Everything You Need to Know About the Jaguar Cichlid

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Having a pet is one of the best things, especially if that pet is a fish. A Jaguar Cichld is a silent, beautiful fish, and some of them are great for pest control. Although it might seem like fish are easy to care for, there are a lot of species which require a lot of attention as well as special food or tanks.

In this article, we are going to talk about an interesting fish species: the jaguar cichlid. Here you can find out everything you need to know about these species including its compatibility with other fish. It’s good to know that jaguar cichlids can’t be put in a tank with Tetra or Angel Fish. They are large and aggressive fish. They are known as “tank busters” among predator enthusiasts as they can crack smaller tanks with their aggressive antics.  

General Information about the Jaguar Cichlid

The Jaguar Cichlid, scientifically known as parachromis managuesis, is a large species of Cichlid. They are originally from Central America and can be found from Costa Rica to Honduras. Unlike most fish tropical fish, this species is bigger, and it can grow to 35 centimeters. These are highly predatory fish, and this is why it can be difficult to find the right tank mate. The jaguar cichlid is very valuablefor it’s looks. It is one of the more beautiful, larger, and aggressive Cichlids from Central America that you can purchase.

Size and Looks

The Managuense jaguar cichlid is a big, elongated fish. It’s flat from sides and it has an oval body. Its appearance shows that it’s a raptorial feeder which has adapted to aggressive assaults. These fish have different sizes when they live in captivity. For instance, a wild jaguar cichlid can reach 60 cm and it can weigh about 7 kg. Here is a video by Mrlilchilly1 showing a full grown Jaguar Cichlid in action.

Unlike the ones living in the wild, jaguar cichlids that lives in captivity grow to about 35 cm in length. The Parachromis managuensis females can only reach 30 cm and they weigh about 3 kg. These are some of the biggest fish which can be put in a tank and kept as a pet.

The color of the Jaguar Cichlid is silvery with spots of brown and black. Its color pattern resembles the one of a jaguar, as its name states. An interesting fact about their color pattern is that it’s almost impossible to find two jaguar cichlids with the same body spots. This species also presents a big head with a large mouth and big lips. They have pharyngeal teeth which help them hunt.

Male vs. Female Differences

A male Jaguar Cichlid is larger and will have more vertical broken bars when young. These bars will disappear once the male reaches maturity. A female Parachromis managuesis on the other hand, will have thinner vertical bars and will have a more pronounced dark bars and have more reddish coloration on their gill covers. Juvenile fish are readily available at fish stores and online. These Cichlids get more expensive and harder to find the larger they are.

Having a Jaguar Cichlid in a tank

Parachromis managuensis

There are some important things to keep in mind when you want to purchase a jaguar cichlid as a pet. For instance, these fish can’t share a tank with a lot of species. In order to accommodate the cichlid and the other tankmates, you need to have a tank with aggressive fish. Also, you need to have large fish so that they won’t get hurt or eaten by the jaguar cichlid.

It’s best to pair the jaguar cichlid with other cichlids like the Red Devil or the Midas cichlid. These species are territorial to aggressive which means they are able to hold their own. Aggressiveness is best handled by additional tank space. Keeping your aggressive fish full will also curb aggressive. Hungry and cramped fish will get aggressive with their tank mates fighting for valuable territory. These large predatory fish mentioned will also enjoy the same foods. You will not have to worry about feeding them separately. Be sure to spread out food among each fish’s establish territory to avoid bricking and to ensure everyone gets fed. 

Another important thing to consider before purchasing Parachromis managuensis is the tank. In this case, you will need an aquarium tank with a capacity of at least 100 gallons of water. The decorations of the tank should be big and bulky like rocks. Don’t put plants in their tank because this Cichlid will destroy them in no time. A good starter tank for a fish this size is a 125 gallon tank. This is a 6 foot long tank with enough width and depth to support a Cichlid of this size and still have room for other inhabitants.

You will need to put a substrate for the bottom of the tank that is made of large grained gravel and add some middle-sized grains. Maintain the water in the tank at a temperature of 24-25 C. Also, the pH of the water should be around 7 for optimal results.


The jaguar cichlids have been bred in tanks for a long time. However, there are a few rules to follow when it comes to this species. The best way to help them breed is to make sure that you put 2 or 3 pairs of jaguar cichlids together in a tank when they are juvenile. If you try to put a new female or a new male when you have adult fish. You will risk losing these additions due to the jaguar cichlid’s territorial nature. This is a bigger risk if you your fish is actively breeding. 

If you have an actively breeding couple, consider moving them to a different tank so that the breeding process goes smoothly. This tank should have at least 200 liters of water. Cichlids in general are great parents and are a joy to watch their fry raising process. It can be a real threat to share this experience with your family.


As we mentioned earlier, this fish is a carnivore and a raptorial which means they enjoy various types of live fish. They can also eat cut up fish or crayfish and dry foods. The jaguar cichlid prefers food like earthworms, crickets and tadpoles. Remember to feed them only once a day because they tend to eat too much. Frozen food is also a good food staple to provide, through can get expensive given how much these fish need to eat at their adult size. Also, experts recommend a fasting the jaguar cichlid once a week.

These fish can also eat small reptiles, larva, or goldfish. However, it’s strictly prohibited to give these species warm-blooded meat like beef, pork or poultry. This type of meat has a lot of fat and it can affect the health of your cichlid.


While it is a bit hard to find the right tankmates for this big and aggressive fish, it’s quite easy to care for them. One of the most important things is to keep the tank water clean. Large tanks are necessary for these big species. Apart from the large tank you will need to have canister filter or a sump filter to help you clean the water.

Remember to change about 30% of the water in the tank twice a week. Due to the fact that the aquariums are closed systems the phosphates and nitrates tend to build up in time. This makes the water hardness increase. Despite the fact that this species is aggressive, they are very sensitive to pH instability. If you oversize your filtration you may be able to get away with less water changes, but also monitor your nutrient levels with proper aquarium test kits.

It’s also recommended to use external tank equipment that can clean the water. Because of their large size and aggressive style, the jaguar cichlid can damage any internal filter or heater. Titanium heaters are recommended when you house fish as large and aggressive as these. Titanium heaters can take a beating and not crack or break. Apart from these minor problems, jaguar cichlids are easy to care for.

Diseases that Affect Cichlids

Unfortunately, fish are prone to infections and disease, especially predatory fish like the cichlid. Infections are common with predatory fish due to fighting as wounded can get infect. For parasites, one of the most common diseases is Ich. This can be treated by simply raising the temperature to 86 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3 days. In case this doesn’t work, you will need to treat the pet with copper. Remember to be careful when you add a new decoration or a new fish to the tank because it could be infected with disease. Stress from aggression can also bring about disease if the fish is carrying the disease. Stress will compromises a fish’s immune system, which will lead to an outbreak.


These are some of the most important things you should know about this amazing fish species. If you want to purchase a jaguar cichlid as a pet you need to be careful with the tank capacity and the pH of the water. Apart from that just feed them once a day with worms or dry food and they will be fine. Also, don’t put them in tanks with smaller fish because the jaguar can kill or eat them.

by Mark

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.


  1. Thanks for the interesting article on the Jag Cichlid. I purchased 2 from a rehome at my lfs. As it turned out, they were a pair. I’ve had 2 spawns since. Many fry didn’t make it, but I have a few 1 year olds. So interesting to watch them grow into maturity. Great huge fish with a great attitude and a phenomenal color pattern.
    Jags vs Oscars… well that’s a toss up!!!


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