Salvini Cichlid (Cichlasoma salvini)

salvini cichlid

The salvini cichlid, also known as the tricolor cichlid, yellow belly cichlid, or just cichlasoma salvini, is a freshwater fish endemic to Lake Xiloá in the Petén Basin of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The salvini cichlid can reach up to 7 inches (18 cm) long and live up to 15 years old.

This species of cichlid feeds on worms, crustaceans, insects, and plant matter that it finds at the bottom of the lake with its scraper-like teeth and grinding molars used for tearing apart its food items.

They are part of the cichlid family and can be found in several locations throughout Central America, specifically in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama. This species has three different color variations that are similar to those of other cichlids in the same family; however, these variations are unique enough to be classified as different subspecies within this particular species.

They are one of several tropical fish species in the genus cichlasoma that are suitable additions to an aquarium. This particular fish can grow up to seven inches long and has been observed living up to 13 years old when properly cared for in captivity. Here are some important facts about this stunning fish and its behavior that you should know before purchasing it.

Origin and descriptions

salvini cichlid

Cichlasoma Trimaculatum is a South American freshwater fish also known as Salvini Cichlid, Colombian Cichlid, or Tri-colored Cichlid. This species of fish inhabits rivers in Venezuela and Colombia. It can reach a length of 18 cm (7 inches). Adult males are typically more colorful than females and have longer fins.

They are sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females differ from one another (male has brighter coloring; female has duller coloring). The body shape is elongated with a flat forehead/rostrum. Like other members of their genus, they have strong jaw muscles to crush snails and shells when they feed on mollusks.

Species profile

salvini cichlid

The tricolor or salvini cichlid (Cichlasoma salvini) is a species of fish in the Cichlidae family. It is found in Mexico and Nicaragua. Its natural habitat is freshwater lakes. It is not considered a threatened species by the IUCN. There are currently no conservation measures planned for Cichlasoma salvini, as it has a very large distribution range throughout its native regions of both Nicaragua and Mexico.

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While there are no immediate threats to these fishes’ populations or habitats, any possible further strain placed on them by their popularity as an aquarium specimen could threaten their existence over time due to their generally low reproductive rate when compared to similar-sized animals kept in captivity.

Salvini cichlid scientific name

The scientific name of salvini cichlid is Cichlasoma salvini


The tricolor cichlid is found in Rio Cauca and Orteguaza rivers of southern Colombia. It prefers water temperatures between 21–26°C (70–79°F) but it can survive in warm (25-29°C) or cold waters as well. In captivity, they prefer to be kept at 26-28°C water temperature. pH should be maintained between 6.5 – 7.5 for optimal health, however, a range of 6-8 will suffice.

Salvini cichlid size

This species can reach up to 7 inches (18 cm) in length.

Salvini cichlid tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 50 gallons

Tank set up

Your tank should be at least 50 gallons (150 liters) and only one salvini cichlids should be kept in it. The tank should be decorated with rocks and plants to replicate their natural habitat. As they are omnivores, both plants and meaty foods can be given to them. A varied diet will help keep your fish healthy.

The water should have a pH of 7.5-8.4, dH range of 5-20, temperature range of 25-27 degrees Celsius. If you have more than one male in your tank, watch out for aggressive behavior between them as they try to establish dominance over each other. Ensure that all of your aquarium decorations aren’t potential dangers or hiding places for your fish so that there is no risk of injury.

Salvini cichlid tank mates

Cichlasoma salvini can be kept with other mid-size fish. Smaller fish might fall prey to these voracious predators, so avoid them if you’re keeping your cichlids in a community tank. Cichla species tend to do well alongside members of their own genus.

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Some good tank mates are species in genera such as Crenicichla, Heros, and Pterophyllum. Because of their size, Cichlasoma salvini is best kept in a community of mid-size fish.

Salvini cichlid breeding

salvini cichlid

The Tricolor Cichlid is a maternal mouthbrooder. It has been reported that a large female can hold up to 12 clutches of eggs in her mouth at one time and can lay several clutches per year. Males become sexually mature when they reach 16 cm and females are sexually mature when they reach 17 cm. She will lay her eggs on a flat rock and then pick them up in her mouth.

