Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis managuensis) – Complete Species Guide

You’ve chosen to include the Jaguar Cichlid in your aquarium, have you? It’s a good choice, regarding appearance. They’re beautiful fish.

However, be warned. Jaguar Cichlids are some of the larger fish in the aquarium trade, and they can be very temperamental.

Spotted Jaguar Cichlid

Jaguar Cichlids are aggressive and territorial. Though if you provide them with the right conditions, tank, and feed, they’re great to have.

Table Of Contents:

Jaguar Cichlid With Tank Mates

Basic Facts

Name: Jaguar Cichlid

Scientific Name: Parachromis managuensis

Group: Freshwater

Size Of The Fish: Large

Temperament: Aggressive

Aquarium Size Required: Large

Where It Swims: Bottom/Middle Areas

Care Difficulty Rating: Medium

Good Paired With: Other Jaguar Cichlids, Aggressive Cichlid Species


Jaguar Cichlids are from Central America. These are freshwater fish, living in lakes and basins throughout several countries. Mostly found in Nicaragua, but also in Honduras and Costa Rica.

Jaguar Cichlid taken by @fishy_wishes_ on Instagram - Here we share everything you need to know about Jaguar Cichlids. Find out how to keep your Jaguar Cichlids happy and healthy. | Contented Fish
Thanks to @fishy_wishes for this photo of a large Jaguar Cichlid

However, now they’ve spread throughout Central America. Including Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and southern areas of Mexico.

The habitats of their preference are usually cloudy lakes. They also prefer warmer water, without too much oxygen. Jaguar Cichlids live in water bodies with muddy bottoms.

However, they can sometimes be found in places with sandy bottoms, such as ponds and canals.

Their common name ‘Jaguar Cichlid,’ comes from the pattern of the spots being likened to a Jaguar.

The second part of their scientific name, Parachromis managuensis, comes from the habitat where the first of their species was found.

The ‘holotype,’ (the first known specimen of a species,) came from Lake Managua in Nicaragua. Today, that lake has a large and thriving population of these fish.

Jaguar Cichlids are known under many different names. You may have heard of one, or a few of them. Their other names include Aztec Cichlid, Managua Cichlid, and Managuense Cichlid, Spotted Guapote, Guapote Tigre, and the Jaguar Guapote.

(Guapote Tigre” is Spanish, it means the Guapote Tiger/Jaguar.)


The majority of their colors consist of tones. But, keep them in clean conditions, and the patterns stand out. The extra colors vary for each. It can be interesting to see how they develop.

Here is how to sex a jaguar cichlid.

Markings and Colours: In the earlier stages of life, the males have more spots. However, as they grow older, they lose them. They reach a stage where the spots disappear entirely. The females go through a similar process, but they keep most of theirs.

Another difference is the edging of the males fins are brightly colored. The female has coloration, but less vibrant.

Size and Shape: The males are always bigger than the females. Usually, there is an inch or so difference in length. They have broader and sharply pointed proctal and dorsal fins.

The females are rounder in shape.

Jaguar Cichlidae Parachromis managuensis

Behavior: In the breeding season, the males become very aggressive, ready to impress the females. Also, but this happens all year round, the females tend to stay in the bottom area of the tank.

(Even if after you’ve followed all the pointers listed above, and you still can’t tell, ask your local vet or expert.)

Jaguar Cichlids, besides being large, are robust fish.

They have light-colored skin, usually pale yellowish brown, to yellow to bronze. When they are younger, they display dark-grey/black vertical stripes across their body. However, it completely changes when they become mature.

Slowly, the vertical stripes disappear, replaced with dark spots. They are present all over the body but mostly on gill covers and lower sides.

They have a horizontal line of dots across the bottom of their body.

Like the Jaguar, no two body patterns of the fish are the same, and none of them have the same amount of spots. Their fins are dark-grey/black, becoming significantly darker during breeding.

Sometimes, their skin has a light blueish-green to a purple tint.

Jaguar Cichlids are predatory fish, they have sharp teeth at the back of their throat. It makes hunting easier. They also have sharp edging on the ends of their fins.

These are for protecting themselves from other predatory fish.

