The Andinoacara pulcher, or the blue acara cichlid, is one of the South American Cichlids that are still commonly found in pet stores today. This fish was first discovered in the Amazon River basin by German fish biologist H. G. Reiss in 1956. While its scientific name translates as beautiful acara cichlid in Latin, its common name translates as beautiful blue acara in English.
Topping out at about 6 inches, the blue acara (Andinoacara pulcher) is one of the smallest cichlids native to South America. Like all species in the Andinoacara genus, it is not difficult to care for, but you should still keep an eye on their breeding cycles to make sure they have everything they need in their tank. Here’s what you need to know about keeping this fish happy and healthy!
An adult male Andinoacara pulcher measures between 6.0 and 7.3 inches in length, while the female is slightly smaller, measuring 5.1 – 6.2 inches. Like all Andinoacaras pulcher has a diurnal and territorial behavior in open water; it feeds primarily on live foods, so these fish should only be housed with other aggressive fish species of similar size in an aquarium of 60 gallons or more with plenty of hiding places and swimming room.
Origin and description
The Andinoacara pulcher is a small cichlid from South America. Like other cichlids from that region, it inhabits still and slow-moving waters, such as ponds, lakes, and rivers. It is commonly found in swamps and floodplains; its ability to survive in brackish water allows it to inhabit areas near the coastal regions.
Blue acaras are quite territorial fish, so you should ideally house them alone or at most in pairs. A minimum aquarium size of 30 litres is recommended for a single fish, with larger tanks necessary if keeping more than one specimen together.
In general, acaras can be very shy creatures and will spend much of their time hiding among rocks or tree roots on the bottom of their tank, so you will need to provide them with lots of hiding places if they are not kept singly or alongside other bully species, capable of deterring them from too much shyness!
You will also want to make sure you do your research when choosing an appropriate tankmate – these beautiful but sensitive fish can become stressed very easily by faster swimming fish that may seem like competitors for food!
Andinoacara pulcher, commonly known as blue acara cichlid or blue acara, is a species of cichlid native to South America. It is found in freshwater rivers and streams, where it occurs in shoals along shallow rocky areas.
This popular aquarium fish reaches up to 7 inches in length and may be sexually dimorphic: females are larger than males. The body coloration can vary depending on what they have been eating recently; bright yellow-orange when they are eating lots of algae and darker, almost black with a yellowish tinge when they’re feeding on meatier foods such as worms and shrimp pellets.
Other common names include blue dwarf acara, electric blue acara, blue cichlid, pink pebble, or yellowhead acara. There are several different strains that vary widely in coloration based on their geographic origin.
Habitat and distribution
Andinoacara pulcher is found in Andean rivers that drain into Lake Maracaibo, a large brackish lake on Venezuela’s northwest coast. Their habitat ranges from Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela to southern Colombia and includes portions of both eastern Bolivia and northern Peru.
Andinoacara pulcher can be found at water depths ranging from 1 meter (3 feet) to over 100 meters (300 feet). They are omnivorous and feed on fish, insect larvae, vegetation, and plant matter.
Blue acara size
The blue acara cichlid fish can grow up to 6.5 inches in length. This cichlid is ideal for all types of aquariums and does not mind saltwater aquariums or freshwater aquariums equally well in captivity, which makes them one of the more desirable fish among tropical fish enthusiasts.
Blue acara tank size
You can keep one blue acara in a tank that is at least 50 gallons, or you can house two in a tank that is 100 gallons.
Andinoacara pulcher tank set up
The Andinoacara pulcher is not picky about water parameters and will thrive in almost any freshwater aquarium. Tank water should be well-filtered and regularly cleaned with a gravel vacuum to ensure that there are no excess food particles or other waste that can contribute to poor water quality.
An under gravel filter, while not absolutely necessary, is recommended to maintain high oxygen levels within a tank and help reduce potential outbreaks of disease. It’s important to note that frequent water changes are key for maintaining proper pH, hardness, and carbonate levels.
While they may tolerate slightly brackish conditions if introduced gradually over time, full saltwater tanks with live rock and coral decorations should generally be avoided as they require an entirely different set of equipment to support life.
The substrate used in an Andinoacaras pulcher tank should ideally consist of fine sand as these fish like to dig holes around large rocks when hunting for food at night. Due to their territorial nature, it’s important that each Andinoacaras pulcher be kept alone, so tanks must be well-suited with plenty of swimming room and furnished with numerous hiding places along with a few solid pieces of decor.
