Red Devil Cichlid: Complete and Detailed Care Guide

A red devil cichlid swimming through the aquarium driftwood
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 15, 2024
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Ready to dive into the exciting world of freshwater fish? The **Red Devil Cichlid** is a favorite for aquarium lovers. This dazzling fish from Central America stands out with its vivid red colors, turning any aquarium into a magical underwater haven.

Quick Summary

  • Red Devil Cichlids have a striking red coloration with variations in shade and patterns.
  • These fish can grow up to 12 inches in length and live around 10 years on average with proper care.
  • They are active feeders with a strong hunting instinct, exhibiting vigorous swimming patterns and chasing prey-like food.

Origins and Habitat

The Red Devil Cichlid, scientifically known as Amphilophus labiatus, is a fascinating fish species that has its origins in the lakes and rivers of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. These vibrant creatures are highly adaptable and have been introduced to various regions around the world through human activities.

…Red Devil Cichlids can be found dwelling among rocks and hiding places in warm, tropical environments.

In their natural habitat, Red Devil Cichlids can be found dwelling among rocks and hiding places in warm, tropical environments. They prefer areas with ample sources of food and tend to establish territories near these resources. Their ability to thrive in diverse habitats has made them a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts worldwide.


Female Red Devil Cichlid
Female Red Devil Cichlid

The red devil cichlid is a truly captivating species with its striking appearance. Its most distinctive feature is its bright red coloration, often accompanied by hints of orange or yellow. This vibrant hue sets it apart from other fish in any aquatic environment. As they mature, these cichlids develop a prominent hump on their forehead, adding to their unique allure.

In addition to their mesmerizing color, red devil cichlids possess long and flowing dorsal and anal fins that further enhance their visual appeal. These elegant fins gracefully glide through the water, creating an enchanting display for anyone fortunate enough to observe them. It’s no wonder that many aquarists are drawn to this species due to its stunning aesthetics.

One intriguing aspect of red devil cichlids is the wide range of colors and patterns they can exhibit. While the dominant shade is typically red, variations occur within this spectrum. Some individuals may showcase deeper shades of crimson or even maroon, while others may display lighter tones resembling pinkish hues. The patterns on their bodies can also differ greatly, ranging from solid colors to intricate markings.

Male red devil cichlid generally possess more vibrant colors compared to females…

Another fascinating aspect of these fish lies in the gender differences and notable features present in each sex. Male red devil cichlid generally possess more vibrant colors compared to females, showcasing intense shades of red with enhanced pigmentation. Males tend to have longer and more pointed dorsal fins than their female counterparts.

Size and Lifespan

The red devil cichlid is a fascinating fish known for its impressive size and relatively long lifespan. Let’s dive into the details of their growth and how long they can live.


Red devil cichlids have the potential to reach an impressive size, with males often growing larger than females. At full size, these vibrant creatures can measure up to 12 inches or approximately 30 centimeters in length. Imagine having such a magnificent fish swimming gracefully in your aquarium!


Red devil cichlids are no slouches. On average, they can live for about 10 years when provided with suitable conditions and proper care. However, with exceptional care from dedicated aquarists, these captivating fish have been known to surpass this average lifespan by several years.

Red devil cichlid requires specific environmental conditions for optimal health and longevity. Maintaining stable water parameters within recommended ranges is crucial. Providing a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs plays a significant role in extending their lifespan.


It’s important to note that individual genetics also play a role in determining how long a red devil and other cichlid species will live. Some individuals may naturally possess genes that contribute to increased resilience and longevity.


Fish Food
Fish Food

The diet of the red devil cichlid is an essential aspect of their care. These vibrant creatures have an omnivorous appetite, which means they consume both meaty foods and plant matter. In the wild, red devil cichlid feeds on a diverse range of food sources, including small fish, insects, crustaceans, and vegetation.

Pellets and Flakes for Cichlids

There are several options to consider. Commercially available pellets and fish flakes specifically formulated for cichlids can be a convenient choice. These products often contain a mix of proteins from fish and plant sources to meet their nutritional needs.

Supplementing with Frozen Foods

To enhance their diet and provide variety, you can also supplement with frozen foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms. These frozen treats not only offer additional nutrients but also stimulate natural feeding behaviors. Red devil cichlids have voracious appetites and enjoy hunting down their prey-like meals.

