Panamius panamensis

Panamius panamensis grows to a maximum length of about 13 cm. Despite their small size, they do need a spacious aquarium.

Panamius panamensis

Panamius panamensis was first described in 1913 by Meek and Hildebrand. The genus name Panamius refers to Panama, the country where this genus occurs. The species name panamensis can be divided into two parts. The conjugation “ensis” indicates a place. The first part again refers to Panama.

The classification of the genus that this species falls into is somewhat problematic. It has moved several times in the past 30 years, from Neetroplus to Archocentrus and then to Cryptoheros. Currently it is the only species in the genus Panamius. The question is whether this will remain the case or whether the species will be placed back in the Cryptoheros genus.


This species can reach a maximum total length of about 13 centimeters. This makes it one of the smaller Central American cichlids. The females are somewhat smaller than the males.

The ground color is cream-white with a red color on top and blue dots in between. On the back, they have an olive green color that shows faintly between the colors. They often have black spots on the flank.

During the breeding period, the female changes color. The cream-white ground color remains but the red color disappears. Instead, they get gray spots which give them a gray appearance.


They are quite spicy fish that are not afraid of other spicy or larger cichlids. The experiences of enthusiasts differ in this regard. Possible aggression also stems from the size and layout of the aquarium. Although Panamius panamensis don’t get too big, they do need their space. In any case, it is a species that shows itself and which you can therefore enjoy a lot.


The habitat of Panamius panamensis is on the Atlantic side of Panama. They inhabit the zones with slow-flowing water above sand, gravel and rocks. Often there are also leaves on the bottom from the overhanging trees along the rivers and streams.

The type specimen was caught in the Rio Mandingo but they are also found in the Rio Chagres basin.


This cichlid is omnivorous. That means they need both animal and plant-based foods. You can feed them with frozen and live food, flakes, granules. Make sure that there are also vegetable ingredients in the flakes or granulate or mix the flakes with some spirulina flakes.

They are voracious eaters, make sure they eat all the food within a few minutes. If it takes longer than 2 to 3 minutes or if food remains, you are feeding too much.

The aquarium

Because Panamius panamensis can show some aggression toward each other, they need an aquarium that is slightly larger than average. Think of a length of at least 120 centimeters. If you want to keep several specimens, you also need an even larger aquarium.

Set up the aquarium with sand or rounded gravel on the bottom. Place some rocks and/or wood for the fish to hide in between.

Plants are often dug up or pulled loose. You can keep plants, but then you have to protect the roots with some stones or secure Anubias, for example.

If you keep the temperature around 25 degrees Celsius, they usually do fine. In the wild, the temperature rises somewhat in the summer, towards 30 degrees Celsius. The pH may be between pH 7.0 and 8.0.



John de Lange

Copyright images

Klaus Steinhaus


Last Updated on 11 March 2023 by John

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