How do I create a biotope for Parachromis motaguensis?

5db7c1d0-f54d-4980-b7b2-da5b37f18095

Editor's Picks
 A perfect place for your Fighter to rest his little fins — the Betta Bed Leaf Hammock.
Gear Post
Review: Betta Bed Leaf Hammock
21 November 2017
 Just look at that little face... No wonder then, that so many fishkeepers find these little puffers so hard to resist.
Features Post
Join the puffer fish fan club!
28 September 2017
 Special care needs to be taken when catching Pictus catfish and other species with spines.
Features Post
Travels with your fish
03 August 2017

Central American cichlid expert Juan Miguel Artigas Azas explains what the natural habitat of the guapote cichlid Parachromis motaguensis is like, and describes how you can recreate it at home.

Parachromis motaguensis, as all the other Parachromis species, is a large, aggressive predator. Males can easily grow to 30cm/12” in total length and can be very aggressive, particularly to females or males of the same or similar species.

In contrast to this behaviour they are also often very shy fish, so they require a large tank with hiding places and housed with large companions.

I would recommend no tank smaller than 400 l/88 gal to house them and my favourite set-up for this fish includes a fine layer of sand, a lot of driftwood and some rocks that provide ample cover. Plants are a waste as in the aquarium they will normally be uprooted.

Their temperature range must be between 24-30°C/75-86°F, ideally around 26°C/79°F, as lower temperatures tend to increase their shyness, in my experience. Nevertheless, I think that some variation during the year is necessary for their wellbeing.

The pH in their habitat ranges between 7 to  8.5 and they normally inhabit habitats where water is hard or very hard. The chemical parameters may not be critical, but it certainly helps keeping them in this range as you will get better fish and coloration.

This item was first published in the September 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.