Jaguar Cichlid: care, feeding, breeding and tank mates- [2020]

Jaguar cichlid also known as managuense is a popular fish. This fish is quite famous and well-known by most of the aquarists out there! 

If you are planning to get jaguar cichlids in your aquarium consider following this guide. There are few things you should take care of. In this guide we will be covering all necessary points you should know about keeping jaguar cichlid in your fish tank.

Let’s get right into it!

Summary about Species

As the name suggest Jaguar cichlids belongs to a very most popular cichlids family. Their appearance looks attractive which makes most of the fish keepers adopting this species. They are also known as Managuense cichlids or Aztec cichlids.

Jaguar cichlids can be found in freshwater bodies of water in honduras and costa rica. The locals around jaguar cichlids call them by guapote tigre.

Fish come from Central America originally. Their scientific name is known as Parachromis managuensis and their proper names are found on Lake Managua in Nicaragua.

Jaguar Cichlids are not for the tiredness of the heart like many other Cichlid species. They are not only susceptible to aggression, but can be of massive size and need a pristine environment for healthy maintenance.


Here is a scientific classification of Jaguar Cichlids:

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cichliformes
Family: Cichlidae
Genus: Parachromis
P. managuensis
Binomial name
Parachromis managuensis

(Günther, 1867)

Jaguar cichlid infographics

Lifespan of Jaguar cichlid

Jaguar Cichlid’s average life span is roughly 13 to 15 years. However, Jaguar cichlid’s lifespan depends on the living condition aswell! This means that if you are considering getting one for oneself, be prepared for a little commitment.

That is, though, just a rough average. With vigilant care and optimum tank conditions, some owners have been able to extend the life of their fish past the 15-year mark. This will take a lot of work and consistency, but it’s the approach we think should be taken by all owners.


Image by George Chernilevsky from Commons Wikimedia

The Jaguar Cichlid’s most captivating side is its looks. These are large fish with distinctive hunting profile.

They have an elongated body which assumes an oval-like form. Spiny rays stretch from the body to support the fins.

Jaguar cichlid’s doesn’t have short and stubby fins like the other cichlids. There are pretty prominent dorsal and tail fins. They take on a rather threatening look, thanks to the spines. The anal fin is also very prominent, particularly in males.

Male and female specimens have some notable differences. One of the simplest ways of telling the two apart is by looking at the fins. Males have dorsal and anal fins extending to a nice point. Males, in general, are also noticeably larger than females.

Another characteristic of this fish is its head and mouth. Managuense cichlids are fierce predators who have no problem chasing elusive wild creatures. Her mouth is one thing that makes them so successful.

If you look at a fish, you will notice that the lower jaw extends a little beyond the upper jaw. You could even see some of the predator’s sharp teeth. This unique appearance is not just for looks. It helps with hunting, too.

You see, their jaws can outgrow as much as 90% of the length of their mouths! It ‘s certainly a sight to behold during the time of feeding!

When it comes to coloring and patterning, the Jaguar Cichlid is very unique. One of the coolest aspects of this fish is that as they grow older they change appearances.

When these fishes are in juvenile stage, they tend to have a pale goldish-silver hue. They have black bands wrapped around it’s back othe fish and the lining stops somewhere around the lateral line.

These black bands will turn into dots as the fish ages!

That is what gives the fish the iconic color pattern of jaguar. Not all of this. Once the black bands have gone away, bigger black splotches will appear.

Those black patches will sometimes look like large jaguar spots. Other times, they all merge. Anyway, the bigger black spots almost always form a horizontal stripe running from the tail to the head.

Jaguar Cichlid Size

Cichlids are usually famous for being very large, and this species is no exception. Average Jaguar Cichlid size is approximately 14-16 inches in length when in captivity.

Normally, females are a few inches shorter than males. Both males and females have an average growth rate.

In the wild, these fish can be 2 feet long. They can also tip the scales to more than 3 pounds!

Fun Fact

“Seahorses are among the only species in which the male gives birth and takes care of the young”

Caring your Jaguar Cichlid

Jaguar Cichlid care is usually recommended for aquarists with some experience. Because of their size and aggressive behavior, they can be a little bit of a handful to deal with if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That said, these fish are not the hardest to take care of from a maintenance and habitat point of view. They ‘re pretty tough and well adapted to a variety of water conditions.