In the wild, the average size is 24 inches, (60cm), and the females being smaller. However, there’s no reason to panic. Don’t think you need to punch out a wall to accommodate them.

They don’t grow this big in the aquarium. Males grow to an average of 16″ (40cm), and for females, it’s 13″ (35cm).

Jaguar Cichlid taken by @project_cichlids
A lovely Jaguar Cichlid pic taken by @project_cichlids

They are some of the longest-living Cichlids. Their lifespan is 10-15 years, but most live for around 15. Many experts say with proper care, and a healthy diet, you can extend their lifespan.


Breeding Jaguar Cichlids isn’t for amateurs. These fish get unpredictable during the breeding season

For Jaguar Cichlids, there isn’t a set time of the year; it depends on the conditions of the water. Specifically, the temperature. They start to prepare for reproducing when the water gets warmer.

When you want them to begin, raise the temperature. Do this over a period of two days. Don’t shock the fish. The recommended temperature is 82° F (28° C).

The male/s get aggressive and can attack tank mates, (if you have any.) Move the Jaguar Cichlids breeding out of that aquarium. Put them into a particular breeding tank.

(If you don’t have one of these, using a tank divider is a good solution.)

If you are keeping these fish for breeding, it’s best to raise them in a pair from as early in their lives as possible.

A definite no-no is introducing a female straight before they breed. Why? The males have a nasty habit of sometimes killing an unknown female.

They begin to court each other, but this may take a while.

Once the courtship has finished, spawning begins. The usual spot of preference is a flat rock, make sure you include this.

The female lays the eggs; the male fertilizes them. The number is always variable, but she can lay up to 5000 eggs! However, the usual range is 3000-5000 eggs.

The male protects the unhatched offspring, and the mother looks after the eggs. You may notice the female flaps her fins around the breeding site.

This is so the water continually moves to provide oxygenated water for the eggs.

In 3-5 days, the eggs hatch, and the fish larvae emerge. As they are still encased in their yolk sacs, they provide food for the larvae.

No need to feed them during the first week of their lives.

Once they consume the yolk sac, this is when the parents take responsibility for feeding them. The fry are fed organic matter, and they can’t swim at this stage. Let another week pass by.

By now, the fry are free-swimming. The parents can continue to look after them for another six weeks, until they are old enough to look after themselves.

However, some Jaguar Cichlids may consume their fry, if they’re left in with them for more than two weeks. If they do, remove the fry immediately.

Suggested foods for the fry would be baby brine shrimp. Also, artificial feed designed for fish hatchlings.

Looking After Jaguar Cichlids

Jaguar Cichlids are aggressive fish. However with specific aquarium and water conditions, their aggression level can lower.

Looking after these magnificent fish takes planning.

The bigger the tank, the more space they have, the less aggressive they will be. It’s best to keep them in couples

The best Jaguar Cichlid tank size is 100 gallons, (378 L). It’s especially important each fish has designated territory.

Keep decor simple and to a minimum. They’re going to get knocked over all the time.

As with most Cichlids, include a flat rock as a spawning site. Have hidey-holes and cave-like areas. But balance it out with plenty of open swimming space.

Many aquarists advise not to have any plants at all. They like to dig, and the plants could be uprooted, or torn apart by clumsy maneuvers.

These fish prefer dark, cloudy habitats in the wild. An easy way to do this is having a handful or two of leaves in the filter, and a bag of aquarium safe peat. (Change the leaves every two weeks.)

Your aquarium must have a tight-fitting lid. Jaguar Cichlids can and will jump out of the tank.

Spawing Jaguar Cichlids taken by @xtrippyhippyx
Spawing Jaguar Cichlids taken by @xtrippyhippyx

Conditions Of The Tank

Once you’ve set up the tank correctly, looking after Jaguar Cichlids is easy. Despite the large size of the tank and fish, they don’t require a massive amount of maintenance.

The water conditions need to be regulated. For these fish, use a large simp or canister filter.

Over time, nitrates and phosphates can build up. The hardness of the water can increase with the evaporation of the water. You don’t want too much of these, as it’s harmful.

