12 Black Stripped Cichlids – Info & Facts

Cichlids will always be a popular choice for vivid and energetic fish tanks. They are hardy, colorful, and charming for the most part, filling the tank with their joy and larger-than-life personalities. They offer such an exquisite variety of colors and patterns that there has to be a cichlid for every taste.

Today, we will discuss the most popular black-stripped cichlids in case this pattern appeals to you more than any other. In short, we have 12 relevant names on the list:

1. Convict Cichlid

The convict cichlid is easily among the most popular cichlids to consider. The name says everything you need to know about its appearance. Convict cichlids display silvery bodies with vertical black stripes covering them head to tail. Some will display a dark-blue background and black fins, making them appear even more threatening than they already are.

These cichlids are quite territorial aggressive which isn’t really a surprise, since these are cichlids we’re talking about. When it comes to water parameters, convict cichlids are quite forgiving. Ensure water temperatures around 79 to 84 F and a pH between 6.5 to 8.0 and they will thrive.

I also recommend a minimum tank size of 30 gallons for a pair, given that convict cichlids grow up to 4-5 inches in general.

Other than that, this cichlid requires a varied, omnivorous diet, balancing out their plant-based and animal protein and nutrients.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate

I definitely don’t recommend convict cichlids if you don’t have some experience in the fish-keeping business. Having any prior experience with cichlids would be an even bigger plus. The 3 main problems to consider are:

  • Aggression and territorial behavior – These cichlids are difficult to keep with other fish due to their extreme behavior. They will even fight among themselves if they lack sufficient food or space.
  • Food preferences – Convict cichlids are pretty fussy about their food. Some will eat some foods and ignore others, while others will display different preferences. So, don’t think that, because they are omnivorous, they will eat anything.
  • Water quality – These cichlids require pristine waters and a clean environment. Otherwise, they might experience health problems in the long run.

2. Auratus Cichlid

The Auratus cichlid doesn’t even look like a cichlid. Its long and slender body with mediocre fins can confuse some aquarists. Make no mistake, though, this is a cichlid and quite a pretty one at that. Auratus cichlids are generally golden, with one or two black or brown horizontal stripes traversing their bodies.

They are rather cute with a mostly harmless look which is the greatest deception that any fish will ever pull on you. That’s because the Auratus cichlids are actually vicious. They are extremely territorial and aggressive, making them almost incompatible with any other fish species. Almost, because you can find some reliable tankmates for them.

These fish also enjoy an omnivorous diet and will thrive in a clean and well-oxygenated environment. The ideal water parameters should include a temperature around 75-82 F and a pH of 7.5 to 8.5.

Difficulty of Care – High

I definitely don’t recommend these fish to novice aquarists. Even experienced ones will have difficulties with the Auratus for several reasons, including:

  • The need for a varied diet and a consistent feeding schedule
  • The fish’s aggression causing it to spark problems even in optimized environments
  • The fish’s predisposition towards Malawi bloat disease
  • The cichlid’s extreme behavior causing it to bully fish, sometimes twice its size

3. Johanni Cichlid

Johanni cichlids are some of the most gorgeous Mbuna specimens you can get. The males display a blinding electric-blue body with electrifying nuances. They are also built like torpedoes, which is counterintuitive since Johanni cichlids don’t really appreciate open waters.

They prefer to spend their time near caves and rocks and will live in larger groups.

A trademark characteristic to remember is the difference between males and females. Johanni males are blue, while females and juvenile cichlids are bright orange, looking like they belong to a different species.

This cichlid can grow up to 3 inches, so it will remain relatively small compared to other cichlid species. It also enjoys temperatures around 73 to 82 F and requires a tank size of at least 30 gallons.

This species is also vulnerable to the Malawi bloat disorder, a weakness common among Malawi cichlids.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate

This is a semi-aggressive species that requires pristine water conditions. It also has well-developed social instincts, so you will need to house several of them in the same tank. The more of them in a group, the calmer the cichlids will be. The higher number of cichlids will increase the tank’s bioload dramatically.

As a result, you will need to perform weekly water changes. Sometimes, even more, depending on how many cichlids you have. Definitely skip this species if you’re a novice.

4. Zebra Cichlid

As a Lake Malawi resident, this cichlid belongs to the Mbuna genre. These are rock-dwelling cichlids with an affinity for rocky and well-planted environments. They will grow up to 8 inches and require a lot of space to remain calm and peaceful. Read ‘calm and peaceful’ as ‘not as aggressive’ since these cichlids don’t know the meaning of peacefulness.