The male fish will chase away any intruders while she is brooding her young. As with most fish, it is best not to remove or disturb her during this process as doing so can be stressful for both her and her fry. After 4-5 weeks of incubation, she will release the fry into open water where they must fend for themselves.

Are Salvini cichlid aggressive or peaceful?

The tricolor cichlid has a reputation for being rather aggressive. However, if they are given ample space and plenty of food they can be kept with other fish in a large aquarium. They should be kept in aquariums of at least 50 gallons (21 L) or more if possible; in less volume, there is more competition for food. A trio can usually be kept together as long as each fish has its own territory and one member of the trio doesn’t become dominant over all others.

Salvini cichlid care

salvini cichlid

Cichlasoma salvini does well in water that is slightly soft and acidic. Ideally, keep Salvini at a pH of 6.5 to 7.2 and a specific gravity of 1.020 to 1.025 at a temperature range of 68–77°F (20–25°C). This fish prefers an aquarium with plenty of rocks and gravel for hiding places. Like most cichlids, it appreciates open spaces to explore but also likes cave-like spaces underneath stones or sunken logs.

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Salvini cichlid grows to a maximum length of up to 20 cm (8 in), though usually no more than 15 cm (6 in) are observed in captivity. In larger aquaria, they can develop aggressiveness towards other fish, however, they seem less aggressive if kept in larger groups of eight or more individuals.

What do Salvini cichlid eat?

Salvini cichlid eats algae and small plants in their environment. They also eat microorganisms found on rocks, substrates, and even aquarium glass. In an aquarium setting, they need to be fed a combination of these foods. Feed them a variety of sinking pellets along with some frozen/live food.

It is important to rotate which foods you feed them daily because if you only feed one type of food often, there will not be enough nutrients for them and could cause health problems or illness. It is important that you take good care of these fish because once they get sick, it will be very hard for an owner to treat them without losing their beloved pet fish due to fin rot or other issues that could arise from poor feeding practices.

Water parameters

salvini cichlid

The ideal water should have a pH of 6.0–7.0; Temperature of 72-82°F (22-28°C); Hardness of 8–12 dH; Carbonate hardness of 0–2 KH; General hardness of 3–6 GH; and total dissolved solids of 120 ppm or less.

The water should be very slightly to moderately hard and a little on the acidic side for best results. Keep in mind that these fish can tolerate some salt but not too much as to create salinity problems in your aquarium environment. I do not recommend using salt of any kind for freshwater tanks because it’s just not necessary.

You will also want to avoid letting your nitrate levels get too high since Cichlasomines are susceptible to internal parasites when nitrates rise above 10ppm. It is recommended that you perform regular partial water changes in order to keep your nitrate levels within safe ranges.

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Salvini cichlid lifespan

They can live for about 10 – 15 years with good care.

Parasites and diseases

Though these fish are extremely hardy and easy to care for, they do have a few health issues. And though they can handle living in poor water conditions without any problem, they are still very sensitive when it comes to illness. Most of their health problems are caused by internal parasites and diseases.

One of their worst is dropsy which is easily cured if caught early enough but can also kill them very quickly if left untreated. This disease seems to be caused by a chemical imbalance due to a change in temperature.


The salvini cichlid is a favorite meal for some predators, including other fish. Some of these predators include bass and muskies. Predators must be kept away from all types of aquariums, both large and small.

Their large size makes them an easy target for larger predators because many aquariums don’t have locks on their tops or sides making it easier for larger fish or birds to get into your tank.

The larger predator species tend to attack smaller aquarium tanks more frequently because they view them as easy targets. If you find any of your fish missing or dead when you wake up in the morning, chances are that a predator is to blame for their death.

Do Salvini cichlid make good pets?

Yes. Salvini cichlid are beautiful fish and they do make good pets. However, they’re large fish, which means that you need to plan your tank size accordingly. They grow quickly and can outgrow their tanks relatively quickly if left in there for too long (they also require lots of food).

They also have a tendency to jump out of tanks so you have to be careful with how you set up your tank or cage so that they don’t get out.