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Pink Convict Cichlid Care Guide | Diet, Habitat, Breeding, Accessories

Pink Convict Cichlid Care Guide | Diet, Habitat, Breeding, Accessories

I was utterly unaware of pink convict cichlids until last year. And I remember my eyes were on stalks when I saw them for the first time – it was love at first sight! 

I’ve since raised a couple of pink convict cichlids, and what a joy it has been! But, truth be told, personality-wise, they’re no different than the OG convict cichlids. 

Raising them is just a walk in the park if you know how to work around their aggression. 

In this blog, I’ll tell you all there’s to know about how to raise them in the best possible manner – from my very own experience! 

Pink Convict Cichlid Introduction 

Name Pink convict cichlid 
Scientific name Amatitlania nigrofasciata 
Family Cichlidae
Species Nigrofasciatus
Maximum size 6 inches
Temperament Aggressive 
Minimum tank size 30-gallon
Diet Omnivore
Temperature 75 to 79°F (24 to 26°C)
pH 6.0-8.0
Care level Easy

Pink convict cichlid is the pseudo-albino version of the Archocentrus nigrofasciatus convict cichlid. Let’s be clear that it’s not entirely a man-made variant. Pink convict cichlids are selectively-bred, naturally occurring variants. 

They are found in Central America on the Pacific slope from Guatemala to Costa Rica and on the Atlantic slope from Honduras to Panama. They live among shallow, rocky areas where they love to hide in crevices and cracks while feeding on insects, crustaceans, worms, and plants. Interestingly, these fish are almost never found in open waters. 

Pink convict cichlids are yet to be listed or evaluated by IUCN. 

Pink Convict Cichlid Lifespan 

On average, pink convict cichlids live for around 8-10 years. However, there have been a few reported cases where they’ve lived for up to 20 years. Amazing!

So, the right care and the right diet go a long way to extend their age. 

Pink Convict Cichlid Price 

The price for pink convict cichlid ranges from $8-20

Pink Convict Cichlid Appearance 

As the moniker gives away, pink convict cichlids are, well, pink. They lack the iconic vertical stripes that gave them the name ‘convict.’ Their pink shade is on the lighter side – thus, they are also often called white convict cichlid. 

Females have an orangish patch on the operculum (gill cover), which gets quite pigmented during spawning. On the contrary, males are monotone. 

The body has a stocky, oval disk shape, and the fins are pointed. 

Like all cichlids, pink convicts possess a fully developed set of pharyngeal teeth in their throats, as well as regular teeth. 

Male pink convicts will also develop a fatty lump in the forehead as they mature. In some, it is pretty prominent, while others have subtle lumps. It is actually a hormone-directed coalescence of fat. 

The spiny rays on the ends of pectoral, pelvic, anal, and dorsal fins offer some extent of protection from predators. However, the front parts of these fins are soft – perfect for swift and precise position changes. 

Pink convicts also have one nostril on each side, while most fish have 2 sets. So, to sense ‘smells’ in the water, they suck water in, sample it, and expel it right away. 

Pink Convict Cichlid Size 

Pink convicts are among the smaller Central American cichlids we know. Males reach around 5-6 inches (13-15 cm) in length, whereas females clock in at just 3-4 inches (8-10 cm). 

Since these fish are deep-bodied, it’s quite easy to underestimate their actuarial size. 

Pink Convict Cichlid Male Or Female 

It’s not too hard to tell a male and female apart in convict cichlids. Males are monotone, whereas females sport orange blotch on the gill cover. Males also have comparatively steeper foreheads and longer fins. 

Conversely, females have rounder and shorter fins. 

As I mentioned above, males also develop a small lump on the forehead. However, this distinction is only visible when your cichlids come of age. 

Pink Convict Cichlid Temperament 

The OG convict cichlids are notorious for their temperament. And no surprises here – the same can be said about the pink variants. 

Pink convicts are an aggressive species – so, they don’t do too well in community tanks. You will often see them chasing, bullying, and even biting other residents. 

So, need to make sure your convict cichlids have ample space to swim around and multiple hideouts to take refuge in.

