Herichthys carpintis (Pearlscale Cichlid)

Herichthys carpintis

Last updated on August 28th, 2022 at 04:35 pm

Herichthys carpintis, or the Pearlscale cichlid, is a freshwater fish belonging to the cichlid family of Cichlidae. It can be found in areas of South America such as Costa Rica and Panama and grows to an average length of 35 cm (13.9 inches). The Pearlscale cichlid naturally feeds on algae, plants, insects, worms, crustaceans, and small fish, but can also be trained to feed on pellets and flakes given to them by their owner.

The Pearlscale cichlid is one of six species in the Cichlasoma genus of cichlids found in Central America and South America. These cichlids are distributed from Panama to Peru, throughout the Amazon and Orinoco River basins.

Herichthys carpintis cichlid is one of the most popular types of freshwater fish kept in home aquariums. As its name suggests, this fish features scaleless scales that give it a unique appearance.

The fish is also found in Mexico and Guatemala. This species gets its name from the small diamond-shaped scales on the sides of the fish that resemble pearls. In keeping with this theme, they are called pearlscale cichlids in English.

Herichthys carpintis is known by a number of names, including the lowland cichlid, the carpintis cichlid, the pearlscale herrichthys, and the pearl scale cichlid. It belongs to the Hericthys genus of the Cichlidae family of fish and it lives in freshwater areas with rocky bottoms or other substrates where it can live and feed on invertebrates such as worms and mollusks.

Learn more about the Pearlscale cichlid, including its ideal environment and diet, as well as how to take care of them in your own home aquarium.

Origin and description


Carpintis is endemic to northwestern South America, where it inhabits lowland rivers and streams in Panama, Colombia, and western Venezuela. It has also been introduced to several countries in Central America. This large fish can reach a length of 35 cm (13.8 inches), but 30 cm is more common.

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The name pearlscale derives from bright silver/white scales along its flanks that are reminiscent of salt-and-pepper shakers. The body color is brownish with lighter horizontal banding; there are red spots on top of both pectoral fins as well as on the bottom sides of all fins.

Species profile


Herichthys carpintis is one of only a few members of its genus. It is native to Central America and northern South America. The pearlscale lowland cichlid has been bred into many color forms in captivity, but all have a blue base color with greenish or yellow spots on their flanks.

They are active swimmers that eat algae as well as some insect larvae. An 80 gallon tank with real or plastic plants can provide them with plenty of swimming room and hiding places. The pearlscale lowland cichlid can get aggressive with other species in their own genus, such as Herichthys everetti and Herichthys leleupi.

Be sure to choose compatible fish if you intend to keep more than one pearlscale lowland cichlid. Some large tetras make good tank mates for these fish as do other medium-sized gouramis. You should avoid keeping pearlscales with guppies since they will eat them!


Herichthys carpintis cichlids, also known as Lowland Cichlids, are popular aquarium fish. The species is native to Central America, but can be found in many other areas around the world. This includes tropical regions and subtropical regions. During the breeding season, they’re very territorial; it’s not uncommon for them to start fighting each other over territory or potential mates.

Herichthys carpintis size

They can grow up to 13.8 inches (35 cm) in length.

Herichthys carpintis tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 80 gallons.

Tank set up

Pearlscale cichlids can be kept in aquariums that are at least 80 gallons in size. The aquarium should have a dark bottom, with rocks or fake plants to provide additional cover for hiding. A pH level of 7.5 to 8.5 is best, but it doesn’t need to be exact as long as water changes are consistent.

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The tank should also have an efficient filtration system and adequate aeration, as these fish do not do well in poor conditions. As far as other species go, avoid keeping them with aggressive fish such as African cichlids or Siamese fighting fish.

Pairs get along fine when raised together from birth, but adding more than one male to a tank will usually result in death for all except one; don’t purchase more than one male unless you intend on only breeding them.

Herichthys carpintis cichlid tank mates

The Pearlscale cichlid is a relatively peaceful fish that can be kept with other large fish, provided they’re not intimidated by their size. They should not be kept with smaller fish, because they will try to eat them. They will do fine in an aquarium without any other cichlids, but may get bored and eat their tank mates if there aren’t any larger ones present.

