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My Experience with the Red-breast Acara, Laetacara dorsigera

Hi, Jose here. When I was younger, I was looking for something that would light up the bottom of my 30 gallon South American tank. I did a little research and found a picture of a curviceps…I got really excited because from what I found they were pretty little fish. I purchased a trio of Dwarf Acara at a local pet shop labeled “sky blue curviceps”.  I didn’t know much about them, and I hadn’t really heard about them from other enthusiasts, but then again I wasn’t into cichlids at that time, so it was something new.

After they became adjusted to the tank, I ran peat through my Fluval 402 filter and hoped for some eggs. After a couple of nerve wrecking months, I noticed that a pair had formed and the third fish was killed by the pair. I placed some smooth, flat 5 to 6 inch rocks hoping the new couple would spawn on one. I figured that their tankmates (neon tetras) wouldn’t mess with the eggs, so I didn’t have to worry about anything eating them. But in watching the pair, I noticed something that worried me a little. I thought the male would be a light blue dwarf, but this fish was developed red color from the lower tip of the mouth to the rear of the body and red ventral fins. The “female” was also brightly colored, so I started wondering if I had two males. The person at the pet shop told me the female should be dull-looking because only males have color, a common trait amongst many cichlid species. 

About a week passed, and I finally found a batch of eggs on the rock closest to the back of the tank. I was so happy and excited, but my joy was short lived, as I noticed one of the fish eating the eggs. I met another hobbyist at the pet store shortly after who told me that sometimes you can end up with two fish of the same sex that will still lay eggs or they become egg bound. That sounded a little bit weird to me, but he sounded like he knew what he was talking about, so I went it. I went back to the place where I purchased the trio to look for a male. Unfortunately when I got there the remaining fish in the tank had ick.

Despite their infection, I was tempted to purchase 3 more. But just then I noticed a tetra book on thier rack about dwarf cichlids. Lo and behold, there on the cover was a pic of the fish I had at home. As it turned out, I owned L. dorsigera and not curviceps after all! Finally. I had some useful info. When I got home, I looked at my pair to spot any differences to confirm the sexes of the pair. The differences were quite clear once I knew what I was looking for. The male had longer ventral fins and the spot on the female’s dorsal fin was outlined in red and blue. How glad I was that I had a pair! It was another two weeks before I noticed that they were hard at work cleaning their spawning site again. Then I noticed a something hanging from the ventral area of the female. At first I thought it was a parasitic worm, but actually I came to find out it was her breeding tube. Well, 24 hours later batch number two…and this time they didn’t eat their eggs. After a week of eggs fungusing and such, I noticed that some had hatched and that the female had begun digging out some pits and transfering the wigglers into the pits. Cool, but what was even cooler was that every day she moved them to a new pit. This went on for a week and a half which a this point I had purchased a container of some type of micro worm to try and feed the fry. The worms turned out to be too large to feed to the tiny fry. The only other things I had on hand was flake food and freeze dried brine shrimp. When it was all said and done, I was able to raise about 20 of roughly 100 fry from the second batch, on that diet, I didn’t think I did too bad.

If you’re looking for something new and colorful, this fish would give common ram cichlids a run for their money.  I highly recommend this fish for 20 gallon or larger planted community tanks.

Until next time,


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  1. Pingback: My Experience with the Red-breast Acara, Laetacara dorsigera | Pets

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.