So You Want To Add A Jaguar Cichlid To Your Collection, Do You...

Here's what you should know first



What are you doing??

You absolutely DO NOT want to incorporate that new, beautiful Jaguar Cichlid into your tank of Tetra and Angle Fish.

Look, the Jaguar is a fish for moderate to advanced owners.

So, if you definitely are sure you want to take up the challenge of keeping these fish, you’ve come to the right place.

PHEW – I’m glad we caught you before something bad happened.

I guarantee you would have fewer fish tomorrow morning if you had put the Jaguar in your tank.

Let’s dive into what the Jaguar is, what it eats, who it does (or does not) ‘get along with,’ and any other pertinent factors you really should know if you want to own one.

Scientific NameParachromis managuensis
Social GroupingPairs
IUCN Red ListNE – Not Evaluated/Not Listed


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The Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis managuensis) is a large, semi-aggressive and beautiful cichlid that is a great companion for the more experienced fish keeper.

They tend to have very elongated and oval-shaped bodies and are some of the largest South American cichlids. In the wild, these fish will reach up to two feet and can weigh up to 3 ½ pounds.

Fortunately, they are much smaller in the aquarium, reaching only about 16 inches.

Due to their large size and semi-aggressive temperament, they are an ideal fish for a huge system, but should not be kept with smaller or less aggressive fish.

They are found on the Atlantic slope of Central America from the Ulua River in Honduras to the Matina
River in Costa Rica.

Table of Contents


Basics You NEED TO Know About The Jaguar Cichlid

Unlike most cichlids, the Jaguar doesn’t present a permanent patterning until it has fully matured.

It will change as it ages.

When young, both the male and female have several dark bars. This ‘bar’ extends from the top of the back and abruptly ends around the lateral line.

They have two dark bars just behind their eye; one that is horizontal and broken extending to the first vertical bar on the body, and the other running diagonally down to the gill cover.

Mature, full grown males lose these bars and develop a “jaguar” patterning evenly distributed over their body and fins.

Conversely, adult females may or may not maintain these bars while also forming a line of several large, black dots across the body.

The background color of this cichlid appears silvery, mixed with a light blue-green to light purple hue.

There can be some light tan-yellow to burgundy-red on the head.

Very clean water will bring out their colors and patterning best.

Unlike many aquarium fish, the wild Jaguar Cichlid becomes large enough to warrant human

Consequently, they are used for food in their native lands while also considered pests in some

The Jaguar Cichlid is moderately easy to care for – you’ll need a large tank and appropriate tank

Looking for the perfect mixer for your cichlids?

Mix your jaguars with other large, rowdy cichlids.

They are predators, and will eat smaller fish and invertebrates.

Many do not tolerate any other fish in their tanks unless they are a male/female pair, or if the aquarium is large enough (200 gallons or larger).

Even then, however, males have been known to attack and/or kill a newly introduced female.

They become more aggressive when they are in breeding mode and should be isolated to their own tank.

Jaguars will dig in the substrate, so it would be ideal to provide them with some rocks and wood for
places to hide. You also want to provide them with a large rock for spawning.

Be sure to also have a tight-fitting lid as the Jaguars can jump out.

To really enjoy the coloring and pattern of these fish, provide a dark gravel.

The Jaguar’s lifespan is typically 15 years. Provided with good care, the fish can live longer.

So, what have we learned so far?

The Jaguar Cichlid…

  •  is large and semi-aggressive
  • preys on smaller fish and invertebrates
  • is the largest South American cichlid
  • full grown males develop a “jaguar” patterning
  • requires a large tank
  • mixes best with other large, ‘rowdy’ cichlids
  • may tolerate a male/female pair
  • lives roughly 15 years in an aquarium
  • typically becomes aggressive when breeding
  • could jump out of a tank if the lid isn’t tight fitting


The Jaguar Cichlids have been bred in captivity for many years.

They form mating pairs and are excellent parents to their young. However, it is best to raise a group of juveniles together and allow them to form pairs rather than to attempt and introduce a mature female to a mature male, as mature
males have been known to attack and kill females.

Even lifelong pairs should be kept in a tank of at least 180 gallons in order to quell the aggression of the male.

When it is time to spawn, the male will display for the female and take exceptional care of her.

They will excavate an area behind a large stone; having the area covered and “protected” is desirable to them.

As spawning day gets closer, the male will become less and less tolerant to any tank mates.

If the pair are well fed, performing a 50% water change twice a week will promote a spawning response.

Raising the temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit is also needed.

The eggs will hatch in about 72 hours at this temperature and the higher temperature will give fungi less time to form.

The female will continue to fan the eggs and remove debris. As the eggs get close to the time of
hatching (5-7 days), the female will take them to the pit they made before spawning.

