Amphilophus Labiatus (Red Devil Cichlid)

Amphilophus labiatus

Last updated on August 8th, 2022 at 12:40 am

Amphilophus labiatus, or the red devil cichlid, is an unusually colored member of the cichlid family. It has been previously reported to have been bred in captivity, but its extreme coloration still makes it one of the most desired freshwater fish among aquarists today.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these fish are currently not threatened by extinction.

They are aggressive, territorial, and highly active fish that should be kept only in larger tanks with lots of hiding places, as they can be very aggressive towards other fish as well as fish-eating predators like Oscars.

The Red devil cichlid originates from Central and South America, though they are now being bred in the United States and Europe. They are incredibly aggressive, especially when kept with other species of cichlids or related fish species, so it’s important to keep them separated in the aquarium, preferably in their own tank.

Amphilophus labiatus is a freshwater fish native to Central America. Known by several common names, including Red Devil Cichlid and Texas Cichlid, Amphilophus labiatus is a popular species for aquarium enthusiasts. This species displays striking coloration and aggressive nature that makes it one of many good choices for a home aquarium, but not necessarily as a pet for novice aquarists.

Origin and descriptions

Amphilophus labiatus

Amphilophus labiatus is one of four species in Amphilophus genus that live in Central America. They are very territorial fish, and will often fight each other if they have similar coloring. It is better to have one male with multiple females than to house a group of males together. The name, Red Devil, comes from their red-tipped tail and dorsal fin. This particular variety can grow up to 15 inches long.

They tend to be aggressive during the breeding season. This particular variety lives at varying depths in rivers ranging from 3 feet deep up to 20 feet deep. A popular variation of Amphilophus labiatus is known as Convict Cichlids, which consist of all-male varieties bred for ornamental purposes only.

Blue Phantom Pleco (L128 Pleco) Facts

Species profile

Amphilophus labiatus, commonly known as Red Devil, is a freshwater fish in the family Cichlidae. It is a relatively uncommon fish in hobbyist aquariums. The species was first described by German naturalist and physician Carl H. Eigenmann in 1903.

It belongs to Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes), and Order Perciformes (Perch-like fishes).

There are currently four recognized subspecies of Amphilophus labiatus:

  • Amphilophus labiatus amphilophus (found in southern Central America from Nicaragua to Colombia)
  • Amphilophus labiatus Altus (found in Panama at altitudes up to 500 m [1,640 ft])
  • Amphilophus labiatus chirindensis (found on Chiriqui Island off western Panama), and
  • Amphilophus labiatus labiatus (or true Red Devil). Subspecies chirindensis is sometimes placed as a separate species, due to its pronounced differences in coloration pattern; while others argue that it remains an unaltered variant of labiatus.

If you have an aquarium at home, you might have noticed a fish that looks like a cross between a parrot and an alligator. This is Amphilophus labiatus, more commonly known as Red Devil Cichlid.

An African native, these fish are named for their vibrant red scales and incredibly intimidating jaws. Found in shallow waters such as swamps and lakes, they’re popular among hobbyists who like to keep them as pets or breed them for shows.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the red devil is Ammolophus labiatus.


Red devil cichlids live primarily in slow-moving, rocky streams and rivers. They are also known to inhabit mangrove swamps and river estuaries. They prefer shallow waters that have a relatively soft substrate. These waters allow them to dig their tunnels, which they use for shelter during daytime hours when they rest.

Water temperatures should be between 21–25°C (70–77°F). They can survive at lower temperatures but will reduce their activity level. Although captive specimens can survive down to 18°C (64°F), it is not recommended due to stress caused by low water temperature.

Mekong Giant Catfish

Red devil cichlid size

This species can grow to a maximum size of 38 cm (15 inches) in length.

Red devil cichlid tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for this species is 55 gallons (208 liters) for a single fish, for a pair 120 gallons (454 liters) or larger should be considered.

