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Red Devil Cichlid Or Devil Fish Care ( What You Should Know )

Do you like to deal with a freshwater devil? So, it is time to rear a Red devil cichlid. But before starting your hobby, it is better to know how to care for the Red devil cichlid. So, gather proper knowledge and then accept this challenge. I am sure this experience will make you an expert. Moreover, there are some interesting facts about Red devil cichlid rearing. Surely, you will be impressed with them. Thus, keep reading! This is the best time to rear Red Deevil!

Red Devil Cichlid

One Look Care Guide

Scientific nameAmphilophus labiatus
Common nameRed devil cichlid
red devilfish 
Care levelDifficult 
Native tolake Managua
Lake Nicaragua in Central America
Type Freshwater 
Color Wide color variations- grey to green to white, red, orange, and pink
Tank size55 gallons per fish
123 gallons per pair 
Preferred temperature75 to 79 Fahrenheit
23.9 to 26.1 Celsius
Other water parameters pH level- 6.5 to 7.5
Growth rateReach maximum size within around 3 years 
Temperament Aggressive 
Recommended tank matesConvict cichlids 
Firemouth cichlids 
Jack Dempsey 
Preferred foodEarthworms
Beef heart
Red meat
Spirulina Lettuce
Shelled peas
Feeding frequency2 to 3 times per day 
BreedingPossible in captivity 

What Is Red Devil Cichlid?

Red devil cichlid or red devil fish was also one of the favorite fish among freshwater hobbyists years ago. The best thing is many hobbyists still love this devil. Why did I introduce Red devil cichlid as a “devil”? A ton of aggressiveness, large size, and stunning and unique eye-catching look are a pack of evidence to prove my idea. That is why adding a Red devil cichlid to your aquarium will be an exciting experience! This fish species is scientifically known as Amphilophus labiatus while recognized as common names, Red devil cichlid or red devil fish. As you know, the Red devil cichlid is also a variety of cichlid, so they belong to the family Cichlidae. 

So, how do we recognize the Red devil cichlid? Yes, the close factor is their appearance. They are in wide color variations. They come in grey, green, white, red, orange, and pink colors. However, there are red devils with black spots or brands on their fins and tails. This fish species come in darker grey or brown colors in the wild. These colors help them to blend with the environment perfectly. Also, wild species sometimes have large lips. But this feature will be rare in captivity.

If we drive to the history and natural habitats of Red devil cichlid, in 1964, the man of Gunther originally classified Amphilophus labiatus as Cichlasoma labiatum. Also, Amphilophus labiatus, or Red devil cichlid, is native to lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua in Central America. 

How Big Do Red Devil Cichlid Get?

Generally, They are large fish in the aquarium industry. I say this because healthy Red devil cichlid can grow up to around 15 inches or over 38 cm in length. Also, they take about 3 years to grow to their full size under proper care. However, when they reach about 6 inches or 15 cm, they have the ability to reproduce their next generation. 

Is Red Devil Cichlid Aggressive?

As soon as you hear the name “Red devil cichlid,” you can decide whether this fish species is aggressive or not. Actually, this fish species got its name from its personality but not for its appearance. Yes, of course, Red devil cichlid is aggressive. Also, this cichlid is highly territorial. Therefore, keeping other fish species with Red devil cichlid is a very big deal. Because their razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaws strong their aggressiveness. 

Generally, these super-aggressive bottom-dwellers eat other bottom dwellers such as small fish, snails, insect larvae, and worms without any excuses. You can think that it is ok to eat the above-mentioned species by Red devils. But your Red devil cichlid does not stop from this; they attack other fish species in the tank. They may take off their tankmates’ tails or tend to kill them. Juvenile Red devil cichlid can keep with other similarly tempered fish species. But you should keep your Red devil cichlid alone when they are an adult. 

Because adult Red devil cichlids are more aggressive, also, it is better to ensure that the tank is large enough to keep this territorial fish. If not, they may cause trouble. If we know a fish is aggressive, we only think it can do great damage to other fish species in the tank, but do you agree that their aggressive behaviors affect the tank environment? Yes, of course, it is. 

Red devil fish enjoy digging, tearing up, or uprooting live plants in your aquarium. When Red devil fish are so aggressive, they tend to ram into the glass to get invaders and destroy the heaters and other equipment in the tank. Sometimes, they bite their owners. 

Red Devil Cichlid Behavior

Red devil fish have high activity levels and individual personalities. That’s why most hobbyists love their cichlids. It is nice to see that some cichlids react vividly to their owners. If you did not experience it, imagine your dog has shown love to you. Like that, cichlids show their love for their owners by displaying playfulness to their owners. Not only that, they follow their owner’s movements. 

Mostly they interact with you during mealtime and cleaning time. Their behavior with the owners is cute, no? However, there are exceptional cases. It means that there are reported cases where some Red devil fish bite their owners. So, do not predict their behaviors and be careful when cleaning time and mealtime. Red devil fish interaction with fish species in their tank is totally different.

