Credits: Peter A Photography on Flickr under Creative Commons license
Convict cichlids are easy to obtain and breed and are inexpensive. Couple that with the iconic black vertical bars running down the body – no wonder they are a fan favorite. But are there any caveats attached to raising convict cichlids? For example, maybe they grow big and fast?
Let’s find out!
How Fast Do Convict Cichlids Grow?
Convict cichlids take around 2-3 years to reach their maximum size potential. On average, you can expect these fish to grow between 3-4 inches long, but sometimes, the males can very well grow 6 inches long.
Convicts are one of the few fish species in which the males grow bigger than the females. You can easily identify a female from her petite figure and that single dark spot on the dorsal fins.
Convict cichlids grow at a fairly normal rate. Thus, you don’t need to make special provisions and accommodations in that department.
However’ the growth process isn’t identical in all convict cichlids. Here, I have collected some real answers from hobbyists about it – they’re all different but perfectly normal.
One hobbyist had a male convict cichlid reach 5 and a half inches in length at 1 and a half years.
Another reported that his convict reached 4.5 inches at one year of age. The fish grew super fast until he hit 4 inches and then plateaued eventually. So, you see, rapid growth at an early stage doesn’t always mean the fist will grow peculiarly big.
And lastly, one hobbyist reported that he’s never had a convict cichlid grow past 3 and a half inches long.
So, there’s no one rule set in stone on what’s the ideal growth rate for convict cichlids to grow. As long as they’re healthy and happy, you need not worry about their size.
How Fast Do Baby Convict Cichlids Grow?
On average, baby convict cichlids will grow to be 1-inch long in about 2 weeks. That being said, there’s no one-size-fits-all rule here. The baby’s growth largely depends on their diet, genes, overall tank conditions, and water quality.
The parents will care for the baby cichlids for about 4-6 weeks after birth. From there on, they are on their own.
When Do Convict Cichlids Reach Sexual Maturity?
Convict cichlids reach sexual maturity as soon as 16 weeks – now that’s the secret behind their prolific breeding capacity. However, on average, sexual maturity generally occurs at 6 months of age.
Sexually mature convict cichlids will then form monogamous pairs and breed in small crevices and caves.
How Long Do Convict Cichlids Live?
For the most part, a convict cichlid will live for around 8 to 10 years. However, there have been a few anomalies where the fish have exceeded this range. And note that they will continue to grow subtly – especially in terms of size – as long as they live.
So, that takes us to our next question!
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What’s The Ideal Tank Size For Convict Cichlids?
The minimum tank size for convict cichlids is 30 gallons. Upon my research, I found many sites that claim a 20-gallon tank would suffice – but we strongly disagree.
Getting that extra 10 gallons will undoubtedly go a long way in keeping your cichlids healthy and happy. It’s even more true in the case of these Central American cichlids that are on the aggressive side.
Also, the smaller the tank, the more temperamental it will be. Worst-case scenario – it will cut your cichlid’s life short. So, it’s essential to get a bigger tank whenever possible.
How To Make Your Convict Cichlids Grow Fast?
Let’s be clear – there’s no way you can fully manipulate nature’s course. But you can definitely aid and boost the development process. For example, ensuring your convict cichlids have a proper diet, plenty of swimming space, optimum water parameters, and plenty of good time will definitely stimulate their development.
Let’s have a look at these factors one by one, shall we?
Preventing Stress And Illness
Stress and illness are very well capable of plateauing your cichlid’s growth at a subpar stage. Convict cichlids are naturally very aggressive, to begin with. On top of that, they breed profusely. So, they are pretty prone to stress at all times.
To curb stress and subsequent illness, make sure you pair your convicts with only compatible species like T-bar cichlids, jewel cichlids, and jack dempsey.
Also, don’t forget to add plenty of hiding spaces in the tank – so that your cichlids have a sense of security and a refuge to hide in during troubling times.
Like all cichlids, convicts are prone to swim bladder complications, hole-in-the-head disease, TB, white spots, ich, and so on. These diseases can notably hinder your pet fish’s development. So, always keep an eye out for any signs of complications.
Maintaining Water Quality
Central American species like convicts are used to the most pristine and stable water parameters in the wild. Thus, it’s essential to try our best to emulate these parameters inside the tank.
The ideal pH range for convicts is between 6-8. Likewise, the optimum temperature ranges between 70-82°F (21-28°C). And water hardness should clock in around 10-15 DH.
Even though convict cichlids make one hardy species, it’s best to invest in a robust filter and heater, to begin with. And don’t forget to get the API freshwater master kit to make sure the water’s safe at all times. It is my go-to product for testing crucial water parameters.
Providing Plenty Of Space
Space is often an overlooked factor in understanding a cichlid’s growth rate – but it’s as vital as any other factor, if not more. Any fish should have plenty of space to swim around and forage to fulfill their exercise quota for healthy development.
As of now, there’s no one researched consensus for the speed at which convicts swim. However, they’re fast, active swimmers that often prefer swimming against the current. So, you must provide plenty of space for that.
Smaller tanks have spillover effects on other departments too. For example, toxicity builds up much quicker in smaller tanks. Likewise, convicts will become super territorial and stressed – often getting in deadly fights with other tank mates.
Feeding The Right Diet
Diet is among the most critical factors affecting any fish’s growth – obviously. In the wild, convict cichlids devour small insects and larvae. So, it’d be best if you give them live insects and critters once in a while. They’d sure appreciate it.
In the tank, they are far from picky – so you have a lot of flexibility regarding what you offer.
First, settle on good quality pellets or flake food as a staple diet. You can then fortify the diet with blanched veggies, frozen bloodworms, plants, and so on.
Here’s a recommendation based purely on our convict cichlids’ liking: Omega One Freeze Dried Bloodworms.
For babies, you can give pulverized flakes/pellets, brine shrimp, and daphnia.
According to MIT research, juvenile cichlids will grow comparatively faster if you feed them prescribed amounts of commercial food as prescribed in the label twice a day.
Also, keep in mind that cichlids like to beg for food even when they’re full. So, make sure you don’t fall for this trap.
If you want in-depth information on feeding frequency and more, don’t forget to check out this article.
Conclusion: How Fast Do Convict Cichlids Grow?
So, we’ve come to the end of the article! But, before you go, here’s a quick roundup of the crucial bits!
Convict cichlids take anywhere between 2-3 years to achieve their maximum size. They grow about 3-4 inches long, with some males sometimes reaching 6 inches in length!
Also, convicts reach sexual maturity quite soon than most cichlid species. They can be all set to breed as soon as 16 weeks. That being said, most reach sexual maturity at around 6 months of age.
And lastly, given their aggressive demeanor, convicts need to be kept in at least a 30-gallon tank.
Happy Reading! 🙂