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Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus): Complete Care Guides, Tank Mates, FAQs

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus): Complete Care Guides, Tank Mates, FAQs
Photo by Tanya Dewey. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

If you’re an aquarist looking to add a splash of color and personality to your tank, the Red Devil Cichlid, scientifically known as Amphilophus labiatus, might just be the fish for you. This captivating species belongs to the Cichlidae family and is closely related to the Midas Cichlid and Oscar. With its vivid red, white, or yellow hues, often accompanied by black markings, this fish is a visual delight.

The Red Devil Cichlid is not a rare find and is quite popular in the aquarium trade. Among its most sought-after variants are the standard red, the unique white, and the less common yellow. Originating from the lakes and rivers of Central America, particularly Nicaragua and Costa Rica, this fish is primarily a bottom to mid-dweller. It’s an omnivore with a preference for protein-rich foods, so a balanced diet of pellets, live food, and some plant matter will keep it happy.

But don’t let its beauty fool you; the Red Devil Cichlid has a temperament to match its name. Known for its aggressive and territorial behavior, especially during breeding, it’s often best kept in a single-species tank. When it comes to size, these fish can grow up to 12-15 inches in length and have a lifespan of 10-12 years when properly cared for. Ideal water parameters include a pH range of 6.5-7.5 and a temperature of 75-79°F.

What sets the Red Devil Cichlid apart are some truly fascinating facts. For instance, they have strong jaw muscles that they use to crush shells and eat crustaceans in their natural habitat. They’re also highly intelligent and can even recognize their owners. Some aquarists have even trained their Red Devil Cichlids to perform simple tricks, like following a finger around the tank. These fish are also known to rearrange their tank decorations, showcasing their strong personalities.

The Red Devil Cichlid has a rich history that dates back to its first description in 1864 by British zoologist Albert Günther. Its popularity in the aquarium trade began to rise in the late 20th century, and it has since become one of the most sought-after cichlids for experienced aquarists. So, if you’re up for the challenge, this vibrant and spirited fish could be the perfect addition to your aquarium.

Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus): Complete Care Guides, Tank Mates, FAQs
Photo by Tanya Dewey. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Key Information

The Red Devil Cichlid is truly captivating due to its wide array of color variations. From the standard red to the unique white and even the less common yellow, each variant brings its own flair to your aquarium. These vibrant hues, often accompanied by black markings, make the Red Devil Cichlid a captivating addition to any aquatic environment.

PriceRanges from $20 to $50 depending on size and color variant.
Common NamesRed Devil, Lemon Cichlid, Guapote Rojo
VariantsStandard Red, White, Yellow
Ideal Tank SizeMinimum of 55 gallons for a single fish.
Water ParameterspH 6.5-7.5, temperature 75-79°F, moderate hardness.
Lifespan10-12 years in captivity with proper care.
Full Size12-15 inches in length.
Natural EnvironmentLakes and rivers in Central America, particularly in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
BehaviorAggressive and territorial, especially during breeding.
Habitat PreferenceBottom to mid-dweller.
Aquarium DecorationRocks, driftwood, and caves for hiding; however, they may rearrange decorations.
Ideal Tank MatesOther large, aggressive cichlids or fish that can hold their own.
Fish to AvoidSmall, timid, or slow-moving fish.
Best Foods/DietOmnivorous with a preference for protein-rich foods like pellets, live food, and some plant matter.
DiseaseSusceptible to common freshwater diseases like Ich and fin rot if not properly cared for.
Sex-SwitchSome reports suggest that they can change sex under certain environmental conditions, although this is not well-documented.
Gender DifferencesMales are generally larger and more colorful, with more elongated fin extensions.
Care LevelIntermediate to advanced due to their aggressive nature and specific care requirements.
Breeding LevelModerate; requires a separate breeding tank and careful monitoring due to aggressive behavior.

