Salvini Cichlid – Care, Size, Tank Mates & Details You Need!

Salvini cichlid (Cichlasoma Salvini or Nandopsis Salvini) is a bright and beautiful fish and it looks very attractive in a tank. However, if you buy the fish when it is young, it won’t look attractive then but when it grows it becomes beautiful.

All members of the cichlid species are very aggressive and so is this one.

Quick Stats

Name: Salvini Cichlid (Cichlasoma Salvini or Nandopsis Salvini)
Size: 5 to 7 inches
Family: Cichlidae
Habitat: Guatemala, Central America, southern Mexico, Honduras
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum tank capacity: 50 gallons
Tank set-up: Freshwater; sand, rocks, roots, and fine gravel
Temperament: Aggressive
Care level: Moderate
Temperature: 24 to 26 degrees Centigrade
pH: 6 – 8
Swimming level: middle to bottom


The Salvini cichlid fish is a territory independent one and it has a predatory nature so it can feed on small-sized fishes easily. The Salvini Cichlid is also called as the Tricolor Cichlid or the yellow-bellow child.

The fish is very beautiful and can prove to be an amazing tank fish. This post discusses everything related to Salvini Cichlid.

The Salvini Cichlids have an elongated body and the sides are flattened. The male fishes can grow up to 7.09 inches and the female fishes grow up to 5.9 inches.

The basic color of these fishes is marigold yellow and there is a series of big anthracite-colored spots along the body.

On the higher side of the body, there is a lateral stripe that is similar to the large spots but is smaller.

The Cichlids have large eyes with red iris and they have fleshy lips and a large head. There are small lines and spots of turquoise green color on the gill covers which add more beauty to the whole body and complements the base body and of the fish.

Salvini Cichlid Habitat

Salvini Cichlid is found in the rivers of Belize, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, that fall into the Atlantic Ocean. The fishes are present in the dense population in the lakes, rivers, and waters in the Atlantic seaboard.

These fishes are also present in the freshwater lagoons, but they mostly prefer rivers with moderate and fast flow and are located not more than 500 meters above sea level.

The fishes have also been artificially settled in some waters in the South of Florida state. Salvini Cichlids are of Belize found in the central parts of tributaries and rivers.

Salvini Cichlid Care

Salvini Cichlid is suitable for experienced aquarists as beginners can face difficulties in their care. Though the fish itself is not very demanding and can easily live in small tanks too, they can be aggressive towards its smaller tank mates.

Also, the fish needs proper care and frequent water changes to remain happy and healthy.

The capacity of the water tank is estimated to be 150 liters if there is a couple of adult fish. You can also add more fishes by estimating the volume of water to be around 30 to 40 liters for one fish.

Aquarium Condition

Salvini cichlids need to have a separate territory and they get more aggressive during the spawning period.

The bottom substrate doesn’t attract these fishes too much and they can do well even with granite chippings or small pebbles.

Cichlids need roots to hide and survive in the tank and a substrate of 8 inches thickness is required.

Some snags or caves can also be added in the tank so that they serve as a shelter for the fishes and also give a good look to the tank. The tank water should be clean and there should be low levels of nitrites and ammonia.

There is an external filter required to keep these fishes healthy and daily renewal of water up to 30% should be maintained. Also, it is good to have a heater with a thermostatic switch in the tank. If you want to add some lighting to the tank, make sure it is moderate.

The Cichlids like to hide in the shadow of caves, snags, and floating plants.

To keep the Salvini cichlid happy and healthy, you’ll need to have a tank with shadows, shelters, and good space for it to swim. Cichlids never damage the plants, so you can keep different types of plants and flower pots inside the tank.

You can decorate the tank with plants and flowers in the corners and near the walls and leave space in the middle for the fishes to swim.

Salvini Cichlid Feeding

Salvini Cichlids are omnivorous, and they can eat all types of frozen, live, or artificial foods. They can feed on small insects and aquatic organisms that fall into the water.

They can eat anything you offer to them such as flakes. If you want to give them good quality food other than protein, you can give spirulina/vegetable flakes, or something related to vegetable matters.

Salvini Cichlids love to eat live food and basic diets such as tubifex, brine shrimp, freeze-dried bloodworms, cichlid pellets, ocean plankton, and bloodworm as supplements.

Some of the best foods for they can the brands Hikari Cichlid gold, Tetra JumboKrill, API for small insects, and Xtreme Aquatic Foods Big Fella Stick Fish Food. Overall, Cichlids love to have a varied diet.

Salvini Cichlid Tank Mates

Salvini Cichlids have an aggressive nature and they tend to be more aggressive towards fishes of their kind. So, if you decide to keep more than one male cichlids in a tank it will be very difficult for you to manage them.

This fish is not meant for keeping in community tanks, particularly if there are other small fishes such as guppy fish or neon tetra too.

Though these fishes are semi-aggressive towards other cichlids, they do go well along with some cichlids such as blood parrot cichlid, convict cichlid, and firemouth cichlid.

Cichlids are predators and they can attack smaller fishes to eat them. Also, they are territory dependent and thus they will try to get rid of other fishes by chasing them away from their territory.

Cichlids make best tank mates with Sailfin pleco or the common pleco. Make sure that if you have larger cichlids, the tank is spacious enough to keep them.


Salvini Cichlids can also suffer from diseases and you must be aware of the common ones if you’re planning to keep them.

Salvini Cichlids can suffer from ich which can be easily treated by elevating the temperature of the tank to 30 degrees Celsius for 3 days.

If the Salvini Cichlid still suffers from ich, you’ll need to treat it with copper which is available in the form of medicines easily. Before using such medicines, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Skin flukes, fungal infections, bacterial infections, and parasitic infestations (worms, protozoa, etc.) can also affect the cichlids and they can be treated with proper medications.

Salvini Cichlid Breeding

The Salvini Cichlids of this species becomes reproductive by the time it’s 10 to 12 months old. They even form couples when they are 6 months old.

This species of Cichlids is monogamic and it protects its territory very aggressively up to 2 meters in diameter.

During the spawning period, Salvini Cichlids become very aggressive and they should better be kept in a separate tank. They can spawn in a community tank too but for this, you’ll have to keep them away from other tank mates.

During the spawning period, any type of stress can put pressure on the fish and because of the quarrels and fights, it can lose its offspring too. In some cases, the female cichlids die due to the tense situation and fights among other tank mates.

For spawning, at least 100 liters of water is needed with lots of shelters at the bottom of the tank. Before spawning, the genital papilla of Cichlid will become visible for 24 hours.

The fish will start cleaning the substrate and then it will start spawning. The couple will lay eggs and then fertilize them inside a snag or on the vertical surface of the barque. The female cichlid can lay up to 500 eggs on a smooth surface such as a stone or a snag.


The male fish then starts protecting the territory when spawning is over. The female fish also protects the eggs and fans them with its pectoral fins.

The cichlids eat any damaged eggs if they find them. The female cichlid is very protective of its eggs and it leaves them only when she wants to feed. Meanwhile, the male cichlid takes care of the eggs.

The larvae hatch after three days and is a bit large as compared to other larvae of fishes. The larvae don’t swim yet, and they just feed on their yolk bags. Sometimes the female cichlid carries the larvae herself to feed them.

If you have young cichlids in the tank, feed them with chopped tubifex or brine shrimp nauplii one week after they have hatched.

Make sure to take care of the temperature in the tank and keep it to 26 degrees Celsius. If the temperature is lower than normal, it can cause the young Cichlids to die. The parent cichlids take care of their offspring for a long time.

When they feel they are young independent enough to feed themselves, they leave them to fend for themselves.

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