Flier Cichlid – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Mates, Breeding

Flier cichlids (Archocentrus centrarchus) are undoubtedly one of the most interesting fish species one could own. They are a cichlid fish that originate from the lakes and largely static waters from Central America.

They are considered as an easy fish to care for, but there are some things to keep in mind. Namely, these fish are quite territorial and aggressive towards other fish, which is a common characteristic of cichlids.

Flier cichlids are distinguishable by their gray, almost green appearance with thick, black stripes sprayed all over their body. Caring for them is not that difficult, although you must know a few things before you decide to own them. Keeping them is not exactly recommended for beginners, although it can be done if you follow the instructions and recommendations.

A big factor to consider is that these fish tend to not do well with other fish in the tank. When it comes to other cichlids, they will get on with them. But if you place other fish species, they can get aggressive and territorial towards them.

To make your ownership of this fish easier, I’ve put together a comprehensive list of things you need to know about flier cichlids. Read on to find more about this fish.

Flier Cichlid Natural Habitat

As I’ve already mentioned, flier cichlids are mostly native to lakes, ponds, and small streams of Central and part of South America. To that end, you’ll need to be aware of their preferences when it comes to water conditions and tank conditions. They are a freshwater species that likes to swim around actively and hide in the hiding spots of the lake.

That’s why there’s an importance to provide them with some good hiding spots in your tank. This includes rocks, leaves, and other potential obstacles that will allow them to hide easily. They are native to lakes in Nicaragua, including the Great Lakes in this country. Also, they are native to Costa Rica, more precisely, to lake Rio Chirripo.

If you analyze these habitats, you’ll learn that they prefer higher, tropical water temperatures, steady, moderate water flow, plenty of hiding spots, with more than enough space to survive and leave peacefully. Knowing these requirements and their natural habitat makes it easier for you to keep these fish and know them better in terms of water and tank requirements.

Flier Cichlid Tank Requirements

These cichlids can grow to a relatively large size – up to 8 inches, and in some cases, maybe more. But the sizes can vary significantly, though. Some are smaller, while others can grow larger than 8 inches.

In any case, if you’re looking to keep a single fish of this species, then you would do well to have at least a 20-gallon tank. However, for a pair of these fish, a 50-gallon is the absolute minimum.

And if you’re looking to add other fish to the tank, then you might want to provide even more space. As these fish can be quite active, make sure they have more than enough space to move around. Failure to do so can result in aggression, territorial behavior, fights, injuries, and maybe even death. They will also become stressed as a result.

In terms of tank setup, it’s desirable to have a relatively strong filtration system in place. That’s because these fish can be heavy polluters and that may be even worse if you decide to have several plants in the tank.

As for the plants, you’ll do well to provide plenty of hiding spots, which flier cichlids prefer. Rocks and plants will come handy, but you’ll need to secure them safely into the substrate, as they can get dug out easily by these fish. As for the substrate, there are many choices, but sand will probably work best. That’s because these fish will actively try and dig out stuff from the substrate.

Flier Cichlid Water Conditions

Now that you know what sort of tank you should have and other requirements, let’s take a look at the desired water conditions for these fish.

As you may already know, flier cichlids are tropical fish. And you should adjust the water conditions accordingly. Namely, the water temperatures should be between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which seems to work best for these fish.

While they may adapt to lower temperatures, too, you should definitely try and keep the temperatures in the desired levels at all times.

If you have a heater, that’s not too hard. However, in some cases, especially during the winter, you will find it quite difficult to keep the water temperatures at those levels. That’s when a heater will come very useful for your cichlid tank.

When it comes acidity, you should try and keep it in the neutral levels, maybe slightly basic. The PH levels should be between 7-8, although minor changes can still be tolerated. As most of the cichlid fish, these fish will prefer a neutral acidity setup which is similar to the setup they live in the wild.

When it comes to water hardness the best range is between 6 and 12 DGH. To keep these parameters in check, you should always try and keep good maintenance of the tank. This includes regular measurements of the water temperatures, acidity levels, and hardness. Try to do it daily, or at least, every couple of days and adjust the conditions accordingly.

Flier Cichlid Diet and Feeding

The great news is that flier cichlids are omnivorous. This means that they will eat both plant-based foods and meat-based foods, as well as a wide variety of foods. They are not picky fish, which they have used to become due to the unpleasant feeding conditions in the wild. However, you should still try to keep a good variety in their diet, which can boost their immune system and their health.

You can keep a good diet that’s consisted primarily of pellets and flakes. These can be both meat-based or plant-based, but do make sure they are high-quality pellets with plenty of nutrients readily available. However, you should not feed these fish pellets only. Always try to keep a varied diet.

And how can you do that?

By adding other sources of food, such as live foods, frozen foods, and maybe vegetables. When it comes to live foods, bloodworms and shrimp can work great. Also, you can always buy frozen or dried foods from your local pet store and feed them these foods.

When it comes to veggies, you can try to feed them to these fish. They quite like zucchini and peas from time to time, and chopped cucumbers and other similar vegetables. Variety is the key here.

As for the feeding schedule, you can feed these fish once or twice a day, but don’t overfeed. Keep the portions structured and just big enough.

Flier Cichlid Tank Mates

Considering that these fish can be quite aggressive and territorial, the choices when it comes to tank mates become somewhat limited. There are not many fish that you can keep them with. You can try with other cichlids, but you shouldn’t keep them too close together.

The best way to add tank mates to flier cichlids is to add other flier cichlids to the tank. This way, you can mate them and breed them if you want, but they will also not get as aggressive as they would against other fish species. It works pretty well if you provide them with enough space to live in. keep the distance, buy a large tank, and you’ll be able to keep them together.

Flier Cichlid Breeding

Flier cichlids are relatively easy to breed. If you put a male and a female together in the tank, you can expect to see mating behaviors with these fish. If you have several of these fish together, then it might make sense to buy a separate breeding tank and keep the breeding pair there to avoid aggression.

Breeding them is quite simple. Make sure you place a male and a female together in the tank. When you want to breed them, raise the temperatures slightly to 77 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

As for the egg spawning, you might want to provide some caves or similar objects where the females can lay their eggs. You can even place pots into the tank, which will make the females feel more secure.

The parents will nest the eggs in the first few days, and actively protect them, so make sure you place them in a separate tank if there are other fish in the tank. Then, after a few days or weeks, you should have fresh fry spawning from the eggs. They will soon be able to swim on their own, although you might want to feed them for the first few weeks.

Wrapping Up

Flier cichlids are certainly an interesting fish species to keep in your tank. They are not too complicated to keep, although there are some considerations for you to make. They can get aggressive and territorial, so picking the tank mates is crucial. And make sure you feed them well and provide them with the right conditions.

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