Max Size: 15cm

Flag Cichlid (Mesonauta Festivus)

Flag Cichlids, Mesonauta Festivus, are peaceful, but they can become aggressive when breeding. In addition, these Cichlids are very social and prefer being kept in groups. However, it is possible to keep them in a community aquarium with other peaceful Cichlids such as Geophagus and Apistogramma, as well as Barbs, Tetras, and small Catfish.

Even though these Cichlids make a great addition to a tank with Angelfish, they do not get along well with some small colourful fish, such as Black Neon Tetras, as they enjoy snacking on them.

If you perform regular water changes, flag cichlids are generally easy to maintain. However, their timid nature requires them to hide in places such as rock caves, bogwood, or tall plants. Plants like Vallisneria and Sagittarius, as well as artificial plants, will work well for these Cichlids since they don't dig up plants. It is possible, however, for some to eat the live plants and others not, depending on their personality.

It would be best if you had plants that reach the surface of the water while still leaving some open spaces for swimming. It is also important to ensure that the aquarium's lid fits properly since they tend to jump up when frightened.

The bodies of Flag Cichlids have an oblique oval shape and are strongly compressed laterally with pointed dorsal and anal fins. These fish are characterized by a black band running from the mouth, through the eye, and upward to the top of their dorsal fin.

Aside from this black strip, there are at least six other colour varieties and patterns, which stem from the locations where the parent species were first captured. The colours range from yellow above the line to silvery white below. In another type, the fins are striped in light yellow and brown, and the top is brown with whiteish silver on the bottom. Finally, another variety has seven irregular brown vertical bars running the entire body length, with an additional bar on the caudal fin.


Flag Cichlid
Flag Cichlid
Flag Cichlid
Quick Facts
Scientific NameMesonauta Festivus
Year Described1840
Other NamesFestivum Cichlid, Barred Cichlid, Festive Cichlid
OriginsBolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru
Aquarium LevelAll Levels
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespanup to 10 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.5 - 7.5
GH2 - 18
72 - 82℉
22.2 - 27.8℃

Natural Habitat



In the home aquarium, the Flag 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

Identifying male and female Flag Cichlids can be pretty challenging. In adulthood, males are larger than females. Furthermore, males have a longer snout, 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.

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: 13/04/2021 15:11:37 - Updated: 24/08/2022 15:48:16