Once the babies are born, you may want to begin doing 20% water changes every other day to remedy the additional
waste from the young (the egg yolks).

Four days after hatching, you can feed them Liquifry and baby powder food as well as brine shrimp. It would be ideal to remove other fish that may eat the fry during the night. In fact, when the fry reach the free swimming state, they should be raised in their own tank to prevent the adult fish from eating them.

Jaguar Cichlid Tank Mates

Not sure who to pair your new Jaguar Cichlid pal with? Check this out before you do anything else:



What Does It Eat?


The Jaguar Cichlid is a carnivore and a raptorial feeder!

This fish feeds on everything that moves and can fit in its mouth.

It can be fed with smaller feeder fishes. During one meal, a mature cichlid can consume up to 10 mature swordtails.

Various types of live fish serve as their main food source.

However, they can also be fed large chunk foods such as cut up fish and crayfish. And, they also accept large pieces of freeze dried and dry foods.

This particular cichlid also eat the following:

  • earthworms
  • bloodworms
  • tadpoles
  • crickets

They should be fed once a day. Some experts now suggest that fasting your fish for one day a week can be beneficial.

This strategy should keep water quality higher over a longer period of time.

All fish benefit from vitamins and supplements added to their foods.

Note: DO NOT feed your cichlids warm-blooded animal meats, such as beef heart or poultry; these foods contain high amounts of fats and proteins not normally found in a cichlid’s natural diet.

The Jaguar Cichlid’s Typical Diet:

  • smaller feeder fishes (Swordfish)
  • various live fish
  • chunk foods (fish/crayfish)
  • freeze dried/dry foods
  • earthworms
  • bloodworms
  • tadpoles
  • crickets


Preferred Climate


The Jaguar Cichlid likes turbid waters with muddy bottoms.

They are found in warm, low oxygenated water in springs, ponds and lakes.

Although the Jaguar Cichlid can tolerate a fairly wide range of conditions, experts suggest that warmer temperatures lead to more aggression in this fish.

Many aquarists will keep the maximum aquarium temperature below 77 degrees Fahrenheit to help reduce antagonism.


History of the Fish


The Jaguar Cichlid was first described in 1867.

Central America is the Jaguar Cichlid primary habitat. Specifically, these fish are found in the Nicaragua basins.

Now, the cichlid inhabits the Lakes of Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Singapore and Florida (USA) since they were brought here by fishermen.

Because of their unsociable temper and unrestrained gluttony, the fish cause a lot of damage to local flora and fauna.

Quick Aquarium Care

These fish are fairly easy to care for provided their water is kept clean.

They will likely need large cannister or simp filters to adequately clean their water. Since aquariums are closed systems, nitrate and phosphates build up over time and the water hardness increases due to evaporation.

Because these fish are very sensitive to pollutants and pH instability, it is important that at least 20-30% of the tank water should be replaced bi-weekly.

When performing water changes always use a gravel cleaner to make sure all of the decomposing organic matter that has built up is removed.


Aquarium Setup

Experience LevelAdvanced
Minimum Tank Size125 gallons
TemperamentLarge Aggressive – Predatory
Temperature75 to 82 Degrees Fahrenheit


The Jaguar Cichlid needs a tank of at least 125 gallons.

These are very aggressive fish and need an enormous tank that can have defined territorial lines. They will also require their tank provide them an ideal area for hiding if planning on having other fish.


The aquarium decoration should be very sturdy, made up of large rocks, driftwood and caves, and
large gravel for a substrate.


There is no need to add plants as these large fish will likely destroy them quickly.


These fish originate from a very murky and muddy habitat, so to stimulate this atmosphere you can add a few handfuls of dried leaves and a bag of aquarium safe peat in the filter.

Leaves will need to be changed out every few weeks.


They need good water movement along with strong and efficient filtration.


It is recommended you use external tank equipment as these fish can do a lot of damage to internal heaters and filters.

A sump style filter with heaters in the sump works very well and saves the cost of replacement equipment.

Fish Diseases

The Jaguar Cichlid is subject to infections as well as other diseases just like any other fish.

One common problem is Ich. It can be treated with the elevation of the tank temperature to 86 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 days.

If it does not cure the Ich, remove any water conditioners and treat the fish will copper. Several copper-based fish medications are available for Ich. Copper use must be kept within proper levels.

Remember, anything you add to your tank can bring disease. Not only other fish, but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria or harmful chemicals.


So, there we are. That’s our guide on the Jaguar Cichlid. Do you have any further questions or want to share your experience with the Jaguar?

Tell us in the comment section below.

If you found this guide helpful or know a newbie who’s interested in starting a Jaguar Cichlid tank, consider sharing this post with them.