Green Terror Cichlid – Ultimate Care Guide of This Territorial Pet Fish

Green Cichlid In Its Aquarium
By Garrison Hickles Updated

Some people are mesmerized by the beautiful color and stunning pattern of Green Terror Cichlid, but they may not know how to take care of the species. Expert aquarists suggest keeping this fish in the tank of experienced fishkeepers because of its aggressive behavior that is hard to tackle.

If you are a novice fishkeeper, and you are still interested to include this pet fish in your aquatic family, then know about the complete care guide that we have mentioned here for you.

Quick Details

Before you dig deep into the depth of the extensive care guide, have a quick look at the table given below where we have given a short detail about Green Terror Cichlid. This information may help you know about its livelihood.

Scientific Name Andinoacara rivulatus
Origin South America
Life-Span 7-10 years
Colors Blue and Green
Temperament Aggressive
Size                8-12” (20.32-30.48 cm)
Diet Omnivore
Family Cichlidae
Compatibility With Large Breeds
Tank Size 35-50 gallons for single and 75 gallons for a pair
Care Level Intermediate


Green Terror Cichlid is one of the members of the Perciformes family. This fish is a ray-finned fish because its fins are formed by a web of bony skin that is attached to its body. Green Terror Cichlid is also known as White or Gold Saum.

Although it grows up to 8” (20.32 cm), it needs a 35-50 gallons tank to live because it is a high-jumping species and it cannot dwell in a less spacious aquarium.    

Origin of Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid is native to the Tumbes River in Peru and Esmeraldas River in Ecuador. This fish was first found by Gunther in 1860 in South America. This Cichlid fish is often found in both tropical and brackish water near river mouths and estuaries. This fish is usually found in calm streams that have no current. It avoids living in high-flowing rivers and streams.

In 19th century, a school of Green Terror Cichlid was kept in the ponds and aquarium of terror campaigns against the opponents of Libyan politician, Muammar Gaddafi. The enemies of Muammar Gaddafi were thrown in the pond where the aggressive Cichlids used to attack those people and harm them in various ways.


Green Terror Cichlid is also found in the coastal slope of the Pacific Ocean.

Appearance of Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid is a slender and colorful fish with pointed dorsal fins. This fish grows up to 12” (30.48 cm) in the wild and it grows up to 8” (20.32 cm) in captivity. Despite its name, this fish is not only green but it is found in metallic blue with orange lines on its entire body.

The male fish have green and blue metallic colors with orange lines on the edges of its dorsal and caudal fins. Female fish are significantly darker than the males. It has orange striped patterns on its caudal and dorsal fins. Those stripes are absent on the body of some female fish.

There are some rare Green Terror Cichlids that are available in other colors like electric blue, red and pink. The juvenile fish are more vibrant and colorful than the adult fish.

An adult male has a round hump on its head, and this hump is seen only during the breeding season.      

Diet Plan for Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid eats meaty foods like small crustaceans and worms in the wild, and they eat fresh plants and live invertebrates in captivity. You can also feed frozen foods, pellets and flakes to this fish. Have a look at a few favorite foods of this fish:

  • Small Fish Fillets
  • Mussel Meat
  • Earthworms
  • Shrimps
  • Flakes
  • Tube worms
  • Crickets
  • Peas
  • Spinach Leaves
  • Vegetable Crumbs

You can feed them 2-3 times a day after taking suggestions from an expert veterinary doctor. Don’t overfeed them because it may cause digestive problems in them.

Along with live crustaceans and fresh plants, you can also feed readymade flakes to this fish such as:

Tank Requirements for Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid likes to live in an ornamental tank that is adorned with driftwood and sand substrate. Expert fishkeepers restricts keeping large gravels which can cause digestive problems if they are consumed by the Cichlid fish. There are other necessary things that should be maintained while setting the tank of this tropical fish which are as follows:

Tank Size

For an 8-12” (20.32-30.48 cm) Green Terror Cichlid, your tank size should be 35-75 gallons. If you keep only one of them in an aquarium, then the size of the tank can be 35-gallon, but if you are keeping two or more fish, then you have to arrange a 75-gallon aquarium because it is an aggressive and high jumper breed, which needs a spacious tank to dwell. Always fix a tight tank lid, so the fish cannot jump out from the aquarium.  


Avoid keeping large rocks and gravels because Green Terror Cichlid may eat those rocks which can negatively affect its health. Adorn the tank with green floating plants (Anubias and Java Fern), driftwoods, and keep fine sandy substrate at the bottom of the aquarium. Arrange plenty of caves, so that the fish can take rest and hide whenever required.


Green Terror Cichlid is sensitive to light, so it hides from bright light. Therefore, arrange a moderate light in its tank.


Purchase a sponge filter for the aquarium of Green Terror Cichlid because this filter will help in flushing out the unnecessary toxic elements from the tank, and maintain the quality of the water.

Water Type for Green Terror Cichlid

If you want to keep your pet fish happy, then maintain the parameter and quality of the water of the aquarium. For balancing the water parameter for a Cichlid tank, you can take a look at the following necessities:


You should keep a heater in the aquarium of Green Terror Cichlid because this fish prefers dwelling in warm water. The temperature in its tank should be 68-77°F (20 -25°C).

pH Level

The pH level of the water in the aquarium of this fish should be close to neutral in the range of 6.5-8.0.


The hardness of the water in the aquarium of Green Terror Cichlid should be 5-20 dGH.

Cleaning Method

Use soft brush, mild liquid, fresh water, to scrub the walls and decorations of the aquarium. After scrubbing and washing, wipe out the aquarium with a cotton cloth.

