Green Terror Cichlid – Species Profile & Facts

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, the Green Terror Cichlid (Andinoacara rivulatus) is certainly one of the fish you should look at. This species stands out in any freshwater aquarium with its looks and interesting behaviors as well.

Another one of its benefits is that it’s not going to be challenging to keep at home even for beginner fish keepers.

With the Green Terror Cichlid, all you need to do is to set the water parameters right and your fish is going to thrive. Handling its aggressive temperament is not that difficult either.

This species is among the larger fish to keep at home with its 12 inches when fully matured.

Instead of regular fins, theirs are formed by webs of bony skin which is also referred to as ray-skinned. You can set up a pretty colorful community aquarium by keeping them in the same tank with similarly sized fish.

They are not plain green but instead their body is covered by a mix of various green and blue metallic shades.

Green Terror Cichlid Natural Habitat

The Green Terror Cichlid is one of the largest fish that can be found in the waters of South America.

The hot spots for finding this species are Ecuador and Peru, inhabiting the river basins that can be found there. It is well-known among fish keepers as White and Gold Saum besides its most popular name.

This one is discovered a long time ago, back in 1860. In their natural habitat, Green Terrors live in still water, constantly looking for insects, worms and crustaceans to eat.

The basins of the Tumbes and Esmeraldas rivers provide excellent living conditions for them with lower water acidity.

Although there are small differences between the Green Terrors living in these two rivers, them being two different species has not been confirmed yet.

In their case, the female is definitely more aggressive than the male. This temperament is further accentuated during breeding season.

Green Terror Cichlid Tank Requirements

In their natural habitat, which are the Tumbes and Esmeralda rivers, Green Terror Cichlids got used to soft, sandy substrate.

There are also plenty of hiding places in their environment that can provide shelter if needed. These are both calm streams where not much water movement is going on.

These are basically the conditions you need to provide in your home aquarium as well. They like dwelling near the bottom just as much as swimming in the other layers of the aquarium.

Make sure the lights you install are not too bright, otherwise your fish is going to hide most of the time.

Maintaining moderate light and moderate water flow in the aquarium is key for this species. When it comes to hiding places and decorations, they need lots of driftwood and large rocks or caves.

If you want them to be comfortable with their environment, you need to replicate their natural habitat as best as you can.

While you decorate your tank, it is important to leave enough space for your Green Terror Cichlids to swim around. Since this species enjoys digging into the substrate, any plants you have are probably going to be uprooted and eaten.

We can recommend you some floating plants that are outstanding for this fish. These are the Java Fern and the Anubias.

If you want to keep only one Green Terror, then a 35-gallon tank is going to be ideal. For a pair, we recommend a 75-gallon aquarium instead. Giving them a lot of space is a great way to reduce their aggression.

Green Terror Cichlid Water Conditions

Now since they live in tropical freshwaters, you will need to install a heater and monitor the temperature on a regular basis.

It is best to set it between 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit so that they can feel at home. The acidity should be rather towards the neutral, from 6.5 to 8.0 pH tops.

They can tolerate a rather wide range of water hardness of 5 to 20 dGH. A great way to keep the water chemistry consistent is to install a high-quality filter.

This is important because the Green Terror doesn’t respond well to sudden changes in water parameters.

We would recommend you to buy an external filter instead of an internal one. Water changes are also important but fortunately, that is not something you have to do every day. It is enough to change about 20% of the water bi-weekly.

Green Terror Cichlid Diet and Feeding

The Green Terror is a carnivorous species, which is also why it is willing to eat smaller fish without hesitation. Out in the wild, they mainly live on crustaceans, worms and insects.

They are going to eat a wide range of meat-based and even some plant-based foods in your home aquarium.

It is best to feed them as omnivores in an aquarium. That provides them both the vitamins and proteins they need in order to thrive and stay healthy.

There are many different types of pellets, frozen foods and live foods that you can buy in the pet shop and feed your Green Terror with.

Since live food is so protein-rich, it should be the main part of their diet. But still, you should feed them a mixed diet throughout the day.

As your fish gets larger, you will eventually need to buy some bigger pellets, live food or flakes.

Plant-based food is something that you can always prepare at home. All you need to do is to cook some spinach or peas and give it to them.

Although protein is very important, you can still overfeed them with it if you are not careful. This can cause your Green Terror digestive problems.

You will eventually figure out the portions but it is best to feed them twice throughout the day.

Green Terror Cichlid Tank Mates

Green Terror Cichlids can only be kept with species that match their temperament and size. You can experiment with other fish at your own risk but we wouldn’t recommend it.

There are also plenty of bigger fish to choose from that can live harmoniously with your Green Terror.

You can put them together with any of the other larger Cichlids, feel free to choose. Good examples are Fire Mouths, Managuenses, Jack Dempseys and Flowerhorns. Other recommendations are Gars, Bleeding Heart Tetras, large Catfish, Pacus and Silver Dollars.

The reason why we don’t recommend smaller fish is simple: they are going to be eaten. Once you notice that a Green Terror pair is about to breed, remove them from the community aquarium immediately. During breeding, they become so aggressive that none of the other fish will be safe in the tank.

The rule of thumb is to keep species with similar temperament so that they don’t get bullied. Now these fish will require a lot of space in a community aquarium so make sure to buy a bigger one.

Green Terror Cichlid Breeding

First off, you are going to need a compatible Green Terror Cichlid pair. That’s the most difficult part of the breeding process, as the rest is going to be simple as pie.

You can either buy an established pair from the pet shop or buy a bunch of Green Terrors and it will happen eventually.

If you keep them in a community tank, you need to keep an eye on them every day. Once the breeding starts, you will need to remove the pair from the tank.

Otherwise, they are going to get very aggressive towards the other fish in the tank to the point of killing them.

The male gets territorial while the female lays down the eggs and stays around them.

If you notice that the male developed a big hump on its head and its colors became brighter, then it’s breeding season. Once the female lays down the eggs, the male gets around and fertilizes them.

During the whole process, you need to make sure that the water is a couple of degrees warmer and slightly more acidic than otherwise recommended.

In case there are no flat rocks around, they are going to dig in the substrate until the glass bottom becomes visible and lay the eggs there.

The eggs will hatch within 4 days and the female usually lays down around 500 of them. The Green Terror Cichlid parents always take good care of their fry. Once they are out, you can feed them some brine shrimp and small worms.


The Green Terror Cichlid is definitely a great choice for those who already have some experience with cichlids. For beginners, it is important to read a guide like this one and follow these tips correctly to be able to take good care of this species.

With their interesting colors, they can make your tank even more exciting and lively.

As long as the fish tank is large enough and they are well-fed with a diverse diet, they are going to have a great time in the aquarium. They are also sensitive to water quality changes so make sure to change it regularly.

Don’t let their deceiving behaviors convince you into feeding them again. Interestingly, they tend to follow their owners in hopes of getting fed even when they are already full.

So, what do you think? Are you interested in getting a Green Terror Cichlid for your home aquarium?

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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