Texas Cichlid: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Texas Cichlid is a sparkly freshwater Cichlid that’s notorious for its aggressive tendencies. Recently, these fish have become a popular choice amongst fish lovers around the globe because of their beauty, intelligence, and large size.

If you are keen to diversify your community tank, Texas Cichlids would be an incredible addition to the aquarium from the start. Their beauty is unmatched by many Cichlid varieties, and their behavior in captivity will have you glued to your aquarium the whole day.

If you’re considering these fish for your aquarium, you should understand what’s involved in providing quality care just as much as you will want to know their best tank mates. And luckily for you, this guide simplifies just that.

Below, we discuss such aspects as Texas Cichlid’s lifespan, appearance, tank size, diet, behavior, tank mates, breeding, and more.

Species Overview

Texas Cichlid is a unique Cichlid variety with many names. Some people call them the Rio Grande Perch. Others Pearl Cichlid. But scientifically, these fish should be called Herichthys cyanoguttatus of the Cichlidae family.

The famous Texas Cichlids trace their roots to the United States, and even their name explains just as much. However, it will be interesting to note that they are the only Cichlid fish endemic to the USA. 

In their natural habitat, Texas Cichlids can be found swimming freely in the slow-moving rivers and lakes of northern Mexico and southern Texas.

Texas Cichlids are just as gorgeous as you would want any pet fish to be, with their magnificent tones adding a unique ambiance to aquariums of all sizes. Their sparkly scales alone set them apart from most freshwater Cichlids and will be a joy to watch inside the tank.

ColorLight blue
LifespanUp to 13 Years
Care LevelIntermediate
Behavior & TemperamentAggressive
Food and DietOmnivores
SizeUp to 12 Inches
Tank SetupFreshwater, spacious tank, few, sturdy plants
Tank Size (Minimum)55 Gallons


Texas Cichlids will almost certainly live for 10 to 13 years in captivity.

Of course, that’s a solid lifespan, almost extending beyond a decade. However, there’s no guarantee these fish will reach their full potential in captivity unless you provide ideal tank water conditions.


If you’ve seen any fish of the broader Cichlidae family before, you may already know what to expect from the Texas Cichlids.

Usually, these fish are easily identified by an iconic wide shape and the characteristic Cichlid-shaped pattern. Also, they have a large, rayed dorsal fin with thick lips.

What’s more, Texas Cichlids have a dark gray base coloration, even though some species show dark green or pale base.

Furthermore, the base is complemented by beautiful blue iridescent dots of different sizes. A speckled pattern is noticeable all over the fish’s body, including the fins.

On top of that, Texas Cichlids have black dots just below their tails. However, some species will have numerous dots continuing towards the midsection.

Over the years, selective breeding has created multiple color variations within the Texas Cichlid community, going beyond the primary pearl gray coloration.

It’s worth reminding that male Texas Cichlids will have the conventional nuchal hump on their heads to separate them from the female species.


Now, let’s look at the three most popular Texas Cichlid types;

Green Texas Cichlid

Green Texas Cichlids are exactly what they sound like. A brightly colored Cichlid variety with standard light green shades as the base coloration. These species have neon green or yellow dots and are perfect for brightening any aquarium.

Remarkably, Green Texas Cichlids are not even a Texas Cichlid variety in the first place and are not native to the Texas region in the USA, as many people assume. Ideally, they should be called the Lowland Cichlids.

Red Texas Cichlids

On the other hand, Red Texas Cichlids have bright red base coloration with sparkling white dots all over their bodies. Some species will also have black shades throughout their bodies. But just like Green Texas Cichlids, the Red types aren’t an actual Texas Cichlid variety.

Electric Blue Texas Cichlids

Electric Blue Texas Cichlids would be the perfect species to light up your aquarium with their sparkly, blue coloration. These fish resemble the standard Texas Cichlid in many ways, but their vibrant coloration is almost unmatched in captivity.


How big do Texas Cichlids get? Perhaps you will want to know.

