April 7, 2016 PetGuide
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Acara Cichlids

  • Group: Freshwater
  • Size: Medium to Large
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
  • Aquarium Size: Medium
  • Swimming Region(s): Mid-Range
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Catfish, Cichlids, Arowana, Characins
  • Difficulty Of Care: Weekly

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Within the Acara family there are two groupings of species: true Acaras and Acara-related species. True acaras are the larger of the two, growing between 6 and 12 inches in length while other Acaras grow no larger than 6 inches. Most acara cichlids are somewhat aggressive and territorial and they have a tendency to eat smaller fish.

Acaras come in a wide range of colors including blue, green, brown, gray and black.

Fishes belonging to the Acara family are found only in the tropical regions of Central and South America. Different species of Acara Cichlid can be found in both still waters and turbulent waters, including clear flowing streams and tributaries.

Acaras come in a wide range of colors including blue, green, brown, gray and black. Some Acaras exhibit horizontal stripes, broken lines, or patches of color on the body, often with a dark lateral stripe running through the eye and along the midsection of the fish.

While each species is different, most Acaras are hardy fish that can adapt to a range of different water conditions – this makes them moderately easy to care for. Acaras tend to prefer warm water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5 and a water hardness between 2 and 18 dH. The ideal temperature range for Acaras is 72°F to 79°F. Acara tanks should be kept open and free from large décor items in the center to allow for free swimming. These fish also appreciate rock caves and other hiding places.

Most Acaras are hardy fish that can adapt to a range of different water conditions.

Acaras will eat a wide variety of foods including live foods as well as flakes and pellets. In the wild, Acaras feed on small crustaceans, insect larvae, and small fishes. In the home aquarium, these fish should be offered a combination of flakes, pellets, meaty foods, and carnivore pellets.

Different species of Acara Cichlids exhibit different breeding habits, though all Acaras are egg layers. Some species divide into monogamous pairs and lay their eggs on flat rocks while others scatter their eggs on plants. Some Acara Cichlids are mouth brooders, incubating the eggs in their mouths until hatching.

Blue Acara, Flag Acara, Red Port Acara, Keyhole Acara, Green Terror, Two-Spot Acara

Photo credit: tetiana_u/Shutterstock; Kazakov Maksim/Shutterstock

Other Fish

Go to African Cichlids

African Cichlids

  • Group: Freshwater
  • Size: Varies
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Aquarium Size: Large (50+ gal)
  • Swimming Region(s): Middle
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Various species of African Cichlids
  • Difficulty Of Care: Weekly care
Go to Hatchetfish


  • Group: Freshwater
  • Size: Small
  • Temperament: Community
  • Aquarium Size: Small, Medium
  • Swimming Region(s): Upper
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Other Hatchetfish; Corydoras, Tetras, Catfish, Dwarf Cichlids, Gouramis
  • Difficulty Of Care: Weekly