Male vs. Female Convict Cichlids: The Complete Guide (2023)

Male vs Female Convict Cichlids- you're probably asking 'how can I tell them apart' to begin with? Well, there are several ways to tell them apart. However, if you are wondering whether to choose the male or female, keep reading this article to learn more about them, differentiate between them and make a decision on which one to choose.


  • What are the differences between male and female convict cichlids?
  • What are the characteristics of a male convict cichlid?
    • - Colour
    • - Maat
    • - Appearance
    • - Behaviour
    • - Reproduction
  • What are the characteristics of a female convict cichlid?
    • - Colour
    • - Maat
    • - Appearance
    • - Behaviour
    • - Reproduction
  • Frequently Asked Questions
    • – Can you keep female and male convict cichlids together?
    • – Can you have all male cichlids in one tank?
    • - Do male and female convict cichlids fight?
    • – When do cichlids reach sexual maturity?
    • – How do you know if your female cichlids are ready to spawn?
    • – How long does it take cichlids to spawn?
  • Conclusion

Male vs. Female Convict Cichlids: The Complete Guide (1)

CharacteristicsMale Convict CichlidFemale Convict Cichlid
ColourBlack and gray stripesPink, gold, white and gray with black stripes
MaatAbout 6 inchesAbout 4.5 inches
Nuchal bump sizeLarger neck humpThe nuchal fold is smaller or absent
finsLarger dorsal and anal finsSmaller dorsal and anal fins
Reproductive organsProtruding papillae to help deposit spermWide and flat to help lay eggs

What are the differences between male and female convict cichlids?

The main difference between amale and female convict cichlidsis in its anatomy and exterior. Cichlids are small in size compared to other fish. However, between the two, the male is larger. In some exceptional cases, males and females can grow over 6 and 4.5 inches respectively.

What are the characteristics of a male convict cichlid?

The characteristics of a male convict cichlid include a medium-sized body, a prominent neck hump, and protruding papillae. They also display more aggressive behavior, especially during the mating season, and they also fearlessly guard their females and their eggs from predators.

- Colour

The black stripes of the males give them a zebra-like appearance. Most cichlids start out with this color, but the males tend to stick with them and grow up with gray and black striped bodies. In general, they have a monochromatic appearance throughout their lives. When young are small, you cannot distinguish between the two sexes.

- Maat

Males are relatively larger and usually grow to a size of 6 inches. It makes them easily habitable in aquariums. However, you can also find them a little longer. Since they are larger than the female, they act as a protector to some extent and will care for the young until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

- Appearance

Fins are an important part of a cichlid's appearance.Males have tapered fins with a pointed edge. Both the anal and dorsal fins are longer than those of the female and more sharply edged. In regards to neck bumps, most males have prominent bumps on their foreheads.

Male vs. Female Convict Cichlids: The Complete Guide (2)

- Behaviour

The male cichlids are aggressive when it comes to family. Known as monogamous,they are always wary of predators.They strengthen their space and defend the eggs and females. In the presence of several males, tiffs are inevitable. It can also cause them to get hurt.

Male vs. Female Convict Cichlids: The Complete Guide (3)

Food can also influence their behavior.The best diet is some plants and small insects.It is sufficient if these are added to the tank.This aggressive nature makes them less compatible with many other fish species. As pet parents, you need to keep this in mind.

(Video) Convict Cichlid | Care Guide & Species Profile

As well as giving them plenty of room to move around in the tank, choose the other fish wisely. Somerecommended tank mates are Pictus Catfish, Silver Dollar Fish, Jewel Cichlid, and Tiger Barbs.

- Reproduction

Male convict cichlids reach breeding maturity quite early. By 6-7 months they are ready to start their family. Males have papillae that peek out. The male and female cichlids excavate a cave to lay eggs and form their own marked territory.

Here the female lays eggs in the cave. After this, the male fertilizes the eggs, which grow into small fish in about 3-4 days.

Higher temperatures can further aggravate a male cichlid. It can fuel their aggressiveness to a dangerous level during the breeding season.The temperature usually advised is about 79 degrees Fahrenheit.However, the ideal temperature for friendly breeding would be around 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

What are the characteristics of a female convict cichlid?

