Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis Managuensis): Ultimate Care Guide


Jaguar Cichlids is a species of Central American Cichlid, and they are one of the most popular cichlids for home aquariums. But despite their popularity, some beginning aquarists may be intimidated by them. A fully grown Jaguar Cichlid can sometimes grow to be nearly 2 feet. That’s a size that not many home aquarists can handle. If you’re intrigued by the Jaguar Cichlid and want to know more about them, then you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading for a quick overview of everything you need to know to be prepared to add one of these feisty fish to your tank.

The Jaguar Cichlid are also sometimes known as Managuenese Cichlids or Aztec Cichlids. Jaguar Cichlids are known for their long, oval-like bodies. They are native to Central America, specifically Costa Rica and Honduras, where they can be found in Freshwater bodies, such as Lake Managua in Nicaragua. Jaguar Cichlids are sometimes referred to as Guapote Tigre when found in their native waters. Another defining feature of the Jaguar Cichlid is its protruding lower jaw. That lower jaw helps them hunt down and eat their prey. One of the most exciting aspects of Jaguar Cichlids is that they change their appearance as they age. Younger Jaguar Cichlids have black bands that wrap around nearly their entire body. Those black bands that wrap around their bodies slowly turn to black dots as they age.

Do Jaguar Cichlid have sharp teeth?

One of the most defining features of the Jaguar Cichlid is that powerful lower jaw. You can see that their lower jaw protrudes past their upper jaw if you look closely. The powerful jaw of the Jaguar Cichlid is filled with two to four sharp teeth. Jaguar Cichlids have an additional set of teeth in their throat. The combination of their strong jaw and sharp teeth helps it hunt down and eat its prey. Their aggressive nature, in tandem with their impressive jaw and vicious teeth, is one of the few reasons you need to keep Jaguar Cichlids away from your less aggressive and smaller species of fish.

Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis Managuensis)
Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis Managuensis)

Jaguar Cichlid Care

Jaguar Cichlids aren’t recommended for beginning aquarists. Their large size, aggressive nature, and voracious appetite mean they can be hard to handle if you’re new or unsure of what you are doing. But despite that, they can be cared for easily with a bit of research and careful planning. Jaguar Cichlids are somewhat hardy and can adapt to a significant range of water conditions. The most important aspect of owning any tank is regularly checking the water quality. If you periodically check your water and set up a large enough tank to emulate the native habitat of Jaguar Cichlids, then you should have no trouble keeping one.

Jaguar Cichlid Temperature

Jaguar Cichlids are native to Central America, which means their tanks need to emulate their area. Central America is a warm region, so the water in a Jaguar Cichlid tank must be warm. Most aquarists recommend that a Jaguar Cichlid tank’s water temperature be between 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Those high-temperature ranges mean that you’ll likely need a heater to achieve and maintain it. Make sure you select a heater strong enough to service the entirety of your large Jaguar Cichlid tank.

Jaguar Cichlid Water pH

Some consider Jaguar Cichlids to be a hardy species of freshwater fish. Jaguar Cichlids still need to be well cared for despite their rugged reputation. One of the most critical aspects of care for many fish species is their required pH level. If the pH level is off or fluctuates too much, it can quickly and negatively impact the species’ quality of life in your tank. The recommended pH level for Jaguar Cichlids is between 7.0 – 8.7; you’ll want to aim for around 7.7. If you regularly check your water parameters, you can catch any fluctuations before they become a more significant issue.

Jaguar Cichlid Size

Most Cichlids are known for that impressive size, and Jaguar Cichlids are no exceptions to that. On average, Jaguar Cichlids reach between 13 – 16 inches when fully grown. However, female Jaguar Cichlids tend to grow slightly smaller than the males, usually a difference of just a few inches. That number is based on their growth in captivity. A Jaguar Cichlid in the wild can reach up to two feet long. Fully grown Jaguar Cichlids also tend to weigh around 3 pounds, usually more

Jaguar Cichlid Food & Diet

Some aquarists have stated that a fulling and varied diet can sometimes prevent aggression. That isn’t a guarantee, but something you should keep in mind. Jaguar cichlids are carnivorous but can sometimes be trained to eat flakes or pellets if started at a young enough age. Despite that, you should still feed your Jaguar Cichlids a protein-based diet. Jaguar Cichlids will eat anything that fits into their mouth. You can feed them dry or frozen food and live insects, worms, or feeder fish. A balanced and healthy diet will ensure you get to have plenty of years with your aquatic pal.

Jaguar Cichlid Lifespan

Most people only expect their fish to live for a few years, maybe 3 or 4 at most. That isn’t the case when it comes to Jaguar Cichlids. On average, the Jaguar Cichlid can live to about 15 years old. That impressive age means that you have to be aware of the commitment you’re making when you decide to add one to your tank. Fifteen years is a long time, and you have to be sure that you’re not going to neglect your pet. Mistreating, neglecting them, or providing them with a less than ideal habitat will quickly and negatively impact their lifespan. But if you do give your Jaguar Cichlid the best care you can, then there is a chance that they may just surpass that 15-year mark.

