red devil cichlid

Red Devil Cichlid 101- Everything You Need To Know

With their striking presence and outgoing personalities, Red Devil Cichlids are an increasingly popular choice for freshwater aquariums. Though their name may stir a certain feeling of fear, these fish have a lot to offer if their care is done correctly.

Scientifically known as Amphilophus labiatus, Red Devil Cichlids can be found naturally in Nicaraguan lakes such as Lake Nicaragua, Managua, and Xiloa. These vibrant fish are distinct for their aggressive nature, making them difficult for someone without experience to care for.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about Red Devil Cichlid care, from optimal tank mates to size, diet, and more.

red devil cichlid
Meet the majestic Red Devil Cichlid with its intense red coloration and powerful build.

Species Summary

Red Devil Cichlids are known for their prominent personalities and the bonds they can form with their owners. It’s not uncommon to see them begging for food or even attempting to show off.

Though they can present a challenge, these fish shouldn’t be underestimated. Red Devil Cichlids are very powerful; their jaws are strong enough to cause severe damage, and their thick lips can easily break through aquarium furnishings and decorations.

In the wild, these fish can be seen in dark brown and gray tones, often used as camouflage against predators. Tank-bred Red Devil Cichlids usually exhibit brighter colors, such as white, yellow, and red.


The average Red Devil Cichlid lifespan is between 10 and 12 years in captivity – however, some reports indicate that they can live even longer with the proper care. The quality of water and living conditions are critical elements to achieving this longevity.


These fish have an intimidating bodies with large dorsal and anal fins and colorful variations depending on their environment. Females and males look pretty similar. The most evident difference is the nuchal hump that males develop during adulthood.

Other detailed features include thick orange lips and strong teeth, used for crushing prey and digging into the substrate.


Red Devil Cichlids take about three years to reach their full size, varying from 15 to 17 inches. Males tend to be slightly bigger than females.

Tank Size

Since Red Devil Cichlids are quite active swimmers, providing them with plenty of room is essential. A single fish requires at least 55 gallons, but for a breeding pair, you should invest in a minimum of 125 gallons. For multi-fish tanks, 200 gallons or more is recommended.

Water Parameters

Red Devil Cichlids can tolerate various water conditions but prefer neutral to slightly alkaline water. Aim for a pH range of 6.0 to 7.8; water hardness should range between 8 to 20 dGH.

These fish are pretty temperature-sensitive, so the temperature of your tank should range between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.


Your Red Devil Cichlid’s diet should consist of meaty foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and mosquito larvae. Pellets and flakes can also be included as long as the food is appropriate for their size.

Note: It’s easy to overfeed these fish. If their diet isn’t monitored, they can become obese quickly. Feeding can be done by dropping the food into the water or by hand – Red Devil Cichlids are known to recognize their owners and often beg directly.

Tank Mates

Red Devil Cichlids are large, aggressive fish that can become territorial, so they are best kept with other large and similarly aggressive species or in a species-only tank. Here are some suitable tank mates for Red Devil Cichlids:

1. Other large Cichlids such as Jack Dempsey, Green Terrors, and Convicts

2. Catfish such as Plecostomus or Channel Catfish

3. Other large, aggressive fish such as Pacus or Arowanas

It’s essential to provide plenty of swimming space, hiding spots for the Red Devil Cichlids, and rocks and caves to establish their territories. The tank should also be well-filtered, as Red Devil Cichlids are heavy waste producers.

Note: Red Devil Cichlids can be very aggressive, especially during the breeding season, so be sure to provide plenty of room for each fish and to keep a close eye on their behavior. If you see any signs of aggression or excessive territorial behavior, separating the fish or finding them different tank mates may be necessary.

Tank Setup

When it comes to setting up your tank for a Red Devil Cichlid, there are a few essential steps you should follow. First, please ensure that your tank includes plenty of hiding places, such as rocks and decorations. This can help your fish feel secure and avoid troubling other tank mates, particularly aggressive ones.

Secondly, your tank should also contain ample amounts of live plants, preferably floating varieties like Amazon Sword or Anubias – this will give them an extra sense of security.

Caring For Female Red Devils

If you have a female Red Devil Cichlid, she may require a little extra attention and care. Female Red Devils are usually subordinate to males and can get aggressive when breeding.

To avoid this, provide female Red Devils with ample space and hiding places around the tank to keep them feeling safe. Also, avoid overcrowding the tank and avoid adding too many tank mates.

General Tank Maintenance

Regardless of the fish species you own, basic aquarium maintenance is essential for the health of your aquatic environment. A key element to remember is to never overfeed your fish, which can quickly pollute the tank water.

Even if your Red Devil Cichlids beg for food, resist the urge to feed them more than once a day. Also, make sure to regularly change about 25-35% of the tank water weekly to maintain optimal pH levels and water quality.

Disease Prevention

Red Devil Cichlids are quite susceptible to diseases, so it’s important to take preventative steps to keep them healthy. Keep the water clean and monitor the parameters regularly. Furthermore, taking measures to reduce stress levels can also go a long way.

Providing ample hiding places, avoiding overcrowding, and providing suitable tank mates are all important steps to reduce the chances of contracting a disease.


Before introducing new fish into the tank, you should always quarantine them first. This will minimize the risk of introducing sickness or parasites to your existing fish. To do this, fill up a separate tank with water from your main tank and monitor their health for a few weeks before introducing them.

Breeding Red Devils

Red Devil Cichlids are egg-layers, and breeding them requires patience. If you’re looking to breed your Red Devils, start by setting up a separate tank with the same water parameters and filtration as your main tank. Then, introduce a male and female Red Devil Cichlid into the breeding tank and observe their behavior.

When the pair is ready to spawn, they will clean a flat surface to lay their eggs on. Once the eggs are laid, remove the adults and wait until the fry hatch.

Raising Red Devil Fry

Once your Red Devil fry has hatched, you’ll need to provide them with a suitable environment as they grow. Start by providing them with a proper tank setup and small amounts of food.

Be sure to feed them at least three times a day with a combination of micro worms and baby brine shrimp. As they age, you can introduce larger foods such as frozen foods and pellets.

Common Health Problems

Like any other fish, Red Devils can be prone to health problems if not correctly cared for. One of the most common diseases is Ich, which is caused by a parasite and can be identified by white spots all over the fish’s body. Luckily, Ich can be treated with salt baths and medications.

Another common issue is bacterial infections, which occur when fish experience stressful conditions such as overcrowding or poor water quality.

To prevent these infections, monitor your tank’s parameters regularly.


Red Devil Cichlids are beautiful and charismatic fish perfect for any experienced aquarist looking for a fun challenge. With the proper knowledge, care, and dedication, they can live healthy and enjoyable lives in captivity.