Wolf cichlid Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The wolf cichlid is a beautiful but aggressive freshwater fish that is native to Central America.

This fish is not for the faint of heart, and should only be kept by experienced aquarium owners.

If you’re thinking about getting a wolf cichlid, you need to be prepared to provide them with the proper care. That’s why we’ve put together this guide.

In it, you’ll learn everything you need to know about wolf cichlid care. From tank size and diet, to tank mates and breeding. It’s all here!

Species overview

The wolf cichlid (scientific name: Parachromis dovii), also known as the guapote cichlid, is a freshwater fish that’s native to Central America. It’s most commonly found in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.

This fish prefers slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation. This provides them with plenty of places to hide and ambush their prey.

The wolf cichlid is a predatory fish that’s known for being quite aggressive. They will often attack other fish, even ones that are much larger than them. This is something to keep in mind if you’re considering adding one to your tank.

These fish are popular in the aquarium scene because of their unique coloration and their aggressive nature.


Wolf cichlid

The wolf cichlid is one of the most unique-looking freshwater fish in the world. These fish have a very angular head with a pointed snout.

The body of the wolf cichlid is long and slender. They have a laterally compressed body which means that they’re quite thin when you look at them from the side.

The fins on the wolf cichlid are all large and prominent. The dorsal fin is large and starts about two-thirds of the way back on the body. This fin is almost as tall as the fish is long!

The anal fin is also large and starts just behind the dorsal fin. The caudal fin is forked and extends back quite a ways.

The pectoral fins are large and begin just behind the gill plates. The ventral fins are small and located about halfway down the body.

One of the most unique things about the wolf cichlid is their coloration. These fish are some of the most colorful freshwater fish in the world.

The body of the fish is a beautiful blue color. The fins are all a bright yellow color. The caudal peduncle (the area between the body and the tail) is also yellow.

The face of the wolf cichlid is yellow with blue stripes running down the sides. These fish are truly a sight to behold!


The average lifespan of a wolf cichlid is around 10 years. However, there have been reports of these fish living up to 15 years in captivity.

As with any other animal, the lifespan of a wolf cichlid can be affected by a number of different factors. The level of care they receive, the quality of their diet, and the stress levels they experience all play a role in how long they’ll live.


The average size of a Wolf cichlid is about 12 inches, but some have been known to grow up to 18 inches. These fish are also quite stocky, so they tend to look larger than they actually are.


Tank Size

A single wolf cichlid needs at least a 50 gallon tank but we recommend going up to at least a 75 gallon tank if you want to keep one long term.

If you want to keep two wolf cichlids together you will need to provide at least 150 gallons of space. It is possible to keep two wolf cichlids together in a smaller tank but it is not recommended and you will likely see aggression issues.

Water Parameters

The wolf cichlid is a freshwater fish that’s native to the waters of Central America. In the wild, they inhabit lakes, rivers, and streams with a neutral pH and moderate hardness.

To keep your wolf cichlid healthy and happy in captivity, you’ll need to provide similar water conditions.

  • Water temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 7.0 to 8.0
  • Water hardness: 5 to 20 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 3-10 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up an aquarium for a Wolf cichlid, there are a few things you need to take into account.

The first is that these fish are known to be aggressive. They aren’t the most social creatures in the world and will often fight with other fish (even their own species).

For this reason, we recommend setting up their tank with plenty of hiding spots. This can be anything from caves to driftwood.

The second thing you need to consider is that Wolf cichlids are big fish. They can easily reach lengths of 12 inches or more.

This means you need to provide them with a tank that’s large enough to accommodate their size. A minimum of 50 gallons is recommended, but the bigger the better.

Finally, you need to be mindful of the substrate you use in their tank. Wolf cichlids are known to dig and sift through the substrate looking for food.

For this reason, we recommend using a soft substrate like sand. This will help prevent any cuts or abrasions on their bodies.

Common Diseases

Wolf cichlids are a very hearty and durable fish. They don’t usually fall ill, but there are a few diseases that you should be aware of just in case.

The most common disease that affects wolf cichlids is ich. This is a very common freshwater disease that is caused by a parasite.

The most obvious symptom of ich is the presence of white spots on the body of your fish. These spots will eventually turn into sores, and if left untreated can be fatal.

Fortunately, ich is relatively easy to treat. There are a number of different products on the market that will effectively kill the parasite.

Another thing to look out for is fungal infections. These usually occur in fish that have open wounds or cuts.

The most common symptom of a fungal infection is a white, cotton-like growth on the affected area. If you notice this, you should treat it immediately with a anti-fungal medication.

Finally, bacterial infections can also affect wolf cichlids. These are usually caused by poor water quality or an injury.

The most common symptom of a bacterial infection is redness, swelling, and pus coming from the affected area. If you see any of these, you should treat the fish immediately with a course of antibiotics.

Behavior & Temperament

The wolf cichlid is a large, aggressive fish that is not for the faint of heart. They are not recommended for beginner aquarists. These fish need a lot of space and should be kept in tanks that are at least 125 gallons.

They are also not the best fish to keep with other fish. They are known to be very aggressive and will often kill tank mates that they see as a threat. If you do decide to keep other fish with them, make sure they are much larger in size.

The wolf cichlid is a predatory fish and its diet consists mostly of smaller fish. In the wild, they will also eat crustaceans, insects, and mollusks. In captivity, they should be fed a diet of live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods.

Although they are aggressive, wolf cichlids can be kept as pets. They are curious fish and will often come to the front of the tank to see what’s going on. They are also known to be very vocal and will make grunting noises when they are excited or aggressive.

Tank Mates

Wolf cichlids are not the best community fish. They’re not impossible to keep with other species, but it’s definitely not ideal.

The main issue is aggression. Wolf cichlids can be quite territorial. They’re not afraid to attack other fish that they see as a threat.

For this reason, it’s best to only keep them with other large, aggressive fish. Tank mates that are too small or timid will likely end up as food.

Some species that work as wolf cichlid tank mates include:

  • Other Wolf Cichlids (of the same size)
  • Green Terror Cichlids
  • Oscar Cichlids
  • Convict Cichlids
  • Plecostomus


The Wolf cichlid is a beautiful fish that’s not too difficult to breed in captivity. The process is pretty similar to other cichlid species.

First, you need to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 50 gallons and have plenty of hiding places. The water should be around 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a neutral pH.

Then, you need to find a pair of fish. This can be tricky since these fish can be quite aggressive. Try to look for a pair that’s already showing signs of aggression towards each other.

Once you have your pair, add them to the breeding tank. The female will lay her eggs on a flat surface. It could be a rock, piece of driftwood, or the glass of the tank.

After she lays the eggs, the male will fertilize them. Then, he will guard them until they hatch. This usually takes about three days.

Once the fry have hatched, you can remove the adults. The fry will need to be fed live food at first, such as brine shrimp or bloodworms. Once they’re a bit older, you can switch to pellets or flakes.


The wolf cichlid is a beautiful fish that is a great addition to any tank. They are easy to care for and are very peaceful fish.

The only thing to be aware of is that they can grow to be quite large, so make sure you have a tank that is big enough to accommodate them.

Other than that, we think they’re a great choice for any fish owner!