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Maximum size : 10 cm

Checkerboard Cichlid - Dicrossus filamentosus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Checkerboard Cichlids (Dicrossus filamentosus) are striking and unique in appearance, making them a favourite among advanced aquarists. Their beautiful copper-coloured bodies adorned with two rows of square black spots resemble a checkerboard pattern, adding a touch of elegance to any aquarium. These Dwarf Cichlids prefer soft water and a planted environment with plenty of hiding spots. They make fantastic community residents if kept with peaceful fish, but it's crucial to avoid housing them with more aggressive tankmates. They move in large shoals and thrive in groups of eight or more, providing endless entertainment for their owners. Although they are amicable, Checkerboard Cichlids can become territorial when spawning. It is important to note that they are sensitive to water conditions, and their breeding behaviour can be aggressive towards their counterparts. Therefore, they are better suited for experienced aquarists.

Checkerboard Cichlid Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Differentiating between male and female Checkerboard Cichlids is a simple process. Adult males are generally larger and slimmer than females and possess a more pointed dorsal fin with extended filaments on their tail fin. They also display more vivid and intense colours than females. During spawning, Checkerboard Cichlids undergo a unique transformation that helps differentiate between the sexes. The ventral fins of males become blue and red striped, while the ventral fins of females transform into a solid red colour. This notable distinction makes identifying males and females during the breeding period relatively easy.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameDicrossus filamentosus
Year Described1958
Other NamesChessboard Cichlid, Checkerboard Dwarf Cichlid
OriginsBrazil Venezuela Colombia
Max Size10 cm
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

Natural Habitat

The Checkerboard Cichlids are fascinating fish, native to South America, specifically Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil. In their natural habitat, these cichlids can be found in slow-moving rivers and forest streams with soft, acidic water, and a lush carpet of leaf litter with only a few aquatic plants near the banks. Here they forage for food amidst the branches and roots. Their elongated and slender bodies are perfectly adapted for this habitat, allowing them to manoeuvre with ease.
 Orinoco - Venezuela
Venezuela Flag


Breeding Checkerboard Cichlids can be relatively simple provided the appropriate conditions are met. These fish require highly acidic and soft water of exceptional quality, making RO water almost mandatory for breeding unless your tap water naturally has a pH of around 4.5. Raising the temperature to the upper end of their preferred range can also facilitate successful breeding. Following an intricate courting ritual, the female will lead the male to a pre-cleaned spawning site, usually a flat piece of d├ęcor such as a rock or a large leaf, where she may lay up to 120 eggs that are fertilised by the male. The female will assume responsibility for the eggs while the male guards and protects the perimeter. The eggs typically hatch within 48 to 72 hours, and the female will transfer the young to pre-dug pits in the substrate. The fry will become free-swimming after 5 to 7 days. To ensure the health and wellbeing of the fry, it is advisable to feed them on infusoria initially, followed by newly hatched brine shrimp or powdered foods.

Diet & feeding

To ensure the proper nutrition of Checkerboard Cichlids, a balanced diet is essential. A high-quality sinking pellet should be the primary food source, supplemented with spirulina or vegetarian flakes, and a variety of frozen and live foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and mosquito larvae. As they have small mouths, the food should be of an appropriate size to prevent any feeding difficulties. A diverse diet will help maintain their health, growth and vibrant colouration.

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