Trimac Cichlid (Cichlasoma trimaculatum): Ultimate Care Guide


Also known as the Three Spot Cichlid, the Trimac Cichlid is native to Central America, including Mexico. This large fish has a reputation for aggression against tank mates and is often kept in its own aquarium. The Trimac Cichlid is a heavy bodied fish with a green to yellow base color and distinctive spots along its sides. Male Trimacs are larger than females and have red coloration behind their gills. Males often develop nuchal humps when mature. This is a large Cichlid species: males can reach sizes of 14 inches while females only grow to around 9 or 10 inches. Trimacs can live a long time with appropriate care, sometimes in excess of 12 years!

Trimac Cichlid Care

Trimac Cichlids need large tanks, excellent water filtration, and lots of food. Like many Cichlids, Trimacs are messy eaters which means tank water will need extra attention to provide a healthy environment.

Are Trimac Cichlid easy to care for?

Trimac Cichlids are easy to care for as long as they have large enough tanks and good water quality. Most problems with Trimac Cichlids are a result of cramped conditions, poor water maintenance, and insufficient nutrition. Let’s look at some things you’ll need to know before taking care of this large and long-lived fish!

Temperature

Trimac Cichlids prefer water temperature between 74° and 86° F.

Water pH

Trimac Cichlids like mostly neutral water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.

Trimac Cichlid (Cichlasoma trimaculatum)
Trimac Cichlid (Cichlasoma trimaculatum)

Trimac Cichlid Size

Male Trimac Cichlids can grow to 14 inches while females of the species won’t exceed a length of 9 to 10 inches. Trimac Cichlids are one of the fastest growing Cichlid varieties. This species can grow faster than Oscars. When deciding on an appropriate tank size you’ll need to plan for this fish’s length when mature.

Food & Diet

Trimac Cichlid is mostly carnivorous, and will need to be supplied with a range of meaty foods. You can also supplement their diet with floating Cichlid pellets appropriate to larger species. Fresh shrimp, bloodworms, and earthworms are some of the live foods which this species will appreciate. While this fish is mostly a carnivore, it will appreciate occasional veggie snacks like cucumber, zucchini, and peas.

Trimac Cichlid Lifespan

Trimac Cichlids can have an exceptionally long lifespan. With excellent care they can live up to 12 years! When deciding to take on a Trimac Cichlid you should be prepared for this fish to live a very long time.

Trimac Cichlid Tank Size

Trimac Cichlids are large fish and need lots of tank space. A 125 gallon tank is the minimum tank size that you should consider buying. Females are a bit smaller than the males and you can have a somewhat smaller tank if you’re sure your fish is female.

Tank Setup

Trimac Cichlids need large tanks with excellent filtration. This species will eat plants and can rearrange tank decorations, so you’ll need to plan for this when designing your aquarium’s aquascape. In their natural habitat, Trimac Cichlids live around rocks and submerged roots. Include driftwood and rocks in your tank’s setup. Not only will these replicate your fish’s natural environment, they can help your Trimac define their territory. Even when kept in their own aquarium, Trimac Cichlids have territorial instincts and like to feel as if they have a territory to protect.

The best substrate choice will be fine sand or small gravel. This species likes to dig, so be prepared for them to rearrange whatever media is placed in their tanks. Avoid any substrate that contains coral such as crushed coral or aragonite sand. These will slowly dissolve and increase the hardness and alkalinity of your water. Trimac Cichlids are Central American Cichlids and prefer water close to neutral. Coral substrates are sometimes used with African Cichlids who prefer more alkaline water. Be careful that you aren’t choosing a substrate which is intended for African Cichlids as this can quickly make your tank water too alkaline for your Trimac.