As long as you check the quality of your water on a regular basis and provide a comfortable environment, you should not have any problems. Here are some important things you need to know about the care of Jaguar Cichlid.

Here are few articles you might like:

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Tank Size

As these fish have a length of more than 16 inches, it should be ensured that they get the space they need. Although, The ideal tank size of the Jaguar Cichlid depends on its age and size.

In general, in a small, 30-gallon tank, juvenile fish can do well. But they are going to get out of it quickly. You will have to have at least a tank size of 70 gallons if you plan to hold a single adult Jaguar Cichlid.

The relatively conservative policy is still 70 gallons. With a modest tank of this size, many aquariums have seen success. However, more space is always better, if you try to provide your fish with the most comfortable possible life.

We believe that the ideal tank size of Jaguar Cichlid is somewhere between 100 and 125 gallons. This should give a single Jaguar Cichlid plenty of space to swim around go and be healthy.

You must bump up that aquarium size to at least 180 gallons if you want to maintain a breeding pair (more on this at the end of the guide). Signs of aggression can be shown every time, even tied pairs. A huge tank ensures that both fish have a space for themselves.

You might want to check out these articles:

Why can’t Freshwater Fish live in salt water?

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Water Parameters

It is important to replicate your natural habitat as closely as possible when creating a perfect environment for Jaguar Cichlid. In terms of water conditions this is especially important.

These fish come from a wide range of Central American lakes and rivers. Water is generally very warm and quite neutral. Jaguar Cichlids are very tolerant, what’s good about that.

Cichlids do just fine unlike other fish, who fail to handle the smallest water parameter change.

These fish are indeed able to survive up to 97 degrees in temperatures! But it is always better to remain in a small range and, if possible, to avoid large fluctuations.

Try to maintain relatively moderate temperatures since hotter water tends to produce aggressive behaviour.

The key water parameters for Jaguar Cichlid to be considered are:

  • Water temperature: 73°F to 82°F (Average temperature would be fine)
  • pH levels: 7.0 to 8.7 ( 7.7 would be great)
  • Water hardness: 10 to 15 dGH

Setting up Aquarium tank

It’s not too hard to create the perfect environment for Jaguar Cichlids. In the wild these fish are usually darker and filled with plant waste, such as lakes , ponds and rivers. You may get a similar feeling to keep your fish happy while you shouldn’t fill this tank with decaying plant.

Add a thick layer of the sand substratum from the bottom of the tank. Jaguar Cichlids’ Sand is best. Sometimes they like to dig and they can do that safely with the sand.

Avoid raw rocks and gravel that can fit into your mouth. The last thing that you want to do with digestive problems or injuries is that your fish decided to swallow a rock!

The tank can be decorated with plants, rocks and driftwood. Stick to floating aquarium plants or root plants that are severely protected from pots for vegetation.

Cichlids Jaguar love to plant uprooting and to destroy the tank. Make sure that everything is safe and secure.

Rocks, caves and driftwood pieces are also excellent. You can offer a few nice hiding places. In case of your fish breeding, consider adding a flat rock or a big caving system.

Try to maintain the majority of decorations on the tank’s perimeter. Some parts to the center are all right.

It is important to remember that the habitat should not be overcrowded. The Cichlids of Managuense are big swimmers and need open room to thrive.

A powerful filtering system is of prime importance for equipment. Large sump-style filters or a canister filter like Fluval FX4 are designed to treat all waste produced by your fish.

Choose an efficient system for the tank size at all times. These fish can rapidly increase the levels of ammonia and nitrate, so your equipment must be ready to handle this.

Finally, for tanks from Jaguar Cichlid, a strong pump is perfect. The pump replicates the rapid flow of water from its natural environment.

Feeding and Diet

Choosing right food for jaguar cichlid is very much essential. It is vitally important to provide these fish with a healthy diet. High quality food not only keeps them healthy, it can also prevent aggression.

Jaguar Cichlids are extremely carnivorous fishes. They may be trained from a very young age to feed foods mentioned below. They do their best with a protein-based diet.

Feeding these types of food for your Jaguar Cichlid should be fine:

  • Flakes
  • Pellets
  • Feeder fish
  • Insects
  • Crickets
  • Worms

Supplying these types of food is almost anything else they can fit in their mouth. These fish are opportunistic eaters and will consume anything you need to provide readily. That includes food that is dry or frozen.