Why do I say so? Actually, the Red devilfish is a ton of aggressive fish. They always attack their tankmates until they die. That is why it is recommended to keep them alone in the tank. Further, they get fun digging, uprooting, and tearing the aquarium plants. When they are so aggressive and angry, Red devil fish tend to destroy the decorations on the tank-like driftwoods or rocks and equipment. However, we consider the active areas of the tank; Red devil fish prefer to touch each water column. So, there is no specific area. 

How Long Do Red Devil Cichlids Live?

Generally, Red devil fish will live long periods with proper care. However, they can live around 10 to 12 years anywhere. Here, the most vital determinants are fish diet and water quality. These factors have the ability to increase or decrease the lifespan of your Red devil fish. So, always try to maintain water quality while providing quality feeds. 

Red Devil Cichlid Care

Generally, caring for Red devilfish is a bit difficult. But do not panic! It is not as hard as you think if you know Red devil fish well. So, grab this background knowledge and deal with Red devils. You may get experienced slowly. 

Tank Size

Generally, 55 gallons is the minimum tank size per Red devil fish. But it is better to provide a large space for them. The larger space has the ability to mitigate the aggression level of your Red devil fish. However, if you want to rear a Red devil fish pair, you should have at least 125 gallons. Further, if you plan to add some other fish species with your Red devil fish, it is better to have at least 200 gallons. But I recommend the tanks over 200 gallons. 

Another thing is to consider; if you are getting Red devil fish as young or you wish to breed them, keep in mind that they will grow very large when they gradually mature. Therefore, always choose the tank size when considering both matters, fish size and your requirement. 

How Many Red Devil Cichlid Should Be Kept Together?

Due to the aggression level of Red devil fish, it is recommended to keep them alone in a tank when they become adults. But it is ok to keep a Red devil fish pair. However, this fish species is aggressive towards other fish species and other Redi devil cichlids. So, if you wish to rear a pair, you should highly consider the tank’s space. But it will be ok if you keep them with their mate. However, keeping two Red devil cichlids together should have a very large aquarium with many hiding spots. 

Tank Setup


Red devil fish lives in freshwater sources in the wild. So, they have large open spaces for swimming freely. So, when you set the Red devil fish tank, providing a large open swimming area is a must. It will give a supper comfortable feeling to your fish. 

Substrates and decorations

When it turns to the substrate, the darker sandy substrate is best. As I mentioned above, Red devil fish are great diggers; that is why you should choose sand. Also, it helps to mimic their natural habitats. Moreover, you can decorate your aquarium by using rocks and driftwoods. They are creating hiding spots for your Red devil fish. But properly attach them to the tank bottom unless these decorations have to face the Red devil fish’s attacks. Further, do not go for heavy decorations. It may disturb your fish. Consequently, it will lead to damage or kill your fish. 

Live plants

So, what about the live plants? Do not be fool enough to add live plants to your Red devil fish tank. Because Red devil fish always enjoy nipping, tearing, and uprooting the aquarium plants. Thus, if you add live plants, they will not last long. Also, setting up a high-quality filter for the tank will help clean the tank water. On the other hand, installing a heater supports keeping the water temperature at the ideal level. 

But the most important thing is that you should cover and hide the filter, heater, hoses, and all other equipment. Do you know the reason why you should hide them? Most probably, Red Devilfish will attack aquarium equipment. So, it is not good for both fish and accessories. Further, do you have any idea about lightning in your Red devil fish tank? Usually, they prefer normal or moderate lighting conditions. But again, do not forget to cover and hide the wire cords. 

Water Quality Condition

Water quality should be matched with Red devil fish’s natural habitats. So, follow these measures. 

pH level: Keep the pH level is in between 6.5 to 7.5.

Water hardness: It is better to keep between 6 to 25 dGH.

Water temperature: The temperature should be between 75 to 79 Fahrenheit or 23.9 to 26.1 Celsius. 

Water current: Water movement should be moderate.

Changing water is not a big deal, but it will help keep the water clean. Therefore, perform 25-30% water changes weekly. Also, here you should keep in mind that large fish like Red devil cichlid create large waste. On the other hand, nitrate and phosphate levels are increased due to water evaporation. This is also another reason to perform water changes regularly. 

Also, when you rear Red devil cichlids, it is vital to keep an eye on the oxygen level of the tank. Here you can add a couple of air stones to the Red devil cichlid tank. Because it will support keeping healthy oxygen levels. The amazing thing is that you can discover a richer color in your red devil cichlids when a sufficient oxygen level.  

Red Devil Cichlid Breeding

Red Devil Cichlid Male Or Female Identification 

Generally, male Red devil cichlids are larger than female fish. Another main noticeable feature is the male fish’s nuchal hump on the forehead. Generally, this feature is only present in breeding times in the wild. But in captivity, this hump may be permanent with the Red devil cichlids. A Male’s pointed genital papilla is another feature to identify the gender difference. Female fish has a blunt papilla. 

Identify Pregnant Red Devil Cichlid  

Red devil cichlids are egg-laying fish species. When they get mature, the eggs will start to develop and enlarge. You can easily notice this by inspecting the Red devil fish belly area. Mostly mature females have more round bellies than male fish. This is the main feature to identify matured Red devils. 