Jaguar Cichlid Tank Size

The size of tank you need for a Jaguar Cichlid depends on their age. A younger juvenile Jaguar Cichlid will likely be comfortable and have plenty of room in a 30-gallon tank. A singly fully grown Jaguar Cichlid can be kept in a tank of 70 gallons at minimum. Most aquarists recommend something bigger, around 100 to 125 gallons. That massive tank size means that not many people will be able to own a fully grown Jaguar Cichlid. Ensure you have the space to accommodate a fully grown one before you purchase a Jaguar Cichlid.

Jaguar Cichlid Tank Setup

When setting up a tank for a Jaguar Cichlid, you want to ensure that you try to emulate their native environment. The native habitat of Jaguar Cichlids are usually ponds and rivers that are murky and full of plants. You’ll want to start with a sandy substrate; Jaguar Cichlids prefer sand because they will sometimes dig into it. You want to avoid any gravel or small rocks and decorations; this is because the Jaguar Cichlid might attempt to eat it, which will cause digestive issues. Some people may even add an extensive cave system or some flat rocks if your Jaguar Cichlids decide to breed.

Jaguar Cichlid Breeding

Breeding Jaguar Cichlids isn’t difficult. They tend to pair and bond naturally, so that’s a lot of the work out of the way quickly. What makes things even easier is that Jaguar Cichlids are wonderful parents. They are incredibly protective of their fry and eggs. If you want to breed your Jaguar Cichlids, it isn’t tricky, and there are a few easy steps to follow to try to trigger the breeding process.

How to breed Jaguar Cichlid

If you want to breed Jaguar Cichlid, you have a pretty easy task ahead of you. The first thing you should do is make sure you have a male and female bonded pair. If they’re in a tank with other fish, they will become noticeably more aggressive when it’s time to breed. If you notice that, it’s time to move them to a new tank just for them. If that isn’t happening, you can raise the water temperature slightly and begin performing regular water changes. If you do all that and provide them with live food, your Jaguar Cichlids should breed pretty quickly. The female Jaguar Cichlid will get noticeably large as she swells up with eggs. She will find a suitable place to lay them, such as a cave or a flat rock. Once there, she will lay up to 2000 eggs, and the male will then fertilize the eggs. After around seven days, the eggs will hatch; during that time, the male and female will both aggressively defend them, which is why they must breed in their private tank.

What to feed a juvenile Jaguar Cichlid?

Newly hatched Jaguar Cichlids should be fed brine shrimp until they are large enough to eat more significant foods such as feeder fish. However, even larger Jaguar Cichlids can and will eat brine shrimp gladly.

Jaguar Cichlid Growth Rate

Within two months of hatching, Jaguar Cichlids can reach up to 6 inches in length. For Jaguar Cichlids to reach their full size of around 16 inches, it only takes around a year and a half.

Jaguar Cichlid Male and Female

Telling the difference between male and female Jaguar Cichlids isn’t too tricky. Males Jaguar Cichlids are larger when fully grown, usually around 2-3 inches larger. Female Jaguar Cichlids also have shorter anal and dorsal fins. If you have several in a tank, they’ll be easy to tell about because Jaguar Cichlids tend to pair off to mate.

Jaguar Cichlid Disease

As is the case with most freshwater fish, Jaguar Cichlids are susceptible to Ich. This is true despite their hardy nature. Ich is relatively easy to diagnose; the afflicted fish will begin to show white splotches on their body. Ich is straightforward to treat with medicine; you should have to be sure to quarantine the infected fish. Ich can be transferred very easily between fish in the same tank. Most potential illnesses and infections can be avoided by regularly performing water changes and checking the water parameters.

Jaguar Cichlid Tank Mates

Jaguar Cichlids are very large and aggressive. That means that selecting tank mates for them isn’t very easy. You need to pick fish that are similar in size and occupy different parts of the tank. You also need to ensure that your tank is large enough to accommodate both the Jaguar Cichlid and any potential tank mates. An excellent place to start is by considering other species of Cichlids.

Are Jaguar Cichlid Aggressive?

Jaguar Cichlids are a highly aggressive species. They will not hesitate to hunt down and eat any fish that fits into their mouths. Their aggressive nature is why you need to carefully research and select tank mates for them, because if you don’t, you may end up just giving your Jaguar Cichlid an early dinner.

Compatible Tank Mates for Jaguar Cichlid

If you want a tank mate for your Jaguar Cichlid, you need to select similar species in size and temperament. Oscar fish are a great and common choice for tank mates with a jaguar Cichlid. Keep in mind that both are territorial, so ensure your tank is large enough for them to establish their own territory. Other great choices are more Jaguar Cichlids; if they are a bonded pair, they will live perfectly together, or other large Cichlids. You could also consider large catfishes, which would be a great choice because they would each occupy different parts of the tank since catfish are usually bottom feeders.

Incompatible Tank Mates for Jaguar Cichlid

When establishing a tank, you’ll want to avoid any species smaller than the Jaguar Cichlid. That means avoiding shrimp, guppies, goldfish, Dainos, and even Tetras. All of those species would quickly become a meal for your Jaguar Cichlid.

Where Can I Find Jaguar Cichlid for Sale and Price?

Jaguar Cichlids are somewhat popular, which means you can likely find them in local aquarium specialty stores. However, they can more reliably be found for sale online; just be sure to buy from a reputable source. Most list a single Jaguar Cichlid for sale between $9.99 – $24.99. That isn’t too expensive of a starting point, but you’ll be paying much more for a tank and tank supplies.

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With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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