May 7, 2024

Cuban Cichlids: Comprehensive Guide on Care, Breeding, and Tank Setup

About Cuban Cichlids

Cuban Cichlids or Nandopsis tetracanthus, often known as Biajaca, are endemic to Cuba. Possessing a unique blend of a whitish base with scattered gray/black spots and stripes, this visually striking species can grow up to a substantial 10 inches in length. They largely resemble Jaguar cichlids during their baby stage, making it pivotal for owners to avoid confusion between the two types.

Care Requirements for Cuban Cichlids

Tank Specifications

For this species, housing them in a minimum tank size of 55 gallons is crucial to ensure their wellbeing. Notably, due to their size and specific needs, especially in terms of packing and space, larger Cuban Cichlids may not qualify for standard flat-rate shipping. As such, air cargo delivery is a recommended alternative.

Water Conditions

Cuban Cichlids thrive best in water with a pH ranging between 6.0 - 7.2 and a temperature between 75.2 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensuring that ammonia, nitrite levels are at 0ppm, and nitrates remain below 30ppm is also critical.


As omnivores, Cuban Cichlids will eat most frozen and prepared foods. A high-protein diet is especially beneficial for their health. With their carnivorous nature, they often indulge in feeding on Tetra cichlid sticks and API's cichlid pellets.

Life Span and Considerations

Reaching formidable lengths of up to 9 inches as adults, the life span primarily varies depending on care conditions and environmental factors. Fruitful longevity can be expected under optimal conditions.

Health Considerations and Treatments

Despite being considered relatively hardy, Cuban Cichlids can fall prey to common cichlid diseases. Thus, understanding potential health issues – and their prescribed remedies – is essential to mitigating stress and introducing timely treatments.

Behaviour and Temperament

Cuban Cichlids are characterized by their aggressive behavior, often leading to territorial disputes. Their aggression varies, with some being friendly than other Central American cichlids, while others are just the opposite.

Choosing Suitable Tank Mates

Due to their dominant personality, Cuban Cichlids are recommended to breed in a species-only atmosphere. However, they could be paired with larger catfish/plecos or other large Central American cichlids.

Breeding Cuban Cichlids

This substrate-spawning breed tends to be protective parents. They lay eggs on a flat surface in the aquarium, and the fry are typically fed newly hatched brine shrimp until they mature. The couple usually cares for their fry until they're ready to spawn again.

Shipping and Delivery Options

The shipping price does not usually fall within flat rates due to their extensive size and unique packaging needs. It is thus more feasible to opt for air cargo. It's also noteworthy that shipping rates may differ based on region types.

Aquarium Decor and Plants

Floating Plants

They increase the overall aesthetics of the Cuban Cichlid's habitat, fostering a lively atmosphere for the cichlids and their owners alike. The right selection of plants, like Java fern, plays a pivotal role in providing necessary hiding places and territorial boundaries for them.

Anubias Plants

As they can be attached to rocks or wood pieces or planted next to these items, Anubias plants make a prime choice for decorating Cuban Cichlid tanks. These plants can also create a natural look and camouflage unsightly parts of the tank.


Undoubtedly, the magnificence of Cuban Cichlids add charm and life to your aquariums. Despite the challenges they bring due to their demanding size and partial aggression, the experience of owning them is nonetheless rewarding with a promise of vibrant coloration and unforgettable antics.

Passionate and knowledgeable aquartist. Aquariums have always fascinated me. I enjoy sharing and learning about the wonders of a fish tank.

Justin A

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