Red Devil Cichlid – Species Profile & Facts

Red devil cichlids are one of the most interesting fish species to keep for a hobbyist aquarium owner. They are a good blend of lively character, beautiful appearance, and unique behavior.

If you’re looking to know more about this fish and if you’re a potential owner, then you might want to read this article. We’ll discuss everything there is to know about these fish.

These fish are an appealing fish species for many tank owners. With their fiery appearance and lively behavior, they are sure to breathe life into one’s aquarium. However, there are still some things that you should know about keeping this fish. That’s why I’ve gathered everything there is to know in this article.

You’ll learn more about the natural habitat of this fish, how they eat, breed, behave, and what tank mates go well with it. You’ll also learn some useful tips and tricks of keeping this fish happy and healthy for longer.

Red Devil Cichlid Natural Habitat

Red devil cichlids, or Amphilophus labiatus, are a charismatic fish species that mostly lives in tropical and subtropical areas of Central America. To be more specific, you’ll find these species in the lakes of Nicaragua, a country that’s located in Central America. These areas are known for constant, heavy rain, humid weather, and year-round high temperatures.

The lakes that this fish populate include Lake Nicaragua, Lake Managua, and Lake Xiloa. They’ve been located in these areas since many centuries ago, and were sometimes used as feeder fish by the locals.

However, nowadays these fish have a higher value than that – they have been moved into their own genus of fish after there was some speculation that there might be other fish in the genus.

You can start to see where this leads in terms of tank requirements. These fish will need a relatively large tank, as they are used to living in relatively large lakes. Also, you’ll need to make sure the water is hot enough for these fish – between 75 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Let’s take a look at these tank requirements closer now.

Red Devil Cichlid Tank Requirements

Red devil cichlids are known as relatively large fish. They can even grow up to 15 inches, so you can see that these fish will require a relatively large tank to live in. For a single fish, a tank of 55 gallons is recommended at least. However, you might even try and make them more comfortable, and buy a larger tank than that. If you own two of these fish, then a tank of 125 gallons should do.

For beginners, it might be difficult to understand that the fish will grow. As they seem relatively small when they are young, it might be easy to underestimate the fish in terms of size. That’s why many owners make the mistake of buying a tank that’s too small for these fish. You will have to make sure the fish get more than enough space to live in. This includes buying a tank that’s large enough from the start.

These cichlids can be quite demanding in terms of oxygen levels. You’ll want to make sure they get ample oxygen through the water, as they are used to having a lot of oxygen readily available. Plants can do that, but the problem there is that these fish will likely tear plants apart and disrupt them. Provide some airstones, too.

In terms of decoration, you can provide it with rocks and plants. But be mindful of one thing: these fish will actively try and move these decorations around the tank, so they might not be as efficient. If you do insert these decorations, make sure they are strongly bedded into the substrate so that they don’t get moved around.

Provide moderate water movement in the tank. And as these fish are quite active, you can expect quite a lot of debris. That’s why you’ll need a powerful filter – preferably, it should be a canister filter. As for the substrate, sand works best for these fish. As these fish like to dig a lot, you might want to avoid gravel or other types of tough substrate, as you can only harm them.

Red Devil Cichlid Water Conditions

The best way to care for the red devil cichlid is to constantly measure and stay on top of the water parameters. There is some wiggle room with these parameters, but you should always try to stick to these requirements. If you fail to do so, you might see some unwarranted complications, such as health problems and stunted growth.

  • Water temperature: 75-79 degrees Fahrenheit
  • PH levels: 6.5-7.5
  • Water hardness: 6-25 DGH

As you can see, these parameters are typical of tropical fish. If you want to keep these fish healthy, then you should always try to stick to these parameters. However, you have to be mindful that in order to achieve that water temperature, you might have to purchase a water heater. Keeping the water temperatures that high naturally might be difficult, so I would recommend that you get a heater to keep the temperatures up.

If you fail to keep the temperature to that level, then you will see health problems and eventually, death. Low temperatures (or high) will stress out the fish, causing several health problems, stress, unusual behavior, and serious complications. So it’s best to see if the parameters are in the right spot on a daily basis.

Regular maintenance is the key, as are the check-ups on the water parameters. If you measure the temperatures and PH daily, then you’re already on a good way for keeping your fish healthy. Regular water changes and good filtration is also very important.

Red Devil Cichlid Diet and Feeding

The good news is that these cichlids are omnivores, so you can feed them a wide variety of meals. The best way to go about this is to keep the diet as varied as possible, but you can make pellets or flakes the main ingredient of the diet. But make sure the pellets you buy are of a high quality and from a certified provider. Only that way you will keep them healthy for longer.

Here are some of the best foods you can consider for these fish:

  • Cichlid pellets, or flakes. These should be high-quality pellets, and can be either plant-based or meat-based. You can try with whatever your fish personally prefers.
  • Vegetables – lettuce, salad, or even algae. The red devil cichlids will love to eat vegetables from time to time, and you might even see them consume the plants in your tank, if you have them. So make sure you provide them with a healthy dose of veggies.
  • Meat-based foods such as: frozen shrimp, bloodworms, earthworms, crickets. These foods can either be frozen, frozen-dried, or even live. Buying these foods in a pet store might be for the best; however, make sure the food you purchase is free of any diseases that might transfer onto the fish. Ask the provider more about where they got the food.
  • Supplements that are rich in carotene – this supplement can be incredibly helpful for boosting the fish’s metabolism and to prevent diseases and health problems. They will also boost the immune system of the fish.
  • Flakes can also be considered as an alternative to pellets.
  • You can also provide them with meats. These include boiled meat, which should be considered as a treat that you add into the diet from time to time. make sure the bits of meat are small enough for the fish to consume.

As for the feeding patterns, it’s best to stick with feeding these fish twice daily. These fish are heavy eaters, so you will want to moderate the food in such a way that they don’t eat too much, but that they also get enough food.

Red Devil Cichlid Tank Mates

Red devil cichlids are energetic and fiery fish, but they don’t tend to do well with most other fish, including fish from the same species. They can be very aggressive towards other fish, and they will also try to actively move any pieces of equipment in the tank. This limits the tank mate choices.

The best way to keep these fish is as the single fish in the tank. However, you can consider keeping two of these fish together, especially male and female cichlids. This will allow you to breed them, and they will happily coexist, too. Just make sure they get ample space.

Red Devil Cichlid Breeding

Breeding these fish is relatively simple. They are monogamous, so you can keep a male and a female together with ease. You won’t have to worry about encouraging them to breed – it will happen naturally if you have a female and male in the tank.

Although you will want to make sure the temperature is at least 77 degrees Fahrenheit to initiate the breeding process. When the female lays her eggs, she will choose a rock or inclined substrate to lay the eggs. She will lay 600-700 eggs at once.


Red devil cichlids are incredibly interesting to keep and watch. They are a lively fish that like to swim around a lot, but there are some important requirements for keeping them. Hopefully, you know how to keep them now.

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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