Laetacara araguaiae

Outside the mating season, Laetacara araguaiae are fairly peaceful, but during the mating season, a territory is fiercely defended.

Laetacara araguaiae

Laetacara araguaiae was described in 2009 by Ottoni and Costa. Before the official description, this species was known as Laetacara sp. Buckelkopf. The species was known long before its description. They have been appearing in the aquarium hobby for some 55 years before their description. They are part of the small genus Laetacara which includes about seven species.

The name Laetacara can be divided into two parts; from Latin: laetus means happy and Acara is the native (Tupi-Guarani) name for Cichlid. The name Laetacara is a reference to the mask around their mouths. This makes them seem to smile. The species is named after the Araguaia, the river system where these fish live.

The temporary name Buckelkopf owes the species to the forehead of the male. As they get older, it gets bigger, rounder and taller. It is a bit exaggerated to talk about a forehead hump. It won’t be that big.


With a maximum total length of about seven to eight centimeters, Laetacara araguaiae belongs to the dwarf cichlids. The color depends on the origin of the fish. Two variants dominate the aquarium trade. Those from Rio Araguaia/Rio Tocantins have blue and red tones. The fish from the Rio Tapajós are predominantly turquoise-green.

Outside of breeding the fish are light colored and the spots are faintly visible on the flank. While incubating and protecting the young, the parents become very dark. The faint spots become almost black stripes and spots and the red accents also become a much deeper red.


South America, Rio Verde and Rio Araguaia in central Brazil.


Live food should preferably be given as food. Dry food is occasionally accepted with reluctance.

The Aquarium

Outside the mating season, Laetacara araguaiae are fairly peaceful, but during the mating season a territory is maintained and fiercely defended. The aquarium should be set up with plants, driftwood and roots to create hiding places. Some flat stones that can serve as a breeding substrate can also be used as decoration. A dark substrate and a dimmed light by using floating plants bring out the colors of the fish.

Breeding Laetacara araguaiae

Breeding the Laetacara araguaiae is fairly easy with a well-matched couple. It is best to purchase 6 young and remove the other fish as soon as a couple forms. With the correct water composition and quality, they will spawn. Up to 500 eggs are deposited on a flat substrate. The clutch and later also the young are intensively cared for and guarded by both parents. After 2 days the eggs hatch and another 5 days later the fry are free swimming. They can be raised with vinegar eels and brine shrimp nauplii.

Also see the breeding report: Breeding Laetacara sp. Buckelkopf



Jan Bukkems – Aquavisie
John de Lange

Copyright images

Jan Bukkems – Aquavisie (original website no longer availabel)


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