The characteristics of a female convict cichlid include a relatively small size, a small nuchal hump or none at all, and a calmer demeanor. However, they can become aggressive when guarding their eggs. They are the ones courting the males during the breeding season.

- Colour

Female cichlids are covered in attractive colors, making them graceful inhabitants of the aquarium. Infant females have black stripes just like the males. Eventually they outgrow the grayscale. Delicious colors such as gold, white, pink, yellow, red and orange can be seen.

These colorful spots form on the abdomen during adulthood. This is in contrast to many fish where the female has more muted colors.

- Maat

The size of the female convict cichlids is small.They are usually about 4.5 inches long. Sometimes you will find females even 5 centimeters long. Their mottled pigmentation spreads randomly over the wingspan.

Male vs. Female Convict Cichlids: The Complete Guide (4)

- Appearance

Nuchal bumps are found on the forehead. In the case of females,their forehead is oblique and smooth. The nuchal folds here are not as large as those in men. Some females have no nuchal humps at all, and this is completely normal.

- Behaviour

Have you ever wondered, "Are female convict cichlids aggressive?" Well, as emphasized in the case of the male convicts, the aggressive temperament also applies to the female cichlids, although it is not as intense as in their male counterparts.

This nature begins as cichlids defend their eggs, potential mates, and offspring. Feeding algae, small worms and plant matter can lighten their mood.

(Video) Get Convict Cichlids. Here's Why.

Stay away from things that might trigger their hostile behavior. Females get along well with other cichlids. However, keep in mind that it is their second nature to act defensivelythe presence of partners they want to court. Common Pleco, Giant Danio, Jack Dempsey and Pictus Catfishare a few other fish breeds that the female cichlids are compatible with.

Male vs. Female Convict Cichlids: The Complete Guide (5)

- Reproduction

Like most living things in the ecosystem,the female cichlid plays a crucial role in breeding.They take the first step to kickstart the mating cycle by courting and courting the potential male. That is why you may see your female convict cichlid hunting males.

After courting the potential mate, the male and female cichlids excavate a space. Wondering how to tell if a convict cichlid is pregnant? When it comes to a convict cichlid, pregnant females are easy to spot when their bellies are distended and their behavior changes.

The female lays eggs in the mud and rock to keep them warm. It also acts as a shield against potential offenders. At a given moment,the female lays about 300 eggs.Their vents are larger than the anus, making the laying process smoother for them.

Once the male fertilizes the eggs, both cichlids guard the eggs together. They use their fins to fan the eggs and provide fresh air. The eggs hatch about 72 hours after the male has fertilized them.The newborn fries still need 72 hours to swimaround independently.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Can you keep female and male convict cichlids together?

You can keep female and male convicts together as the males are the protectors of the females. You can have one of each. Just remember that with every added fish there is a risk of territoriality and aggression. One male for every three females would work just fine.

– Can you have all male cichlids in one tank?

You can have all male Cichlids in one tank. They can become very aggressive when females and reproduction are involved - they will fight each other to get to the females. You can keep African cichlids in a mixed aquarium.

- Do male and female convict cichlids fight?

Male and female convict cichlids do fight sometimes, yes. In a study of shell-dwelling cichlids, it was found that females would fight among themselves and the male would intervene. This was the case in a predominantly female population where they fought for breeding rights.

– When do cichlids reach sexual maturity?

Cichlids reach sexual maturity from 16 weeks, when it comes to males, although it can be as young as six months old. Females reach sexual maturity at about the same age. Both the male and female must be sexually mature before you can attempt to breed them.

– How do you know if your female cichlids are ready to spawn?

You know your female cichlids are ready to spawn when there are certain clues. A female ready to start the process will develop eggs in her abdomen. This gives her a broad look when you look from side to side and it's near the anal fin.

– How long does it take cichlids to spawn?

It doesn't take long for cichlids to spawn. When the male sees that the female is ready, he prepares the arena. Its coloring intensifies and performs a kind of "dance" to lure the female. She will lay eggs and scoop them into her mouth where they will be fertilized.

