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Convict Cichlid:

Scientific name: Amatitlania Nigrofasciata 

Family: Cichlidae

Difficulty: Easy 

Temperament: Aggressive 

Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallon for a single, 55 gallon or more for tank mates 

Average Size: 5"

Water Perameters: 74-82F, 6.2-8PH

Diet: Omnivore

Origin: Central America 

Description:

The Convict is a small central American cichlid that can now even be found living wild in parts of Australia. A popular aquarium fish due to its ease of keeping broad range of water tolerance and ease of breeding and their quirky attitudes. this cichlid will grow to and average of 5" in an aquarium but some could also grow larger possibly around the 7" mark. It is known to be an aggressive fish, but can work cohesively with tankmates, but when breeding a pair of convicts can turn psychotic protecting the spawning site and fry. Sexing is simple with a visual check, males often grow a fair bit larger with a silver body and (8-9) black bars and when older grow a smaller nauchel hump. whereas a female will grow and orange flash on their underside and up the side of their body next to pectoral fins.

 

Minimum Tank Requirements, Setup and Tank Mates:

Due to their general size a single convict could live in a minimum of 40 gallons, a pair can live and breed comfortably in a 50 gallon. if a pair, a smooth flat rock or a plant pot in the aquarium will help with a spawn site. They enjoy a good flow rate in the aquarium a soft sand substrate with plants (floating) and driftwood. Tank mates for the convict are most advised to not be timid species of fish, common tank mates range from Oscars, the salvini cichlid, Plecos, T-bars, Gold Saum, And Jack Dempsey.

 

Diet: 

The Convict is an undemanding eater, In the wild eating insects, crustations, small fish and algae. For an aquarium, A quality staple omnivore pellet, mixed with veggie based foods or foods based on spirulina and treats of insects, worms and other easily available protein sources. As with all fish that aren't piscivore, it is not advised to feed them feeder fish, the only benefit to that is your own entertainment, it's risky for your fish.

You just finished setting up and cycling your new 90 gallon aquarium, and after browsing your local fish shop you brought home a cute little guy from a tank labelled Green Terror.

 

You get home, get him settled and excitedly take some pics to post to your favorite dysfunctional Facebok fish group. Within the replies to your post you get a few comments saying that you don't actually have a Green Terror, and what you really have is a Gold Saum. You feel a bit gutted, a bit of denial, you do a Google search and read a few forum posts that confirm you do have a Green Terror. But the other folks are adamant that it's a Gold Saum. At this point the confusion is real.

 

So what's going on here?

 

Let me start with a bit of history.

 

In the early 1970's the Silbersaum first appeared in the aquarium hobby, imported to Germany from Peru. This fish was known as the Green Terror, due to its highly aggressive nature. At the time this fish was mistakenly described as Aquiedens Rivulatus, a strikingly similar, albeit different fish from the same family. Due to this mistaken description, fish stores and keepers alike began importing the Rivulatus (Gold Saum) and selling them as Green Terror. Fast forward to 2009 and the original Green Terror first adopted into the hobby, nearly 40 years earlier is re-described as Andinoacara Stalsbergi.

 

In an attempt to distinquish the two in the the hobby the Rivulatus was renamed the False Green Terror. By this time Green Terror had already stuck and continued to stick, so instead the Stalsbergi was given the name the True Green Terror.

 

Okay... So what's the difference then?

And why can't they both just be called Green Terror.

 

There are some major differences, not only in appearance, but in size and temperament. The reason they shouldn't be both called Green Terror is simple. If someone called your Jack Dempsey and Oscar the same fish would you agree? What about your mbuna and peacocks? Sure they're related but they aren't at all the same fish.

 

The Stalsbergi (Green Terror) is slightly smaller than the Rivulatus. But don't mistake this smaller size for being less of a fish. The Green Terrors aggressive temperament is many times that of the Gold Saum. That's not to say Saum's aren't aggressive, but they will generally play well with tank mates of similar size and aggression. A Green Terror however, won't hesitate to attack every thing in its path and they are known to be able to wipe entire tanks.

 

So how can you tell the difference?

 

 

The simplest way, is to look at the fin tips. Are they orange or white? If they're orange or reddish, you've definitively got yourself a Gold Saum. If they're white, you've got yourself a Green Terror, right? Well no. Just to fuck with you, nature decided to throw everyone a curve ball. The rivulatus comes in two naturally occurring color variations, the Gold Saum and the White Saum. So now what? You can still distinguish between a White Saum and Green Terror. The Saum's coloration band on the fins is quite a bit thicker than that of the Terror.

