Green Terror Cichlids – Care, Size, Tank Mates & Full Details!

Green Terror Cichlids (Andinoacara rivulatus) are a captivating and often misunderstood freshwater fish species that have gained popularity among aquarists due to their striking colors and unique behaviors.

Green Terror Cichlids are native to the calm tropical river basins of Peru and Ecuador. They belong to the Cichlid family, which is known for its diverse and sometimes aggressive members.

Green Terrors are characterized by their stunning appearance, inquisitive nature, and territorial behavior.

With proper care and attention to their needs, these fish can thrive in a home aquarium.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about Green Terror Cichlid care, size, tank mates, and more.

Quick Stats About Green Terror Cichlids

Origin: South America
Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
Care Level: Intermediate
Average Lifespan: 7-10 years
Color form: Green, white and blue
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 12 Inches
Minimum Size of the Tank: 50 gallons
Family: Cichlidae
Compatibility: Same size or larger fish
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater with moderate current and hiding caves
Temperature: 70.0 to 80.0° F (21.1 to 26.7° C)

Appearance of Green Terror Cichlids

Green Terror Cichlids (Andinoacara rivulatus) are eye-catching fish known for their vivid metallic green color.

Their bright blue markings on their faces and bodies add to their stunning look. These fish truly stand out in any aquarium setting.

Their pointed dorsal fins and tail fins have orange stripes, making them even more attractive.

However, females usually have duller colors and might not have the orange stripes. Young Green Terror Cichlids have a silvery-blue color that changes to metallic green as they grow older. Their fins have a ray-finned appearance due to thin spines supporting them.

Green Terror Cichlids’ Habitat

Green Terror Cichlids come from slow-moving tropical rivers and river basins in Peru and Ecuador. Their natural environment has warm, somewhat hard water, which is important to copy in a home aquarium for their health. These fish like to explore their environment and do well in places with plants, rocks, and sandy bottoms.

Origin And Distribution of Green Terror’s

Green Terror Cichlids (Andinoacara rivulatus) are originally from South America, particularly river basins in Peru and Ecuador.

Their beautiful look and interesting behavior have made them popular with fish lovers all over the world.

Now, Green Terror Cichlids can be found in aquariums and fish stores around the globe.

Size, Growth, and Life Expectancy of Green Terror Cichlids

Green Terror Cichlids grow at a medium pace. Adult males usually reach about 8 inches in captivity, but they can grow up to 12 inches in the wild.

Some fish owners have even seen their Green Terrors grow more than 10 inches in very big home tanks.

These fish can live from 7 to 10 years when they are well cared for in a home aquarium.

To help them live a long and healthy life, give them the right environment, high-quality food, and clean water.

How Green Terror Cichlids Act and Feel

Green Terror Cichlids are curious and active fish. They like to explore their surroundings and swim in all parts of the water.

While they are fun to watch, it’s important to know that they can also be aggressive.

As part of the Cichlid family, Green Terror Cichlids are territorial and might fight with other fish, especially their own kind.

To help keep the peace in the aquarium, make sure there is enough space, places to hide, and things to block their view.

Also, think about having tank mates that are about the same size and have a similar personality.

By understanding their behavior and meeting their needs, you can have a happy and healthy home for your Green Terror Cichlids.

Creating the Perfect Tank for Green Terror Cichlids

Setting up the right tank for Green Terror Cichlids is important to keep them healthy and happy.

By considering factors like tank size, substrate, decorations, water parameters, filtration, and tank mates, you can create a comfortable environment for your fish.

Tank Size

Green Terror’s need plenty of space to swim and explore. A minimum tank size of 50 gallons is recommended for one adult fish.

If you plan on keeping more than one, increase the tank size by at least 30 gallons per additional fish to avoid territorial disputes.


