Umbee Cichlid Care: Max Size, Tank Mates, Breeding & More

Scientific NameKronoheros Umbriferus
Common NameBlue Freckled Monster / Blue Speckled Monster  / Turquoise Cichlid
OriginColumbia, South America in Rivers
Temperature Range72-80°F (22-27°C)
Water ParameterspH 7.1-8.0
Adult SizeFemales – 18 inches / Males- 24 inches

Umbee Cichlid Facts:

  • The Umbee Cichlid was first introduced into the fish keeping hobby in 1975.
  • Due to their aggressive nature and tank requirements, they are not very popular among fish keeping hobbyists though they are a very beautiful fish.
  • These fish are not very popular because of their size. The males can reach up to 2 feet in length at full maturity.
  • They are extremely aggressive, and would do better in a tank by themselves.
  • You won’t find them at most aquarium specialty stores, but you can find them online.
Ictiologia Universidad Católica de Oriente, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Umbee Cichlids are a beautiful species of fish that are found in South America in rivers of Columbia. They are a rather large fish at full maturity. This means that you will always be able to see their striking pattern from far away, and anywhere in your aquarium. Their faces are dark but they are marked by turquoise and blue reflective dots only under around their eyes, and extending outward.

It is very difficult to distinguish a young Umbee Cichlid male from a female, and you will not be able to tell the males from the females until they are older. The growth rate of the male Umbee Cichlid is twice that of the female. At full maturity the female Umbee Cichlid may have a duller coloration than the males as well.

Umbee Cichlid Care

Tank Requirements

The Umbee Cichlid is a large fish to keep, and it requires a larger tank. They need to be kept in a minimum of 150 gallon tank. If you are planning on keeping more fish with your Umbee Cichlid you will have to add an additional gallon for every inch of fish you are planning on keeping together. You can keep your Umbee Cichlid in a smaller tank when they are juvenile, but once they are about 8 months old, you will want to put them in their adult tank.

As far as lighting goes, the amount of light that they receive needs to be equal to the amount of lighting that they would receive in their natural habitat. You can use the same rule for decorating their tank. They will be the most comfortable if you use decor that is similar to the decor they would encounter in the wild. Decor such as driftwood and plants. For substrate, you can use sand or gravel at about 2 inches depth.

Make sure that the aquarium you choose to house your Umbee Cichlid has a lid that is secure, so that there is no risk of it jumping out.

It is important to make your Umbee Cichlid comfortable in their aquarium or they will stress. When Umbee Cichlids become stressed, it weakens their immune system and they can become sick.

Food and Feeding

Umbee Cichlids are carnivorous, and you should make sure that their diet consists of plenty of meat. In the wild, they eat live fish. They are a live fish eater, but they will accept high quality foods frozen or pellets. The amount of foods they get, and the number of feeds they need per day will depend largely on their size. When your Umbee Cichlid is less than 6 inches long, they will need to be fed twice a day. Once they are over 6 inches long, you can take their feedings down to 1 time per day. You will want to vary what you feed them as well. They do best when fed a varied high protein diet.

When choosing the amount to feed your Umbee Cichlids, they should be given an amount that they can consume in about 2 to 3 minutes. Overfeeding can make your fish unhealthy and it will also make their water dirty. If you are planning on feeding your fish freeze dried pellets or flakes that expand when placed in water, it is a good idea to soak them in water first. These kinds of foods if not soaked in water will expand in the fish’s stomach causing health issues.

Live foods such as blood worms, mysis shrimp, and brine shrimp are good foods to feed them but should be done so sparingly.

Growth Rate, Max Adult Size, and Life Expectancy

Umbee Cichlids are one of the largest cichlids, and they reach their maximum size around the 2 year mark. This means that your Umbee Cichlid will roughly be doubling in size every 6 months. The males will reach their max size coming in at around 24 inches, while the females will reach their max size at 18 inches. This is a significant size difference, and it will be easy to tell males from females once they reach maturity.

Tank Mates for Umbee Cichlid

Male Umbee Cichlids should not be kept together after they are a few months old as they grow rather aggressive towards one another. Umbee Cichlids pair off and breed for life, so if you are planning on keeping a breeding pair of them together, you will need to have a divider to separate the male from the female from time to time to give her a break. The males become aggressive when they are ready to reproduce.

You will not be able to keep your Umbee Cichlids with other fish as they are extremely aggressive. It would be best to keep one of these fish by itself in an aquarium. Umbee Cichlids will kill and eat almost every other fish. If you are planning on keeping your Umbee Cichlids in an aquarium larger than 300 gallons, you may be able to pair them with other large aggressive fish, but without many places to hide they will fight. With all new fish, it is important to monitor their behavior.


If you are planning on breeding Umbee Cichlids, it is recommended to set them up with a dedicated breeding tank. Umbee Cichlids are monogamous breeders. They pair up in the stages of early adulthood, and they will mate for life.

In the wild, the males guard the territory, and the females protect the eggs. Once the Umbee Cichlids are ready to breed, the pair will clear off and prepare a flat surface for the female to lay her eggs on. Female Umbee Cichlids can lay anywhere from 100 to 2000 eggs, and the male will fertilize them.

After about 72 hours the eggs will hatch and become free swimming fry. Once that happens, the female Umbee Cichlid will still stay with and guard them until they can support themselves on their own. They may eat their young if they themselves are young or inexperienced parents. Some breeders have said that they never grow out of eating their fry, and they have had to remove the parents from the breeding tank.

Disease and Health Issues

Umbee Cichlids are prone to the same health issues that other cichlids are. Cichlids are one of the largest groups of fish, and they are prone to developing several aquarium ailments. One common ailment that they may get is Ich. Ich is a parasite that can affect all freshwater fish, and it can contaminate the entire aquarium if left unchecked. To prevent the spread of ich to your aquarium or other fish, you will want to purchase your fish from a reputable breeder, and quarantine them for a few weeks before introducing them into their new home. Ich is can be recognised by the white spotting that appears on the fish’s skin. If left untreated Ich can lead to death.

Umbee Cichlids can also be affected by a disease called swim bladder disease. As the name suggests, it affects the swim bladder of the fish. The swim bladder is an abdominal sac that helps the fish stay afloat. If your fish is having trouble floating, it may be affected by this issue.

Gill flukes are another issue that can affect Cichlids. Gill flukes are parasitic flatworms that attack the gill membranes of the fish. They  coat the gills in a slime and will cause suffocation of the fish, and eventually death.

Cichlids can also be affected by cotton wool disease. This condition is easy to diagnose because of the fuzzy white growths that appear on the head, fins, and scales of the fish. This disease is a fungus that can appear if the aquarium has poor water quality. Stress and prior injury will make your fish more susceptible to infection. When it comes to keeping Umbee Cichlids, it is good to keep them happy and comfortable for a long and healthy life.

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