Ideal Tank Mates

When considering ideal tank mates for the Red Devil Cichlid, it’s crucial to keep in mind this fish’s aggressive and territorial nature. The Red Devil Cichlid is not a community fish and will not get along with small, timid, or slow-moving species. Therefore, the ideal tank mates should be large, robust, and able to hold their own against the Red Devil’s assertive behavior. It’s also advisable to monitor the tank closely when introducing new fish to ensure compatibility and reduce the risk of aggression.

Here are 15 ideal tank mates that can coexist with the Red Devil Cichlid:

Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus)

Oscars are large, aggressive cichlids that can hold their own against a Red Devil. They are similar in size and temperament, making them a good match.

Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata)

Jack Dempseys are another type of cichlid that can stand up to the Red Devil. They are known for their striking appearance and similar aggressive tendencies.

Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)

Convict Cichlids are smaller but can be quite feisty, making them a potential tank mate for the Red Devil, especially in larger aquarium setups.

Texas Cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus)

Texas Cichlids are native to the United States and are known for their aggressive behavior, making them a suitable companion for the Red Devil.

Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis managuensis)

Jaguar Cichlids are large, aggressive fish that can match the Red Devil’s temperament. They require a large tank due to their size.

Green Terror (Andinoacara rivulatus)

Green Terrors are another cichlid species that can hold their own against a Red Devil. They are known for their beautiful green and blue coloration.

Flowerhorn Cichlid (Hybrid)

Flowerhorns are hybrid cichlids known for their vibrant colors and aggressive behavior, making them a potential match for the Red Devil.

Plecostomus (Various species)

While not a cichlid, the Plecostomus is a bottom-dweller that generally keeps to itself, making it less likely to provoke the Red Devil.

Firemouth Cichlid (Thorichthys meeki)

Firemouth Cichlids are smaller but can be quite territorial, which might make them a suitable tank mate in a larger aquarium.

African Cichlids (Various species)

Some African Cichlids can coexist with Red Devil Cichlids, but it’s essential to choose species known for their aggressive or robust nature.

Bichir (Polypterus spp.)

Bichirs are prehistoric-looking fish that dwell at the bottom of the tank and usually avoid conflicts with more aggressive species like the Red Devil.

Arowana (Osteoglossidae)

Arowanas are large, predatory fish that swim near the top of the tank, reducing the likelihood of territorial disputes with the Red Devil.

Knifefish (Various species)

Knifefish are generally peaceful but can defend themselves if needed. They usually stay out of the way of more aggressive species.

Clown Loach (Chromobotia macracanthus)

Clown Loaches are bottom-dwellers that are generally peaceful but can defend themselves with their sharp spines if threatened.

Giant Gourami (Osphronemus goramy)

Giant Gouramis are large, relatively peaceful fish that can coexist with more aggressive species due to their size and temperament.

Remember, while these fish are generally considered suitable tank mates for the Red Devil Cichlid, individual temperaments can vary. Always monitor your tank closely when introducing new fish to ensure a harmonious environment.


Can Red Devil Cichlids Live in Brackish Water?

No, Red Devil Cichlids are freshwater fish and are not suited for brackish water conditions. They thrive best in freshwater setups with specific water parameters.

Do Red Devil Cichlids Have Teeth?

Yes, they do have teeth, but they are small and primarily used for grasping food rather than tearing it apart. Their strong jaw muscles are more instrumental in their ability to eat a variety of foods.

Are Red Devil Cichlids Nocturnal?

Red Devil Cichlids are not nocturnal; they are most active during the day. However, they do have a tendency to rearrange their tank decorations, which can sometimes happen during the night.

Can Red Devil Cichlids Be Kept in Outdoor Ponds?

While they are primarily kept in indoor aquariums, Red Devil Cichlids can be kept in outdoor ponds if the climate closely mimics their natural habitat. However, it’s crucial to maintain the water parameters and protect them from predators.

How Do Red Devil Cichlids React to Live Plants?

