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Are you thinking about adding an electric blue acara to your tank? If so, you’re in for a real treat! These vibrant fish are sure to add some excitement to your aquarium. In this guide, we’ll provide everything you need to know about keeping electric blue acaras healthy and happy. We’ll cover everything from their ideal temperature range to their dietary needs. So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, read on for the essential information you need to care for these beautiful fish!
- Electric blue acaras are a type of hybrid South American cichlid.
- These fish are very popular due to their intense coloration, compatible demeanor, and ease of breeding.
- The electric blue acara is a large fish that needs plenty of open swimming space and decorations to rearrange.
A Quick Overview On The Electric Blue Acara
|Scientific Name||Andinoacara pulcher|
|Common Names||Electric blue acara, Blue acara, Acara|
|Origin||Unnaturally occurring (Hybridization of a South American cichlid species)|
|Lifespan||7 to 10 years|
|Tank Level||Middle to bottom|
|Minimum Tank Size||40 gallons|
|Temperature Range||74° F to 82° F|
|Water Hardness||2 to 10 KH|
|pH Range||6.0 to 7.0|
|Filtration/Water Flow||Low to moderate|
|Difficulty to Breed||Easy|
|Compatibility||Semi-aggressive community tanks|
|OK, for Planted Tanks?||With caution|
What Is Are They?
The electric blue acara is not a naturally occurring fish. This is a hybrid mainly derived from the naturally occurring blue acara, Andinoacara pulcher; it is believed that they were mixed with blue ram cichlids (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) at some point as well. This means that the electric blue acara cannot be found in nature and has been bred for its color expression within the aquarium hobby.
While a hybrid, the electric blue acara is still regarded as the Andinoacara pulcher species. They are members of the Cichlidae family and a type of South American cichlid.
In the aquarium hobby, the electric blue acara is a favorite cichlid to keep due to its bright coloration, hardiness, conforming temperament, and easy breeding. Unlike other similar South American cichlids that are mouth brooders, the electric blue acara is an egg layer that displays excellent parental care.
When shopping for your electric blue acara, make sure to confirm whether it is a hybrid or the parent species. Some fish stores may label this species as blue acara or simply acara, which can be confusing.
Origin and Habitat
The electric blue acara may not occur in the wild, but its closest relative, the blue acara, does. The blue acara originates from South America, mainly throughout parts of mainland Venezuela and off the coast in Trinidad and Tobago. They have also been documented in several other countries as nonnatives, but little documentation of their range exists.
In these countries, the blue acara can be found in a variety of ecosystems. These conditions range from murky, standstill waters to clear and running rivers. As a South American cichlid, the blue acara prefers softer and more acidic water parameters.
What makes the electric blue acara so appealing to hobbyists is its colors. These fish are a flash of brilliant light in the aquarium with their bright blue bodies!
The electric blue acara was hybridized from a series of overly bright and colorful blue acara as well as blue rams. This led to their almost-metallic pale blue body color; some fish may have underlying hints of yellow or orange. Lower-grade acaras might even have patches of blue missing, revealing sections of black and grey.
Electric blue acaras have relatively large fins with respect to their body size. Mature males have a longer and more pointed dorsal fin while females typically have smaller fins overall. They can both display a yellow or orange margin on the top of the dorsal fin.
This difference in size is not always a tried and true method to tell male and female fish apart, though, especially if they’re still juveniles. As we’ll see, male and female pairs will need to form on their own in most scenarios.
How Big Do They Get?
Don’t be mistaken by the popularity of dwarf South American cichlids. The electric blue acara is a full-grown member of the cichlid family, growing to be about 6 to 7 inches on average. These freshwater fish are not dwarf cichlids and cannot be kept in nano tank conditions!
How Long Do They Live?
On top of being a relatively big fish, electric blue acaras can live for a surprisingly long time. On average, these fish live to be anywhere from 7 to 10 years old. They are very hardy and will thrive in an established and well-maintained freshwater setup.
The electric blue acara is a hardy fish without many needs. Remember, blue acaras can be found in a variety of environmental conditions, which means that these freshwater fish can also adapt to most aquarium conditions.
All in all, the electric blue acara has very basic cichlid care requirements.
While you might have a perfect aquarium setup in mind for your new electric blue acara, your fish might have other plans. Like other cichlids, electric blues will rearrange the tank to how they like it, especially during spawning periods.
Electric blue acaras are relatively large fish that enjoy their swimming space. They mainly stay towards the bottom of the tank but will venture into the upper middle portions at times.
The best electric blue acara tank will have a minimal design with open space that accents the natural colors and behaviors of the fish. This includes a sand substrate along with driftwood or rock for decoration.
Electric blue acaras can successfully be kept with live plants, but only species that mind being uprooted from time to time. Because of this, some hobbyists only keep floating plants with their cichlids.
Good live plants for electric blue acaras include:
- Anubias spp.