Like a few other Cichlids, these are sensitive to pH instability and pollutants.

You need to replace 20-30% of the water twice a week. When you do this, use a gravel cleaner. This removes decomposing organic matter.

Keep your lighting low or subdued.


These fish like the temperature to be slightly warm. They’re from a tropical climate. The best Jaguar Cichlid temperature range is 74-79° F (24-28° C).

The higher the temperature, the more aggressive the fish. It’s best to keep it around 74° F (24° C).

PH And Hardness

Jaguar Cichlids thrive best with 10-15 dGH hardness, and pH of 7-8.7.

Suitable Tank Mates

These fish aren’t the most compatible when it comes to other inhabitants of the aquarium. Take a breeding pair of Jaguar Cichlids. Sometimes, they kill fish that get too close.

However! You can keep them with other fish. You need to be selective, cautious, and monitor them closely. This becomes especially important if you are breeding them.

In preparation for the tank mates, you need a large tank. The usual recommended size is 100 gallons, (378 L.)

It leaves lots of space for the fish and the Jaguar Cichlids. You should always choose companions larger than the Jaguar.

Onto the recommended Jaguar Cichlid tank mates.

Others Of Their Species. Raise them together from the start.

Other Cichlid Species. You need large, aggressive Cichlids; this will lower the amount of conflict. Recommended species are Red Terrors, Green Texas Cichlids, and Oscar Fish. Also, the Jack Dempsey, Carpintis Cichlids, and the Convict.

Catfish. These are big fish and have a temperament that doesn’t cause them to get into many conflicts. Choose a large type of Catfish or a common pleco.

Tinfoil Barbs. These fish hail from South-East Asia, and are a peaceful fish. This and their size make them an excellent choice.


In the wild, these fish are carnivorous. Specifically, they are piscivores, which means they eat other fish. They eat a variety of meat, but their diet mostly consists of other fish.

They are also what is known as ‘raptorial’ feeders. In biology, it means predatory on other animals. It also says that they aren’t fussy eaters.

These fish love to eat! They have massive appetites.

Live Foods. This should make up the bulk of their diet. There are many foods to choose from. Variety is essential.

The foods include bloodworms, ghost shrimp, black worms, and mealworms. They also like minnows, crayfish, crickets, even small frogs.

Frozen Foods. A good option as well. You don’t have to feed them only live food, a balance of both of them is excellent as well. Feed them the same foods, only frozen, as mentioned in the live foods.

Other Options To Consider

Pellets and Flakes. They don’t always eat these, and shouldn’t make up the bulk of their diet. However, they make an excellent supplement/addition.

Keep in mind sometimes your Jaguar Cichlids may not accept these. The food you choose must high-quality, and designed for Cichlids.

Things To Avoid

Meaty Food. Don’t feed them any meats humans eat; it makes them ill.

Overfeeding. This is never a good idea. Feeding them daily is the best feeding frequency.

Jaguar Cichlids. Aggressive, territorial, large, and sometimes, the terror of the tank. But they’re beautiful, uniquely colored fish.

Something I forgot? Or have a question? Leave a comment at the end.

2 thoughts on “Jaguar Cichlid (Parachromis managuensis) – Complete Species Guide”

  1. Hi there nice info . I have lots of jaguar fry and I removed the parents to other tank and my tank size for fry is 125 gallons . How many big jaguar fish can live in 125 gallons tank ? Thanks for great info !! Manny

    • Hi Manny.
      Thanks for reaching out and congrats on your success with breeding your Jaguars! Jaguar Cichlids are highly territorial and aggressive, so each fish needs a tank where they can clearly define their territory with lots of space. As your fish are growing together from birth, there is a much smaller chance of fights breaking out. But it would be best if you still were careful.

      Experts say that a maximum of two fully grown Jaguars should live in a tank of that size. (1 male & 1 female.) If you’re willing to keep a close eye on them, you might be able to have three in your tank. (That would be 1 male & 2 females.)

      An individual fish may not be true to the species characteristics, so see how your cichlids behave while they are growing up.

      Would love to share a photo if you have any!

      Good luck
      Cheers Jim


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