Further more, Saum's general scale pattern is a grey center with bright blueish green outsides, almost appearing as grey spots within the pattern, and bright blueish green war paint markings. The Green Terror, is just that. It is green. It's scales patter is a green center with a greyish outside and it lacks the bright blueish green of the Saum.

 

Chances are if you're reading this, you in fact, have a Saum.

Green Terrors are very rare in the hobby today and there are very few Stalsbergi breeders. Unless you specifically hunted down a Green Terror from one of these breeders, and instead picked one out of a "Green Terror" labelled tank at your LFS, there's a 99% chance you have either a White or Gold Saum.

 

Not to worry. Saum's are a brilliant and beautiful fish which are extremely personable and an absolute joy to keep.

 

So the next time you see someone posting pics of their new Green Terror, share this article with them to help educate them on the species they keep! Cheers!

Jack Dempsey

Scientific name: Rocio Octofasciata 

Family: Cichlidae

Difficulty: Easy 

Temperament: Aggressive 

Minimum Tank Size: 55gallon for a single, 90gallon or more for tank mates 

Average Size: 8"

Water Perameters: 75-80F, 6.5-8PH

Diet: Omnivore

Origin: Central America 

 

Description:

The Jack Dempsey is a medium sized cichlid Native to the Atlantic slope of Central America in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, known for its incredible bright spangled coloration and its aggressive nature. A very popular choice in the aquarium hobby due to its striking appearance, named after 1920's world heavy weight champion boxer William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey. The average size for a Jack Dempsey is 8" in the aquarium but not uncommon to reach up to 10". With proper care and feeding the average growth rate for a Jack Dempsey is around a half inch per month. Jacks are also notoriously easy to visually sex them, females will have spangles coming along their lower jaw/gill plate and under the chin, a male will have a clear lower jaw, also common for females to have much less bright body colouring although not always the case. There is also a colour variant of the Jack Dempsey, it is more of a sky blue with black splotch type markings, which is much slower growing, generally more docile and tends to have a high young mortality rate.

 

Minimum Tank Requirements, Setup and Tank Mates:

For size and water quality it is advised to have a minimum of 55 gallon aquarium with a footprint minimum of at least 48x12 inches for a single jack dempsey, and 90 gallon or more for Tank mates, depending on the tank mates size and requirements as well. The aquarium should be setup with multiple hide spots as occasional hiding is common for a jack, and will also help establish territory and help limit aggression. Using rocks or wood to make caves and covered hides is the easiest way to accomplish this while keeping a natural look to the aquarium. Tank mates for the jack dempsey can be difficult to establish as each jack is different, some are placid and can live with almost anything, but more common is a high rate of aggression so tank mates are advised to be generally larger then the jack and Also in the semi-aggressive to aggressive range, common tank mates include oscars, gold saum, jaguar cichlids, Texas cichlids and black convicts.

 

Diet:

A quality staple omnivore pellet, mixed up with live or frozen meat for treat foods, this can include crickets and other insects, worms, frozen blood worm, shrimp and other good protein sources. While a jack dempsey will eat feeder fish, this isn't necessary due to the risks of infection from poorly bred feeders, and the little nutrition they offer. 

Gold Saum:

Scientific name: Andinoacara Rivulatus  

Family: Cichlidae

Difficulty: Easy 

Temperament: Aggressive 

Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallon for a single, 100 gallon or more for tank mates 

Average Size: 10-12"

Water Perameters: 75-80F, 6.5-8PH

Diet: Omnivore

Origin: South America 

Description:

The Gold Saum is a larger size South American cichlid native to northern Peru and the coastal drainages of western Ecuador. A popular aquarium fish due to its intense bright green scales with a grey center and facial striping, often confused with and mislabeled as a close relative the Green Terror (Andinoacara Stalsbergi). This fish will grow to around 10-12" in an aquarium and has been known to reach sizes of even 14". It is an aggressive fish once reaching sexual maturity, but can work cohesively with tankmates. Sexing is simple with a visual check, the female will have a much less bright body scale colour and shorter rounded dorsal fin. While a male is generally an intense green with long draping dorsal fin and wider coloured seam on the caudal fin males will also grow a nauchel hump at around the 8" mark. Both male and female come in a few colour ranges (dorsal and caudal fin seams only) from an intense orange, white, yellow and red. With orange being the most common.

