Perhaps one of the most coveted small cichlids out there is the Checkerboard Cichlid. A native of the Orinoco region, these relatively peaceful, very likable cichlids are perfect for our easy-going blackwater, botanical-style aquarium habitats.
Although they can adapt to alkaline water, they categorically do better in soft, acid water, laden with tannins and humic acids. In nature, they're found in water as acidic as 4.5, with a general hardness South of 1 dGH. If your goal is to breed them, you really need soft acidic water.
We offer these endearing cichlids in groups of 6 specimens, as they develop a social hierarchy and structure that is not only interesting to watch, but apparently better off for their confidence and overall physical well-being as well. You could even go for a larger group if your space and budget permit. Checkerboards should be kept in a tank which provides a significant amount of hiding places, which in our case, may be in the form of wood, roots, botanicals, and leaf litter- very similar to the environments they are found in They are far more relaxed and display better coloration in rather dimly lit aquariums with muted colors. Maintaining consistent high water quality is very important, so those regular water exchanges are very important!
They'll eat a variety of foods, including Daphnia, Brine Shrimp, mosquito larvae, blood worms, etc. They will eventually learn to eat pellets. Because they have relatively small mouths, you need to make sure that the foods your providing are correspondingly small!
And in the botanical-style blackwater aquarium, we observe them feeding among and possibly on the biofilms which arise as leaves and such break down. Size-wise, they top out at around 3", and the specimens you will receive will vary in size from about 1" to 1.5" consistently. A 20 gallon "long" or larger tank works great for them!
All in all, these are some of the most enjoyable fishes to keep in a blackwater aquarium. If you're experienced in maintaining a physically stable aquarium, and are diligent about husbandry, you'll be treated to fantastic colors and behaviors for years to come!
Our specimens have been acclimated and well cared for by noted aquarist Mike Tuccinardi at his facility in Colorado, and are active, healthy, and actively foraging. Definitely a fish you'll enjoy having in your collection...we cannot recommend them enough!
Mike’s Notes: "The poor checkerboard cichlid absolutely deserves to be more popular than it is in the hobby – so if you haven’t kept them before, give them a try and see what you’ve been missing. They are actually one of the most commonly encountered dwarf cichlids throughout igapo and similar shallow water habitats in the Negro and Orinoco river systems – in some places the sheer density of checkerboards in a relatively small area is nothing short of astounding. This fish is unquestionably adapted to a certain ecological niche – leaf litter. They live among it, form their territories around it, and utilize fallen decomposing leaves a ready food source. In the aquarium, just as in nature, they will use their mouths to “pick up” leaves several times the size of their bodies and arrange them into piles, hiding places, or just flip them over to see what tasty morsels may be hiding underneath. To really get the best of this behavior in an aquarium, a blend of leaf sizes is best. Although they have a not entirely undeserved reputation as a delicate shipper, our fish are carefully acclimated, conditioned, well-fed, and ready to thrive in your aquarium."
SOURCE: Net collected Orinoco
CARE LEVEL: Intermediate
NATURAL DIET: Small crustaceans, bicover
MAXIMUM SIZE: Approx. 3" (males)
IDEALLY SUITED FOR: Preferably tannin-stained, soft, acidic environments
NOTE: This photo is for illustrative purposes only. You will be receiving a group of specimens which look similar to the ones shown in our photo, but should expect variations in color.
NOTE: THERE IS A MINIMUM ORDER OF $50.00 ON LIVESTOCK ORDERS NOT MEETING THE MINIMUM ARE SUBJECT TO CANCELLATION AND REFUND!
SHIPPING AND HANDLING FOR LIVESTOCK ORDERS OF ANY SIZE IS $42.00. FREE SHIPPING ON DRYGOODS WHEN PURCHASED WITH LIVESTOCK! (SHIPPED SEPARATELY!)
ALL LIVESTOCK ARE GUARANTEED FOR 14-DAYS FROM THE DATE OF ARRIVAL! SEE OUR "SHIPPING AND HANDLING" SECTION FOR MORE INFORMATION.