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Red Terror Cichlid

By | Last Updated : 3rd August 2020

Red terror cichlid is a bright-colored species indigenous to parts of South America. Their striking red coloration and aggressive demeanor earn them their name.

Red Terror Cichlid

Quick Information

Scientific NameCichlasoma festae
Other NamesHarlequin cichlid
OriginRio Tumbes in Peru, and Rio Esmeraldas in Ecuador
TypeFreshwater fish
Conservation StatusNot recorded
Behavioral CharacteristicsRobust, highly territorial, and aggressive
School SizeInappropriate for schooling due to their increased aggression, though 2 -3 of them may coexist in a big tank
Physical TraitsElongated body, sloping forehead, striped appearance, and colorful fins
Growth RateMales grow to 9 inches (22.86 cm) and females to 7 inches (17.78 cm) in the first year; after this, it is an inch per year until they reach their maximum size
ColorsAdultsMales: Turquoise-green body, orange finnage, blue spots on their tail
Females: Bright red with black vertical stripes, reddish-orange snout, and glittery blue spots  throughout its body  
Juveniles – Gray with lateral stripes
Size (How big do they get)Big; 12 -20 inches (30.48 – 50.8 cm)
Lifespan12 – 15 years
Sexual DimorphismMales are larger than females developing a nuchal hump when they are about 3
Probable Diseases Ich, fin rot
Approximate Price (How much is it for)$25 – 30
Male Red Terror Cichlid
Red Terror Cichlid Female

Tank Setup & Care Sheet Details

Care LevelExpert
Tank SizeApproximately 110 gallons (417 liters) to keep 2- 3 species together

Water Parameters

pH Level6.0 – 7.5
Temperature77° to 82.4°F (25 to 28°C)
Hardness4 – 18 dGH
Aquarium  Water FlowFast

Tank Ambience

Substrate TypeSmall pebbles, and granite chippings (for bottom substrates) alongside driftwood, rocky caves, and plants to provide ample hiding space
Tank MatesCompatible with: Big and aggressive species like Oscar cichlid, flowerhorn cichlid, green terror, jaguar cichlid, sailfin pleco, common pleco, Arowana, and Jack Dempsey

Incompatible with: Small-sized, less aggressive fish
Suitable Position in the TankMiddle or Bottom


DietLive or frozen food like brine shrimp, and blood worms, alongside flakes and pellets
Frequency 2-3 times a day
Baby Red Terror Cichlid
Red Terror Cichlid Size

Important Things to Know For Fish Keepers

  • If housing a couple of fish together with the red terror cichlid, ensure the tank has ample swimming space to keep the latter’s aggression in control. Long tanks are more spacious than the tall ones.
  • Another way of controlling their territorial behavior is by including fish of a different shape than the red terror cichlid or even those swimming in a separate direction.


Q. What is the difference between the red terror cichlid and the Mayan cichlid?

The red terror and the Mayan cichlid or the false red terror cichlid are often confused for the other due to their apparent similarity. However, the red terror cichlid has a “Y-shaped structure” on one of their vertical bars, which remains absent in the Mayan cichlid.

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