Blue Acara Cichlid – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Mates, Breeding
The blue acara cichlids (Andinoacara pulcher) are one of the most beautiful cichlids that you can opt for. Their name, pulcher, means beautiful. So the name already tells us how beautiful they are, but you will find yourself mesmerized by the bright colors of these fish. They can lighten up your tank and make it more lively, both with their looks and with their behavior.
Some even call these fish electric acara cichlids. That’s because of the incredibly bright and almost electrifying colors these fish exude. In essence, these fish are very favorable for beginners, as they are not very demanding in terms of care, and are not very aggressive, as other cichlids seem to be.
But, there are still a few things you should know about these fish. While they are relatively peaceful, you will still need to keep in mind that they won’t go as well along with some fish species. And they are also tropical fish, so a special degree of care should be placed on the water parameters, especially the temperatures.
I’ve made it easy for you, and I’ve gather everything you need to know about these fish in this article. They are a popular choice for hobbyists, beginners, and also advanced owners. With that in mind, let’s learn more about the blue acara cichlids.
Blue Acara Cichlid Natural Habitat
As with most fish species I review here, let’s start by taking a look at the natural habitat. I feel that knowing the habitat is one of the best ways to get to know the fish better. It also allows you to understand what sort of conditions it prefers and requires.
Blue acaras are native to standing and flowing waters of Central and South America. If we’re more precise, these fish belong to freshwater streams and lakes of Venezuela and Trinidad. These areas are known for relatively tropical conditions, which includes high temperatures, fresh water, and plenty of rain.
And the water requirements are very similar to other cichlids. As they are tropical fish, the temperatures that these fish tend to be quite high. Ideally, the temperatures should be between 72 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You can see that these temperatures can vary and they can sustain a variety of temperatures, but you will still have to have a heater in place (most probably) to accommodate the fish.
In their habitat, they like to swim around the middle portion of the tank or near the bottom, where they actively hunt and swim around. They also like to hide between rocks and the plants in the water.
Blue Acara Cichlid Tank Requirements
Blue acaras can grow up to 8 inches in size, although they can vary. Sometimes, they tend to be smaller than that, but mostly, they will reach that size when they’re adult fish. At about 4 inches, these fish will mature sexually, so you will start to see breeding behaviors at that age.
That allows us to moderate and set up the tank accordingly. They require a tank of at least 30 gallons per fish, but you might want to have an even larger tank than that. That will allow them more breathing space, and it will also give you a chance to add other fish in the tank later on. If you decide to own two of these fish, then 60-gallon tanks or larger should be needed.
As I’ve already mentioned, these fish tend to swim around a lot and are quite active. However, at times, they don’t mind to have some privacy, so they start to hide around the tank. Normally, they would hide around the tank in the hiding spots such as rocks and natural caves and plants. So with that in mind, you’ll have to make sure they have more than enough plants and rocks in place.
However, these fish are known to dig up the plants and move the objects in the tank. So you might want to secure the plants thoroughly and strongly once you place them in the tank.
A sandy substrate will work best for these fish. It gives them a feeling of being in their own habitat, but it’s also a good type of substrate that will hold the plants in place well, even if the fish try to dig them out.
Filtration should also be very powerful, as these fish tend to produce a lot of waste. A canister filter is a must, and it should be capable of handling the tank size of your aquarium. Make sure you over filter your tank instead of having a filter that’s too weak. With moderate lighting, which could also be the natural sunlight, you’ll have a good tank setup to accommodate these fish.
Blue Acara Cichlid Water Conditions
Blue acara cichlids are tropical fish, and they live in freshwater streams and lakes of South and Central America. As with other cichlids, these fish will obviously prefer a slightly warmer environment. The main thing you should look out for is to keep the temperatures between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. There is some wiggle room with temperatures, but try to keep them in this range.
You might find that you should own a heater to achieve those temperatures. Some owners can achieve the temperatures without a heater, but it’s recommended to own one, especially during the winter days when it’s colder. It will also allow you to keep the steady temperatures and easier maintenance, although it will add another cost to your electricity bill.
The PH ranges should be between 6.5 and 8. You can see that these fish prefer a more neutral type of water when it comes to acidity, as do most cichlids out there. Again, constant maintenance and checkups are the key to keeping the acidity in the desired levels.
Then, we move onto the hardness – it should be between 3-20DGH. You can see that the hardness range is quite wide, allowing you to keep care of these fish easier. But you should try to stick to these levels nevertheless.
The water movement should be moderate to strong, which stems down to the type of filter you have. Again, a quality filter will allow you to set up and adjust the water flow easily.
Blue Acara Cichlid Diet and Feeding
Blue acara cichlids are primarily carnivorous fish, which means they prefer a meat-based diet. You should always try to make sure they get enough protein from their diet, especially from the meat-based food sources they get. In the wild, you’ll find that these fish will eat crustaceans, worms, and insects, or other types of food they can find in the wild and actively hunt.
If you’re considering feeding them flakes and pellets, you can certainly do that. However, make sure these pellets are meat-based, and that they contain more than enough protein for the fish. This means buying a higher quality of pellets will be beneficial for the fish. Although you will have to spend slightly more on quality food.
But blue acaras are not just purely carnivorous, as they will also consume vegetables and vegetable-based foods. You can consider plant-based pellets, but these fish will prefer meat-based pellets and flakes.
And when it comes to feeding frequency, you’ll do best if you feed these fish 2-5 times per day with smaller servings. That will make it easier for them to digest the food. But you can also opt for 1-2 larger meals if you don’t have the time for the smaller servings. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon or before you go to bed will do well.
Blue Acara Cichlid Tank Mates
Compared to other cichlids, blue acaras are certainly not as aggressive and territorial. But they can get aggressive, especially when they are breeding or when they are protecting their spawn. In any case, you should try to keep them with peaceful fish that are not overly aggressive and of a similar size to these cichlids.
You will have to be careful as to how you go about doing this. Keeping them with overly aggressive fish will result in constant fighting and injuries. Keeping them with small fish species might result in attacks on these fish, although not necessarily so. The best way to do this is to keep them with other similar fish to them.
The bets tank mates include:
- Other acaras
- Discus fish
- Pear cichlid
- Uaru cichlid
Blue Acara Cichlid Breeding
Blue acaras have been bred successfully in captivity, and you’ll be able to do so as well. Place a male and a female in the same tank. When you try to breed them, increase the temperatures slightly and make sure the acidity levels are neutral.
They become sexually active when they grow for 4 inches. After breeding, the female will lay eggs on rocks, and the fish will actively protect them. Make sure you place them into a separate tank if you have other fish in the tank.
Blue acara cichlids are one of the most popular fish to keep in your tank. They look great, with their illuminating colors and unique appearance. Keeping them is relatively simple, and it will be even easier now that you know the ins and outs.
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