Amatitlania nigrofasciata – Convict Cichlid

Amatitlania nigrofasciata or Zebra Cichlid is one of the easiest to keep cichlids that will always reproduce in the aquarium.

Amatitlania nigrofasciata – Convict Cichlid

There is quite a bit of discussion about this genus. In 2001 Allgayer founded the genus Cryptoheros but unfortunately, this description was not really well executed. In 2007, Schmitter and Soto made a description of the convicts in English; the genus Amatitlania. This genus now includes Amatitlania coatepeque, A. kanna, A. nigrofasciata and A. siquia. Many aficionados believe that this paper too, has been drafted too hastily without sufficient reasons to give the convicts their own gender. They expect that all these fish will be returned to the genus Archocentrus.


Zebra cichlid, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum, Cichlosoma nigrofasciatum, Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus, Heros nigrofasciatus


Amatitlania nigrofasciata comes from the waters that cover the slopes on the Pacific side. They occur from Rio Sucio in El Salvador to the Rio Suchiate in Guatemala. On the Atlantic side, they occur from Rio Patuca in Honduras to Rio Jutiapa in Guatemala. They are not from Panama, Costa Rica or Nicaragua as previously believed. They have been introduced as exotic in various places.

In the wild, they live in the flowing waters of small creeks and streams and in the shallows of large and fast-flowing rivers. They prefer rocky environments where they can hide in the cracks and crevices of the rocks.


Amatitlania nigrofasciata can reach a length of about 16 centimetres, the females remain slightly smaller. This Convict cichlid is blue-grey in colour with black crossbands running across its body. The females have golden scales on the underbelly and a dark spot on their dorsal fin. The males have long pointed fins and bumps on their heads.

The name nigrofasciatus can be divided into two parts:

Nigro = black
fasciatus= striped


It is a very aggressive fish, start with a group of young fish from which a good couple is formed. They are fierce territory defenders.

The Aquarium

These fish require an aquarium of at least 1.80 meters. Decorate the tank with stones and driftwood so that many dens and hiding places are created. The bottom should consist of sand that they can dig in. You can use hardy plants, but they are usually not left alone. Secure them firmly, you can anchor them in a flower pot at the bottom. It is recommended to change the water regularly.


Temperature: 23-26 degrees Celsius.
pH: 6-7
GH: 5-8


Convict Ciclids are omnivores, both live food and frozen food can be given, such as mosquito larvae, daphnia and pieces of beef heart, green food such as lettuce, spinach, cucumber and endive, also cichlid sticks.

Breeding Convict Cichlids

Breeding Convicts is very simple, the eggs are deposited and fertilized in a cave. The nest can consist of about 100 to 150 eggs. The female guards the clutch and the male defends the territory against intruders. After 3 days the eggs hatch, and another 3 days later the young swim around freely. The fry can be raised with brine shrimp nauplii.



J. de Lange – Coby

Copyright images

Braile Carmine
Linda de Jong

Last Updated on 17 April 2022 by John

Additional information






Archocentrus nigrofasciatus, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum, Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus, Heros nigrofasciatus

Common names

Convict Cichlid

First described by


Social Behaviour

Breeding behaviour






, ,


, , ,

Length minimum in cm


Length maximum in cm


Temperature minimum


Temperature maximum



There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Amatitlania nigrofasciata – Convict Cichlid”

Your email address will not be published.