Max Size: 15cm

Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)

Convict Cichlids, Amatitlania nigrofasciata, are hardy fish with rebellious attitudes. Convict Cichlids get their name from the broad, dark vertical lines that run down their bodies, which are reminiscent of jailbird outfits.

As an aggressive fish, the Convict Cichlid should only be kept with fish of similar size and temperament. It is not recommended to house them with peaceful, semi-aggressive fish or species that are large enough to swallow the Convict Cichlid whole.

The males will kill anything in the tank if they can during mating. There have also been reports of these Cichlids beating up Oscars and plecos much larger than them. It is possible to keep these fish as individuals or in pairs, resulting in a more mellow fish. Their aggression towards each other, especially during mating, is expected, however.

It is very easy to keep Convict Cichlids and they require very little maintenance. Your Cichlid will feel at home in a sandy substrate with roots, rocks, and driftwood pieces. Plants, especially floating plants, help to tone down the light, so they enjoy them. However, they will rearrange your tank, so make sure you secure your plants at the bottom of the aquarium.

Convict Cichlids have chunky oval disk-shaped bodies with pointed anal and dorsal fins. These Cichlids have a blueish-grey, blueish-purple, or cream body colour displaying eight or nine vertically running dark to black bands. Their fins are transparent to light yellow, and their vertical bars almost form a U shape behind their head area.

This fish comes in several different colours due to interbreeding. Unlike albino varieties that lack distinctive vertical bars, the White Convict Cichlid or Pink Convict Cichlid imitates them. In addition, the male has a monotonous colouration, while the female has an orangish patch on her stomach.

In addition to their regular teeth and spiny rays on parts of the dorsal, pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins, all cichlids have well-developed pharyngeal teeth in the throat that help to deter predators. In swimming, the front portion of these fins is soft and ideal for effortless, precise positions. Furthermore, Cichlids only have one nostril on each side, whereas other fish have two.


Convict cichlid
Convict cichlid
Convict cichlid
Convict cichlid
Convict cichlid
Quick Facts
Scientific NameAmatitlania nigrofasciata
Year Described1867
Other NamesZebra Cichlid
OriginsCosta Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
Aquarium LevelAll Levels
Best kept asLoners
Lifespanup to 10 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 8.0
79 - 84℉
26.1 - 28.9℃


In the home aquarium, the Convict Cichlid will readily accept most good quality dried foods such as granules, flakes and sinking pellets. These modern food products have been developed to provide all adequate nutrition to maintain your fish's health and dietary requirements.

Providing additional foodstuffs such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals such as bloodworm, daphnia, and tubifex once or twice a week will provide additional benefits to your fish's health and well-being but is not a must for this fish.

It should be noted that bloodworms should only be given as an occasional treat and should not be used as the staple diet as they are difficult for fish to digest and can potentially cause blockages.

This fish is an omnivore in the wild, meaning it will consume some vegetable matter. Although most modern fish foods take this into account and include them in their products, you can still supplement your fish's diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and zucchini. Ensure you do not overfeed your fish and remove any leftovers the following day.

Sexual Dimorphism

Male and female Convict Cichlids can easily be distinguished. The males have a larger head and an abrupt forehead, but they aren't as brightly coloured as the females. Males also develop more extended and pointed dorsal and anal fins as they age. Vestigial fatty lumps appear on their foreheads as well. Contrary to males, females have an orange dorsal fin and lower body.

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)
Checkerboard Cichlid(Dicrossus filamentosus)
Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid(Apistogramma cacatuoides)
View all Cichlids
Date Added: 06/11/2020 - Updated: 23/08/2022 17:30:44