- Java fern (Leptochilus pteropus)
- Java moss (Vesicularia dubyana)
- Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides)
- Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
- Duckweed (Lemna spp.)
These fish don’t need a lot of plant coverage, but a backdrop of green will especially make their colors pop out. Floating plants can be very helpful for dimming lighting conditions and making fish feel more like in their natural habitat.
Otherwise, electric blues can be kept in a community tank setting as long as small fish species are able to find protection in size, a school, or in decorations.
There are many ways to set up a tank with the electric blue acara in mind. In most cases, hobbyists use this fish species as the showpiece of the display, with all other species being catered towards them. Other hobbyists keep only electric blue acaras in their tanks and let them breed.
The bare minimum tank size for an electric blue breeding tank is 40 gallons. This allows for the male and female fish as well as the fry until they are big enough to stop receiving parental care. If planning on keeping a pair of electric blue acaras in a community tank with other species, then at least 55 gallons is recommended with a larger tank size being much more preferred.
Electric blue acara are active swimmers that need a lot of open space to enjoy. As a cichlid species, they can also be territorial, especially the males during spawning times. To help prevent any possible aggression from this otherwise peaceful fish, a larger tank will allow for more space between tank mates.
The electric blue acara is a hardy fish that generally adapts to most aquarium water conditions. They are regarded as a beginner cichlid species, forgiving imperfections and wavering water parameters. That being said, they cannot tolerate ammonia or nitrite and breeding will demand more specific parameters.
To keep your electric blue as happy and healthy as possible, imitate the conditions found in the blue acara’s natural habitat in South America. This means soft, acidic water with water hardness between 2 and 10 KH and pH between 6.0 to 7.0. They are tropical fish and need a tropical water temperature between 74° F to 82° F.
A weekly or biweekly 15 to 25% water change should be performed to keep nitrates low and to keep water quality up. Live plants will help keep nitrate levels from rising, but the rest will need to be manually removed. Most tanks do well with under 20 ppm nitrate.
At the same time as the water change, the substrate should be vacuumed to remove uneaten food and other wastes that might have accumulated. Because these are bigger fish, they’ll eat bigger foods that cause a lot more nutrients to enter the water column if left to rot.
The Python is a mainstay in the fish hobby. Easily clean your aquarium by connecting this to your sink!
Filtration and other aquarium equipment should also be cleaned every few months depending on waste and algae buildup.
Filtration and Aeration
Electric blue acaras do well with a hang on the back or canister filter. They do not have any special filtration needs other than regular maintenance.
This filter should be rated for at least 2x the size of the tank as these are relatively big fish. Electric blue acaras do best in a slow to medium flow, though they can adapt to higher water currents as long as there are areas of lower flow throughout the aquarium. Also, note that a higher flow can upset a sand substrate in addition to the disruption caused by your fish.
Additional aeration is usually not necessary but an air stone can be used to help circulate lower portions of the tank and to add aesthetic.
Though these colorful fish look best under high lighting, they prefer low to medium light settings. Because hobbyists don’t usually keep light-demanding plant species with electric blue acaras, there is no recommended light setup; these fish will thrive under a fluorescent or LED light fixture.
If the light fixture is too intense, then floating plants and other aquarium decorations can be used to diffuse bright areas. Keep in mind that a low water flow in addition to high lighting can fuel algae growth.
Aquatic Plants and Decorations
As mentioned before, electric blue acara can be kept with a variety of live plants. The problem is that these fish regularly uproot and disturb their surroundings, so the species of plants kept must be able to tolerate some rough handling.
Again, some of the best species include Anubias, Java fern, and hornwort. Though some hobbyists may try to tie or glue these plants down, your fish will rearrange the tank to its liking eventually.
The same can be said about the aquarium decorations used. Most cichlid enthusiasts keep their tanks simple with rocks, like Texas holey rock, ceramic flower pots, and driftwood. Electric blues will likely claim a piece of this real estate for themselves and guard it against other tank mates, though usually in a passive manner. During spawning times, electric blue acara will become noticeably more aggressive and territorial.
With its ability to raise pH and hardness, this rock is an excellent choice for African Cichlids
Almost all cichlids love to burrow in the sand. Some even create breeding pits where they spawn, including the electric blue acara.
These aquarium fish will do best on a sandy substrate where they are free to change their surroundings based on their own preferences. This can certainly become messy at times and leave the controlling aquascaper frustrated. However, gravel can frustrate the fish and even injure them.
Food and Diet
One of the best things about electric blue acara is that they eat anything you offer them! These fish are not picky and are a joy to watch eat. That being said, they need a high-quality diet to keep their colors shining brightest.
Electric blues will appreciate a variety of live, freeze-dried, and frozen foods. They are larger fish that need to be fed several times throughout the day. To help keep costs down, a high-quality fish food flake or pellet may be given regularly. Brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, bloodworms, earthworms, and even fresh pieces of mollusk and fish may be given as a treat.
