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Wolf Cichlid Care | A Monsters Fish In Aquarium |

Are you a fish lover who likes to rear challenging fish? Then buy Wolf cichlid! Their unique appearance will add a glamorous look to your aquarium. You may have to pay full attention to Wolf cichlids fish at the very initial stages. But finally, they add tremendous value to your aquarist journey. Read the full article. Surely, you can find more exciting facts about Wolf cichlid!

Wolf Cichlid

What Is Wolf Cichlid?

They are one of the most aggressive freshwater fish species. But they are very popular among hobbyists who love to keep their own pet fish collection. There are several names used for this amazing fish. Dovii cichlid, Rainbow bass, Guapote Blanco, Heros Dovii, Dow’s Cichlid, Nandopsis Dovii, Cichlasoma Dovii Lagunero, and Guapote are widely using through worldwide. The scientific name of Wolf cichlid is Parachromis dovii. This is the largest cichlid in the world that belongs to the Cichlidae family and Cichlasoma genus. So, how do we recognize them? 

As you know, it has deep bodies. Their big teeth and largemouth will enhance their appearance as vicious predators. Wolf cichlid is packed with solid muscles, and which makes them very aggressive and tough enough to attack other large fish species. Consequently, they will tend to attack anything that blocks their path. Generally, they are similar to basses. Plus, Wolf cichlid has single nostrils on each side of their head and also has a dual par discontinuous lateral line. 

When it comes to the coloration of the wolf cichlid, mature males have a rich golden yellow body with blue, black, and purple speckles while female fish is primarily yellow in color. Sometimes you can notice a reddish, orange, or green hue on the head and dorsal fin of Wolf cichlid. Its tail and fins may decorate with a green or blue coloration. Also, the Wolf cichlid own large beautiful eyes with bronze-colored iris.  Further, as I mentioned above, Wolf cichlid has normal and pharyngeal teeth. So, where can you find out Wolf cichlid in the wild? 

As you know, they are freshwater fish. So, naturally, they live in rivers and lakes. However, you can commonly find them in Central America from Honduras to the Costa river and the Atlantic side of Central America. The general belief is that the highest population of this fish lives in Florida. 

How Does Big Wolf Cichlid get?

Generally, they are large in size. When it comes to identifying the size of male fish and female fish separately, the male grows up to 28 inches in length, and female fish is 16 inches. Their incredible size will lead them to be aggressive, and their size will help them be dominant in the aquarium naturally. 

Is Wolf Cichlid Aggressive?

Yes, they are very aggressive, and their large teeth and mouth make them killing machines.  Plus, it has strong muscles; which also enhances their aggression toward others and predatory activities. Therefore, they tend to attack anything that blocks their path. However, if you keep small fish with this super aggressive fish, they will definitely become the food of Wolf cichlid. 

Wolf Cichlid Behavior

As I mention above, they are super aggressive. They attack other fish, and mostly they tend to kill. However, wolf fish is an active swimmer. So, you can notice that they are swimming around your tank, and it gives liveness to your aquarium. However, most probably, the female Wolf cichlid tries to hide away most of the time. Plus, they are very intelligent fish species, and you can notice that they behave like trained fish. 

Firstly, these fish study other fish, and once they identify peaceful fish species, they suddenly attack them and eat them. On the other hand, they are great jumpers. So, this fish species tries to jump out of the tank. Therefore, it is a must to set an appropriate roof for your Wolf cichlid aquarium. Exceptionally, there are reported cases where they tried to escape and break the tank’s roof.

 Also, sometimes they try to break the glasses of the tank. Therefore, you should be very careful when feeding them because they can smash the tank glass. Also, sometimes they tend to bite your hand when you feed them. Because this fish is defensive during feeding, their bite can be severe! When it turns spawning, they are more hostile.  

How Long Do Wolf Cichlid Live?

It has an incredible lifespan. They have the ability to live over 30 years under good care. So, if you wish to rear a Wolf cichlid, keep in mind to give proper care. Consequently, it allows your fish to live long and happy.

One Look Care Guide

Scientific nameParachromis dovii
Common nameWolf cichlid
Dovii cichlid
Rainbow bass
Guapote blanco
Heros Dovii
Dow’s cichlid
Nandopsis dovii
Cichlasoma dovii
Care levelDifficult 
Native toCentral America
Type Freshwater 
Color Mature male Wolf cichlid has a rich golden yellow body with blue, black, and purple speckle.
Female fish is primarily yellow in color
Tank size125 gallons
Preferred temperature75 to 82 Fahrenheit
13.8 to 27.8 Celsius
Other water parameters Water hardness- KH 2-10
pH level- 6.8-7.8
Growth rateGrow fast until reach 12 inches and then drop the growth rate 
Temperament Very aggressive 
Recommended tank matesAggressive and large fish species 
Preferred foodCrayfish
Large staple cichlid pallets 
Whitebait Prawns
Stick food
Diced fish filet
Diced meat
Lance fish
Feeding frequencyTwice a day 
breedingPossible in captivity 

Wolf Cichlid Care

Caring for your fish is not an easy task because they are very aggressive. However, it will not be a huge task if you have the proper knowledge. So, here I mentioned the basic requirements they need to live comfortably. 