Using Live Foods Sparingly

It’s important to note that live foods should be used sparingly due to potential risks associated with introducing pathogens or parasites into the aquarium. However, occasional live prey like small feeder fish can be offered as a treat to replicate their natural feeding habits.

Establishing a Feeding Schedule

In addition to considering the types of foods you offer your red devil cichlid, it’s crucial to establish a feeding schedule. Aim for two small feedings per day rather than one large meal. This approach mimics their natural feeding patterns and helps maintain optimal health.

Incorporating Plant Matter into the Diet

While protein-rich foods are essential for these active fish, incorporating some plant matter into their diet is beneficial too. You can include blanched vegetables like spinach or lettuce as an occasional snack. Just ensure any uneaten portions are promptly removed from the tank to avoid water quality issues.

Feeding Schedule

Feeding the red devil cichlid requires a well-planned schedule to ensure their health and happiness. These vibrant fish are known for their active nature and aggressive behavior during feeding time.

Regular Feeding Routine

To maintain a healthy diet, red devil cichlid should be fed once or twice a day with an amount they can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues, so it’s crucial to provide them with appropriate portions. By offering controlled meals, you can prevent excessive waste buildup in the tank while ensuring that each fish receives its fair share of nutrition.

Active Feeders

Red devil cichlids are highly active feeders, displaying vigorous swimming patterns as they search for food. Their energetic nature adds excitement to any aquarium setup but also necessitates careful observation during mealtime. Due to their territorial tendencies, these fish may become aggressive towards tank mates when feeding. It is advisable to separate them from other species during this time to avoid conflicts.

The Joy of Hunting

One of the most intriguing aspects of red devil cichlid behavior is their innate hunting instinct. In the wild, these fish would spend hours scouring their surroundings for prey. Even in captivity, this natural instinct remains strong within them. When presented with food, they exhibit an exhilarating chase before capturing and devouring it. This hunting behavior not only provides physical exercise but also stimulates their mental faculties.


To make feeding time more engaging for your red devil cichlid, consider introducing live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms into their diet occasionally. Watching them pursue their prey will not only satisfy their predatory instincts but also offer you a captivating spectacle.

Temperament and Behavior

Red Devil Cichlids are highly territorial fish that should be kept alone or with suitable tank mates. They are known for their aggressive nature, often displaying aggressive behavior towards other fish in the aquarium.

Their aggressive behavior is a prominent characteristic that aquarists should be aware of…

These cichlids have a unique personality that sets them apart from other freshwater fish. Their aggressive behavior is a prominent characteristic that aquarists should be aware of when considering adding them to their tank. Red Devil Cichlid will fiercely defend their territory and can become quite hostile towards any perceived intruders.

Caution must be exercised. It is essential to choose compatible species that can handle the aggressive tendencies of the Red Devil Cichlid. Mixing them with smaller or more docile fish can lead to stress, injury, or even death for the weaker inhabitants of the tank.

One interesting behavior exhibited by Red Devil Cichlids is their affinity for digging caves or rearranging decorations within their environment. These actions serve multiple purposes for these fascinating creatures. The caves provide shelter and hiding spots where they can retreat when feeling threatened or stressed. Rearranging decorations allows them to establish their dominance and create a space tailored to their liking.


It’s important to note that while Red Devil Cichlid may display aggressive behaviors towards other fish, they can also exhibit fascinating interactions among themselves if housed together properly.

Tank Mates

Different Varieties of African Cichlids Swimming
Different Varieties of Cichlids Swimming

Choosing tank mates for your red devil cichlid can be a challenging task. These vibrant and aggressive fish are best kept alone due to their territorial nature. However, if you’re an experienced aquarist and want to explore other options, there are some possibilities for housing them with large cichlids from similar regions or other red devil cichlids.

It is crucial to consider their aggressive behavior. These large fish, can be highly territorial and may harm or even kill smaller or peaceful fish species. Therefore, it is generally recommended to keep them in a solitary environment.

Experienced fishkeepers who wish to create a more diverse aquarium setup may consider certain larger cichlids as potential tank mates. It is important that these cichlids come from the same region as the red devil cichlid and possess similar aggression levels. This can help reduce conflicts and establish a more harmonious coexistence within the other devil cichlid tank mates.

