Home | Aquarium Livestock | Barton’s Cichlid – Hericthys bartoni

Barton’s Cichlid – Hericthys bartoni

Herichthys bartoniWell, hello! It has been awhile since I’ve blogged, but some current acquisitions have inspired a new post. Recently, one of our fish distributors informed me he had some Hericthys bartoni available. So for our anniversary sale I ordered 20 of them to offer for sale. A couple days later I was staring 20 fish each between 1 inch to 1.5 inches in length. We acclimated them into a 40 breeder and waited until the sale weekend to offer them, once we knew they were eating well in the store. The weekend came and went quickly, but I’ve knew this was a species I had to grab for myself. I’ve always wanted to breed them, from first time I saw a picture of one, and we carried them a long time ago and were able to get them to breed at around 3 inches. So I netted 7 of the remaining stock and placed them in holding, til I make some room for them.

Let’s talk a little about this gem from Mexico. Bartoni is restricted to the springs of Rio Verde. Water conditions may vary from place to place with pH ranging from 7.6 – 8.0 with a stable hardness (100 degrees German and a carbonate of 15 degrees). A robust male Bartoni can reach lengths up to 8 inches, while females reach a little over 4 inches. Males also develop a nice little forehead hump.

Their normal coloration is gray to light brown with a row of black blotches running from behind the eye to the base of the caudal fin. Some scales in the lower half of the body have a blue spot. But the breeding coloration is outstanding, and it’s also one of the main reasons I want to keep this fish. In both sexes, the upper half of the body turns white while the lower half becomes velvety black, including the fins.

In the wild, Bartoni mainly dine on algae, but so far they have done well on frozen cyclops and flakes while in holding. I would make sure that they get a flake high in veggie matter.

Pairs tend to either spawn in caves or beside rocks. The size of the clutch dependes on how old the female is, with an adult producing as many as a couple hundred eggs each spawn. At 84 F the eggs hatch in about two and a half days. In another five days, the fry should start to become free swimming after they consume their egg sacs. The females does most of the brood tending inside the cave while the male guards the perimeter. At any sign of danger, instead of running away like most Central American cichlids he will enter the spawning cave and wait with his mate until the danger goes away. Both parents take care of the fry when it comes to feeding time.

Bartoni generally tend to be very aggressive towards conspecifics, and sometimes their aggression may extend to other species in aquariums smaller than a 50 gallons.

It is believed in many circles that this species and others may become endangered in the near future, due to the introduction of a tilapia to their native waterways. What a shame that would be! If you have room for a 30 or a 40 gallon aquarium, this would be an awesome fish to add to your collection, and you can do your part to conserve them through captive breeding.

Until next time,



  1. avatar
    Pets Global Supply

    Great information on the Bartoni Cichlid and a good fish to have in your aquariums.

  2. avatar

    I’m thinking about breeding one with a pink convict cichlid and make a hybrid that grows 11inches. Cause there’s a big secret cichld comming soon I hear it grows 26 or 28 inches and is extremely aggressive and territorial and preditory. I’m getting a pair to breed and if the 11inch hybrid bartoni pink covict hybrid cichlid starts any fights with my 28 inch cichlid pair he will be beatin or killed. AH HA HA HA HAAA.

  3. avatar

    Hello John.c, I wouldn’t recommend hybridizing cichlids. Cichlids of different genuses and species may not be compatible together or able to crossbreed and crossbreeding fish has consequences for the hobby and gene pool at large. Breeding two fish isn’t necessarily going to produce offspring that is an average of the two.

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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.