Tank requirements

Amphilophus labiatus is found naturally in Africa and Central America. Though not overly picky about tank setup, it prefers a lot of free space and places to hide. To imitate its natural habitat, provide at least 55 gallons of water with a sandy substrate and plants that reach just above half of its length. The aquarium should be heated between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with pH levels around 7.6.

Water hardness should also be on par with what it would find in nature: 10-25 dH. Red devil cichlids do best when fed live foods such as blackworms, brine shrimp, and earthworms as well as small crickets. They will occasionally eat flakes, but they aren’t carnivores by any means. Be sure to remove any leftover food from your tank to avoid overfeeding them.

Red devil cichlid tank mates

Red devil cichlids are perhaps one of the most aggressive breeds of Cichlasoma. Because they are so territorial, you need to keep them in a tank by themselves.

They should only be housed with Amphilophus citrinellus or other similarly aggressive species in a large tank, only if you have experience handling them.

Amphilophus labiatus breeding

Amphilophus labiatus

While Amphilophus labiatus is not overly difficult to breed, it does require a slightly different approach than some other Cichlids. In many ways, they’re an easier fish to breed than an oscar and require less space. Like most fish that take care of their own young, they are protective of their eggs and fry, so will not eat them readily. This means you can leave them in with their offspring without having to remove them once they’ve hatched.

Lepomis macrochirus (Bluegill)

Although it’s good practice to put mothers back into community tanks after birthing because they get harassed by other female fish looking for a mate, you should make sure she has plenty of places to hide so she feels safe enough to come out when she needs food. You should also feed her more than usual while she’s incubating her eggs or raising her fry because she’ll be using extra energy trying to keep warm and guard her brood.

Are red devil cichlid aggressive or peaceful?

The red devil is moderately aggressive. Although they are not usually aggressive toward other fish in a tank, they can become very territorial toward other red devils and other species that resemble them.

Their behavior can often be mistaken for aggression when, in fact, they are establishing dominance or simply showing interest in an object that has been introduced into their environment. Because of its territorial nature, multiple males should not be kept together unless there is plenty of space for them to get away from each other if necessary.

Red devil cichlid care

Amphilophus labiatus

The red devil cichlid is one of many species of fish kept in aquariums around the world. They are native to Central America, where they live in trees, just above water level. These lively little fish can be easily recognized by their long red fins and body markings. It’s important to research thoroughly before buying any new kind of pet or plant.

With proper maintenance, you could have your fish living up to 12 years!

Red devil fish food

In nature, red devil cichlids eat algae and other plant matter. In captivity, they prefer flake or brine shrimp as well as krill. They will also accept smaller fish or frozen foods such as bloodworms, Mysis shrimp, and daphnia. To keep them healthy and alert, feed them a variety of foods and clean their tank regularly to remove any uneaten food from around their mouth.

Astatotilapia Burtoni (Burtoni Cichlid)

Amphilophus labiatus lifespan

With proper care and good water parameters, they can live between 10 and 12 years.

Parasites and diseases

Amphilophus labiatus

Amphilophus labiatus is relatively hardy and disease-resistant, making it suitable for large public aquariums. However, they are subject to external parasites such as Protozoans. Ich and velvet diseases can also affect them. Some of these diseases may be treated with commercial saltwater dips or baths to eliminate these parasites. Otherwise, regular water changes should do just fine at eliminating any significant parasite problem.

Another way of preventing protozoan infections is by maintaining good biofilm growth in your aquarium. This will prevent infection from being transferred onto your fish, if it has recently been introduced into a tank containing a higher number of pathogens.

There have also been recent studies done on how much CO2 can be dissolved into seltzer before acidification occurs. Dissolved CO2 maintains optimal pH levels; however, there is only so much that can dissolve before carbonic acid forms causing a reduction in pH value.

Do Amphilophus labiatus make good pets?

Yes, but not for beginners. Amphilophus labiatus is a very aggressive, territorial, and active fish. Because of these traits, they are not recommended for beginners or community tanks. They are not considered a good pet for beginners because they are hard to handle and are aggressive towards other fish.