Here are some examples of suitable large cichlids that could potentially be housed with red devil cichlid:

  • Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus)
  • Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis managuensis)
  • Green Terror Cichlid (Andinoacara rivulatus)

It’s essential to note that even when introducing compatible tank mates, careful observation is necessary. Aggression levels may vary among individual fish, so close monitoring during the initial stages is crucial.

Tank Requirements

A Red Devil Cichlid is a stunning and vibrant fish species that requires specific tank conditions to thrive.

Tank Size

Providing adequate space is crucial. These fish are known for their territorial nature and can grow quite large. Therefore, a minimum tank size of 55 gallons (208 liters) is recommended for a single adult Red Devil Cichlid. This ensures they have enough room to swim freely and establish their territory without feeling cramped or stressed.


Creating an environment that mimics the natural habitat of the Red Devil Cichlid is essential for their overall well-being. These fish appreciate having hiding spots and caves where they can retreat when feeling threatened or in need of privacy. You can achieve this by adding sturdy rocks or artificial structures that create nooks and crannies throughout the tank. Not only do these hiding spots provide security, but they also add visual interest to the aquarium.

In addition to providing hiding spots, decorating the tank with sturdy plants and rocks offers numerous benefits for your Red Devil Cichlid. The presence of live or artificial plants not only enhances the aesthetics but also serves as additional hiding places while promoting water oxygenation. Opt for robust plant species such as Anubias or Java Fern that can withstand the cichlid’s occasional digging tendencies.

Rocks serve multiple purposes in a Red Devil Cichlid tank’s tank setup. They act as anchor points for aquatic plants, create territories within the aquarium, and even contribute to maintaining stable water parameters by acting as buffers against pH fluctuations.

Water Quality and Filtration

Maintaining proper water quality and filtration is crucial for the health and well-being of your red devil cichlid. These vibrant freshwater fish require clean water with specific conditions to thrive. Let’s dive into the essential aspects of water quality and filtration that you need to consider.

Water Conditions

Red devil cichlids prefer a temperature range between 75-82°F (24-28°C) in their aquarium. It is important to monitor and maintain the water temperature within this range using an appropriate heater. Fluctuations in temperature can stress these fish, making them more susceptible to diseases.

In addition to temperature, monitoring pH levels is vital. Red devil cichlids tolerate a wide pH range but thrive best when kept in slightly acidic to neutral conditions, ideally between 6.5-8.0 pH.


Regularly testing the water parameters using a reliable kit will help you ensure that your cichlids are living in suitable conditions.

Efficient Filtration System

A robust filtration system plays a pivotal role in maintaining optimal water quality for red devil cichlids. These fish produce waste that can quickly accumulate if not properly filtered out, leading to poor water conditions and potential health issues.

Consider using dual filters or a combination of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration methods for maximum efficiency. Mechanical filtration removes debris such as uneaten food and waste particles from the water column, while biological filtration breaks down harmful ammonia into less toxic substances through beneficial bacteria colonies.

Chemical filtration can be employed using activated carbon or other specialized filter media to remove impurities like dissolved organic compounds or medications from the water.

Regular Water Changes

Regular partial water changes are essential for keeping the environment clean and maintaining stable water parameters for your red devil cichlids. Aim for weekly or bi-weekly water changes of around 20-30% of the tank volume.

Health and Disease

Red Devil Cichlids are beautiful and vibrant fish that can make a stunning addition to any aquarium. However, like any other fish, they are prone to certain health issues and diseases. It is important for fish owners to be aware of these potential problems in order to provide the best care for their Red Devil Cichlids.

Prone to common fish diseases such as ich and fin rot

One of the most common diseases that can affect Red Devil Cichlids is ich, also known as white spot disease. Ich is caused by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, which manifests as small white spots on the fish’s body and fins. If left untreated, ich can quickly spread throughout the entire tank and cause severe damage to the affected fish.

Another common ailment that Red Devil Cichlids may encounter is fin rot. This condition occurs when bacteria infect the fins of the fish, resulting in frayed or deteriorating fins. Fin rot can be caused by poor water quality, stress, or injuries. It is crucial for fish owners to maintain optimal water conditions and keep an eye out for any signs of fin rot in their Red Devil Cichlids.


