I am hoping to get some Checkerboard cichlids for my 200 l aquarium. It has a length of 100cm, a temperature of 27.5°C and an oversized filter. The substrate is silver sand, and it’s heavily planted, with bogwood and branches and a few rocks, leaf litter and Savu pods. The pH is 6.8–7 — I use tapwater, but there are peat granules in the filter. Water changes are carried out every two weeks, meaning nitrate and nitrite is always low. Lighting is quite dim, but there are floating plants.
The tank holds two Vaillant’s gouramis, six Congo tetras, eight Cardinal tetras, an L168 butterfly pleco, eight mixed corys, eight Shadow catfish, six Bentosi tetras and some Amano shrimp.
If Checkerboard cichlids are suitable, would you recommend a pair or harem?
SAM PUTNAM, EMAIL
That sounds like a great set-up for Checkerboard cichlids! There are two species — Dicrossus maculatus with the heavier checkerboard pattern on its body and shorter fins, and D. filamentosus, with that beautiful lyretail. D. maculatus are the cheaper of the two and usually come in wild caught, while D. filamentosus commands a premium and is
bred in the Czech Republic by suppliers
Both will come in small and not looking like they do in the pictures, but give them the right conditions, like it sounds like you have in your tank, and they will thrive.
Juveniles will not be easy to sex so start with a group, with the aim of eventually obtaining a pair. Juveniles do shoal in the wild so will get on fine, but once those males hit 5cm and start to colour up they will want a space all of their own, and I would only look to keep an adult pair in a tank of your size long term.