A sandy or fine gravel substrate is ideal for these fish, as it mimics their natural habitat. This type of substrate allows them to sift through it and search for food, which is a natural behavior for them.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Green Terror’s enjoy having hiding spots to retreat to when they feel threatened. Provide plenty of rocks, caves, and driftwood to create a natural-looking environment.

Live plants are also a great addition, as they not only provide cover but also help to improve water quality.

Water Parameters

Maintaining stable water parameters is crucial for the health of your Green Terror Cichlids.

The water temperature should be between 72°F and 82°F, with a pH level between 6.5 and 8.0. The water hardness should be between 5 and 20 dGH.

Filtration and Aeration

A strong filtration system is necessary to keep the water clean and remove harmful chemicals. A canister filter or an external hang-on filter works well.

Ensure the filter has adequate flow and mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration capabilities.

Additionally, provide sufficient aeration using an air pump and airstone to keep the water oxygenated.


Moderate lighting is suitable for Green Terror Cichlids. Too much light can cause stress and encourage algae growth.

Use an LED aquarium light with a timer to create a consistent day and night cycle.

Tank Mates

Green Terror Cichlids can be aggressive, so choose tank mates wisely. Other large, semi-aggressive fish, such as Oscar Fish, Jack Dempseys, and Convict Cichlids, can make suitable companions.

Avoid small or timid fish, as they may become targets for the Green Terror Cichlids.


Green Terror Cichlids are omnivores, so provide a varied diet that includes high-quality pellets, frozen or live foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms, and vegetable matter such as blanched spinach or zucchini.

Feed them 2-3 times a day in small portions to avoid overfeeding.


Regular maintenance is essential to keep the tank clean and healthy. Perform partial water changes of 25-30% every week to maintain water quality.

Clean the substrate with a siphon to remove waste and uneaten food.

Test water parameters regularly to ensure they stay within the recommended range, and adjust as necessary.

Monitor your Green Terror Cichlids for any signs of illness and treat promptly if needed.

Aquarium Maintenance Tips for Green Terror Cichlids

Proper aquarium maintenance is crucial for the well-being of your Green Terror Fish.

By conducting regular water changes, cleaning the tank and decorations, maintaining the filter, and monitoring fish health, you can ensure a healthy environment for your fish.

Additionally, understanding how to acclimate Green Terror Cichlids when introducing them to a new tank is vital for their welfare.

Regular Water Changes

Performing regular water changes is essential to maintain water quality and prevent the buildup of harmful substances.

Replace 25-30% of the tank water every week with clean, dechlorinated water that matches the temperature and pH of the existing water.

This helps maintain stable water parameters and keeps your Green Terror’s healthy.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

Clean the tank and decorations to remove algae and accumulated waste. Use an algae scraper or pad to remove algae from the glass, and a siphon to clean the substrate.

Rinse decorations in a bucket of tank water to avoid killing beneficial bacteria. Always avoid using soap or harsh chemicals, as they can be toxic to your fish.

Filter Maintenance

Regular filter maintenance is crucial for efficient filtration and a healthy aquarium. Clean or replace filter media, such as sponge or filter floss, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Rinse mechanical and biological media in a bucket of tank water to preserve beneficial bacteria. Check the filter for debris and ensure proper water flow.

Monitor Fish Health

Keep an eye on your Green Terror’s for any signs of illness or stress, such as unusual behavior, loss of appetite, or physical abnormalities.

Regularly observe their body condition, coloration, and swimming patterns. If you notice any issues, consult an aquatic veterinarian or experienced aquarist for advice on appropriate treatment.

Acclimating Green Terror Cichlids

Proper acclimation is crucial when introducing Green Terror Cichlids to a new tank.

Follow these steps to ensure a smooth transition:

  1. Float the unopened bag containing the fish in your aquarium for 15-20 minutes to equalize the water temperature.

  2. Open the bag and slowly add small amounts of your tank water to it every 5 minutes for about 30-45 minutes to gradually acclimate the fish to the water parameters.

