Profile of a Port Cichlid
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Profile of a Port Cichlid

A look at the port cichlid including care and social behavior.

The port cichlid is native to the fresh water lakes of South America, primarily southern Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. The rift lakes that these popular fish call home in nature are a combination of both rock and sand regions. During mating season, the port cichlid will lay its eggs on fallen leaves or plants they uproot themselves in their rocky environment. 


The appearance of the port cichlid varies based on both gender and age. The largest a full grown cichlid will be is between six and eight inches. Males of the species are noticeably bigger than the females and have more pronounced anal and dorsal fins. Cichlids have a body that is compacted and deep with a large head. The younger, or juvenile, port cichlid’s coloring is brown, blue or green with a tint of red, blue or yellow. A dark horizontal stripe runs along the entire length of the fish. When startled or excited a port cichlid may turn completely black. The caudal and anal fins are a pale or brownish green color and the dorsal fin is blue tinted grey. The pectoral fin is a muddy red. Female port cichlids will have paler or browner markings and color, while the males tend to be greener.


A port cichlid’s ideal tank will be between 30 and 50 gallons. If you’re planning on having multiple port cichlids be sure to provide between 30 to 50 gallons of space for each mating pair. The water should be kept between 65 and 75 degrees farenheight and slightly acidic with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Your port cichlid will appreciate routine monthly changes of the water. In terms of decoration, floating plants and lake rocks are recommended. Also, port cichlids swim mainly in the lower portion of the tank and like retreats made of bogwood.


These mainly placid fish are only aggressive while mating. However, since they are omnivorous and prefer live food, a guppy or similarly sized fish will most likely get eaten if in the same tank. Other than live food, a port cichlid will accept almost any other food. They do well on a diet of pellets or flakes with the occasional treat of beef heart or worms. The best tank companion for the port cichlid is, of course, other South American cichlid breeds. Other good matches are plecos or catfish. When a cichlid becomes aggressive it will be due to a territorial dispute. This is why maintaining enough space for your fish is vital with this breed. While mating within a tank environment, the cichlid will lay their eggs on the leaf of a floating plant and then guard the eggs. Known in the fish world for their parenting skills, the cichlid will fiercely protect both the eggs and the fry. Easy to take care of and feed with no known diseases attributed to the breed, the port cichlid is a hearty fish. The average lifespan is around six years. This is also the easiest kind of cichlid to breed.

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