Tank Size

If you wish to rear Wolf cichlid, first of all, you have to set up a large freshwater tank. But why do you need that much large tank? What is the exact size? Let’s clarify these doubts one by one! As you know, this fish can grow very large. So, if you consider the minimum size of the tank, you need to have 125 gallons.

But do not try to fulfill their tank requirement at the minimum level. It is better to have a large tank than 150 gallons. But keep in mind to move your fish to a new large aquarium every time it grows because a Wolf cichlid needs more space to live happily and healthily. Especially if you wish to breed them, you have to go for a very large tank. For instance, It may be 220 to 360 gallons of water. 

How Many you should Keep Together?

Generally, most hobbyists keep only one fish in their aquarium due to their aggressive and caring level. Actually, it is a better decision. But you can keep pair of Wolf cichlids together if you have hundreds of gallons. So, the choice is up to you. But here, you should highly consider your knowledge related to caring for Wolf cichlid, the required tank size, and fish preferences. 

Tank Setup

Tank setup is most important, like tank size. Because it is the environment where is your fish live. Here, you always try to mimic their natural habitat and set up your tank to meet the requirements of your cichlid. 


Sand is the best option for the cichlid tank as a substrate. Digging is one of their favorite activities. That’s why you should select sand. Alternatively, you have the possibility to go with fine gravel. 


The most important thing is, do not heavily decorate your fish tank. Because Wolf cichlids are active swimmers and prefer to attack them, it may cause them to hurt themselves. However, you can use the below things to decorate the tank. 

  • Rocks
  • Driftwoods 
  • Pots 
  • Branches 

It is better to attach your decorations to the tank hardly by using glue, especially rocks because they love to dig. You can deco your tank with branches. Plus, branches are an essential item for the breeding tank. Why? Juveniles use branches for hiding. Anyhow, some hobbyists go with bare bottom aquariums too. 


Generally, many hobbyists do not place plants in a Wolf cichlid tank due to its digging behavior. But some keep them in planted aquariums. Here you can use artificial plants instead of living plants and glue them and attach them properly. So, they are not able to uproot the plants. However, do you want to add live plants? 

Tank cover or lid 

As you know, they are excellent jumpers, and they have the ability to attack and damage the lid and tank glass. So, it is better to use a cover to protect your fish. 


In your tank, you can set tank lighting from moderate to normal. Keep in mind that intense lighting has the ability to enhance brighten your fish color. Plus, it is also good if you can set LED lighting system. The reason is LED lights will not generate unnecessary heat. 

Filter system and water flow 

They are large in size. So, unlike other freshwater fish species, they produce a huge amount of waste. That’s why you should have good filtration for your tank! It is better to install one large canister filter with three sponge filters to maintain the water quality of your fish tank. Another important thing is to maintain the water flow of the tank at a moderate level. 

Water Quality Condition

Water parameters are the most crucial factor when rearing them because they will weaken and stress due to unpreferable water parameters. So, your responsibility is to maintain water conditions at optimum level as below. 

Water temperature: Should be between 75 to 82 Fahrenheit or 13.8 to 27.8 Celsius.

pH level–  It is must range between 6.8 to 7.8.

Water hardness– Maintain hardness at KH 2 to 10.

Especially it is essential to maintaining water quality. Therefore, I recommend performing water changes 2 to 3 times per week. 

Wolf Cichlid Breeding 

Wolf Cichlid Male Or Female Identification 

Comparatively, identifying male and female gender is pretty easy. Just you have to go through with the below facts. 

Female Wolf cichlidsMale Wolf cichlids
Small in sizeFairly large Bodies contrast
The female fish is named yellow wolf cichlid. 
The reason is that they have a bright yellow body with black patches and dots.
Male fish also has yellow body but not like the female. 
It is with a greyish or silvery background. Also, the male fish fin is a reflective bluish-black color. 

Identify Pregnant Wolf Cichlid  

Normally, female do not get pregnant. Because they are egg layers, but sometimes, you may think they are pregnant when noticing their rounded belly. It may happen when their belly fills with eggs. 

Wolf Cichlid Breeding

Breeding them are big challenge because, as you know, they are very aggressive, and when spawning, their average aggressive level enhances to the peak. That’s why you should have enough knowledge and experience. But do not worry; breeding Wolf cichlids are possible in captivity. 