 

Minimum Tank Requirements, Setup and Tank Mates:

For size and water quality it is advised to have a minimum of 75 gallon aquarium with a footprint minimum of at least 48x18 inches for a single Saum, and 100 gallon or more for Tank mates, depending on the tank mates size and requirements as well. The aquarium should be setup with a soft sand substrate and using driftwood or rock work for decorations for a natural look leaving the mid to top of the tank as clear as possible for swimming room, tank mates need to also be in the semi-aggressive to aggressive range, common tank mates include oscars, Jack Dempsey, jaguar cichlids, Texas cichlids and black convicts.

 

Diet: 

A quality staple omnivore pellet, mixed up with live or frozen meat for treat foods, this can include crickets and other insects, worms, frozen blood worm, shrimp and other good protein sources. While a jack dempsey will eat feeder fish, this isn't necessary due to the risks of infection from poorly bred feeders, and the little nutrition they offer. 

Oscar:

Scientific Name: Astronotus Ocellatus

Family: Cichlidae

Difficulty: Moderate

Temperament: Semi Aggressive

Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons for a single Oscar, 125 gallon or larger with tank mates

Average Size: 12-14"

Water Parameters: 75-80 F, 6.5-8 Ph

Diet: Omnivore

Origin: South America

Description:

The Oscar is a relatively large cichlid native to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and French Guiana, and occurs in the Amazon River basin. It is a large bodied semi aggressive cichlid, known for its playful and personable behaviour and insatiable eating habits. Arguably one of the most popular cichlids and most common kept.  The average size of an oscar in an aquarium will reach 12-14", although not uncommon to grow larger to around 16" but very rarely larger. A healthy well fed oscar in a proper sized aquarium should grow at around an inch per month for the first 10-12 months then will dramatically slow down, generally taking up to 3 years to reach full potential size.

Minimum Tank Requirements, Setup and Tank Mates:

For best growth and water quality it's advisable to have 75g for a single Oscar and 125g for 2 or other tank mates, helping with plenty of room to claim personal territory and dull aggression. Overall capacity is flexible since the footprint of the aquarium is what is important. Oscar needs a minimum footprint of 48x18 inches. The height is flexible since Oscars do not require large depths. Tank size is quite important and an often over looked factor in Oscar care, with a tank too small it becomes very difficult to maintain clean water and environment which will leave your fish susceptible to infections like hexamita (the parasite HITH is a symptom of) and deformed features.

Oscars can be very playful and personable and have very interesting behaviors. Some will play with toys such as ping pong balls and even ornaments in their tank, some will even let their owner pet them. The most common behavior that will stretch across almost every Oscar is its need to rearrange their environment. They will dig, rip up plants live or fake, try and move rocks and wood to suit the environment they want, so keep this in mind when choosing décor and scaping the tank. Another notable behavior trait in the aquarium is the way an Oscar will recognize its feeder more than other people. When you approach your tank your Oscar will act excited and sort of 'dance' in hopes to get food. When a stranger approaches your tank, it may instigate a sulking type behavior because it doesn't recognize the person with their face against the glass. Which brings me to another behavior point, the infamous Oscar sulk. Often during water changes, rescapes, or any other environmental or stressful situation, it is insanely common for an Oscar to almost pout like a child. They will move to a spot on the tank, often a corner, and just lay down and sulk. This can go on for days sometimes.

As with all cichlids each Oscar will have its own personality, some are placid and some can be complete assholes, so sometimes can be hit and miss when finding tank mates. Some of the more common choices are the Jack Dempsey, Texas cichlid, Gold Saum, Serverums, Black Convicts, or large Plecos and Silver Dollars. Like previously stated it will be hit and miss, some Oscars  just  anti social and want to live alone.

Diet:

One of the largest misconceptions in keeping Oscars is that they are a strictly carnivorous predator fish. Because of this misconception, it's common that feeder fish are used in the aquarium hobby for Oscars, this is completely unnecessary as they offer little nutrition and often carry diseases that will be passed on to your fish. Also some fish like gold fish and minnows, which are commonly sold as feeder fish at your local fish store, carry an enzyme called thiaminase which causes a vitamin B deficiency, and can lead to liver disease.  The reality of their diet, is that only about 10% of their natural diet is other fish. The Oscar is an insectivore, meaning it feeds mostly on insects worms and other invertebrates in the wild. They will also eat fallen fruit from overhanging trees that has landed on the surface, the bulging eyes and upturned mouth are both perfectly designed for grabbing prey and other food sources from the surface. Because of this natural fruit diet, Oscars have quite a high requirement for vitamin C.

A staple diet of high quality pellets containing vitamin C is recommended. To add variety and offer your Oscar some healthy treats, you can feed them insects and worms, shrimp tails, mussel meat, and also chopped up fruits like grapes, melon and banana.