Red Devil Cichlid Breeding

Breeding Red devil cichlids are not difficult. What you have to do is, provide ideal water conditions and feed nutrient-rich foods. When breeding, Red devil cichlids also have the same behaviors as other cichlids. They spawn in open water. Generally, this fish species forms an attached partnership and has a more traditional matriarch/ patriarch setup. The moment you notice that they have established their love connection, separate them to a breeding tank. Then feed them well. 

Do not forget to maintain the water temperature at 77 Fahrenheit or 25 Celsius. The male Red devil cichlids dig a pit in the breeding tank, and female fish lay transparent eggs that have an amber/ yellow hue. Sometimes they lay eggs on flat rocks. Simultaneously, male fish fertilize the eggs. The good news is Red devil fish have parental care. It means both female and male fish protect their babies. 

How Many Babies Does Red Devil Cichlid Have?

Female Red devil cichlid lay 600 to 700 eggs at once. Among them, 60%-70% of eggs hatch and deliver the fry fish. 

Red Devil Cichlid Fry Care

Approximately eggs take three days to hatch. But you do not need to do much to care for the fry. Because their parents protect them. Also, give them family space. The female fish guard the eggs while males keep an eye on the environment. However, after the fry fish are growing and become free swimmers, feed them with Artemia nauplii. After the fry fish are big enough to eat small pieces of food, they feed off the parents’ skin. 

Feeding Behavior Of Red Devil Cichlid

Red devil cichlids are omnivores. Because of that, they accept both animal matters and plant matters. But mainly prefer to eat animal matters. However, do not overthink! Because this fish species tend to eat pretty much whatever you provide to them. Another special thing is Red devil fish are predators. So, they can catch their prey. 

What Do Red Devil Cichlids Eat In The Wild? 

Generally, Red devil cichlids hunt their foods in the wild as a predator. In addition to that, they eat live plants in their natural habitats because they are omnivores.  

What Does Red Devil Cichlid Eat-In Aquarium?

It is essential to feed Red devil fish with nutrient-rich foods when you feed them. Because as other cichlids, Red devil cichlid also need to fulfill nutrient varieties to live healthily. For instance, these fish species require protein-rich foods. So, what types of foods give protein to your fish? Close examples are bloodworms, crickets, and earthworms. You can provide these foods as live, freeze-dried, and frozen. Also, Red devil cichlids are omnivores. Therefore, you have to provide vegetables to them to balance their diet. Because adding vegetable help to protect your fish from diseases. Further, try foods from the below foods list for your Red devil. 

  • Earthworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Carotene 
  • Crickets
  • Krill
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Shrimps
  • Cichlid pellets 
  • Flakes 

In addition to these, the below foods are also better to provide your Red devil cichlids occasionally. 

  • Beef heart
  • Chicken
  • Red meat

Also, you can balance their diet by adding the below vegetables. 

  • Spirulina 
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Shelled peas

How Often Should You Feed Red Devil Cichlids

It is better to feed them several times in the day. In my opinion, 2 to 3 times per day is ideal. 

When Should You Feed Red Devil Cichlids (Time Of The Day)

Make it a habit to feed your fish at the same times of the day. So, it is recommended to feed your Red devilfish in the morning and the evening.  Also, do not overfeed your fish. It will directly impact the health of the fish. 

How Long Red Devil Cichlids Can Go Without Food

Generally, cichlids have the ability to go for 10 days without fish foods. But this will be varied with the food availability of the tank. Further, fish health and age also directly influence determine this. But if your tank is full of baby Red devil fish, it is a must to feed them within 1 to 2 days. 

What Fish Can Live With Red Devil Cichlid?

You already know, Red devil cichlids are so aggressive. Therefore, due to their high territorial behavior, it is challenging to keep them with other species. It will badly affect both fish species and your inner peace. Hence, it is good to keep adult Red devil cichlids alone. But young Red devil cichlids work well with other fish species of similar temperament. However, if you want to keep multiple fish species in your aquarium, go to a very large tank with more space. So, you can try the below species with adult Red devil cichlids with caution. 

Is Red Devil Cichlid aggressive?

Yes, Red devil fish is aggressive. When they are in the juvenile stage, you can keep some fish species with them. But when they grow up gradually, their aggression level is gradually increased. Their large jaw and sharp teeth will power up their aggressive behaviors. Therefore, keeping adult Red devil fish in alone is a must. But why should I recommend keeping adult Red devil fish alone in the tank? 

The Red devil fish do not like to share their place with others because they are very territorial. Thus, the Red devil fish attack every tankmate in their tank. Sometimes it can be severe. Also, there are reported cases that Red devil fish attack or bite their owners. So, it is better to be safe than treatments. 


Fish are healing our souls. Their beautiful appearance entertains our minds. So, whether aggressive or not, all fish have their unique beauty. Aggressiveness is one safety tool that inherits from nature. It will help to protect themselves from other predatory activities. So, you do not need to panic to deal with Red devil fish. But always better to deal with proper knowledge. 

Credit to : Finding Fishes

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.