(Video) How To Sex Convict Cichlids - Male Plus Female Convict Cichlids


The male and female convict cichlids have their distinctive features and behavioral aspects. Their aggressive nature is something they have in common, in addition to ease of breeding. They are simple creatures and taking care of them is an easy ride.Pink convict cichlid tank mates will be excellent andattractive accompaniments for the existing aquatic beings, and they can easily reside in community tanks.

However, consider their aggressiveness while living with others before looking for a male or female convict cichlid for sale. You could get a male if you want a livelier fish, but be aware that he can become aggressive towards other fish. You may be able to keep a few females in the same tank, or you can always choose a few to breed with.

(Video) How to know male and female Convict Cichlid

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Male vs. Female Convict Cichlids: The Complete Guide (6)

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(Video) Identifying Male vs. Female TOPAZ Cichlids (and why I am so MAD about it)


Male vs. Female Convict Cichlids: The Complete Guide? ›

While males usually retain the zebra striping throughout their lives, females may acquire a pink, white, or gold coloration. As they reach sexual maturity, yellow, orange, or red spots will appear on their abdomens. Convict cichlids are unusual because females are more colorful than males.

What color are female convict cichlids? ›

CharacteristicsMale Convict CichlidFemale Convict Cichlid
ColorBlack and gray stripesPink, gold, white, and gray with black stripes
SizeAbout 6 inchesAbout 4.5 inches
Nuchal hump sizeBigger nuchal humpThe nuchal hump is smaller or absent
FinsLarger dorsal and anal finsSmaller dorsal and anal fins
1 more row

Can 2 male convict cichlids live together? ›

Convict cichlids make for good tank mates for each other. As long as the tank is large enough, there is no reason why you cannot keep multiple convict cichlids in the same tank.

Are male or female cichlids more aggressive? ›

Additionally, a significant interaction of sex and territory quality was observed on two measures of high-intensity aggressive behavior (bites and chases), with females more likely than males to increase aggressive behaviors along with increasing territory quality.

How many fry do convict cichlids have? ›

These fish are incredibly easy to breed, and they breed very often, so if you are ready to start breeding them, expect a batch of at least 20 – 30 little convicts within the space of a few weeks.

Do female cichlids change color? ›

Females and subordinate males of this species are yellow and white with two prominent black stripes (yellow morph; female and non-breeding male coloration), while dominant males change their color and completely invert this pattern with the yellow and white regions becoming black, and the black stripes becoming white ...

How many convict cichlids can be in a 20-gallon tank? ›

It's best not to keep more than 2 cichlids in a 20-gallon tank because their size simply won't allow it. Keeping many cichlids can also lead to territorial behavior.

How many convict cichlids in a 29 gallon tank? ›

You can keep a breeding pair in a 20-gallon tank or a group of four to five in a 29-gallon tank.

Why are my convict cichlids chasing each other? ›

Shimmying or shaking of the fins and tail are usually signs of flirtation. I've also seen circular chasing and nipping or kissing (where the two fish grab each other's mouths) prior to mating. Chasing across the tank is more often a sign of aggression.

Why are my convict cichlids kissing? ›

African Cichlids Kissing: Aggression

Male Cichlids frequently engage in this behavior to establish dominance and territory. If you have females in your tank, the likelihood of these lip-locking disputes will increase.

What is the most intelligent cichlid? ›

Tiger Oscar Fish

The Tiger Oscar is an African cichlid and is known to be a highly intelligent fish in the aquarium hobby. Oscars are fondly known by their owners as “water dogs” because they are interactive fish that act with purpose.

How big do female convict cichlids get? ›

The male convict cichlid grows up to 6 inches (15.2 cm) in length, while the female grows to an average length of 4 inches (10.2cm). When the females reach breeding maturity, the belly of the fish will take on red hue, making sexing quite easy in mature convict cichlid fish.

How much are convict cichlids worth? ›

QuantityDiscount (%)Price
1 - 4$12.99
5 - 95 %$12.34
10+10 %$11.69

How long does it take for convict cichlids to mature? ›

The convict cichlid can reach sexual maturity as young as 16 weeks, though sexual maturity more commonly occurs at 6 months. Sexually mature convicts form monogamous pairs and spawn in small caves or crevices. In the wild, the fish excavate caves by moving earth from underneath large stones.

