red texas cichlid

Red texas cichlid if you’re in search of a captivating addition to your sizable freshwater aquarium, look no further than the remarkable Texas cichlid. Renowned for its commanding presence, this species is bound to spark engaging conversations among enthusiasts.

Bear in mind, these fish boast impressive size and can exhibit territorial behavior, making them better suited for seasoned aquarists familiar with managing robust aquatic inhabitants.

But if you’re drawn to the allure of a majestic, spirited aquatic companion, delve into this comprehensive guide on the Texas cichlid to uncover all the essentials for successful care and maintenance.

Origins and habitat

The Texas cichlid, scientifically known as Herichthys cyanoguttatus, goes by various colloquial names like the Pearl cichlid, Rio Grande Perch, and Rio Grande cichlid.

Originally documented in 1854 by Baird and Girard as Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum, its taxonomical designation later shifted to Herichthys cyanoguttatus. Alvarez identified three distinct subspecies in 1970, including the Texas cichlid herichthys c. cyanoguttatus, Green Texas cichlid herichthys c. carpintis, and Herichthys c. temporatum.

None of these subspecies are currently listed on the IUCN Red List, indicating their stable population status and lack of vulnerability.

Herichthys cyanoguttatus primarily inhabits lakes in Texas and Northern Mexico, marking it as the sole naturally occurring cichlid species in the United States. While historically confined to the lower Rio Grande drainage and parts of northeastern and southern Mexico, it has been introduced into new habitats such as central Florida, the Edwards Plateau in central Texas, and the Verde River basin in Mexico’s La Media Luna region.

Thriving in warm waters of both small and large rivers, the Texas cichlid seeks refuge amidst dense vegetation and scavenges through soft substrates for sustenance. In its natural habitat, the Rio Grande Perch sustains itself on a diet comprising insects, worms, crustaceans, and vegetation.

During its juvenile stage, the species often congregates in small schools, likely as a safety measure. However, as they mature, they tend to adopt a solitary lifestyle, forming pairs for breeding purposes. With a lifespan averaging between 10 to 15 years, these cichlids offer enthusiasts a long-term commitment and rewarding companionship.

Red Texas Cichlid

The captivating Red Texas cichlid, also known as Texas Red cichlid or Texas cichlid red, emerges from the fascinating union of a male Texas cichlid and a female Red Parrot. As hybrids, they lack a formal scientific designation and are absent from natural habitats.

These mesmerizing specimens boast an extraordinary allure, inheriting the foundational markings of their male progenitor while showcasing the vibrant crimson hue characteristic of their maternal lineage.

red texas cichlid


Avoid the blunder of acquiring a juvenile Texas cichlid, mere inches in size, and confining it to a diminutive tank. These majestic creatures flourish in ample spaces, growing to a substantial 12 inches in length upon reaching maturity.

Sporting an oval-shaped, deep-bodied form, the Rio Grande Perch exhibits a slight disparity in size between genders, with females typically being marginally smaller than their male counterparts.

Distinguished by a brownish-gray body embellished with resplendent blue scales, imparting a luminous iridescence, adult Texas cichlids boast two distinctive black spots—one positioned near the base of the caudal peduncle and the other mid-body, while juvenile specimens exhibit an array of additional spots between these primary markings.

As maturity sets in, male specimens develop a prominent nuchal hump, an anatomical feature absent in females. Furthermore, males outsize their female counterparts and showcase a pointed dorsal fin.

Equipped with a robust set of pharyngeal teeth nestled in the throat alongside conventional teeth, Texas cichlids also feature spiny rays adorning the posterior portions of their dorsal, pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins, serving as a deterrent to potential predators. The anterior segments of these fins, however, remain supple, facilitating precise maneuvering in water rather than facilitating swift propulsion.

Operating solely with a solitary set of nostrils, employed for olfactory discernment, Texas cichlids engage in “smelling” the water by drawing in and expelling water upon detecting any discernible aromas—a testament to their finely tuned sensory faculties.

Care and maintenance

While the Texas cichlid is relatively easy to feed, accepting almost anything offered, it is not an ideal choice for novice aquarists.

These robust fish are highly aggressive and can wreak havoc on tank decor by digging and uprooting plants. Additionally, their messy nature requires a diligent approach to tank maintenance and cleaning.

To maintain a clean environment, a weekly water change of at least 25% is necessary. Use an aquarium vacuum or siphon cleaner during this process to effectively remove all fish waste from the substrate. Taking on a Texas cichlid means committing to consistent and thorough tank upkeep.

Tank size

To properly accommodate a single Texas cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus), a tank of at least 60 gallons is required. For a pair, the tank should be at least 100 gallons.

Given their South American origins, these cichlids thrive with ample swimming space, making a long tank preferable over a tall one. Additionally, their jumping ability poses a hazard during tank maintenance, so a tightly fitting lid or a sturdy cover slide is essential to prevent escapes. Without these precautions, Texas cichlids are unsuitable for tanks without secure covers.

Tank setup

Texas cichlids require a deep, sandy substrate to accommodate their natural digging and burrowing behavior. A layer of at least three to four inches of substrate is necessary for their comfort.

While they will appreciate lush plantings, it’s essential to choose robust, tough-leaved plants that are securely rooted to withstand the cichlids’ tendencies to dig around roots and nibble on leaves.