Replacement Process

Try to change about 15-20% of the water of the aquarium every couple of weeks because Green Terror Cichlid has a habit to make the tank messy by leaving the residue of unwanted foods and contaminating the water by excreting.

Temperament of Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid is known as a benthopelagic fish because it does not live in the depth of the water or bottom of the fish tank. It prefers swimming freely across the tank in search of its food.

Beginners are suggested not to keep this fish in their tank because it is an aggressive fish, and it can be handled by intermediate aquarists only. This fish becomes more territorial during its breeding season when it lays eggs.

Green Terror Cichlid is a predator fish that can eat up small fish and crustaceans. Therefore, be wise while choosing the tankmates for this fish.


The female Green Terror Cichlid is more aggressive and wilder than the male fish.

Suitable Tankmates of Green Terror Cichlid

Experienced fishkeepers suggest keeping similar sized tankmates in its aquarium. Don’t keep small and peaceful fish in the aquarium of this fish, otherwise they can be eaten by Green Terror Cichlid. You may keep some suitable companions in the aquarium of this fish such as:

  • Gars
  • Oscar Fish
  • Large Cichlid (Jack Dempseys, Managuense Cichlids, Flower Horns, Fire Mouths)
  • Pacus
  • Large and Aggressive Loricariids (Large Catfish, Plecos)
  • Lage Characins (Bleeding Heart Tetras)
  • Silver Dollars

Unsuitable Tankmates

Don’t keep peaceful and small fish that can be harmed or eaten by Green Terror Cichlid. Some unsuitable tankmates for the tank of Green Terror Cichlid are:

  • Small Fish (African Cichlids, Tetras, Mollies, Guppies)
  • Peaceful Fish (Corydoras, Bristlenose Pleco)


Cory Catfish can be deadly to Green Terror Cichlid because its spines are sharp, and the edged spines can penetrate to the mouth of this fish, which may result in its death.

Compatibility of Green Terror Cichlid

It is better to keep Green Terror Cichlid with other large fish breeds which are suitable tankmates of this fish. Don’t keep the mating pairs of this fish together during the spawning season when it becomes extremely aggressive and violent. If you are keeping a mated pair of Green Terror Cichlid, then separate it in the spawning season to avoid aggressive actions.  

Breeding Process of Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid is not comfortable in spawning and laying eggs in captivity, so if you are encouraging its breeding, then you should take help from an intermediate fishkeeper.

In the reproductive stage, the male fish has a round hump and the female fish has a round belly. The forehead of the fish becomes more vibrant and colorful in the breeding season that is in early summer.

Arrange a separate tank for the breeding process and keep the mating pair in that tank. This Cichlid is an open egg-layer with external fertilization. The female deposits the eggs and the male fertilizes them in open water.

During the breeding process, the water should be slightly acidic and its temperature should be 77-80°F (25-26.66°C). The warm water helps the Cichlids spawn comfortably.

Before the breeding process, the paired couple cleans the place where the female fish lays eggs. Keep a flat and rectangular-shaped rock at the bottom of the tank on the sandy substrate where the fish can lay eggs.

After the fertilization of the eggs, the male fish protects them and keeps them to the sand-pits until they are ready to swim. The fries start swimming after ten days of their birth.

The female fish can lay about 400-600 eggs at a time, which are semi-transparent and yellowish in color. The eggs usually hatch in 3-4 days. You can feed baby Brine Shrimp, micro worms and dry powdered foods to the newborn fries. It becomes sexually mature at the age of seven years old.

Diseases of Green Terror Cichlid with Intervention

Green Terror Cichlid is a very sensitive fish, so you have to maintain the water quality before keeping this fish in the tank. Maintain the temperature, phosphorous level and nitrate level of the water, when you are keeping this fish in your tank. You may keep a bio-filter in the tank, for maintaining cleanliness in the tank.

Some life-threatening diseases that this species usually contract:

  • Parasitic Infection – This fish consumes insects and parasites, so it is sometimes affected by parasitic Infections.
  • HLLE (Head and Lateral Lines Erosion Disease) – When the hardness of the water is too high for a long time period, then Green Terror Cichlid is affected by HLLE.
  • Skin Problems – If the water quality is not good, then you will usually find white patches and other fungal infections over the body of the fish.
  • Lymphocytic Disease (Tissue Cell Infection) – This viral disease is common in tropical fish breeds. You will find white granular spots in the gills, body, and mouth of the fish. Moreover, the fish starts fading its color. This is a stress-related disease that occurs if wrong tankmates are kept in the tank and if the food quality is not right.

Therefore, try to keep your pet fish stress-free by maintaining the quality of the water. Also, avoid keeping wrong tankmates with them. Feed appropriate foods that have high nutrition because overfeeding and wrong foods may negatively affect its immune and digestive systems.

Difficulties in Keeping Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid is not an easy breed for the novice aquarist because it is an aggressive fish that is not easy to handle. Moreover, if its water parameter is not maintained properly, then this fish may not survive long in the tank. As we have discussed above; the breeding process of this fish is also complicated, and you cannot keep mating pairs together in the breeding season.

The attractive colors and the patterns of Green Terror Cichlid are quite admiring, so people love petting this freshwater fish. However, you cannot forget its territorial and highly sensitive nature, which is the reason that you have to be attentive in taking care of this territorial and stunning fish.

Interesting Facts

  • Many large Cichlids like Peacock Bass and Floridan Cichlid are popular Game fish, which are used in water games in South America.
  • They are infamous for provoking their tankmates.
  • They are known for smelling the water by sucking water and expelling them afterwards

Know the Care Guide of Other Cichlids

Similar to Green Terror, there are other members in the Cichlid family that are vibrant, colorful and attractive. You can go through the care guides of such breeds if you want to keep them in your fish family.