How long do convict cichlids live? ›

Convict Cichlids are popular for beginners because they are relatively easy to keep and breed. But Male Convicts can sometimes grow up to 6 inches and become quite aggressive, especially during spawning. A typical Convict will live for around 8-10 years when given adequate care.

Do convict cichlids mate for life? ›

Convict cichlids mate for life and cooperate to raise young, with females tending the eggs while males patrol for danger, said Dechaume-Moncharmont.

Do male or female cichlids dig holes? ›

Male fish dig pits and build sand castles at the bottom of Lake Malawi to attract females. Summary: A new study shows that courtship rituals evolve exceptionally fast among cichlid fish in Lake Malawi. Only in shallow waters where the light is good, males attract females by building sand castles.

Are female convict cichlids aggressive? ›

Are Convict Cichlids Aggressive? Yes, they are. Their temperament is why you should add elements of privacy for your cichlids. Convicts are less aggressive when they have plenty of hiding spots to hunker down.

What does OB mean in cichlids? ›

OB is a term used for Malawi Cichlids with unique spotted patterns. It originated when a male Aulonocara was crossed with a female Mbuna. The OB gene occurs naturally in Mbunas, but was introduced to Peacocks and Haps by selective breeding.

How often do you change cichlid water? ›

Water Changes

A 15% water change 2 times per week is ideal, however once a week will suffice. This is extra important for an African cichlid aquarium besides the fact that they have high waste output and will help keep down your ammonia levels, it will also give you a more peaceful tank.

How many cichlids should I put in a 55 gallon tank? ›

55 gallon African cichlid tank: Anything between 15 – 32 African cichlids. 75 gallon African cichlid tank: Anything between 15 – 42 African cichlids. 125 gallon African cichlid tank: Anything between 40 – 72 African cichlids.

How many cichlids can you have in a 40-gallon tank? ›

The African Cichlid Tank

Subdominant males tend to range from yellow to light blue with faint barring. For a 40-gallon aquarium, we recommend getting 1–2 males and 4–5 females.

How many convict cichlids can live in a 30 gallon tank? ›

Yes, you can keep a single Convict Cichlid in the 30 or 40-gallon water tank. Keeping a male and female pair together is more common to breed.

How do you make convict cichlids grow faster? ›

Convict cichlids tend to grow faster when the tank conditions are favorable and closely mimic their natural habitat. That said, ensure your convict cichlid tank has enough trees to provide shelter and hiding spots for your fish. You can create more hiding spots with rocks, caves, upturned flowerpots, driftwood, etc.

Should I overcrowd my cichlid tank? ›

You might have thought the opposite, but overcrowding helps to curb aggression. With so many African Cichlids in the tank, it's difficult for the dominant fish to single out the submissive fish. This spreads the aggression out to many fish which means each individual fish is not too stressed.

Why are my cichlids flicking and rubbing against objects? ›

Probably the most common reason for fish to rub against solid objects in the aquarium is infection by external parasites. Skin parasites, such as fish lice, anchor worms, flukes, and Ich, are the most common culprits.

Do cichlids recognize you? ›

Some Fish Can Recognize Their Owners

And in the case of Cichlids they spend a lot of time remembering who is in charge, who is a potential mate, and who is lower on the totem pole or a challenger.

Why does my cichlid keep opening and closing its mouth? ›

A: When a fish opens and closes its mouth repeatedly and rapidly, that can indicate that oxygen levels in the water are too low. Fish breathe through their gills, so opening and closing their mouths enables more water to flow over the gills, taking more oxygen to the fish's body.

What is the most sought after cichlid? ›

Top of the Food Chain: "Cichlasoma" beani, A Rare Middle American Cichlid. Once quite common in the aquarium trade, the cichlid “Cichlasoma” beani is now one of the rarest, most desirable, and hardest-to-obtain cichlids on the casual cichlidophile's wish list.

