Red Terror Cichlid (Cichlasoma festae)

Written by ~Rush~. Posted in About Fish


Max size: 14-16 inches

pH: 6 to 8

Temperature: 77 to 84 (F)

Minimum recommended tank size: 75 gallons

Aggression: Very Aggressive (They are called "Terrors" for a reason). Best kept in a solo tank.

Sexing: Males will typically lose the vertical black barring on their bodies, and females retain them. This usually will not happen until they are sexually mature which can take a long time. They tend to be slow growers. Males tend to get some coloration in their operculum; usually greenish or sometimes brown. Females really tend to retain the orangish color or a nice red. There is speculation that the amount of bluish spangling in the tails can be used to sex Festae - Males will usually retain this blue spangling while females lose it or have little. Over all, sexing festae can be very difficult until they are mature adults.

Diet: Omnivore - Diet should consist mainly of pellet foods. Protein based and color enhancing foods are good, but spirulina infused foods should be included as well to ensure a well rounded diet.

Overview: A South American Cichlid, the Red Terror is a 'top shelf' cichlid. They are one of the best looking cichlids in the hobby in my opinion. Their colors are nothing short of amazing for a fresh water fish; many of your house guests will assume they are salt water fish. Even though the Red Terror is becoming more readily available I still wouldn't call it a mainstream cichlid. No major chain pet stores carry them yet (most that have labels that say Red Terror are actually selling Cichlasoma uropthalmus). But that is part of what makes them desirable, they are some what uncommon. I had 5 juvenile Red Terrors a year ago. 3 died very quickly due to aggression. These fish do not fool around, and it seems they are much much more aggressive towards conspecifics. A solo male can be kept in a 75g tank, a female could possibly stay in a 55g. A breeding pair will need a 75g minimum and probably a divider. Males have been known to kill their mates during the courtship process, and vice versa. A 125g would be ideal for a pair in my opinion. You will need a 6ft tank to keep either sex of these fish with tank mates long term. They can be very aggressive, but they seem at their worst when they are breeding. A 'wish list' fish for sure.

Red Terror Cichlids are often confused with the Mayan Cichlid. To ensure you have (or are picking the right fish), the following article is recommended:

Which fish do I have? Red Terror Cichlid (Amphilophus festae) vs Mayan Cichlid (Cichlasoma uropthlamus)