A poor diet will not result in the best colors and may affect the success of broods and the spawning process.
Community Tank Mates
Electric blue acaras are a favorite cichlid due to their passive demeanor. They can be kept with an assortment of tank mates, both bigger and smaller, more active and less active.
The best electric blue acara community tank mates include:
They have even been safely kept with larger invertebrates, including dwarf crayfish and nerite snails.
If you’re looking for a cichlid-tank setup, then here are the best compatible cichlid species for your electric blue acara:
- Severums (Heros severus)
- Geophagus spp.
- Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare)
- Apistograma spp.
- Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi)
Are They Aggressive?
Though they are labeled as semi-aggressive fish, electric blues can be both ends of the spectrum when needed. In a community tank, these fish will be peaceful. When placed with more aggressive species, they will be able to hold their own.
Can You Keep A Single By Itself?
While electric blue acaras aren’t schooling fish, they definitely prefer to be in groups with their own kind. It is not recommended to only keep one single electric blue acara as this could cause stress in the form of aggression or reclusion.
How Many Should You Have?
Electric blue acaras are usually kept in pairs. However, males and females can be difficult to tell apart, especially when they’re typically sold as juveniles in aquarium stores.
To get the best breeding pair possible, many hobbyists purchase a small group of about 5 fish. As they mature, they naturally pair off on their own. This saves some confusion about sexing them and gives the hobbyist several pairs to choose from.
In the end, though, most hobbyists only keep one pair due to males becoming aggressive towards each other.
Poor Tank Mates
While the electric blue acara is one of the most adaptable cichlid tank mates, they’re not right for every home aquarium setup. Poor tank mates are ones that can easily fit in an electric blue’s mouth or ones that are overly aggressive or that try to fight back!
In addition, small invertebrates, like dwarf shrimp and snails, will also be seen as food for your electric blue acara.
Breeding electric blue acara is fun and easy. Unlike other similar cichlids, the electric blue acara is an egg layer and not a mouthbrooder. These fish still display some excellent parenting, though! Check out the video below from Uri Shasha.
The most challenging part about breeding electric blues is getting a good breeding pair. As mentioned before, it can be difficult to tell the males apart from the females. Males are typically larger with more elongated and pointed dorsal fins, while females are smaller. Even as adults, these physical differences can be hard to see.
Luckily, electric blue acaras are monogamous fish that mate for life. They become sexually mature when they are 1 year old and about 4 inches.
To get a breeding pair, it’s recommended to purchase a small group of juveniles and allow them to pair off on their own. Once mature, the best pair may be picked. These fish may then be bred in the main display aquarium or in a breeding tank. A 20-gallon breeding tank will allow for more control and overall success in keeping fry alive.
In either case, the water temperature should be set to 77° F with a relatively neutral pH and slightly soft water. When ready, the female will lay her eggs on flat rocks or other accessible surfaces throughout the aquarium. One clutch includes about 100 to 200 eggs. The male will quickly fertilize them once laid.
Over the course of the next two to three days, the parents will protect the eggs. It’s possible that they will create a pit in the substrate where they will move the fry once hatched. This can cause a lot of disruption to the substrate and aquascaping. During this time, males will become especially aggressive towards other tank mates, though won’t usually injure or kill them.
After these few days, the eggs will hatch. The parents may move the fry to the pit or leave them where they are. The parents will continue to deliver care until the fry are fully free-swimming. Then, the parent electric blues will deliver food to the fry, so small foods, like baby brine shrimp, should be supplemented. At this point, the fry or the parents may be removed from the tank to increase survival chances. This is especially recommended if spawning these fish in the main display.
Over the next two months, the baby fish will continue to develop. They should continue to be given small fry food, but can eventually be fed crushed fish flakes. Once big enough, the baby electric blue acaras can be moved to the display aquarium or given to another hobbyist.
The parent electric blues will be ready to mate again in a matter of weeks. Once they have started, they are likely to continue as long as water quality and other tank conditions are met.
Common Health Problems
Electric blue acaras are hardier than most fish. Because they’re hybrids, they exist only in the aquarium hobby and have been exposed to the most common health problems. Still, these fish are susceptible to freshwater ich and skin flukes. Luckily, these problems can be easily treated and easily avoided.
When purchasing an electric blue acara, make sure that its colors are bright and its behaviors are normal. These fish should be active and colorful. Always ask the store representative to watch them eat; if there is any refusal, the fish is most likely sick or stressed.
As always, it’s recommended to quarantine new fish for at least three weeks before adding them to a new system.
Electric blue acaras are an extremely popular hybrid cichlid. These beautiful fish are vibrant in coloration and behavior and are some of the easiest cichlids to breed. Electric blues are large fish, so they need to be given plenty of space, especially if planning to keep a pair with other tank mates. However, they can be kept in a variety of tank setups and will accommodate the demeanors of other fish.
Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping – both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.