Jaguar Cichlid care guide
Image Source: cichlidszone

Jaguar Cichlid (Managuense): All you need to know.

The Parachromis Managuensis or the Jaguar Cichlid is native to Central America, namely, the Costa Rica and Honduras regions. These are freshwater fish that goes by many other names like Managuense Cichlid, Managua Cichlid, Guapote Tigre, Aztec Cichlid, Spotted Guapote, or the Jaguar Guapote. They were exported by aquarists and other hobbyists to outer regions which is why they can be found in other regions like Mexico and Singapore instead of just Central America.

This Carnivorous species feels most at home in turbid, eutrophic waters with low oxygen. The warm lakes and rivers of their habitat consist of a mud or sand substrate with plant life. They have a very wide tolerance for water parameters, making them hardy and long-lived species.

An intimidating cichlid, given its large size and predatory behavior. The Jaguar Cichlid earned its name by displaying the coloration and attitude of the famed jungle cat. One has to have experience and be ready for surprises if one wants to take on these fish.

Read on below to learn more about how to care for and handle these aquatic predators in your home aquarium.

Jaguar Cichlid in aquarium
Image Source: Reddit
Scientific NameParachromis Managuensis
OriginCentral America
Size14-16 Inches
Aquarium Size70 Gallons for a single adult
Lifespan15 Years
Ease of CareModerate
TemperamentHighly Aggressive

Appearance of Jaguar Cichlids

Their size makes them an absolute marvel to look at. Growing up to a size of 16 inches, Jaguar Cichlids have an oval-shaped, elongated body designed to kill. Unlike other cichlids, Jaguars have large, noticeable fins, their rays extending outwards give the fins quite a prominent look.

Another prominent feature they have is their mouth, which makes them an efficient hunters. Their lower jaw is slightly longer which allows you to see their sharp teeth, but that’s not all. Their jaws protrude as much as 90% of their mouth’s length. Making it a sight to behold while they gobble up their prey.

Jaguar Cichlids Color:

Jaguar Cichlids change their appearance with age, growing up (during the juvenile stage) they develop a pale goldish-silver hue with large black bands wrapped around the back and stopping at the lateral line.

As they get older, the black bands disappear and black dots and splotches appear on its body. These black large spots always form a horizontal line that goes from head to tail. This color pattern is what gives them their name, the Jaguar pattern.

Jaguar Cichlid Size:

These are generally large fish and reach a size of 15-16 inches in captivity. The size difference between males and females is negligible and if well taken care of and kept in a healthy environment, your Jaguar Cichlids might even grow bigger than 16 inches!

There have been reports of Jaguars growing up to a size of 2 feet at 3-pound weight!

Difference between male and female Jaguar Cichlid:

The only differences between males and females are those in body size and fins. Males are slightly bigger and have slightly longer and pointed anal and dorsal fins. These features can easily help you tell apart the sexes.

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Life Span of Jaguar Cichlid

The average lifespan for Jaguar Cichlids is 15 years. A long time will require commitment and consistency, which we think every owner should watch out for.

There have been reports of them going past the 15-year mark but only under a strictly consistent environment.

Diet for Jaguar Cichlid

These are carnivorous fish that require a protein-rich diet. However, they can be trained to eat flakes and pellets from a very young age. These raptorial feeders will feed on anything you throw at them but it is recommended to feed them once per day and it does not hurt to skip a day per week.

Feed them as much food as they can finish within a couple of minutes, overfeeding can lead to problems like Malawi Bloat or decaying food in the tank (which can lead to imbalance in water parameters).

Their typical diet includes:

  • Feeder Fish
  • Worms, blood worms, blackworms, meal worms
  • Prawn
  • Insects
  • Crickets
  • ghost shrimps
  • dry and frozen food
  • small frogs

We would recommend you feed them frozen fish because feeder fish carries the risk of introducing disease and illness to your tank, which can be a pain to fix. Requiring you to quarantine your Jaguar Cichlids and carry out a cleanup routine in your main tank, which is not only time-consuming but carries the risk of damaging the health of your fish.

Behavior and Temperament of Jaguar Cichlid

Jaguar Cichlids are huge in size and quite aggressive, which means that they are not ideal for community tanks. Being carnivores, they will feed on smaller fish and will attack or even kill any fish that approach their territory (they are also known to show aggression towards their mate).

It is only recommended for experienced aquarists to keep Jaguar Cichlids in their tank because they will be prepared to handle these feisty cichlids. A large tank will mitigate aggression by giving every fish its own space and reducing the line of sight with the help of vegetation.

They will normally swim about the bottom end of the tank, digging around in the substrate in search of food. For this reason, it is suggested to keep a soft substrate so that they do not injure themselves.

Aquarium and Water Parameters needed for Jaguar Cichlids

The conditions of their native habitat should be mimicked, the warm and neutral waters of the different Central American Rivers make their home. They are very tolerant when it comes to water parameters because they are also able to survive many harsh conditions along with a temperature of 97 F!