Powerful filtration with regular water changes is a necessity if you want your Trimac Cichlid to be as healthy as possible. Maintaining water quality can be a challenge with this species as they are large when mature, and like many Cichlids, are messy eaters. You should buy a filtration system that can turn over 5 times your tank’s volume in an hour. For instance, a 125 gallon aquarium will need a filter which can run at over 600 to 750 GPH (gallons per hour). Trimacs don’t like strong water currents; if the output of your filtration system is strong, it is best to use a spraybar to spread out the returning water flow.

Because of the large size and messy habits of Trimac Cichlids, consider including a sump filter in your tank setup. Sump filters are popular in marine aquariums, but can also be used in freshwater tanks. They allow you to use more filter media, and can be a safe place to grow plants. Growing plants in your tank can help reduce nitrates, and may decrease the volume and frequency of water changes. Trimac Cichlids aren’t plant safe, so a sump filter can be a great place to grow plants where they can’t be destroyed by this fish. Most sump filters will have a volume that is 20% of the aquarium they are connected to. If you decide to go the sump filter route with a 125 gallon aquarium, your sump filter will need to hold around 25 gallons.

Breeding

Trimac Cichlid are easy to breed as long as breeding pairs are available. A group of 6 to 8 juveniles will pair off as they grow. These pairs can be moved to separate tanks and will be more likely to successfully breed as they mature.

How do Trimac Cichlid breed?

Trimac Cichlids are egg layers. Make sure your breeding pair has one or more flat stone surfaces in their tank. The pair will clean this surface before spawning. The females can lay around 1000 eggs which the males with then fertilize. Both parents will guard the eggs and fry until they are free swimming. Once the fry are free swimming, they can be fed a diet of baby brine shrimp and finely ground Cichlid pellets.

Trimac Cichlid Male or Female

It is difficult to sex Trimac Cichlid before they are mature. As they grow, the males will become larger and more colorful. Mature males often develop nuchal humps.

Trimac Cichlid Disease

Trimac Cichlids are susceptible to diseases that affect other Central American Cichlids including Ich, Cotton Wool, Hole in the head, Gill Flukes and tuberculosis. Many diseases are caused by impure water. It is important to insure your tank water is well filtered and water changes are performed regularly. When adding new fish to a display tank it is best to first keep them under observation for 6 to 8 weeks in a separate quarantine tank (QT). This can help you catch diseases before they infect your main tank. Maintaining a QT can also help in the treatment of diseased fish as they allow the application of medicine to infected fish only.

One of the few diseases which can infect Trimac Cichlids and humans is tuberculosis. Signs of this disease include frayed fins, loss of appetite, white blotches on the skin and a sunken stomach. If you suspect your Trimac has become infected with tuberculosis, exercise caution as this disease can spread through open cuts or sores. Infected Trimacs can be moved to the QT and treated with melafix. However, the main tank will need to be completely cleaned and disinfected before adding fish again.

Trimac Cichlid Tank Mates

Trimac Cichlids are very aggressive and it’s impossible choose tank mates which can reliably coexist with this species. Even breeding pairs are known to have occasional problems that require them to be separated. Some hobbyists report that Oscars can get along with Trimacs as long as the latter is added to the tank when young. Like many Cichlids, behavior problems may not appear until they are mature. A “great tank mate” for a young Trimac Cichlid can become a victim in the future. When attempting to pick tank mates for Trimacs use caution and be ready to separate any tank members who are being attacked.

Where can I find Trimac Cichlid for sale?

Trimac Cichlids are somewhat rare. Occasionally available in fish stores, online sources can be more reliable. Price varies by size and can range from $35 USD for a juvenile to $200 USD for a mature specimen over 10 inches long. Trimac Cichlids should be bought from reliable breeders as there are hybrids with Flowerhorn Cichlids and others which are often sold as purebred Trimacs.

Trimac Cichlid vs Flowerhorn

Flowerhorn Cichlids are brightly colored fish with large nuchal humps. These fish are hybrids from Trimac and other Chichlids; they don’t exist in the wild. There is some confusion between the two, with some sellers and hobbyists misidentifying Trimac Cichlids as low grade Flowerhorns.

Fish Laboratory

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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