Their aggression goes off the chart during the spawning season. The mating pair will be explosively intolerant of other fish in the tank. They won’t hesitate to kill anything they perceive to be a danger. 

The same happens when they’re caring for their young ones.

On forums, I learned convicts could even beat up plecos and oscars three times larger than them!

While researching for this blog, I stumbled across an exciting find. A study led by scientists from the University of Burgundy discovered the correlation between coloration and behavior in convict cichlids. 

According to the study, proactive and assertive convicts were more likely to be dark. Similarly, dominant females had a relatively smaller orange blotch on their gill cover. Scientists believe that coloration plays a critical role in mediating social interactions between cichlids. 

So, does that mean pink convict cichlids are relatively less hostile? That’s something to think about! 

Also, studies have pointed out that environmental change can affect a convict cichlid’s temperament as well. For instance, convicts are more aggressive at 80°F (30°C) as opposed to 78°F (26°C). Hmm, maybe that explains why convicts set up their breeding sites and spawn at higher temperatures. 

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Pink Convict Cichlid Tankmates 

Aquarists often shy away from adding any other fish to a cichlid’s tank – owing to their ill-famed temper. But you can house them with similar-sized and aggressive/semi-aggressive American cichlids that can hold their own when the time comes.

Here’s a plausible list of tank mates for pink convict cichlids 

Water Parameters For Pink Convict Cichlids 

Temperature 74.0 to 82.0° F (23 to 28° C)
Breeding temperature 75 to 79°F (24 to 26°C)
pH 6.0-8.0
General hardness 6-8 dGH
Ammonia 0
Nitrate <50 ppm
Phosphate <0.5 ppm
Water movement Moderate
Water regionAll
Specific gravity <1.0002

Pink convict cichlids prefer a warm tank and tolerate a wide range of pH. But that doesn’t mean you can consistently expose them to wrong pH values. 

They need decent water movement and efficient filtration. 

To keep pollution in check, conduct 15-20% water change every two weeks. However, this rule is not set in stone. It all boils down to your tank’s size and the number of inhabitants. 

It’s critical to conduct frequent water for two important reasons. It helps to remove the hormones released by fish that inhibit the growth of other fish. Nitrite buildup reduces the water’s hardness and makes it acidic. Therefore, don’t skip water changes. 

When conducting water changes, also use a gravel cleaner to remove all the organic matter built up in the tank. 

Pink convicts have slight salt tolerance. Therefore, they can be kept in slightly brackish water, too. They can usually tolerate salinity around 10% of a regular saltwater tank – specific gravity of less than 1.0002. 

All in all, pink convict cichlids are reasonably easy to look after, provided that the water is clean. Thus, they’re for hobbyists of all levels. 

To measure important water parameters like pH, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite, I use this Freshwater Master Test Kit by API. Buying this master kit offers more value for money than buying individual test strips. 

Recommended Equipment For Pink Convict Cichlids 

Buy nice or buy twice – this is our motto for buying equipment for our cichlids. But, don’t get us wrong – we don’t support going all out and burning sizeable holes in the pocket. 

Here, we have recommended affordable yet robust equipment that guarantees quality and durability. Let’s see that they are! 

Penn-Plax Cascade Canister Filter (Up To 200 Gallons)

What We Love About It:

  • 5 large-capacity media baskets
  • State-of-art flow valves
  • Easy push-button primer
  • Comes with spray bar, filter medium, directional spout, and tubing

Hygger 800W Submersible Aquarium Heater 

What We Love About It:

  • 5-second warming time
  • Built-in dual temperature probe
  • Anti-dry protection
  • Intelligent thermostat
  • Accurate to 0.1 °F

Cobalt Cichlid Breeding Cave 

What We Love About It:

  • Perfectly shaped and sized to encourage breeding
  • Chemically inert and safe
  • A good hideaway for shy fish

Recommended Tank Size For Pink Convict Cichlids 

The minimum recommended tank size for pink convict cichlids is 30 gallons. I saw that some sites have mentioned you can go as low as 20 gallons, but we wholeheartedly disagree. 

And once the cichlids are fully grown, we recommend moving them to at least a 50-gallon tank. 