PH Level7.0-8.7
Water Hardness10-15 dGH
Temperature73-82 F

Minimum Tank Size for Jaguar Cichlid:    

Aggression is in the nature of these fish and there is just no avoiding it. There are ways to mitigate their aggressive nature, and one of those ways is to provide them with lots and lots of space. Their tank size is what matters the most because more space means that fish will mind their own business and not try to cross turf boundaries.

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The lakes and rivers of Central America consist of murky waters and are filled with plants and debris, so the aquarist should try to replicate those conditions (with the exception of debris because we obviously don’t want impurities in the tank).

Care should be taken when deciding on the substrate. These fish like to dig around the base for food and sometimes just for fun, so the substrate should be made of something soft instead of something sharp like rocks. Your Jaguar Cichlids, just like any other from their family will eat anything that fits their mouth (including rocks!) and nobody wants digestive tract problems with rocks being stuck in there.

When it comes to plantations, we would suggest hardy plants or ones that are deeply rooted in pots because Jaguar Cichlids like to uproot the aquarium plantation. Floating plants also work well in a cichlid tank.

Rocks, caves, driftwood, and other such decoration pieces are also recommended for a cichlid tank because they provide hiding spots and an aesthetic vibe that minimizes line of sight for these fish, giving them a sense of privacy. Take care to add rocks with flat surfaces to help them during the breeding season.

Last but least, avoid overcrowding the habitat because Jaguar Cichlids are large fish and they love to swim around openly. So a tight space will cause stress, elevate aggression and result in an unhealthy life for aquarium dwellers.


A powerful filtration system like a large sump style or canister filter will be quite useful in cleaning up the mess Jaguar Cichlids make by digging around the substrate. Keep in mind that these fish quickly elevate ammonia and nitrate levels, so your filtration system should be well equipped to handle these situations.

A strong pump to replicate the fast water flow of the Central American waters is also recommended to keep your Jaguar Cichlids satisfied.

Video Source: Blake’s Aquatics

Ideal and Worst Tank Mates for Jaguar Cichlid

Finding suitable tank mates for Jaguar Cichlids can be a pain but it is not impossible. These fish are aggressive carnivores so keep in mind not to keep any fish smaller than them in the tank or else it will become their food.

Some argue that the best tank mate for a Jaguar Cichlid is another Jaguar Cichlid, in other words, a bonded pair of Jaguar Cichlids. It is considered best to buy an already bonded pair or to get a bunch of juveniles, let them make pairs, and remove the rest because juvenile Jaguars are not as aggressive as adults are.

It all boils down to the aquarist because it is his/her responsibility to understand the temperament of their fish, but here are a few species that have successfully lived with Jaguars in a tank:

Other large cichlids and catfish make the best tank mates for them for obvious reasons of size, resilience, hardiness, and equal aggression. For further information on these tank mates, do visit their respective articles on our website by following the links.

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How to Breed Jaguar Cichlid?

Breeding Jaguar Cichlids is a piece of cake, mainly because they naturally form bonded pairs and display affection towards their better half and their eggs and fry. During mating season they will display elevated aggression towards every other fish in the tank, this might be a good time for the aquarist to transfer the bonded pair to their very own large tank.

The breeding process starts when the female becomes plump full of eggs and lays them on a flat rock surface, some 2,000 orange eggs at once, which are then fertilized by the male. In the upcoming 5-7 days, the eggs will hatch while the female sticks close to them and the male forms a defensive perimeter around the area, fighting anything that gets close to the death.

Once they hatch, the Jaguar Cichlids will likely dig a pit to keep their fry in a secure spot so they can watch over them. After about a week, the fry will start swimming freely, at which point the aquarist can feed them food like frozen baby brine shrimp.

Common diseases and issues with Jaguar Cichlid

Jaguar Cichlids are hardy fish and have no illnesses specific to them but they can, like all other freshwater fish become prone to common illnesses like ich and fungal or parasitic infections.

Ich is something the aquarist needs to carefully watch out for because it is highly contagious and will spread in no time. It occurs when water conditions become poor and fish become stressed, they will develop white spots on their body, which if left untreated will lead to kidney and liver failure eventually resulting in death.

The cure for this is frequent water changes and monitoring of water parameters. Infected fish should immediately be quarantined before your aquarium becomes a breeding ground for such contagious illnesses.

Another thing to watch out for is when you introduce foreign objects in the tank, they might bring about with themselves diseases and cause great trouble for both you and your fish.


Q: Can a Jaguar Cichlid live in a 75-gallon tank?

Yes, only a single Jaguar Cichlid requires a 70-gallon tank.

Q: Can Jaguar Cichlid be kept with others?

Yes, only if those other fish are equal in size, hardiness, and aggression.

Q: Can you eat Jaguar Cichlids?

Yes, they are considered a delicacy in some parts of Central America.


As you can see, these fish are not easy to care for because they come with a plethora of prerequisites to watch out for. Something that is definitely for an experienced Cichlids tank keeper, not for a beginner. The key to care for these large cichlids is space, space, and lots of space, without which they will suffer stress and their aggression will elevate.

We hope this article helped answer your curious queries regarding Jaguar Cichlid care, but if you have further questions or want to explore other cichlid care guides, do explore our website because it has all the fish content you will ever need!

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