  3. Use a net to transfer the fish to the aquarium, avoiding the addition of the bag water to the tank.

  4. Monitor the Green Terror’s closely for any signs of stress or aggression during the first few days, adjusting their environment or tank mates if necessary.

Green Terror Cichlids Diet and Feeding

Green Terror Cichlid is omnivorous and requires a balanced diet for optimal health. Feed them a variety of high-quality, nutrient-dense foods to ensure proper growth, coloration, and overall well-being.

  1. Pellets and flakes: Offer high-quality, protein-rich pellets or flakes specifically formulated for cichlids. These foods provide essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

  2. Live and frozen foods: Supplement their diet with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, and mysis shrimp. These foods promote natural feeding behaviors and enhance their immune system.

  3. Vegetable matter: Green Terror Cichlids benefit from the inclusion of vegetable matter in their diet. Offer blanched vegetables like spinach, zucchini, or peas, and consider adding algae wafers or spirulina flakes to provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Feed your Green Terror Fish  2-3 times a day, offering only as much food as they can consume within 2-3 minutes.

Remove any uneaten food to prevent water pollution.

Green Terror Cichlids Tank Mates

Choosing suitable tank mates for Green Terror Cichlids is essential for a harmonious and stress-free environment. These fish are territorial and can be aggressive, especially during breeding.

Ideal tank mates include:

  1. Other large, semi-aggressive cichlids: Species like Firemouth Cichlids, Jack Dempseys, or Electric Blue Acaras can coexist with Green Terror Cichlids.

  2. Large, robust non-cichlid species: Fish such as Silver Dollars, Bala Sharks, or Giant Danios can hold their own in a tank with Green Terror Cichlids.

  3. Catfish and plecos: Bottom-dwelling species like large Corydoras, Pictus Catfish, or Common Plecos can make suitable tank mates.

Avoid keeping Green Terror’s with smaller, timid, or slow-moving species, as they may become targets for aggression or be outcompeted for food.

Green Terror Cichlids Breeding

Breeding Green Terror Cichlids can be a rewarding experience, as they are fascinating fish to observe during courtship and spawning.

Here are the key steps to encourage breeding:

  1. Sexing the fish: Males are larger, have more vibrant colors, and possess longer fin extensions than females. Females are generally smaller and duller in color.

  2. Tank setup: Provide a spacious tank with hiding spots, flat rocks or slate, and suitable water parameters (pH 6.5-7.5, temperature 77-80°F or 25-27°C).

  3. Feeding: Offer a high-quality, varied diet to promote the fish’s overall health and encourage breeding.

  4. Courtship: Males will display their colors and perform courtship rituals to attract a female. The female will then choose a suitable flat surface to lay her eggs.

  5. Egg-laying and fertilization: Females lay up to 400 eggs, which the male fertilizes. Both parents guard the eggs and fan them to maintain oxygen levels.

  6. Egg hatching: Eggs hatch within 3-5 days, and the fry become free-swimming after about a week. Parents continue to guard their offspring for several weeks.

Monitor the breeding pair closely for aggression, and be prepared to separate them if necessary.

With proper care and attention, you can successfully breed and raise Green Terror Cichlid.

Signs of Stress in Green Terror Cichlids

Stress can negatively affect the health of Green Terror Cichlid. Recognizing the signs of stress early can help you address the issue and restore their well-being.

  1. Loss of color: A stressed fish may appear pale or lose its vibrant colors.

  2. Lethargy: A lack of energy or activity may indicate stress.

  3. Loss of appetite: A sudden decrease in appetite or refusal to eat can be a sign of stress.

  4. Hiding or unusual behavior: Constant hiding or abnormal swimming patterns can indicate stress.

  5. Rapid breathing: Breathing rapidly or gasping at the surface of the water may signify stress.

Addressing the cause of stress, such as poor water quality, inadequate tank setup, or unsuitable tank mates, can help improve the fish’s overall health.