Convicts are inherently aggressive and territorial creatures. They’re also active swimmers. Thus, that extra space will go a long way in keeping your convicts happy.

Also, don’t forget – the smaller the tank, the more temperamental it is. 

Substrate For Pink Convict Cichlids 

We recommend using a sandy substrate to emulate their natural habitat as much as possible. You can also go with gravel or rocky substrate – but convicts dig and rummage around. Thus, the rough substrate can inflict injury. 

You can also mix aragonite sand for the substrate to increase the tank’s pH levels if needed. 

Decorations For Pink Convict Cichlids 

Convict cichlids will appreciate it if you add plenty of rockworks and caves to create hideouts and pathways. They are often known to topple and move the decors to create their ideal habitat. 

Be careful if you are using driftwoods, as these tend to make the water acidic. 

Providing caves is a must if you want your pink convicts to breed. You can improvise using a small pot turned sideways. 

You can also add floating plants that will act as a cover. These fish prefer to cover more than open areas. 

Pink Convict Cichlid Diet 

Pink convict cichlids are anything but fussy eaters. They are omnivores and will guttle anything offered. In the wild, they consume anything they can fit inside their tiny mouths – from small crustaceans to phytoplankton, insects, grains, and small fish. 

In the tank, you should first zero in on good-quality flakes or pellets. You can then fortify their diet with occasional meaty treats – both live and frozen. 

Here’s a list of food you can give your pink convict cichlids:

  • Pellets 
  • Flakes 
  • Shrimps 
  • Small fish 
  • Blood worms 
  • Tubifex 
  • Bloodworms 
  • Daphnia 
  • Brine Shrimp 
  • Mosquito larvae 
  • Blanched vegetables 
  • Black worms 
  • Spirulina

If you’re having difficulty deciding on quality staple food for your convicts, let me help you out. 

Here’s our recommendation – Ron’s Cichlid Food – suitable for both American and African cichlids. 

Besides all the bells and whistles this product boasts of, what I like the best is that it’s formulated and produced by someone who’s been breeding cichlids for over 2 decades. I bet he knows a thing or two! 

As for feeding frequency, it’s best to spread out the meal portions across the day – 3 to 4 times. For more information on the do’s and don’ts of feeding cichlids, check out this article

Breeding Pink Convict Cichlid 

Breeding pink convict cichlids is as easy as it comes. One author on the internet remarked that to breed them, you just need to add “fish and water.” And that’s actually kinda true! But you can encourage your convict cichlids to breed by offering a suitable cave, or a pot turned on its side. Also, make sure to slightly increase the temperature than usual. 

The pair gets highly violent and possessive during the breeding season. Thus, it’s recommended to move them to a separate tank, so the rest of the tank’s inhabitants don’t have to cower in the corner for the entire breeding season. 

The breeding ritual goes something like this: The mating pair will perform a little pre-spawning dance and shake their heads at each other. Next, the male will then position himself vertically and transform into darker and more vivid colors. The female will shortly follow suit. They will then dance and flare up for a while. 

Next, they will finalize an area, vigorously clean it, and dig a depression in the substrate around a cave or the flower pot. The female will then lay 20-40 eggs at a time inside the cave or pot. The eggs are super sticky and will perfectly adhere to the cave’s walls. Next, the male will closely follow the female and fertilize the eggs. This will continue until 100-300 eggs are fertilized. The size of the brood will depend on the female’s maturity and health.

The parental care now begins. The mother will fan the eggs, so they don’t develop fungus. And the male will patrol the area and chase away intruders. 

The eggs will hatch in about 2-3 days, depending on the water temperature and pH level. At first, they will stick closely to their cave and rely on the yolk sac for nutrition. 

After a week or so, once they are free-swimming, give them pulverized flakes, daphnia, and baby brine shrimp. Finally, they can advance to full flake food at about 3 weeks of age. 

Pink convict cichlids are exemplary in caring for their young ones. They will defend their young ones at any cost – chasing and pushing anyone that tries to come near. 

The parents will also stir up the sand with their belly to expose food that has fallen to the bottom. They will also chew up and spit food into the water for their babies to eat. 