Keep up with a daily feed schedule to keep your fish healthy.

Temperament & General Behavior

As we have already mentioned, Jaguar Cichlids are very aggressive fish. They are going to pick fights in the tank with any fish and try eating smaller criteria. This includes the smaller invertebrates and fish. As a consequence they aren’t great community fish.

They are highly territorial, and will not allow any other fish to get into their space. A lot of fish are going to pick fights and do everything they can to kill other fish that cross them.

One should expect aggressive behaviour. Owning a Cichlid is just a part of it! However, you can do your part by staying on top of water conditions. Providing a healthy diet is necessary to minimize the behavior as much as possible.

Regarding to their overall behaviour, your Jaguar Cichlid frequently swims around the bottom half of the aquarium. They may pop up to the substrate for a bit of digging around before investigating another area of the tank. They are pretty active!

Jaguar Cichlid Tank mates

Its very necessary to choose right tank mates for your jaguar cichlid. To find good Jaguar Cichlid tank mates, you can understand their temperament and compatibility. All this is necessary.

Another Jaguar Cichlid is the best fish that you can keep with a Jaguar Cichlid. Bonded pairs can just do the right thing and live happy lives together.

By buying a pair that has been bonded, the easiest way to do that is. Or, for a short period of time you can collect multiple young males and females.

Other fish in the same tank can be maintained. However, you must be extra careful. Evitate the addition of any fish smaller than the Managuense Cichlid. Otherwise, it’s going to be food in no time.

Some great Jaguar Cichlid tank mates, as far as other species are concerned, are other big Cichlids and large catfish.

Here are the right tank mates for your Jaguar Cichlid:

Again, it is important to note that some people may find these tank mates to work and end up getting failed. With aggressive fish, it is your job to recognize and separate every temperament which is too feisty to live together in each specimen.

Breeding of Jaguar cichlid

Jaguar cichlid with eggs
Image from Commons Wikimedia

Cichlid’s not hard to breed Jaguar. Half the work is already done, because they are obviously paired. These fish make great parents, in order to make things even easier.

Eggs and fry are highly protective. Women will even show motherly behavior as the small squirrel grows. If your bonded pair is shared with other fish in a tank, be careful about their behaviour.

Usually, when the time comes to breed, they will start to be aggressive. This is an excellent time to transfer them all to themselves in a very large tank.

In a few simple steps, you can also start the breeding process. Increase the temperature to a few degrees and change 50% water a few times a week.

Provide plenty of quality living food and your fish will be ready for breeding in no time.

Eggs will swell up on females. Then she will find a cave or flat rock to lay them down. Female Jaguar Cichlids may at once lay over 2,000 orange eggs. The male will at this point be fertilizing the eggs.

The eggs need 5 to 7 days to hatch. The female will remain close by during this time, and the males will protect the entire area. For that reason, the bonded pair must be kept separate from other fish. The male battles to death to protect the eggs.

The parents can dig a pit in the sand after hatching, and transfer the tiny fry to watch closer over them. The baby fish is not going to swim freely until they are around a week old. You can provide baby brine shrimps for food at that point.

Jaguar Cichlid Diseases

Jaguar Cichlids are not safe for health issues, despite their resilience. Fortunately, you have no problems specific to this species to worry about. They are hard fish which will remain healthy under the right waters.

Only common diseases that affect all freshwater fish do you need to worry about. It covers me and infections.

Ich in these type of fishes will cause them stress. It can produce white spots across the whole body of the fish. If it isn’t cared for, it can lead to death. Moreover, it’s very contagious.

The best way to avoid Ich is to keep up with the water. Take regular measurements and make adjustments where necessary. Also, make sure to do water changes on a regular basis to avoid a buildup of ammonia and nitrates.

Conclusion Thoughts!

Now that you know more about Jaguar Cichlids and how to care for them, you will have to decide whether to own one of your own.

If you still consider yourself a beginner then passing for now is probably a good idea. There are plenty of other fantastic species of freshwater which are much less workable.

But if you’re a little bit more experienced and are up to the challenge, we ‘re encouraging you to take a shot! We have always said that owning a fish requiring a higher level of care is not only more rewarding but also the best way to improve your aquarist skills.

If you are still a bit uncertain and need help deciding whether a Jaguar Cichlid is right for you, Contact us freely.


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