These are very aggressive and territorial cichlids that need to live in larger groups. The social dynamics will keep their violence in check. Knowing all these aspects, consider investing in a 150-250-gallon tank. That space is necessary to accommodate several cichlids, along with their rocky setup, plants, and tank equipment.

These fish are also rather sensitive to their water conditions. Pristine water parameters are necessary to keep the cichlid healthy and comfortable.

Difficulty of Care – Very High

This species is not recommended to inexperienced aquarists. Even experienced ones have difficulties caring for the Zebra cichlid due to the fish’s explosive personality and overall behavior. This species will dig up any plants, stir the substrate constantly, and display constant aggression, even without an apparent cause.

This, combined with the cichlid’s need for constant tank maintenance and water changes, make caring for the fish an actual nightmare.

5. Zebra Tilapia

Zebra Tilapia is a special mention on this list. For start, this species can grow up to 16 inches in the right environmental conditions. It is a literal monster, requiring a lot of space to practice its swimming and patrol its territory. Fortunately, this isn’t a social species, so you don’t need to keep it in groups.

Even so, consider at least 150 gallons for one fish, seeing how this cichlid is also a rock dweller. So, you need to decorate its tank with a large rock system, big enough to accommodate the monster cichlid.

Other than that, the Zebra Tilapia is an omnivorous cichlid that prefers a varied and balanced diet. The ideal water temperature sits around 74 to 78 F, which is lower than most African cichlids.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate/High

You will face several difficulties when dealing with Zebra Tilapia. First, the cichlid is huge, so it needs a lot of space. Then there’s the problem of breeding since this species has no clear dimorphism. And lastly, the Zebra Tilapia is relentless about digging up plants, disturbing the substrate, and tipping over tank decorations and driftwood.

Only get a Zebra Tilapia if you’re already experienced dealing with cichlids and large fish in general.

6. Fire Cichlid

I will begin by saying that the Fire cichlid (Firemouth cichlid) is a gorgeous specimen. This fish comes with a bulky, predatorial-looking body and demeanor, displaying a unique color pattern. These cichlids are generally grey with darker vertical stripes and a splash of orange-red tainting their entire underbelly, from mouth to tail. The name suits this species well.

Fire cichlids can grow up to 7 inches and will live in excess of 15 years with good care. The ideal tank layout is cichlid-specific. This means you need a good cave system, sandy substrate, plants, and pristine water conditions to keep the fish happy and healthy.

The good news is that Fire cichlids are somewhat peaceful, although they will exhibit some territorial behavior. Nothing too extreme, but the cichlid will keep its territory safe and protected, which means violence is not out of the question.

Difficulty of Care – Easy

This is among the few cichlid species that I would recommend to a beginner. So long as you provide the Fire cichlid with the optimal living conditions, clean water, and a varied diet, the fish will thrive. Even so, keep an eye on your cichlid population to prevent exaggerated aggression and territorial or breeding-related fights.

7. Zebra Angelfish

Angelfish need no introduction since these are some of the most popular cichlids in the aquarium world. They are gorgeous-looking fish with a matching personality, albeit semi-aggressive and moderately territorial.

The Zebra angelfish is typically light blue with a zebra-like pattern and can grow up to 6 inches. The fish requires around 30 gallons of water to remain comfortable in its environment. You can pair it with other angelfish or place it in a community setup, given a little preparation and a few strategies.

Angelfish aren’t necessarily rock-dwellers, but they do love having some hiding areas to fall back to. Decorate their tank with some plants and caves, and they should be fine. A sandy substrate is also necessary, given that angelfish like to play around the substrate a lot.

Difficulty of Care – Easy

While the angelfish ranks as a semi-aggressive cichlid, I believe it makes for a great choice for all aquarists, no matter their experience level. The fish is relatively easy to care for, only requiring clear waters, stable parameters, and a varied diet.

8. Jaguar Cichlid

The Jaguar cichlid makes for an impressive and somewhat unexpected entry on this list. This is somewhat of a giant, capable of growing up to 16 inches in the right setup. Jaguar cichlids display a jaguar-like, spotted pattern that’s difficult to miss. This cichlid is massive, imposing, and mean-looking, especially thanks to its spiny rays supporting its fins.

These fish can easily grow to 2 feet in the wild and possess huge mouths, capable of eating a juvenile human. Okay, I made up the last part. On a serious note, the Jaguar cichlid has powerful jaws and a wider mouth than you would expect from a fish its size. The cichlid’s personality complements its looks since the Jaguar cichlid is rather violent and difficult to keep with other fish.

