Alternative Name(s): Velvet Cichlid
Scientific Name(s): Astronotus ocellatus
Maximum Size: 33cms
Minimum Tank Volume: 450 litres
Minimum Tank Size: 48" x 24" x 24"
Water Temperature Range: 21-27°C
Water pH Range: 6.0-7.8
Water Hardness Range: 5-20 dGH
||A large brusque South American native, typical cichlid shape, heavy lips, usually orange, bronze and black scales, lighter stripes, often individual patternation. Albino specimens are common. Sold in quantity disproportionate to the amount of people equipped to care for them. Usually very aggressive to other fish outside of their immediate sexual partner. Will move gravel, rocks, and destroy plants incessantly. Highly intelligent fish, usually interactive with the owner.
||Tank size as above for 1 single adult. For a mated pair, minimum 72" x 24" x 24", 690 litres. Site heaters externally if posible as Oscars occasionally attack them. Rocks/bogwood and sand/gravel. Fix decor to avoid damage to tank as fish move it around.
||Primarily carnivorous, enjoys most livefoods earthworms, larvae, shellfish and shrimp, smaller fish, carnivore pellets and a cichlid staple mix. Diet variety is important. Avoid beefheart and live fish. Occasional vegetable matter should be included.
||Not community. Large, aggressive, strongly territorial, and a predator. Breeding pairs will eradicate other species. House singly or in compatible pairs. Singles can be mixed with some larger robust species in a tank of at least 1300 litres/96" long.
||Rigorous maintenance, regular water changes, high diet variety, and steady temperatures. Start with large aquaria, growth rate is rapid, territorial by 4 months of age. Tank seperator if needed. Stick all decor down well as these fish will move everything around and are capable of picking up small pebbles and spitting them at the glass, and cracking it. Use stainless heaters with external thermostats as glass heaters will be broken also.
||Hexamita through contact transmission, and susceptibility through lack of nutrition quality. Fouls water quickly, and has rich waste. Much abused fish through lack of space, enrichment and filtration.
||Numerous colour variants, other members of the family Astronotus look entirely different.
||Difficult, sexes are almost identical, males usually slightly bigger. Behaviour soon gives sex away, watch specimens before purchase. When breeding the female has a noticeable genital papilla.
||High end of temperature ranges, plenty of livefoods. 1000 eggs laid on large flat surfaces. Young take aufwuchs, decapsulated brineshrimp and liquifry. Eating heartier foods by week two.