The Convict Cichlid is a popular choice of fish from the cichlid family. They are also referred to as the Black Striped or Black Convicts Cichlid and are a smaller species that are very aggressive.

convict cichlid

Don’t jump straight in with this breed, remember to do your research… The guide below will tell you everything you have ever wanted to know about keeping a Convict Cichlid and who they can be kept with.

Quick Facts:

  • Size: Male 5-6 inches, Female 3-4 inches
  • Lifespan: 8 to 10 years
  • Ease of care: Moderately Easy
  • Native to: Central America
  • Minimum Tank Size: 26 Gallons
  • Water type: Fresh
  • Temperature: 79 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Compatibility: Limited (aggressive breed)
  • Diet: Omnivore

All About Convict Cichlids

The Convict Cichlid is a grey and black striped fish that is rather small in size. The fish will be decorated with vertical stripes across its body with a solid gray face. They are a hardy breed of freshwater fish that can be easy to raise even for some beginners.

Convict Cichlid Facts

The Convict Cichlids come in two different sizes depending on whether your fish is a male or female. Male Convicts will range between 5 to 6 inches in length, while females will range between 3- 4 inches in length. This helps make it easier to sex your Convict Cichlid.

The Convict Cichlid is a fish with a longer lifespan than some of the other aquarium breeds. Convicts kept in aquariums have been known to live up to 10 years at the longest and 8 years at the shortest. Aquarium enthusiasts have even noted that the fish may live longer with proper care.

The Convict Cichlid isn’t an extremely hard fish to care for, but some of its habits can be troublesome for new enthusiasts. The aggressive nature of the Cichlid combined with their tendency to dig holes in the rocks of the tank can make them a frustrating breed.

Overall though, the fish are hardy and can be properly taken care of with enough research even if the Convict is your first fish. Be sure to thoroughly research compatibility before placing them with any other fish to reduce quarrels.

The Convict Cichlid is native to the waters of Central America. You can find this fish freshwater bodies of water in countries like Guatemala. The fish has also started to pop up in both North America, as well as, some lakes and ponds in Australia making it a common breed.

When looking for a Convict in the wild you are more likely to find them in slow flowing water. The Convict doesn’t naturally breed or inhabitant rough waters in the wild. They also prefer bodies of water with rocky bottoms as opposed to bodies with sand has there base.

Convict Cichlid Environment

Depending on what stage of like your Convict Cichlid is in will determine the size of tank you will need for them. At minimum, you will want to have at least a 26-gallon tank for your Convict. If you are looking at adult Convicts then you will want to increase the tank size to 52 gallons or above.

You also will want to increase the size if depending on the number of fish you want to add in. Make sure that the tank size you provide for the convict can give it plenty of personal space. The breed will easily turn aggressive in a tank that is too small.

The Ph of the water will need to be between 6.5 to 7.8.  You will also need to keep the water at a warmer temperature of  79 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

You will want to have plenty of places to hide in the environment if you wish to add in other fish. To make the Convict happiest try to use plants and wood that you would find in there natural habitat. If possible even use natural pebbles at the base of the aquarium.

Breeding Your Cichlid

To breed your Convict Cichlid you will need to have at least a 52-gallon aquarium and have your water temperature setting around 84 degrees. You will also want to properly sex a pair of Cichlids and put them together in a tank if possible get the Convict Cichlids young and raise them together.

It is best to have an equal number of both males and females present with this breed. They can reproduce after about 7 months and will couple off around that time. For best results, you will also want to give the breeding pairs there own tank away from other fish.

The Convict Cichlid doesn’t have a breeding season, so reproduction is possible year round. Once the fish are born you shouldn’t separate them from their parents with this breed. Doing so can make the fry unhealthy and stress out the adult Convicts.


The Convict Cichlid is an omnivore meaning it eats a combination of both plant matter and meat. This makes the Convict Cichlid a little easier to feed since it can eat a variety of foods. For the best diet though, you are going to want to evenly mix plant and meat into the feeding cycle.


The Convict is a Central American Cichlid and is easy to care for. The convicts will need to have an environment similar to its natural one to really thrive. If given this environment through the Convict Cichlid can even live longer than the projected 10 years.

However, this fish is an aggressive breed and will require thorough research before adding in any new tank mates. These fish are also a little harder to breed as you will have to get the fish to pair up when they are a few months old.

Overall, the Convict is a beautiful black striped fish that is a beautiful additional to your aquarium.