Do cichlids have personalities? ›

As Braz Walker (1978) wrote in his beginner's book All About Cichlids: “Because Cichlids are generally larger than most tropicals, are often territorial or even aggressive and show more individualism than most other freshwater tropicals, it is not surprising that keeping and breeding them effectively requires certain ...

Do cichlids like a lot of water flow? ›

The answer is yes! African cichlids like water currents, but it's important to understand how it affects them before you add it to your aquarium.

Can you mix convict cichlids? ›

How many Convict Cichlids should be kept together? One or two Convict Cichlids is common. The more you add, the more territorial they will become so keep that in mind. If you keep a male and female together, they will likely breed.

Do convict cichlids bite? ›

Convict cichlids (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) have evolved to be extremely good parents by protecting their brood. Parental care leads to aggressive biting, chasing, and gill flaring to intimidate predators.

Do convict cichlids breed easily? ›

They are a very hardy fish breed which can adapt to most water conditions, and are very easy to keep and breed in aquariums. Convicts will take care of their young and the young stay with the parents in a group.

Do female cichlids have color? ›

Most species of African Cichlids are sexually dimorphic, meaning that male members of a species are brightly colored while females are a subdued hue. This odd color variation between sexes is important for ensuring the safety of the females in a colony.

Do convict cichlids change color? ›

Is the fish's color brighter, duller, mottled? Many fish, cichlids included, often display color changes and color fading. These may be short term as induced by environmental stressors, mating, and other stimuli. On the other hand, some changes may be longer term, ontogenetic changes that are typical of the species.

What are the color morphs of convict cichlids? ›

Convicts exist in two common color morphs: the wild-type (WT) black-barred form and an amelanistic (AM) barless morph. Color morphs affect aggressive interactions in other species of fish.

What color are convict cichlids when breeding? ›

Colors and Markings

The Convict Cichlid most commonly has a grey to silver body with multiple black vertical bars along the length of its body. These fishes may have iridescent patches along their elongated anal and dorsal fins. During breeding, female Convict Cichlid bellies may be slightly orange or red.

Can a female cichlid be dominant? ›

Our behavioral observations demonstrate that female dominance, like male dominance, is a plastic and reversible phenotype.

Do male or female cichlids have egg spots? ›

The male then presents the egg-spots on the anal fin; the female seemingly nuzzles at these egg-spots and the male releases sperm so that the eggs are fertilized within the females' mouth. The eggs and larvae then stay in the buccal cavity of the female for a period of several days to a few weeks.

Why is my cichlid turning white? ›

Cotton wool disease is a fairly easy condition to diagnose because it manifests in the form of fuzzy white growths on the head, fins and scales of infected cichlids. This disease is caused by a fungus that is naturally found in the aquarium but only becomes a problem in cases of poor water quality.

What is the best color enhancer for cichlids? ›

The Best Food for Cichlid Colors: Enhancing Their Brightness
  • Top Pick. Hikari Cichlid Gold Floating Pellets. 5.0. Check Price on Amazon.
  • Omega One Super Color Floating Pellets. 4.5. Check Price on Amazon.
  • TetraCichlid Floating Cichlid Pellets. 4.5. Check Price on Amazon.
Jul 11, 2022

What color light do cichlids like? ›

TIP: 10,000K White is a superb color spectrum for most Discus and African Cichlids, many cichlid hobbyists use a marine LED light like our Orbit IC LED. It's high in 10K White and Blue wavelengths, with a bit of RGB color.

How big do pink convict cichlids get? ›

Perfect for beginner aquarists, the Convict Cichlid is a relatively small fish that will grow up to around 15cm in length for males, and around 10cm in length for females. In their natural habitat, the Convict Cichlid can be found in streams and rivers across the entire length and breadth of Central America.


1. Sexing Black Convict Cichlids - Male or Female?
(Palmer Aquatics)
(Finding Fishes)
3. Male and female convict cichlids "kissing". Aggression in cichlids and how to stop it
(Uri Shasha)
4. How to tell convict cichlid gender. convict cichild spawning and breeding behaviour
(Uri Shasha)
5. The Easiest Fish to Breed - How to Breed Convict Cichlids
(Blake's Aquatics)
6. Convict Cichlid Care and Information


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