Most aquarium owners will also install an air stone or powerhead at one end of a tank as surface agitation provides oxygenation and movement that helps circulate dissolved gases throughout the water, reducing toxic buildups and improving overall health for inhabitants.
Blue acara tank mates
Andinoacara pulcher is a territorial cichlid. In an aquarium with other cichlids, it will be at constant war defending its space and resources from intruders. Fish smaller than about 5 inches should not be housed with an Andinoacara pulcher because they are considered food to larger fish. Other cichlids that are too large to be considered a meal can make suitable tank mates for Andinoacara pulcher if their temperament is similar.
Ideal tank mates are other South American cichlids, such as Apistogramma cacatuoides, Aequidens tetramerus, Geophagus steindachneri, and Heros severus. They also make good companions for Tanganyikan shell dwellers like shells of Cyprinodon sp., Neolamprologus brichardi, and Lamprologus lemairii.
Andinoacara pulcher breeding
The blue acara cichlid is relatively easy to breed but has some specific requirements in order to achieve success. As is typical of most cichlids, blue acaras become sexually mature as they approach adulthood. The spawning process begins with courtship displays and ends with a batch of young fish.
Andinoacara pulcher are mouthbrooders, meaning that once eggs have been laid by a female and fertilized by males, she will then proceed to cover them and move them through her mouth for incubation. Female blue acaras can lay anywhere from 50 to 200 eggs at one time.
Incubation times usually last between 4 to 8 days depending on how healthy your spawn is.
Once your fries are free swimming, you can begin feeding them newly hatched brine shrimp or crushed flake food within days of hatching. If you prefer to see your offspring grow larger before trying to feed them, there are specialized foods available that can be fed beginning on day 2 of life.
It’s important not to overfeed your fries during their first week or so; underfeeding is actually more common than overfeeding during these early stages because it’s very hard to gauge how much food each individual fry needs.
Are Andinoacara pulcher aggressive or peaceful?
Blue acaras are usually peaceful, but they can be aggressive towards fish in their genus. For example, a blue acara would probably pick a fight with another blue acara or another fish that looks similar to it. They may pick on other species of cichlids as well. A tank mate that stays small and has a different coloration from them will probably fare better.
Andinoacara pulcher care
Blue acaras need to be kept in a species tank of at least 20 gallons with a sand bottom. They should be kept in slightly acidic water, ideally with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0 and a temperature between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Blue acaras are not sensitive to chlorine, so tap water can be used; they should also have some plant cover in their tank.
Andinoacara pulcher diet
They are carnivores. Feed blue acaras a high-quality diet consisting of sinking pellets, cichlid pellets, freeze-dried bloodworms, krill, daphnia, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, and other meaty foods. The blue acara’s appetite is voracious and it will devour its fill at each feeding. Try to give them as much variety as possible in their diet. This species does best when offered larger quantities of food several times daily.
An ideal water pH should be 7.0 to 8.0, GH (water hardness) of 70 to 100 ppm, KH of 2 to 12 ppm, and water temperatures between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ll need to put them in an aquarium heater if you keep them outdoors.
No more than 4 females per male, and a 20% water change weekly. Keep them in at least a 30 gallon tank but preferably larger. They are known “jumpers”, so they need to be kept in an aquarium with minimal decor.
Unlike most cichlids, Andinoacara pulcher does not require much decorations or gravel, just rocks or driftwood for hiding places would be ideal. An open swimming area is best for these fish; having too many rocks around would prevent free swimming.
Andinoacara pulcher lifespan
Averagely, their lifespan ranges between 7 and 10 years.
Parasites and diseases
Proper water conditions are vital to preventing many common fish ailments that can weaken and even kill your pet. Fortunately, by providing your Andinoacara with clean, properly conditioned water and a healthy diet, you’ll be able to prevent all but a few serious diseases. Although Andinoacaras are sometimes susceptible to Ich and saltwater diseases, they aren’t particularly prone to illness if proper care is taken.
Featherfin Catfish, Plecostomus, and larger Angelfish are known to eat the small fry. Even adult blue acaras can fall prey to bigger cichlids and catfish. Because of their size, it is best to keep one blue acara per tank or as a mated pair; these fish will live in a community aquarium if large enough tanks are provided with plenty of caves and places for hiding.
Do Andinoacara pulcher make good pets?
Yes, Blue Acaras make great aquarium fish. They are known for their blue scales and should be treated as a dwarf cichlid, not a large community fish like its relative, an Oscar. Due to their small size, they don’t require huge amounts of space or equipment so you can enjoy them in most aquaria. I personally have one in my 55-gallon planted tank with my Oscars, and he swims among them all day long.