Common Health Issues and Treatments for Green Terror Cichlids

Green Terror Cichlids, like other fish species, can experience health issues.

Here are some common problems and their treatments:

  1. Ich: Small white spots on the fish’s body, fins, and gills indicate ich, a parasitic infection. Treat by raising the water temperature to 86°F (30°C) for a few days and using an ich medication.

  2. Fin rot: Fins appearing frayed or discolored can be a sign of fin rot, a bacterial infection. Use aquarium salt and antibacterial medication to treat the infection.

  3. Fungal infections: Cotton-like growths on the fish’s body or fins signify a fungal infection. Treat with antifungal medications.

  4. Internal parasites: Weight loss, bloating, and stringy feces can indicate internal parasites. Treat with an anti-parasitic medication.

Prevention is the best medicine, so maintain proper water quality, provide a balanced diet, and keep a stress-free environment for your fish.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

  1. Quarantine new fish: Always quarantine new fish for 2-4 weeks before adding them to your main aquarium to prevent introducing diseases.

  2. Test water parameters regularly: Monitor water parameters (pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels) to ensure a stable environment.

  3. Cycle your tank: Establish a healthy nitrogen cycle before introducing fish to a new aquarium.

  4. Avoid overcrowding: Maintain appropriate stocking levels to reduce stress and ensure adequate space for each fish.

  5. Observe your fish daily: Regularly check your fish for signs of stress or illness and take appropriate action if needed.

  6. Clean equipment: Clean and maintain all aquarium equipment, including filters, heaters, and air pumps, to ensure optimal performance.

By following these tips, you can maintain a healthy aquarium environment for your Green Terror’s and other fish species.

Should You Get a Green Terror Cichlids for Your Aquarium?

Before getting a Green Terror Cichlid, consider the following factors:

  1. Tank size: These fish require a large tank (at least 55 gallons for a single fish) to accommodate their size and territorial behavior.

  2. Tank mates: They can be aggressive, so choose tank mates carefully. Opt for similarly-sized, semi-aggressive fish.

  3. Maintenance: Regular water changes and monitoring of water parameters are essential to maintain a healthy environment.

  4. Experience: Green Terror Cichlids are better suited to intermediate or experienced aquarists who understand their specific care requirements.

If you can meet these requirements, Green Terror Cichlids can be a rewarding addition to your aquarium.

Conservation Status

Green Terror Cichlids are not currently listed as endangered or threatened. However, like all species, maintaining their natural habitat is essential for their long-term survival.

Availability & Pricing

Green Terror Cichlids are widely available at local pet stores, online retailers, and through specialized breeders. Prices may vary depending on factors such as size, age, and coloration. Typically, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $30 per fish. Be sure to choose a reputable seller to ensure you receive a healthy specimen.

Frequently Asked Questions About Green Terror Cichlids

Q: How big do Green Terror Cichlids get?

A: Males can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm), while females are typically smaller, reaching up to 8 inches (20 cm) in length.

Q: How long do Green Terror Cichlids live?

A: With proper care, these fish can live for around 8-10 years in captivity.

Q: Can Green Terror Cichlids live with other fish?

A: Yes, but choose tank mates carefully. Opt for similarly-sized, semi-aggressive fish to minimize conflicts.

Q: What do Green Terror Cichlids eat?

A: They are omnivores, requiring a diet that includes high-quality pellets, flakes, and live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and earthworms.

Q: How can I tell if my Green Terror Cichlid is stressed?

A: Signs of stress include loss of color, lethargy, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, or hiding for extended periods. Ensure proper water quality, tank conditions, and compatible tank mates to reduce stress.


Green Terror’s are captivating fish with their striking colors and lively personalities. They require specific care and attention, making them more suitable for intermediate or experienced aquarists.

With proper tank setup, diet, and maintenance, these fish can thrive and bring beauty and excitement to your aquarium for years to come.