How to pair up your Wolf cichlids

You cannot pair them as your wish. It is better to allow them to pair up naturally. So if you do not already have a pair, you have to choose 6 to 8 juveniles and give time to let them pair up. After 10 to 14 months, your Wolf cichlids pair are ready to breed, and they spawn every month. But you should keep your eye on female fish. Because during the breeding season, males will be more aggressive. Consequently, male fish may tend to attack and hurt female fish. However, this behavior is not uncommon when the female fish is unresponsiveness. 

Setting up a breeding tank 

It should be very large. Roughly it should be at least 220 to 360 gallons of water. Also, do not forget to add hiding spots like caves to breeding tanks. 

Water conditions 

Many researchers found out that dropping temperature leads to spawning. This will mimic the rainfall, and it is like a signal for the fish to breed. You can imitate this by siphoning 50% of tank water and decreasing the tank temperature by 2 degrees. 


When you create a suitable background, just wait and give them time. When breeding pairs ready to mate, their color intensifies. After they start their courtship dance, it means that they are jaw-locking, head shaking, tail slapping, and gill flaring. Generally, female fish lay eggs, and male fish fertilize them simultaneously. The eggs take about a week to hatch, and the fry comes out. A few days later, they become free swimmers. 

How Many Babies Does Wolf Cichlid Have?

Generally, female Wolf cichlids lay around 2000 eggs at once. 

Wolf Cichlid Fry Care

If Wolf cichlids eat other fish, parents are very protective of their little ones, especially from predators. Male fish feed their fry. However, you can feed fry using tiny meat or baby shrimps. But, it is better to keep your fry in a separate tank because other cousins can eat these little ones. Also, I recommend separating their parent fish from fry because sometimes they also tend to eat their baby when stressed or trying to protect them. So, do not take a risk. Plus, baby wolf cichlids grow fast. It means they grow an inch in length per month. But when they reach 12 inches, their growth rate becomes slow. 

Wolf Cichlid

Feeding Behavior Of Wolf Cichlid

Wolf cichlids are carnivores, and they only eat animal matter. Not like other fish, their diet is identical. Generally, Wolf cichlids accept mainly fish, crustaceans, earthworms, and invertebrates. However, it is essential to provide supplements and boost the fish’s immune system. not only that, supplements cause to enhance the color of your Wolf cichlids and maintain overall health. 

What do Wolf cichlids eat?

You can provide below foods listed for your Wolf cichlids. 

  • Crayfish
  • Crickets 
  • Mussels
  • Whitebait
  • Large staple cichlid pallets 
  • Whitebait 
  • Prawns
  • Cockles 
  • Crab
  • Silversides
  • Stick food
  • Diced fish filet
  • Diced meat
  • Lance fish 

On the other hand, you should avoid the below foods 

  • Pork and other fatty foods – are toxic to Wolf cichlids
  • Goldfish feed – this feed does not contain the required amount of nutrition 

Special note

Do not try to feed your Wolf cichlids only with live foods because live foods can get diseases into your tank. Plus, if you give only live foods to your Wolf cichlids, they become more predatory and aggressive, especially for their tankmates. Therefore, it is better to mix their diet with live food, frozen and other assortments. 

How Often Should You Feed

It is better to give adequate foods for Wolf cichlids twice a day. But, keep in mind do not overfeed. 

When Should You Feed? 

Feed your Wolf cichlids in the morning and the evening. 

How Long Wolf Cichlids Can Live Without Food

Generally, Wolf cichlids can live around 7 days without food. But, this can be varied with their age, size, and health level. 

What Fish Can Live With Wolf Cichlid?

You know, Wolf cichlids are very aggressive. So, can you select tankmates for this monster? Is it difficult? Yes, you can keep some fish species with Wolf cichlids in the same tank. But the most important thing that you should keep in mind is, Wolf cichlids are very aggressive. So, you have to go with only other aggressive fish species larger than Wolf cichlid. For instance, they will do well with Jaguar cichlids. However, if you add any fish, you should monitor them closely. Moreover, avoid the below types of fish housing with Wolf cichlids. 

Is Wolf Cichlid aggressive?

Wolf cichlid is a super-aggressive fish in the cichlid family. Actually, wolf cichlid is like the king of the cichlid family. They attack anything that faces their path. Also, they attack other fish species and also try to kill them. Therefore, keeping away peaceful and semi-aggressive fish species from your Wolf cichlid is better.  Moreover, sometimes Wolf cichlid tends to bite humans’ hands, and there are several reported cases. Most probably, this happens during feeding times. 

Credit to : Mbuna Marcus
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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.