Wolf Cichlid Fish swimming in a blue aquarium

The Fascinating World Of Wolf Cichlid Fish: Size, Behavior, And Tank Requirements

Exotic Aquarium Fish


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Diving into the world of exotic aquarium fish can be an exhilarating journey, but when it comes to housing aggressive species like the Wolf Cichlid, many enthusiasts are left scratching their heads.

Recognized as Parachromis dovii in scientific terms, these vividly colored creatures can grow up to a whopping 28 inches! This blog will offer interesting insights about the size, behavior and specific tank requirements for wolf cichlids that would help you transform from an anxious newbie into a confident fish breeder.

Ready to embark on this fascinating underwater adventure?.

Key Takeaways

  • Wolf Cichlid fish, scientifically known as Parachromis dovii, are colorful and can grow up to 28 inches in length.
  • They are carnivorous and have aggressive behavior, preying on smaller fish and other cichlids.
  • These fish require large tanks of at least 100 gallons with ample swimming space and hiding spots for their cavern digging behavior.
  • When choosing tank mates, it’s important to avoid small or peaceful fish and instead opt for other large and aggressive species.

Overview of Wolf Cichlid Fish

School of Wolf cichlid swimming in the tree trunk

The Wolf Cichlid, scientifically known as Parachromis dovii, is a freshwater fish native to Central America.

Scientific name (Parachromis dovii)

The Wolf Cichlid is known as Parachromis dovii in the world of science. This name helps keep track of many fish types. It comes from a big group of fish called cichlids.

Native habitat

Wolf cichlid fish are from Central America. They live in the Aguan and Moin Rivers in Honduras and Costa Rica. These cichlids also swim on the slopes of Nicaragua. In these rivers, they find food and a place to live.

Description (size and weight)

Wolf Cichlids are quite large. They can grow up to 28 inches long! This makes them one of the biggest types of fish you could have in a tank. Their weight is also impressive. An adult Wolf Cichlid often weighs around 0.22 lb, just like the size of a small apple!

Wolf Cichlid Behavior and Diet

Wolf Cichlids are known for their carnivorous nature and aggressive behavior, making them fascinating creatures to observe in a freshwater aquarium. They prey on characins, other cichlids, and poecilids, showcasing their predatory instincts.

Carnivorous nature

The Wolf Cichlid is a carnivorous fish, which means it primarily eats meat. Its diet consists of smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects. In the wild, they hunt down and consume smaller fish, earthworms, insects, and other meaty foods.

This makes them similar to other carnivorous freshwater fish species. Since they are natural predators, it’s important to provide them with a diet that replicates their natural feeding habits in order to keep them healthy and happy in an aquarium setting.

Aggression and territorial behavior

Wolf cichlids, including the Dovii cichlid, are known for their aggression and territorial behavior. They are large and powerful fish that aggressively defend their territory from intruders.

These fish do not tolerate other fish in their tank unless they are a male-female pair. Wolf cichlids can be highly aggressive towards other fish, especially during breeding season when they become more territorial.

Their aggression is a natural instinct and should be taken into consideration when choosing tank mates or setting up their habitat. It’s important to provide them with enough space and hiding spots to establish territories and reduce conflicts.

Diet (prey on characins, other cichlids, and poecilids)

Wolf cichlids have a carnivorous diet, which means they eat other animals. Their main prey includes characins, which are small fish found in South America, as well as other types of cichlids and poecilids.

They also enjoy eating crustaceans like shrimp and insects. In the wild, they feed on smaller fish, earthworms, insects, and small aquatic invertebrates. To keep them healthy in captivity, it is recommended to provide them with a varied diet that includes pellets, shrimps, beef heart, and other meaty foods.

It’s important to avoid giving them fatty foods like pork as it can be harmful to their health.

Tank Requirements for Wolf Cichlids

Parachromis dovii is an aquarium with dim colors

Wolf Cichlids require a large tank of at least 100 gallons with ample room for swimming and cavern digging behavior. Ready to learn more about creating the perfect environment for these fascinating fish? Keep reading!

Large tank size (100+ gallons)

Wolf cichlids need a big tank to thrive. You should have a tank size of at least 100 gallons, but it’s better if you can provide them with even larger tanks, like 120 gallons or more.

As these fish grow bigger, they require more space to swim around comfortably. So, for their long-term care and well-being, it is recommended to have a tank size of over 150 gallons.

Make sure you give them ample room to move and explore in their aquatic home!

Ample room for swimming

Wolf Cichlids are strong swimmers and need plenty of space to swim around. They require a large tank size of at least 120 gallons for their long-term care. It’s important to provide them with ample room to move freely, as they enjoy exploring their environment and showing off their swimming abilities.

cramped aquarium can cause stress and health problems for these fish, so it’s crucial to ensure they have enough unrestricted swimming area in the tank. With a spacious tank, Wolf Cichlids can thrive and display their natural behavior without feeling confined or restricted in any way.

Cavern digging behavior

Wolf cichlids are known for their fascinating cavern digging behavior. They love to create underground hideouts in their tanks by digging into the substrate. Sand or gravel substrate is ideal for these fish as it allows them to easily dig and create their caverns.