Cave-like structures are typically appreciated by most cichlid species, but given the Texas cichlid’s size, a few pieces of driftwood and perhaps a rocky overhang will suffice.

These fish are flexible when it comes to lighting, thriving equally well in both bright and dim environments.

Good water movement and highly efficient filtration are crucial for maintaining a clean tank, as Texas cichlids are notably messy.

Water parameters

For optimal care, maintain the water temperature in the tank between 70°F and 75°F for your Texas cichlid.

These aquarium fish thrive in a pH range of 6.5 to 8.0 and prefer water hardness between 8 and 15 dGH.

red texas cichlid

Diet and nutrition

The Texas cichlid is an omnivorous species, readily accepting a variety of fresh, live, and flake foods. Their diet can also include earthworms, cichlid pellets, and feeder fish, if you opt for that feeding method.

Recent studies suggest that feeding these cichlids mammal meat, such as beef hearts, can be harmful due to high protein levels. The fish are unable to metabolize these proteins effectively, leading to excess fatty deposits that can damage their organs over time.

To maintain optimal water quality in the aquarium, offer your fish small amounts of food two to three times daily. This feeding regimen helps to reduce waste and keep the water cleaner for longer periods.


When it comes to socializing, the Texas cichlid isn’t exactly a friendly fish! It’s best to keep these fish alone or as a pair in a very large aquarium.

Juveniles start off timid and vulnerable to attacks from other large, aggressive fish. However, this changes drastically as they mature. The older the Rio Grande cichlid gets, the more aggressive it becomes, posing a significant threat to almost any tankmate. Invertebrates such as crabs, shrimp, and snails are particularly at risk, as they are likely to be eaten.

Once a Texas cichlid reaches five or six inches in length, it becomes a considerable threat. While you might consider housing it with other very large fish, this often leads to stress, disease, or even fatalities.

A species-specific setup is a viable option, though these fish are highly territorial. To maintain harmony, a very large tank is essential. Ideally, a mated pair can coexist peacefully without major issues.


Breeding the Texas cichlid in a home aquarium is entirely possible. These fish can also be hybridized with other species, such as the Red Parrot, to create the Red Texas cichlid mentioned earlier. Crossbreeding with other related species occurs both in the wild and in tank environments, leading to a variety of unique and fascinating hybrids.


Spawning behavior in Texas cichlids can be encouraged by raising the tank temperature above 72°F and performing a large water change. The Texas cichlid can begin spawning when the male reaches about four inches in length and the female around three inches.

Following a jaw-locking courtship “battle,” the fish form a bonded pair. The female then selects and cleans a solid surface, such as a flat rock or the tank bottom, to lay her eggs. During a single spawning, she can lay hundreds or even thousands of eggs. Both parents take an active role in guarding the eggs and the fry.

The female chews the eggshells to release the fry and then buries the babies in a pit dug in the substrate by both parents. The fry typically become free-swimming within four to six days. During this period, some males may become extremely aggressive in protecting their young. To ensure the female’s safety, it’s advisable to use a divider in the tank or temporarily remove the male.

red texas cichlid

Health and diseases

The Texas cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus) is a hardy fish, especially when compared to other species. However, like many large cichlids, they can be susceptible to diseases such as Ich and Hole-in-the-Head disease (HLLE). Proper tank maintenance, water quality, and a balanced diet are essential to keep these robust fish healthy and minimize the risk of such ailments.


Ich is a prevalent disease in freshwater fish, caused by the parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. This parasite often exists in the water of most tropical and coldwater tanks but typically does not pose a problem unless a fish is compromised by disease, poor water conditions, or an incorrect diet.

The Ich parasite attaches to the fish’s skin, fins, and gills, manifesting as a rash of tiny white spots, which is why it’s commonly known as White Spot Disease. Infected fish often flick against objects in the aquarium and rub their bodies on the substrate in response to the irritation caused by the parasite.

Fortunately, Ich is easily treatable. Raising the water temperature to 86°F for three days, combined with an over-the-counter treatment product, can effectively eradicate the parasite.

Hole-in-the-Head disease (HLLE)

Hole-in-the-Head disease, also known as Hexamita, is typically triggered by poor water conditions and an imbalanced diet.

Fish afflicted with this condition exhibit pits or “holes” on their face and head, along with lesions along the lateral line. Without prompt treatment, the infection can worsen, leading to fatal consequences for the fish.

Begin addressing the issue by enhancing the water quality within the tank. Utilize antibiotics, available from reputable fish stores or your veterinarian, to treat the water. Additionally, ensure that the fish’s diet is appropriate and well-balanced to prevent future occurrences of this ailment.

Disease prevention

Preventing disease outbreaks in your tank is crucial for the health of your fish. Here are some key steps:

  1. Maintain Good Water Quality: Regularly test and monitor water parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Perform routine water changes to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated.
  2. Feed Your Fish Correctly: Provide a balanced diet appropriate for the species in your tank. Avoid overfeeding, as excess food can lead to water quality issues.
  3. Quarantine New Specimens: Before adding new fish to your main aquarium, quarantine them in a separate tank for at least 14 days. This helps to prevent the introduction of diseases to your established tank inhabitants.
  4. Clean New Decorations: Thoroughly wash and clean any new items of decoration, substrate, or plants before adding them to your tank. This helps to remove any potential contaminants or pathogens.

By following these preventive measures, you can help to minimize the risk of disease outbreaks and maintain a healthy environment for your aquarium inhabitants.

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