They are even known to produce mucus-like substances as a food supplement for the young fry. 

The parents will occasionally suck their babies into their mouths or bury them in the sand if there’s a threat nearby. 

After a few weeks, you can remove the fry and raise them in a separate tank. 

It’s been reported that pink convict cichlids also perform infanticide. However, those cases must be anomalies because they make excellent parents most of the time. 

How To Acclimatize Pink Convict Cichlids? 

Patience is a virtue – this saying cannot be any truer in this context. You should really channel a lot of patience when acclimatizing your pink convicts to a new environment, as these fish are susceptible to any change in their habitat. You should never rush the process. There are basically two ways: drip method and floating method. 

Drip Method 

The tank’s lights should be turned off, and the room should be dim. In this method, we exposed the fish to the aquarium water at a controlled rate of mere drops per second. This really helps to minimize the stress from the change in the environment. 

Here are step-by-step instructions:

  • Put the fish and the water it came in into a small bucket.
  • Add an air stone in the bucket and supply it with air from the air pump.
  • Place the bucket next to the tank the fish will later go in.
  • Set up and run the siphon drip line to bucket from tank using some plastic air tubing and an air value.
  • Begin the siphon and slowly allow the tank water to drip into the bucket, using an air valve to regulate the drip-rate.
  • When dripped water equates to about two to three times the volume of the bag water, test the bucket’s parameters to see if the pH value, salinity, and temperature match the aquarium water.
  • Slowly remove the fish and place it in the main tank.

Floating Method 

Once again, the tank’s lights should be turned off, and the room’s lights should be dimmed. Then, place the pouch the fish came in the water and let it float for around 15 minutes. 

Next, the pouch should be cut under the knot, and the bag’s top edge should be rolled down one inch. Then, 1/4 cup of tank water should be added to the bag. Repeat this process every five minutes until the bag is full. 

Once done, the pink convict can gently be moved into the tank. 

Diseases In Pink Convict Cichlids 

If there are disturbances in the diet regime or environment, your pink convict cichlids will be susceptible to many ailments, including ich, swim bladder disease, skin flukes, and even tuberculosis. 

Let’s have a quick glance at them. 


Ich is a common and contagious parasitic disease caused by ciliated protozoan ichthyophthirius multifiliis. What’s interesting is that these parasites can quickly transfer from one to another with no host!

Some common symptoms are white spots across the body, loss of appetite, reclusiveness, and scraping of the body against a hard surface.

To treat ich, you will need to increase the water temperature slowly, a tad bit higher than usual. You can simultaneously also use a copper-based treatment for more instant results. 

But don’t forget to remove water conditioners before using the copper-based treatments. 

Related: Ich On Cichlid? We Swear By This Treatment!

Swim Bladder Disease 

The malfunctioning of the swim bladder can be caused by several reasons. Most commonly, it’s because of a poor diet and usually goes away once the correct diet is maintained. 

However, if it’s due to an internal injury, there’s not much you can do. Instead, you’ll need to take a fish surgeon’s help who will remove the part of the bladder or place a small stone in it to restore buoyancy. 


Tuberculosis is a lot more common in fish than we think. And if not treated on time, it is straight-up fatal. TB is caused by one of many deadly parasites – all coming from the mycobacterium genus. 

The telltale symptoms of tuberculosis are panting, sunken belly, appetite loss, lesions, white blotches, and frayed fins. 

If you suspect any of your fish has contracted this disease, immediately transfer the fish to the quarantine tank. Next, treat the main tank with antibiotics, so others aren’t affected. Sadly, as of now, there’s no effective remedy available to treat the infected fish. 

Parting Words: Pink Convict Cichlid Care Guide 

So, that’s all the information you need on raising healthy and happy pink convict cichlids. I know these fish are notorious for their temper, but if you get a few things right, it’s a breeze to look after them. 

However, always be mindful when choosing tankmates for convict cichlids. Only go for species that can hold their ground if confronted with a convict. 

And these cichlids get overly aggressive and possessive during mating season. So, we advise to move the pair to a separate tank. 

Happy Reading! 🙂

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