Home | Aquarium Livestock | Breeding Parachromis dovii – The Wolf Cichlid

Breeding Parachromis dovii – The Wolf Cichlid

Hey folks Jose here, we are going to talk about one of my favorite bad boys (and girls), the Dovii, also known lovingly as the Wolf Cichlid. The Dovii  hails from Central America in Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Males can reach sizes up to 28 inches, while females are much smaller at 15 inches. In the wild, the species is an opportunistic piscivore, feeding on smaller fish. This is an easy fish to keep, as long as you have the space and get a compatible pair.

In juveniles, sexing is tough but can be done.  When I picked out my pair at 2 inches, the male was a little larger and he had black dots below the lateral line where as the female had none. In the store’s aquarium, the male was tough on the female, but a week after they went into my 40 breeder, the roles were reversed. They were shy at first, hiding under the caves that I provided for spawns.

Feedings are a blast. They eat everything! The main diet I feed consists of a marine pellet food made by Pretty Bird called Color Up, Prime Reef flakes, and the occasional (once a week) feeding of live crayfish. Now let me tell you how fast they can grow.  The male was 2 inches long and about an inch and a half high when I got him. I have had him for about seven or eight months, and feed them 2 to 3 times a week, and now the male is about 6 inches in length and close to 3 inches in height! They can really fill out fast!

So now they’re spawning. The spawning was not as bad as I thought it would be. The female was almost gold-yellow with dark barring, and close to her vent she started to take on a black coloration. The male’s coloration became a lot more vivid, but the most striking feature setting him apart from the female (wow) was that his lips and fins turned blue!  The Wolf Cichlid’s courting and mating dances consisted of a lot of gill flaring, head shaking and jaw locking.

I provided caves and PVC pipe for them to spawn on, but the female decided  that she was going to lay the eggs on bare glass. OK with me, because they’re easy to spy on there.  I think I’m on batch number 7, and in each batch (laid like clockwork around the end of the month) she numbered close to 200 fry. Not bad for a 3 inch female, though adult females can produce up to 1000+ eggs at a time. The parents are very protective over the fry, even attacking my hands when I’m working on the tank. Oh, did I mention the Dovii live with two Synodontis catfish that happen love the taste of fry? I have not saved any of the prior batches because of space limitations, but my roommate let me borrow his 10 gallon planted aquarium this time, so I was able to net out 30 fry to grow out. The fry are fed crushed flakes, crushed freeze dried brine and crushed freeze dried mysis shrimp. As of right now, it looks like another batch of eggs is on the way!

Until next time,



  1. avatar

    I have a breeding pair of dovii and the last two times the female laid eggs, the male has gotten agressive with her and guards the babies. Should I separate them? Who should I leave with the eggs, the mom or dad? How long should I leave the babies with the parents before moving to another tank? Please email me with any answers.

  2. avatar

    Hi Steve, Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond…Glad to hear your dovii spawned for you. I never like to seperate them as it can seriously destroy the bond between the pair. Instead, i like to purchase light diffuser grating (eggcrate) at the hardware store and cut it to fit my tank. This way the pair can still see each other and still maintain a pair bond with the fry. As for which one to leave, normally the female does most of the rearing and the males guard the perimeter. I keep fry with parents until they are a quarter inch in length. Hope this helps! Let me know if I can help you with anything else… Jose

  3. avatar

    hello jose, i have a male and female dovii. there was massive and i mean massive lip locking between the two. and for some reason or another when the tank light went off they seem to get along just fine. but when the light went on it was a until death do us part moments wow !. he would chase her around so bad and plus i had pvc pipe for her to escape to in which she did when she was able to. however jose she was so beat up it looked as though for God sake to take her out to recover. she is 7” and he is 91/2 inches. and i had them in a 155gallon bow front. I’ve just decided to get her another male and she if they are compatible. also she proved most of the action and of course she was no match whatsoever. but she laid eggs one time and shortly after that she eat them. again wow. your advice would greatly appreciated thanks

  4. avatar

    Hi Abu, I’m not sure what exactly your question is. If that was her first clutch of eggs, I wouldn’t worry much about that. That is pretty common for a first clutch. I would look more towards clutch 3 or 4 to determine if she is going to be a good parent or not. You can try adding some dither fish like Silver Dollars or Giant Danios to help keep the pair together. If you have any other questions, feel free to call our Fish Room at 717-299-5691. -Jose

  5. avatar

    Hi minimum size is to reproduce a few inches?

  6. avatar

    Hi amirooo, thanks for messaging! The minimum size is about 4 inches. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

  7. avatar

    I just brought home a proven, well bonded pair-male-12″ female 7″
    3 days after going into the tank (135 until the eggs hatch) they peacefully spawned, unexpectedly.
    So far so good, only 1 white egg, and tirelessly protective.
    They are the only fish in the tank.
    I bought 12 10 to 20 gallon grow out tanks, but I still have no clue when to net the fry, if I should net them, what to do with them, etc.
    Is culling common?
    I don’t think I can cull…
    I don’t even know what my specific question is, just some experience and knowledge from anyone would be great.
    Thank you, Amanda

  8. avatar

    Hi Amanda, Once the fry are feeding on finely-crushed flakes or baby brine, you can separate them out into a grow-out tank. Culling is unfortunately a necessary evil in breeding. I would recommend reading around from different sources to get some more feedback and takes on breeding. If you have any specific questions on any aspect of the breeding, feel free to let us know or give our Fish Room staff a call at 717-299-5691.

  9. avatar

    hello, how long can the parents stay in the tank with the fry. They have been in there since they been born. however they are beginning to grow out some what is the longest i can keep them thank you

  10. avatar

    Hi Abu, You can remove the fry once they are able to eat prepared food, usually around a month old.

  11. avatar

    Hi this is Mike I’m trying to buy the fish food Pretty Bird fish called color up. Can you tell me where I can purchase it from please.

  12. avatar

    Hi Mike, We don’t carry anything by that name and I have never heard of the brand. I would recommend contacting the manufacturer.

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.