However, it’s important to note that Dovii cichlids, a type of wolf cichlid, are known to dig under objects in the tank and can potentially break the aquarium glass. To prevent accidents, it is recommended to place wide, heavy rocks on the glass instead of using substrate in those areas where they like to dig.

This ensures that they can still exhibit their natural behavior without causing any harm.

Tank Mates for Wolf Cichlids

tiny wolf cichlid with red tail swimming in the green weed

Wolf Cichlids are best suited to be housed with other large and aggressive fish, while small or peaceful fish should be avoided due to the Wolf Cichlid’s territorial and aggressive behavior.

Other large, aggressive fish

In addition to Flowerhorns, other large and aggressive fish can be kept with Wolf Cichlids. These include Arowanas, Pike Cichlids, and Red Devil Cichlids. It’s important to note that these fish should also be kept in a suitably large tank because they require ample space to swim and establish territories.

Keeping these compatible species together requires careful monitoring of their behavior and providing enough hiding spots for each fish to retreat if needed.

Avoid small or peaceful fish

Wolf cichlids are highly aggressive and predatory fish, so it’s important to avoid pairing them with small or peaceful fish in the same tank. This is because wolf cichlids have a tendency to pick on and even eat smaller fish.

They have a natural instinct to hunt and prey on other fish, which can lead to stress or harm for their tank mates. It’s best to choose larger and equally aggressive fish as their companions in order to maintain a harmonious tank environment.

Some tetras, particularly larger ones, can be suitable tank mates for wolf cichlids due to their size and ability to withstand aggression.

Breeding and Care for Wolf Cichlids

Breeding wolf cichlids can be challenging due to their aggressive nature, but with proper care and attention, it is possible to raise healthy fry. Provide them with spacious caves for spawning and a well-maintained tank environment to ensure their optimal health and longevity.

Difficulty level of breeding

Breeding Wolf Cichlids can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. While the provided content doesn’t explicitly mention the difficulty level of breeding Wolf Cichlids, it does highlight some important facts.

These fish have a unique breeding behavior and require a dedicated tank with specific conditions for successful reproduction. Introducing new fish into the breeding tank can be risky, as males may kill females who don’t reciprocate breeding.

However, if you provide a suitable setup with plenty of flat surfaces for spawning, you increase your chances of success. It’s important to note that Wolf Cichlids are seldom bred in aquariums compared to other species, but with proper care and attention to their needs, it is possible to breed these fascinating fish and witness their reproductive behaviors firsthand.

Care tips for optimal health and lifespan

To ensure the optimal health and lifespan of your Wolf Cichlid, here are some care tips:

  1. Provide a spacious tank: Make sure to provide a minimum tank size of 125 gallons for your Wolf Cichlid. This will give them ample room to swim and reduce stress.
  2. Maintain proper water quality: Regular water changes and monitoring of water parameters such as pH and temperature are crucial for their well-being. Aim for a pH level between 6.5-7.5 and a temperature range of 75-82°F.
  3. Use an efficient filtration system: Due to their high waste production, it’s important to have a reliable aquarium filter, preferably a canister filter, to keep the water clean and free from harmful substances.
  4. Create hiding spots: Wolf Cichlids are known for their cavern digging behavior. Provide them with caves or other suitable hiding spots to mimic their natural habitat and alleviate stress.
  5. Feed a balanced diet: These carnivorous fish require a varied diet consisting mainly of high-quality pellets or flakes specifically formulated for cichlids. Include occasional treats like live or frozen prey (e.g., small fish) to mimic their natural feeding habits.
  6. Be cautious with tank mates: When choosing tank mates, opt for other large and aggressive fish that can withstand the Wolf Cichlid’s territorial behavior. Avoid adding small or peaceful species that may become targets for aggression.

Importance in local fisheries

Wolf cichlids hold great significance in local fisheries due to their ability to breed relatively easily. This makes them a valuable species for fish breeders and enthusiasts who are interested in cultivating and selling these fish.

The demand for wolf cichlids is high because they are considered game fish, which means that they are sought after by anglers for recreational fishing purposes. Their carnivorous nature and aggressive behavior make them an exciting catch, contributing to their popularity among fishermen.

As a result, the presence of wolf cichlids in local fisheries provides economic opportunities for individuals involved in breeding and selling these fascinating creatures.


In conclusion, Wolf Cichlid fish are fascinating creatures with their large size and aggressive behavior. They require spacious tanks of at least 120 gallons and should only be kept with other large, aggressive fish.

With proper care and a varied diet, these fish can live for around 10-15 years. However, they are not recommended for beginner aquarists due to their specific needs and aggressive nature.


1. What type of fish is the Wolf Cichlid?

The Wolf Cichlid is a colorful freshwater aquarium fish from Lake Nicaragua and Honduras, known for its aggressiveness.

2. Where can I buy Wolf Cichlids?

You can buy them from Imperial Tropicals at a regular price, they are unsexed and captive bred.

3. Can you ship to North America?

Yes, Imperial Tropicals offers shipping of this attractive yet aggressive fish throughout North America.

4. How should I set up my tank for Wolf Cichlids?

The setup requires suitable water pH levels and fry-friendly tank decoration as the wolf cichlid is a cave spawner type of fish.

5. What does the Wolf Cichlid eat?

Wolf cichlids eat flakes or pellets but also have unique compatibility with Common Pleco without causing disease like Ich in your home aquarium.