Flag Cichlid (Mesonauta Festivus) Species Profile & Care Guide
The Flag Cichlid is peaceful, although they can become more aggressive when breeding. These Cichlids are also very social and prefer to be kept in groups. You can keep them in a community aquarium with other peaceful Cichlids such as Geophagus and Apistogramma as well as other peaceful community species such as Barbs, Tetras and small Catfish.
Even though these Cichlids make an exciting and welcome addition to a tank with Angelfish, they are not great with some small colourful fish such as Neon Tetras as these are a favourite snack.
Flag Cichlids are generally easy to care for as long as you perform regular water changes. They are rather timid and need to be able to hide in places such as rock caves, bogwood or tall, leafy plants. These Cichlids do not dig up plants, and hardy plants such as Vallisneria and Sagittarius will work well, as do artificial plants. However, depending on their personality, some may or may not eat the live plants.
It's best to have plants that reach the water's surface but still leave some open areas for swimming. Ensure you have a well-fitted lid on the aquarium, as they tend to jump up when frightened.
Flag Cichlid bodies are an angular oval shape and strongly compressed laterally with pointed dorsal and anal fins. The most distinguishing feature on these fish is a black band that runs from the mouth, through the eye, upward to the top of the dorsal fin's back.
There are at least six other colour varieties and patterns, and these stem from the locations where the parent species were initially captured; however, they all have this black strip. Colours can vary from yellow above the line and whiteish silver below. Another type is brown on top, and whiteish silver on the bottom and the fins are striped in light yellow and brown. Another variety has seven irregular brown vertical bars that run the entire body's length ending with an extra bar as a spot on the caudal fin.
|Scientific Name||Mesonauta Festivus|
|Other Names||Festivum Cichlid, Barred Cichlid, Festive Cichlid|
|Aquarium Level||All Levels|
|Difficulty||Beginner - Intermediate|
|Best kept as||Groups 6+|
|Lifespan||up to 10 years|
|Temperature||72 - 82 ℉ (22.2 - 27.8 ℃)|
|PH||5.5 - 7.5|
|GH||2 - 18|
Natural Habitat of the Flag Cichlid
Flag Cichlids are native to the Paraguay, Madre de Dios, Parana, Mamore, Guapore, Tapajos and Jamari river basins in Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay in South America. These Cichlids inhabit slow-moving clear, white and blackwaters in streams, lakes and rivers where there is plenty of aquatic plants and vegetation for them to hide in.
Other Cichlids of interest
In the aquarium, tFlag Cichlids will enjoy a wide variety of foods such as live or frozen fare such as brine shrimp and blood worms, as well as good quality dried foods like flakes and pellets.
Be sure to occasionally include some vegetable-based foods like spirulina flakes, blanched spinach, cucumber, or even oatmeal into their diet. All fish benefit from having vitamins and supplements in their diet.
It would be more beneficial to your Cichlids if you provided them with two to five little pinches of food several times a day instead of giving them a larger quantity once a day. This will maintain your water quality over a more extended period.
Sexing the Flag Cichlid
It can be quite challenging to distinguish between the male and female Flag Cichlid. As adults, the males will be larger than the females. They also have a more elongated snout and more extended dorsal and anal fins, and larger pectoral fins than females.
They usually pair up when they are around a year old, forming a strong, monogamous bond.
Breeding the Flag Cichlid
Breeding takes place on a flat stone or a similar area. Once the breeding area is prepared, the females will deposit their eggs on these surfaces, which can be anything up to 200 eggs. The male will then fertilise them.
Both the male and female Flag Cichlid will guard the eggs, and when the fry hatch two to three days later, they will transfer them to a pit where the parents will keep them until they become free-swimming, which is usually around 3 to 4 days after hatching.
Both fish assume parental duties but can be easily spooked, which will often lead to them consuming the fry. It would be best to place the breeding tank in a quiet location where it will not be disturbed or disturbed as little as possible.
You can feed the fry on newly-hatched brine shrimp and powdered fry foods until they are large enough to take more significant foods.