This cichlid requires a water temperature around 73 to 82 F and needs at least 70 gallons to feel comfortable and thrive in its environment. However, I would recommend investing in an even bigger tank, closer to 125 gallons if possible. That’s because this aquatic monster needs more space than other fish of its size.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate/High

I don’t recommend the Jaguar cichlid to complete beginners. This species is more difficult to keep due to its high requirements regarding water quality and environmental setup. Plus, this is an aggressive beast that will kill or attempt to kill anything that moves around its habitat. Jaguar cichlids are also carnivorous, so they’re not quite ideal for community setups.

9. Humphead Cichlid

Since we’re talking about giant cichlids, here’s another one for you. The Humphead cichlid is, also known as Frontosa, a large, imposing, and impressive fish with a unique look and a matching personality. Humphead cichlids aren’t too aggressive since they are rather slow and shy.

That being said, they are carnivorous, so they will attempt to eat their tankmates, should the size difference permit that.

These fish are also relentless when it comes to countering your aquascaping efforts. They will tip over, dig out, and move any decorations you might add to their tank. They are also powerful enough to do it, especially when reaching sizes in excess of 14 inches.

The Humphead requires a tank size of 200 gallons to thrive, which is already preposterous. But, if you’re ready for that, the Humphead makes for a fine addition.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate

It isn’t to say that the Humphead is too difficult to care for, but it isn’t that easy either. This large carnivorous fish will exhibit some predatorial tendencies towards smaller fish. They also need regular maintenance and care to remain healthy in the long run. The good news is that, with proper assistance, Humphead cichlids can live more than 20 years.

10. Black Stripe Dwarf Cichlid

The Black Stripe Dwarf cichlid is everything other cichlids are not. First, they don’t look like cichlids, to begin with. The Torpedo cichlid (as it’s most commonly known for) is long and slender, although the notion of ‘long’ refers to its body’s shape rather than size. That’s because Torpedo cichlids will only grow up to 3 inches.

They are also quite peaceful, so this is a welcoming characteristic, allowing you to include this species in community setups, should you wish.

This fish requires clean waters and a varied and highly nutritious diet to remain healthy over the years. Torpedo cichlids live up to 5 years in captivity.

Difficulty of Care – High/Very High

This cichlid isn’t for the inexperienced. The main reason for that revolves around its diet. This cichlid is carnivorous and will only eat live food. Flakes and pellets won’t work in most cases, although some people have reported success feeding their Torpedo guppies in this manner. Either way, I recommend looking for a different breed if you lack the experience necessary in handling cichlids or fish in general.

11. Bumblebee Cichlid

Bumblebee cichlids are some of the most famous cichlids you can get. A pair of transparent wings would turn these fish into genuine bumblebees, that’s how much they resemble the famous insects. Bulky, large-mouthed, mucus-covered bumblebees, but bumblebees nonetheless.

This cichlid is yellow with black or dark-blue stripes and thick lips, coming with a unique look and a matching personality. Bumblebees are aggressive and territorial, so you need to provide them with sufficient space to mitigate their violent tendencies.

Bumblebee males can develop deadly grudges against one another. I suggest keeping one Bumblebee male per tank, but feel free to experiment if that’s your thing.

One bumblebee cichlid requires at least 50 gallons of space, but you can keep several of them in a 100-gallon setup. That’s because these are Malawi cichlids; they don’t mind a bit of overstocking, provided it’s other bumblebees.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate

This cichlid isn’t too difficult to care for, but not that easy either. It requires careful maintenance, a stable diet, and a healthy and clean environment to thrive. Avoid it as a novice aquarist.

12. Severum Cichlid

It’s only fitting that we close this cichlid list with one of the kings of the aquarium business. The Severum cichlid is a beautiful specimen that will adapt to pretty much any setting. This fish can grow up to 8 inches and requires at least 45 gallons of space. It is a docile fish that will fit neatly in a compatible community setup.

These cichlids combine various colors in a unique, zebra-like pattern. You get orange, red, blue, grey, purple, and black on the same cichlid, covering its almost round body in unique patterns.

You should keep the Severum cichlids in a clean setup, despite them being known as hardy fish, capable of enduring and surviving even in poor water conditions. Pair them with calm and peaceful fish, and Severum cichlids will make for great additions to any community tank.

Difficulty of Care – Moderate

They’re not easy to keep but aren’t too tricky either. Severum cichlids require moderate care in the long run, although they will do better in better-maintained environments. These cichlids can live up to 10 years or more with adequate care.


In the end, whichever cichlid appeals to you the most comes down to personal preference. As a general recommendation, I would say avoid cichlids if you’re a newbie in the aquarium world. These fish are slightly more difficult to keep that your popular fish species like guppies, mollies, platies, and others.

But, if you have the experience necessary, cichlids can make for great tank fish.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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