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Amphilophus festae: The Red Terror – Cichlid Species profile

True Red TerrorJose here. A South American brute that can give many Central Americans a run for the money (when it comes to aggression), the Red Terror is one of my favorites. Ranked in the top 5 among cichlid keepers, the festae is not afraid to bite the hand that feeds it, which is good cause feeding it should be no problem as it will eat anything. The downfall would be tank space.  As an adult male can top out at 20 inches, an adult pair would be looking at a 125 gallon just for the pair, larger if you wanted to keep tank mates. Sexing young fish is pretty hard, but it’s different with adults. Besides the size difference between male and female, the male will have blue dots on his body, while retaining the overall orange red coloration. The female festae is the one out of the pair that truly lives up to the name red terror in aggression and coloration. She takes on a very vibrant red coloration, with a black or blue area in three quarters of the dorsal fin. Males lack this marking. An adult pair of Red Terrors tending fry is an awesome and scary sight (scary for the owner trying to do a water change).

A word of caution in searching for Red Terrors if you choose to invest in them, there is another species that resembles the festae, Cichlasoma uophthalmus, the False Red Terror or Mayan Cichlid.  These fish are often misidentified in the trade, or simply labeled as Red Terrors in error, as common names are sometimes assigned for convenience.  You can tell the difference by looking at the spot on the base of the tail. The eyespot on the festae only reaches half way down the base, where on the False Red Terror, the eyespot extends below the midline.

Well there it is now you know!  In closing I would say this is definitely a fish worth keeping.  If you have an empty 75 gallon tank sitting around, and you’re looking for a “WOW” fish with a lot of attitude, Amphilophus festae will fit the bill.

Until next time have fun with cichlids,

JOSE

2 comments

  1. avatar

    i have a red terror my self a baby and iam asking a favor can some one can post some pics of red terrors please i would be happy :]

  2. avatar

    thanks for the comment, bigw. We currently do not have red terrors in stock, but perhaps some of our other readers will share some pics.

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About Jose Mendes

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That Fish Place’s resident “Cichlid Pro.” In addition to working at TFP for 13 years, Jose’s been breeding Cichlids for over 14 years and has produced over 200 different species. Jose is the man to question for everything cichlid. Check out Jose’s work in the article: Keeping and Breeding African Cichlids in Small Aquariums, and his many other contributions on cichlid husbandry, behavior, and his personal experiences with keeping cichlids from across the globe.