Typically, a full-grown Texas Cichlids will measure about 12 inches in full length. The moderate size adds to its already solid lifespan to give an almost perfect pet fish.

Texas Cichlid Care

Texas Cichlids are not the easiest Cichlid species to care for at home. But again, they aren’t difficult to manage. Their actual guidelines fall somewhere in the middle.

And all in all, everything depends on the actual tank water conditions. If you keep them in a well-maintained environment, you will have a beautiful community within just a few months.

Conversely, deprive them of the necessities, and they won’t even reach half of their full lifespan in captivity. Ideally, these fish require enough space, the right tank mates, and close monitoring throughout their lives as we will discuss in the forthcoming paragraphs.

Tank Size

Like we’ve mentioned before, one of the most important things to Texas Cichlids is enough swimming space. Perhaps that’s the most important thing to any captive-bred fish, after all.

Even if you opt for a small tank to keep the juvenile fish, it won’t be long before they outgrow the aquarium and demand a larger tank for safety, comfort, and perfect health.

If you keep just a single species, the minimum tank size you will want to consider is 55 gallons. Now, if you are going with multiple species from the get-go, we can only imagine a 125-gallon tank as the best option to keep a healthy community.

Remember, Texas Cichlids boast the wholesome combination of large size and faster growth rate, and keeping them in a small tank can greatly impede their development at home.

Their aggressive behavior doesn’t help the situation either. And this leaves you with just one choice; to keep them in the right tank from the get-go.

Water Parameters

Texas Cichlids are accustomed to living in the subtropical region in the wild with soft, warm, and slightly acidic waters.

If you introduce them to a home aquarium, do everything to match the natural conditions or at least create a better environment if you can. When doing so, be sure to stick to these parameters;

  • Water Temperature: 68°F-74°F
  • Water Hardness: 5-12 KH
  • PH Levels: 6.5-7.5

What to Put in Their Tank?

Like most Cichlid fish, Texas Cichlids will want a natural-looking environment with enough plants and the right decorations.

This is not the easiest thing to do if you have no experience in keeping Cichlid fish, but it’s one worth trying if you dream of a beautiful community with the neat-looking Texas Cichlids at the center of everything.

Start by decorating the bottom of the tank with a suitable substrate. Here, you can choose sand or fine gravel depending on what’s best for your fish.

Even though gravel is a popular choice in this regard, we recommend fine sand because it minimizes the risk of body injuries during swimming. Besides, it replicates the riverbeds in the fish’s original habitat.

After that, introduce suitable plants to the aquarium. A rooted and floating plant combo should be effective enough to help you bring the much-needed diversification at home.

In conclusion, you may need to add driftwood or even bogwood to complete the entire tank décor. This practice is efficient enough when creating hiding spots and will make the Texas Cichlids feel more secure at home.

We never mentioned anything about overcrowding the tank because that should be too obvious at this point. Usually, Texas Cichlids need enough swimming space regardless of the size of the tank. And you don’t have to go overboard with decorations or block the fish’s swimming path in captivity.

Common Diseases

Texas Cichlids are a hardy species and prove that by tolerating different conditions inside the aquarium. Besides, you will be happy to know that these fish aren’t affected by any species-specific diseases in the aquarium community. 

But even with their resilience, don’t expect Texas Cichlids to tolerate all conditions affecting the freshwater fish. They are just like any other pet, after all. And the two most common culprits that will always trouble a healthy community include Ich and fin rot.

Ich alone is best described as a stressor of the freshwater fish that’s commonly caused by parasites. It is highly contagious but won’t have a lethal outcome unless you fail to take any action in time.

Usually, the classic Ich symptoms include white spots on the fish’s body and excessive rubbing against the tank decorations and other objects.

We can’t guarantee that your fish will safely survive an Ich outbreak, but we can assure you that the symptoms will readily go away with the right medications. Also, it’s important to isolate the infected species to stop the disease from spreading to the whole community.

