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August 15, 2018
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News & Reviews Article
Title Checkerboard Cichlid, An Under Appreciated Dwarf Cichlid

Sara Waller

Last Updated



A brief description of the checkerboard cichlid.


The checkerboard cichlid (Dicrossus filamentosus) is a small fish that ranges through Colombia and Venezuela, from the Rio Inírida to Maripa and in the Rio Orinoco. It is also found in parts of the Brazilian Rio Negro where it can be found in small forest streams, where the bottom is covered with leaf litter and a tangle of branches and roots.  In this environment aquatic plants are a rarity, apart from the areas near the banks.  This dwarf cichlid lives in schools and larger groups, usually staying above the thick layer of fallen leaves, in which it will hide when faced with a threat.

The checkerboard cichlid grows to an adult size of up to 4 inches long.  Males are slightly larger than females and possess a highly attractive “lyretailed” caudal fin.   Females are smaller with less color, possessing a rounded caudal fin.


The checkerboard cichlid should be maintained in an aquarium of 20 gallons or larger.  Lighting should be subdued and there should be plenty of hiding places in the form of driftwood, rocks, and leaf litter (CS706).  The addition of a dark substrate (CS6631) and floating plants is also recommended.                                                                 

The checkerboard cichlid prefers a water temperature of 81°F to 86°F, a pH of 4.5 to 7.0, and a hardness of 1 to 5°H.  Breeding requires a pH of 4.5 to 5.8 and a hardness of 1°H or lower.

The checkerboard cichlid is a peaceful fish that should be maintained in a group of 10 to 12 individuals.  Good tank mates include smaller tetras, such as neon or cardinal tetras,  small rasboras, other peaceful dwarf cichlids, small, peaceful barbs, Corydoras sp. and smaller Loricariids.  Avoid any fish that are overly aggressive or rambunctious.


Checkerboard cichlids will usually accept dry foods, especially sinking pellets (NL1012).  Vary their diet with a flake containing spirulina (AL165) and plenty of frozen foods.  To bring Checkerboards into breeding condition, live foods are highly recommended.  Probiotics (AL169) will also improve overall health and longevity.


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