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Cichlasoma festae
Festa's Cichlid, Red Terror

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Red Terror - Cichlasoma festae

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festae1.jpg (17kb)
Photo Credit: Jeff Rapps

I have a Red Terror and it really is. My fish is so ill-tempered that I decided to name him Lucifer. On several occasions (basically every other day) he smashed his head against the rocks in my tank. In doing this he has created a sort of designed imprint in his forehead. Also, about four months ago, he kept ramming two of my rocks. Apparently he did not like where they were placed, and they collapsed. He did this about two or three times, until I moved them to a spot that he liked. These fish are unpredictable and can be destructively aggressive. Keeping festae with other fish is sometimes OK, depending on how long it has lived in the tank and the tank size. In fact, on another occasion I put a large buttikoferi in the tank with him. He immediately began to circle the new cichlid. That was followed by a series of bites and body smashing. The buttikoferi became enraged and began to bite at my terror's face. In a quick movement Lucifer grabbed the new addition's lower lip and proceeded to rip it off. That fight didn't last long. And I would like to stress that my tank is about 415 liters, so these fish are very explosive and dangerous to other fish.

Contributed by Michael Chavez

A most breathtaking species. I have had the fortune of breeding them successfully without any casualties, although I can't say the same for a few of my friends. I have had 6 pairs of varying lengths and brilliance. Of the six, I've had 3 successful spawns from 2 pairs. One pair was 13 cm in length. These fish can be very brutal. You should have much patience and understand their ways to raise them.

Contributed by Bill Jackson

I have one Festa's (Red Terror). He is kept in a 1060 liter tank along with 4 Tiger Oscars, 2 Red Devil Cichlids, and a Clown Knife Fish. Festa Cichlids are known for being highly aggressive towards other fish. But if you raise them in a large tank with other Cichlids that get pretty big, they may all recognize each other as a family and not enemies. Festas are not recommended for people that have no experience with big Cichlids.

Contributed by Jordan

Festae are one of my all time favorite cichlids. Two words describe them - beautiful aggression! Males are nice looking fish...they grow over 48 cm. I know of a few males who have grown over 50 cm. When mature, males gain a golden orange coloration and a perfect nuchal hump. Males are pretty aggressive. With their very strong jaws, sharp teeth and their ability turn on a dime, festae are very tough. I had a 13 cm male festae dominate a 15 cm breeding pair of green terrors. He would pick fights with the male GT and win. He dominated them for a month. Then one day he snapped and tore the male GT to pieces. The female GT lost a lot of scales and fins. I was able to remove her before he came in for the kill. She is doing fine in her own 150 liter. Female festae are another story. While males are nice looking, females are all out beautiful! Females reach about 35 cm and are usually more aggresive than the already aggressive males. Mature females turn a red color with black stripes. I have a wild caught female. At only 13 cm she dominated a 19 cm male managuense. Then one day I found the managuense beaten to a bloody pulp at the entrance to its own cave! All I can say is Festae are amazing fish!

Contributed by Anton Willis

I have had the honour of owning a festae cichlid now for around 18 months. He is a 20 cm male, and eats hell of a lot more than any large cichlid I have ever owned! I find that if i keep him in my bigger tank with the smaller Mbuna Africans, there is never one ounce of trouble! Mostly as they are actually too clever and fast for the big guy. He spits pebbles at the glass so hard I can hear it from outside easily, and when I come in he nearly jumps out of the water asking for food! These fish really do have the potential to be very dangerous, but kept in the right conditions and well fed, can be one very awesome species of fish to view.

Contributed by Dean Costigan

Festae are nice looking, the females resemble tiger markings to me and males can be either yellow or iridescent green. Females can turn irdescent green also when feeding, and characteristic tiger markings come out when breeding. I have had Festae on and off for years. Breeding is easy. Buy a bunch of fry, raise them and they will pair off. Problem is what to do with the other fry once they get big! More than likely what will happen is you will receive a few batchs of fry and then the male will one day take a heavy toll on the female for one reason or another. Leave her in with him and he will kill her. So if you want a pair of fish that will pair for life and get along, forget about this species unless you have a very large tank, say 1000 liters or so. Buy wild caught if you can, and make sure they are the real species, because there is an impostor out there also.

Contributed by David Laraman

One of the most remarkable cihlids! Wild caught are the most stunning. Although a bit shy, they are extremely aggressive with other fish. Careful attention to detail is necessary when breeding these beauties. The male may attack the female if either isn't ready to breed. My pair breed every month. Make sure to keep up with the water changes. In my opinion when the males get to about 20-25 cm they are one of the most beautiful cichlids. The females are outrageously red during breeding.

Contributed by J Gon

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