Red devil cichlids are, in many ways, the archetypal cichlid. They're colorful, with strong sexual dimorphism. Additionally, cichlids have a ridiculously ornery temperament and will attack most other fish, especially other male red devils. And like many cichlids, they appeal to a certain set of fish hobbyists, drawbacks and all.
Species and Types
Several species sell under the name "red devil cichlid." The true red devil cichlid is Amphilophus labiatus. Sometimes a similar species, Caquetaia umbriferum, gets sold under the name "uncolored red devil." Both species have several color morphs, different naturally occurring varieties. For example, the "normal" red devil has orange-red blotches over a beige base coloration. However, a common color morph has a gray base color with black stripes. All species and color variations of this fish have the same care and demeanor.
All species and varieties of the red devil cichlid have the same aquarium requirements. A single specimen needs a large tank of at least 70 gallons. If you want to try and keep it with other fish, you should have a tank of at least 260 gallons. Red devil cichlid have been known to attack heaters and filter inlets and damage aquarium equipment. Secure heaters and filters with suction cups, use heater guards or hide them behind rockwork. Rockwork also helps the cichlid feel safe and may reduce aggression.
Red devil cichlids will enthusiastically eat just about anything. You can feed them a staple diet of prepared "cichlid food," which comes in flakes and pellets from most pet shops. You should also include live and frozen foods rich in carotene, which helps maintain red, yellow and orange pigments in this breed. This includes foods like earthworms from the bait shop and prawns from the grocery store. Avoid red meats, since they contain too much fat and protein for red devils.
Even in a family known for aggression, red devil cichlids are reknowned for their temper. In very large aquariums, greater than 270 gallons, you might be able to house them with other large, aggressive cichlids. Sometimes a male/female pair will tolerate each other in such a tank. However, two males in the same tank will usually try to kill each other. On top of this, some individuals are more aggressive than others and will hunt down and kill any other fish in the same aquarium.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images