Some common tank mates are South American Peacock Cichlids, Herichthys Bleheri, Green Terror Cichlids, Bronze Cichlids, Midas Cichlids, Marble cichlids, Jack Dempsey.

The Pearlscale cichlid prefers to be kept in aquariums that have many nooks and crannies for them to hide in as they are shy fish and will get stressed if they feel threatened.

Herichthys carpintis breeding


Pearlscale Cichlids are relatively easy to breed. The most common way is to remove a breeding pair from their tank and place them in a breeding tank at 70 degrees F with a pH of 6.8, soft water, and no other fish. A sponge filter is adequate for filtration for small tanks such as 10 gallons but larger tanks require an external canister filter or hang-on back filter because these fish will dig up any substrate placed on the bottom of the tank.

When they have spawned they should be returned to their original tank so that they can tend to the eggs without having them eaten by larger fish. Eggs should hatch within two days, at which time you should remove parents from fry. Fry will eat finely crushed flake food and baby brine shrimp when young, then Hikari Micro Wafers as they grow older.

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Are Herichthys carpintis peaceful or aggressive?

Pearlscale cichlids are generally peaceful fish species. However, males can become territorial and aggressive during breeding. If you keep multiple males in a tank, they will begin to fight with each other until there is only one male left in control of that territory. This makes them much less friendly toward each other than if they were kept alone in a tank, as well as toward their owner.

Herichthys carpintis care


Some pearlscale cichlids need a 55 to 80-gallon tank, depending on how many fish you want in your aquarium. They prefer a pH level of around 6.5 and a specific water temperature that ranges from 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 28 degrees Celsius). As mentioned above, they are very territorial with other fish, so if you want more than one pearlscale cichlid in your tank, you’ll need to be careful when choosing their tank mates.

Herichthys carpintis diet

Pearlscale cichlids are bottom-feeders that eat insect larvae, small crustaceans, snails, and worms. They should be fed a variety of fresh meaty foods including freeze-dried krill, bloodworms, and tubifex. Feeding your pearlscale a varied diet is crucial to its health. Frozen or live fish, such as minnows or rosy reds can also be given as treats.

This species isn’t very active in terms of swimming speed; its main form of getting around is by wriggling across flat surfaces using its walking fins. However, if you want to see them swim you need to provide some gentle current in your tank—they won’t do it on their own.

Water parameters


The ideal water condition for a Herichthys carpintis should have a pH of 7.0–7.5, a temperature of 23–26 °C (73–79 °F), a specific gravity of 1.020-1.025, hardness of 5-19 German degrees of hardness (Gdh). It is also recommended to provide a bottom substrate of gravel or sand and plenty of hiding places in rocks and plants.

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Herichthys carpintis lifespan

Pearlscale Cichlids have a lifespan of up to 10 years or more.

Parasites and diseases

They are susceptible to being infected with various parasites. Some of these parasites are protozoa, flukes, and worms. There is an easy way to test your Lowland Cichlids for these problems. This can be done by taking a fish sample to your local pet store and they will perform a parasite check on them.

You should also do regular water changes every 2 weeks or so. This helps because removing uneaten food and fecal matter from their environment keeps bacteria levels low which helps prevent infection in your fish tanks. It’s recommended that you quarantine new fish before adding them into your tank to help keep diseases from spreading through the community tank.


The pearlscale cichlid is a common subject for aquarists due to its distinctive coloration and because it’s popular in home aquariums. However, there are several larger fish that will eat these smaller fish in nature. One of these predators is raptor-like bass, which can grow up to 16 inches in length. The unicornfish also preys on young herichthys carpintis cichlids.

Do Herichthys carpintis cichlid make good pets?

Herichthys carpintis cichlids make excellent aquarium fish, and they are very easy to care for. They are a popular beginner’s fish, since they are relatively hardy and peaceful, but they also make great companions for more experienced aquarists.