Max Size: 10cm

Checkerboard Cichlid (Dicrossus filamentosus)

Checkerboard Cichlids are peaceful and pleasant Dwarf Cichlids ideally suited to soft water aquariums with planted areas and peaceful tankmates. These Cichlids make excellent community residents if kept with schools of small fish. However, housing them with other aggressive fish is not recommended; otherwise, they may struggle.

You will often see them moving around in large shoals just above the substrate. It is, therefore, best to keep a group of 8 or more individuals for their continued wellbeing.

These fish are sensitive to water conditions, so they are not suitable for the beginner aquarists. Even though these fish are peaceful, females will defend spawning places and eggs or fry, during this time they can be quite aggressive within a small territory.

The Checkerboard Cichlids body is slender and elongated and is copper-coloured. The nose is short, and their mouth small. Their body displays two rows of square black spots, similar to that of a checkerboard. These spots run along the centre of the flank and under the dorsal fin. Depending on the Cichlids mood, the lower row of spots can expand, forming a line that runs from the upper portion of the nose to the base of the caudal fin, while the row above can disappear.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameDicrossus filamentosus
Other NamesChessboard Cichlid, Checkerboard Dwarf Cichlid
OriginsBrazil, Colombia, Venezuela
Aquarium LevelMiddle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Lifespan3 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH4.5 - 6.5
GH1 - 8
81 - 86℉
27.2 - 30℃

Photos of the Checkerboard Cichlid

Checkerboard cichlid
Checkerboard cichlid
Dicrossus filamentosus
Dicrossus filamentosus

Natural Habitat

The Checkerboard Cichlids are endemic to Venezuela and Colombia from the Maripa to Rio Ina­rida as well as the Rio Orinoco. You will also find them in parts of the Brazilian Rio Negro in South America. They inhabit extremely soft, acidic, slow-moving rivers and forest streams, where the bottom is carpeted with leaf litter as well as a tangle of branches and roots. In this habitat, aquatic plants are scarce, apart from the areas near the banks.


What to feed the Checkerboard Cichlid

It will be beneficial if you provide these Cichlids with a high-quality sinking pellet as the staple of their diet. However, make sure you supplement this with vegetarian or spirulina flakes as well as plenty of frozen and live fare such as brine shrimp, daphnia and mosquito larvae. Remember these fish have small mouths, so make sure the size of the food you provide is adequate for them.

How to sex the Checkerboard Cichlid

It is relatively simple to differentiate male from female Checkerboard Cichlids. Females are smaller with less colour and have a rounded caudal fin. In contrast, males are slightly larger and possess a beautiful long "lyretailed" caudal fin.

When the Checkerboard Cichlids are ready to spawn, the ventral fins on the male become blue and red striped and the female's ventral fins become a solid red colour.

How to breed the Checkerboard Cichlid

It is somewhat straightforward to breed Checkerboard Cichlids successfully providing you have the appropriate conditions. The water needs to be very soft and acidic with high-quality water. RO water is nearly compulsory for breeding these fish unless your tap waters pH is around 4.5 and you should raise the temperature to the top end of their preferred range.

Following an elaborate courting ritual, the female will guide the male to a pre-cleaned spawning site, and this is usually a flat piece of decors such as a rock or a large leaf where the female may lay up to 120 eggs. These eggs will be then be fertilised. The female will take responsibility for the eggs, and the male will guard and protect the perimeter.

The eggs will usually hatch within 48 to 72 hours, at which point the female will transfer the young to pre-dug pits in the substrate. The little fry will become free-swimming 5 to 7 days after that.

It would be better if you initially fed the fry on infusoria followed by newly hatched brine shrimp or powdered foods.

Other Cichlids of interest

African Butterfly Cichlid(Anomalochromis thomasi)
Banded Apistogramma(Apistogramma bitaeniata)
Blue Panda Apistogramma(Apistogramma panduro, Apistogramma pandurini)
Bolivian Ram Cichlid(Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid(Apistogramma cacatuoides)
Convict Cichlid(Amatitlania nigrofasciata)
View all Cichlids
Date Added: 07/12/2020 - Updated: 07/12/2021 13:18:13