Breeding red devil cichlids can be an exciting and rewarding experience for fish enthusiasts. However, it is important to understand the intricacies of their breeding process to ensure successful reproduction. Here are some key points to consider when breeding red devil cichlids:

Difficult to sex until they reach maturity

Determining the gender of red devil cichlids can be challenging, especially before they reach maturity. Unlike some other species, in younger red devils there are no distinct physical characteristics that differentiate males from females at a young age. It is only as they mature that noticeable differences become apparent.

Males develop a prominent nuchal hump on their forehead when ready to breed

One way to identify a male red devil cichlid ready for breeding is by observing the development of a prominent nuchal hump on its forehead. This hump signifies sexual maturity and readiness to reproduce. The size and shape of the nuchal hump may vary among individuals but generally become more pronounced as they approach breeding age.

Females lay eggs on flat surfaces while males guard the nest

During the breeding season, female red devil cichlids will lay their eggs on flat surfaces within their habitat. This could include rocks, logs, or even aquarium decorations. Once the eggs are laid, it is common for males to take up the responsibility of guarding and protecting the nest.

Proper care and habitat setup are crucial for successful breeding

To encourage successful breeding, it is essential to provide a suitable environment in your breeding tank. Red devil cichlids require spacious tanks with ample swimming space due to their aggressive nature during the mating process. The tank should also contain appropriate hiding spots such as caves or plants where females can seek refuge if needed.

Here’s a video of a successful red devil cichlids breeding..

Breeding Red Devil Cichlids

Where to buy Red Devil Cichlids

If you’re looking to add a vibrant and eye-catching fish to your aquarium, the red devil cichlid is an excellent choice. These beautiful creatures can be found in various places, both online and offline.

Local Aquarium Stores

One of the most convenient ways to find a red devil or cichlid species is by visiting your local aquarium store. These stores often have a wide selection of fish species, including the red devil cichlid. By physically going to the store, you can see the fish in person and assess their health and appearance before making a purchase.

When visiting local aquarium stores, it’s crucial to look for reputable sellers who prioritize the well-being of their fish. A trustworthy seller will provide healthy specimens that have been properly cared for. Ask questions about how they source their fish and whether they quarantine them before selling. This information can give you peace of mind knowing that you are buying from someone who prioritizes the health and welfare of their aquatic animals.

Online Fish Retailers

In today’s digital age, buying fish online has become increasingly popular. There are numerous online retailers specializing in aquatic life, offering convenience and a vast array of options at your fingertips. When purchasing red devil cichlids online, it’s essential to choose reliable sellers with positive reviews from other customers.

Reputable online fish retailers will ensure proper packaging and shipping methods to minimize stress on the fish during transit. Look for websites that provide detailed descriptions of each fish, including size, coloration, and any specific care requirements. Check if they offer live arrival guarantees or return policies in case any issues arise during shipping.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Red Devil Cichlids Can Live Together?

The number of red devil cichlids that can live together depends on tank size and individual fish behavior. A larger tank (75 gallons or more) can accommodate a single fish or multiple red devil cichlids. However, due to their aggressive nature, it’s recommended to keep only one per tank or provide ample hiding spaces if keeping multiple.

Do Red Devil Cichlids Eat Other Fish?

Yes, red devil cichlids are carnivorous and can eat smaller fish, especially if they can fit in their mouths. Tankmates should be carefully chosen, and it’s advisable to keep fish of similar size to prevent aggressive behavior.

Difference Between Red Devil and Midas Cichlids?

Red devil cichlids (Amphilophus labiatus) and Midas cichlids (Amphilophus citrinellus) are distinct species. Red devils have elongated bodies, red-orange coloration, and a pronounced hump on their head. Midas cichlids are more golden with a less prominent head hump. Both are aggressive and require spacious tanks.

How Many Gallons Does a Red Devil Cichlid Need?

A red devil cichlid requires a tank of at least 75 gallons when young, and larger as they grow. The minimum tank size should provide ample swimming space and hiding spots. Larger tanks help accommodate their territorial and aggressive behavior.

What Is the Lifespan of a Red Devil Fish?

Red devil cichlids typically have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years in well-maintained aquariums. Proper tank conditions, diet, and care contribute to their longevity. Providing a suitable environment and meeting their specific needs can help extend their lifespan.

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