On the other hand, fin rot is a common bacterial infection that only targets the fish’s fins. Usually, it causes discoloration and may make the otherwise spotless fins fall off.

For Texas Cichlids, the fin rot disease will specifically target the large, stunning dorsal fin, causing it to lose its beautiful luster and even rot in the process.

Unlike most species, Texas Cichlids always have a high possibility of sustaining bodily injuries from small fights inside the aquarium. Ultimately, this predisposes them to the fin rot disease.

The easiest way to limit such aggressive behavior is to keep your fish in a safe environment. Also, check the tank water conditions regularly, including the pH, water temperature, and ammonia and nitrate levels, to understand if it’s best for your fish.

What Do the Texas Cichlids Eat?

Texas Cichlids are omnivorous species that thrive with small amounts of food at least two times per day. They will eat any food in captivity, but you should stick to a balanced diet to provide all the important nutrients at home.

Usually, their standard meal will comprise high-quality flakes and pellets. But they will do well with occasional live and frozen foods. Here, we recommend brine shrimp, crustaceans, insects, bloodworms, and frozen shrimp. Other supplements include blanched vegetables and algae wafers.

Good feeding habits also entail providing small amounts of food at any time and removing the leftover fish food to avoid tank contamination.

Behavior & Temperament

In all honesty, Texas Cichlids are an aggressive species. And you may be forced to look elsewhere if you need a peaceful species for your community tank.

Their aggressive tendencies don’t allow them to live with small, vulnerable fish because if they don’t fight them blatantly, they will eat them instantly.

Also, such aggression eliminates any possibility of living as part of a community tank. They are not even a schooling fish in the first place, so you should expect a little from them when it comes to peaceful coexistence.

Regarding their activity levels, Texas Cichlids are an active species that will constantly explore the aquarium while trying to uproot your live plants or dig the substrate.

Interestingly though, Texas Cichlids rank highly among the most intelligent Cichlid species. Some aquarists have even claimed that as time goes, these fish can easily recognize their owners, darting endlessly inside the tank to attract their attention.

Texas Cichlid Tank Mates

With their aggressive behavior, Texas Cichlids enjoy their own companies. But this doesn’t mean they won’t cohabitate with specific fish if you have enough swimming space.

A Texas Cichlid’s ideal tank mate is another species of similar size and behavior. By this, we mean another large fish that can protect itself when attacked. So, if you have another aggressive or slightly aggressive species of similar size, then you are good to go.

If you intend to keep Texas Cichlids together with other species, these are some of the best options;


Being the famous egg layers, Texas Cichlid breeding in captivity is easier than you could imagine. Still, you can adopt a few strategies to streamline the breeding process without endangering your fish’s lives.

Of course, their aggressive behavior never goes away, even during breeding. That’s why we recommend a new 75-gallon tank to facilitate spawning. This tank should resemble the primary habitat, with suitable pH, temperatures, and water hardness.

Also, you should add a sandy substrate and a flat rock to create an ideal habitat. Texas Cichlids readily pair in captivity, and your only job will be to select a bonded species and transfer them to the breeding tank.

These fish might show unusual behavior during breeding, like chasing after another or even dancing. The female species will lay anything from 500 to 1000 eggs and allow the male to fertilize them.

Like most Cichlids, Texas Cichlids have impressive parental instincts and will do everything to protect their young ones.

The new fry will feed on the egg sacs for the first few days but will be ready to swim in as little as one week. They should be ready to taste baby brine shrimp and other powdered fish food by this time.

Final Thoughts

Texas Cichlids might look like another scary Cichlid fish but caring for them is pretty straightforward if you know what to look out for. If you are ready to create the best environment, you will have a beautiful aquarium within a short period.

We are aware of many aquarists’ struggles with aggressive species like Cichlid fish. But this guide eliminates any uncertainty you might have had about the Texas varieties.

Hopefully, you are ready to give it a try now that we have perfectly summarized what’s involved in giving these fish quality care at home.