowish base colour.

They usually lay their eggs on a flat surface but can sometimes choice a cave as their spawning place. They prefer to find a calm space with some cover for their spawning. They usually reach maturity at about 5 inches / 12.5 cm

One spawning can result in more than 1500 eggs which hatch after approximately 5 days and are free swimming a few days later. The fry can be feed newly hatched brine shrimps form day one and grows very fast. You will have to sort the fry by size if you want as many as possible to survive as larger fry otherwise will eat their smaller siblings.

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