Fish Profile: Flag Cichlid

Flag Cichlid

Flag Cichlid Fish Facts:

  • Adult size: Grow up to 8 inches
  • Average fish life span: between 5 and 8 years with proper care
  • Origin: South America
  • Diet: weeds, algae, insects, and crustaceans also will accept flake foods, frozen foods, pellets.
  • Hardiness: Easy
  • Minimum tank size: 40 gallons
  • Water temperature: 72 to 80°F

Flag Cichlid Profile

The Flag Cichlid, or Mesonauta Festivus, comes from the rivers of South America, including the Rio Negro, Orinoco, and Rio Rivers, as well as the Amazon and Paraguay Rivers. In its natural environment, the Flag Cichlid prefers slow moving waters with plenty of vegetation for hiding. In the wild, the diet of the Flag Cichlid consists primarily of weeds, algae, insects, and crustaceans. Its life span is generally between 5 and 8 years. When found in its natural environment, this fish tends to have rather interesting behaviors, such as jumping out of the water when it feels threatened, or resting on its side.

A Flag Cichlid’s body is of an oval shape and is compressed laterally. Perhaps its strongest characteristic is the black stripe running from the mouth to the top of the dorsal fin. The coloring of this fish may be either yellow or brown above the diagonal line and silver/white on the bottom with the fins striped yellow or brown. One variety of Flag Cichlid carries 7 vertical brown bars over the length of the body, while the remaining types have varying colors and patterns. These variations are determined by the locations of where the parent species were first caught. In captivity, the Flag Cichlid may grow as large as 8 inches in size. However, in its natural environment, it generally does not grow larger than 6 inches. Distinguishing between the male and female of the species can be a bit difficult. An adult male may be somewhat bigger than the female, with a slightly more elongated snout and more pronounced pectoral fins. Besides, the dorsal and anal fins may be more pointed than that of the female.

The Flag Cichlid should be kept in a large, tall aquarium of at least 40 gallons with plants reaching to the surface of the water. The tank should have a proper filtration system and good aeration. They prefer to live among plants, rocks, and bogwood and like to swim in the middle layers of the tank. The water should be changed regularly. The temperature of the water should be kept between 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 34 degrees Celsius), with a pH of 5.5 to 7.2. The water should be maintained at a low to moderate hardness.

The Flag Cichlid is a hardy, social fish that does well with other fish. Though keeping them with small colorful Neon fish should be avoided, as these tend to be a favorite snack of the Flag Cichlid. The Flag Cichlid is an omnivore and eats algae, weeds, and other proteins from the wild. These fish like flake foods, frozen foods, pellets, dried foods and live foods, including worms and crustaceans. It is recommended to occasionally feed them some vegetable foods like oatmeal or spirulina flakes as well. The Flag Cichlid is one the hardiest of all aquarium fish. They can contract parasitic disease but are the last to give into these pathogens, as well as any nutritional and environmental insults. If they do happen to develop a disease, they can be easily treated with a typical aquarium remedy.

Lastly, never forget to keep a cover on the aquarium due to the Flag Cichlid’s unusual habit of jumping when frightened.


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