Red Devil Cichlids are known to dig and rearrange their environment, which can be detrimental to live plants. If you want to include plants in your setup, opt for hardy varieties and secure them well.

Is it Possible to Train Red Devil Cichlids?

While they are not trained in the way dogs or cats might be, Red Devil Cichlids are intelligent and can recognize their owners. Some aquarists have even reported success in getting them to follow simple commands, like coming to the surface for feeding.

What Are the Signs of Stress in Red Devil Cichlids?

Signs of stress can include loss of color, reduced activity, refusal to eat, and hiding for extended periods. Stress can be caused by various factors, including poor water quality, inadequate diet, or the presence of incompatible tank mates.

Can Red Devil Cichlids Coexist with Invertebrates?

Due to their aggressive and predatory nature, it’s generally not advisable to keep Red Devil Cichlids with invertebrates like snails or shrimp, as they may become a snack for the cichlid.

How Often Should I Feed My Red Devil Cichlid?

Adult Red Devil Cichlids should be fed once or twice a day, while juveniles may require more frequent feedings. It’s essential to provide a balanced diet that includes both plant matter and protein.

What Type of Filtration is Best for Red Devil Cichlids?

Given their size and waste production, a powerful filtration system is recommended. Canister filters or sump filters are generally considered the best options for maintaining water quality in a Red Devil Cichlid tank.

How Do You Sex Red Devil Cichlids?

Sexing Red Devil Cichlids can be a bit challenging, especially when they are young. However, as they mature, males generally become larger and develop more elongated fin extensions. Their colors may also be more vibrant compared to females.

Can Red Devil Cichlids Change Color?

Yes, Red Devil Cichlids can change color based on various factors like mood, health, and breeding conditions. Stress or illness can lead to a loss of color, while excitement or breeding can intensify their hues.

Do Red Devil Cichlids Make Sounds?

While not audible to humans without special equipment, some studies suggest that cichlids, including the Red Devil, can produce low-frequency sounds. These sounds are primarily used for communication, especially during mating and territorial disputes.

What is the Growth Rate of a Red Devil Cichlid?

The growth rate can vary depending on factors like diet, water quality, and overall health. However, with optimal conditions, you can expect a juvenile to reach full size within 1.5 to 2 years.

Are Red Devil Cichlids Sensitive to Medication?

Like many cichlids, Red Devils can be sensitive to certain medications, especially those containing copper. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consult with a veterinarian experienced with fish when treating your Red Devil Cichlid for illness.

Can Red Devil Cichlids Live Alone?

Yes, due to their aggressive and territorial nature, Red Devil Cichlids can live alone and often thrive in a single-species tank. Some aquarists prefer keeping them solo to avoid conflicts with other fish.

What is the Best Substrate for Red Devil Cichlids?

A sandy substrate is often recommended as it allows the Red Devil Cichlid to engage in natural digging behavior without injuring itself, unlike gravel, which can be abrasive.

Is Tannin-Rich Water Suitable for Red Devil Cichlids?

Tannin-rich water, often resulting from driftwood or specific leaves, is not harmful but not necessary for Red Devil Cichlids. They are quite adaptable and do not require the blackwater conditions that some other fish species prefer.

How to Handle Aggression During Breeding?

Breeding Red Devil Cichlids can lead to heightened aggression. It’s advisable to have a separate breeding tank and to remove the female after laying eggs if aggression becomes a concern.

Can Red Devil Cichlids Eat Fruits and Vegetables?

While they are primarily protein-eaters, Red Devil Cichlids can consume fruits and vegetables like peas, zucchini, and cucumber slices. However, these should only be a small part of a balanced diet.

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Total posts created: 133
A long-time freshwater fish enthusiast with a passion for sharing knowledge about this fascinating hobby. Over the years, Michelle has dedicated countless hours to studying, learning, and experiencing firsthand the joys and challenges of fish-keeping.

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