The Wolf Cichlid, also known as the Dovii Cichlid, is very intelligent and has so much personality that its territory usually extends beyond the tank. They will investigate any goings on in the room and can bond with their owners on a level that the smaller cichlids don’t. A beautiful deep bodied muscular fish, the mature male has a rich golden yellow to silvery background speckled with blue, black, and purple. It has green and red on the head and the base of the dorsal fin, with blue-green fins and tail. The females are almost entirely yellow. Their big teeth that show this is a veracious predator that needs to be respected. Remember this when they have fry and you are thinking about putting your hand in the tank!
Very easy to keep, the Wolf Cichlid is a great beginner fish for the aquarist who wants a large water pet. They are not demanding and can take a wide range of pH, though it must be kept stable. This is a big cichlid that requires a lot of free swimming space. They need lots of rocks, bog wood and tunnels to dig under with sandy or fine gravel substrate. Put large heavy rocks on the glass, not on the substrate because they dig under everything and falling rocks can crack your glass aquarium and scratch your acrylic tank. Glue desired rock formations together or your Wolf Cichlid will have other plans for your perfectly placed rock tower, just leave some rocks and stuff for them to move. These larger cichlids will actually enjoy “toys” like ping pong balls. Though they grow large, they are a rewarding pet as long as you are able to care for their needs. A tank that is 120 gallons or more is needed for their long term care. They can live well over 30 years with proper care.
The Wolf Cichlid needs appropriate tank mates. They are predators and will eat smaller fish and invertebrates. Many do not tolerate any other fish in their tank unless they are a male/female pair, and even then the male may attack and kill a female. If kept singly you may be able to keep with them other fish, but hundreds of gallons are needed with divided territories. They become more aggressive when they are in breeding mode and all other fish should be removed at that time.
The Wolf Cichlid or Dovii Cichlid was described by Günther in 1864. They are found in Central America on the Atlantic slope from the Aguan River in Honduras to the Moin River in Costa Rica, then on the Pacific slope from the Yeguare River in Honduras to the Bebedero River in Costa Rica. They like lower and middle river valley areas, where they dig caverns. They primarily eat fish, but will eat crustaceans and insects. These fish are used for food in their native lands.
This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List for endangered species.
The Wolf Cichlid or Dovii Cichlid is a beautiful deep bodied muscular fish. It has a large mouth and big teeth that show this is a veracious predator. The mature male has a rich golden yellow to silvery background speckled with blue, black, and purple. It has green and red on the head and the base of the dorsal fin, with blue-green fins and tail. The females are almost all yellow. They have large eyes with a bronze iris. The juveniles are silver with a horizontal black stripe through the body. As they grow, their horizontal black stripe becomes thicker and their main color turns to a golden yellow.
There are several color morphs. Orange-red specimens are known from Lake Nicaragua and Rio Puerto Viejo. They can live well over 30 years with proper care.
All cichlids share a common feature that some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish have and that is a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth that are in the throat, along with their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.
Cichlids have one nostril on each side while other fish have 2 sets. To sense “smells” in the water, they suck water in and expel the water right back out after being “sampled” for a short or longer time, depending on how much the cichlid needs to “smell” the water. This feature is shared by saltwater damselfish and cichlids are thought to be closely related.
Size – Weight:
This fish grows to a length of 30” (72 cm).
Care and feeding:
The Wolf Cichlid or Dovii Cichlid is a carnivore, a predator that feeds on primarily other smaller fish, along with crustaceans and insects in the wild. In the aquarium they can have a pellet base for food, but must be supplemented with fish, shrimp, earthworms, and other meaty foods.They prefer floating foods according to one fish keeper. Consider only feeding them frozen, since live fish can carry disease, unless you are willing to grow a ton of feeders on your own. Keep in mind that giving them live foods makes them much more aggressive naturally. Fed them a few times a day and then have them go without food for 2 – 3 days once in a while. This will keep the water quality higher over a longer time. All fish benefit from vitamins and supplements added to their foods.
This is a big cichlid that requires a lot of free swimming space, a tank of over 120 gallons is suggested for their long term care. Ideally 150 gallons for a female and 200 gallons for a male should be provided, and over 300 gallons if you attempt to breed them. They need good water movement along with strong and efficient filtration. The female needs many hiding places. Provide lots of rocks, bog wood and tunnels to dig under with sandy or fine gravel substrate. Put large heavy rocks on the glass, not on the substrate because they dig under everything and falling rocks can crack your glass aquarium and scratch your acrylic tank. Glue desired rock formations together or your Wolf Cichlid will have other plans for your perfectly placed rock tower, just leave some rocks and stuff for them to move. Decorating with tough plants is also possible, though strong light levels can cause algae growth. Do water changes of Water changes of 20 – 40% up to twice a week, give or take depending on your water quality.
They are subject to infections as well as other diseases that ail all freshwater fish. One common problem is Ich. It can be treated with the elevation of the tank temperature to 86° F (30° C) for 3 days. If that does not cure the Ich, then the fish needs to be treated with copper (remove any water conditioners). Several copper based fish medications are available for Ich. Copper use must be kept within the proper levels, so be sure to follow the manufacturers suggestions. A copper test can be used to keep the proper levels. You can also combine increasing the temperature with an Ich medication treatment. Intestinal disease can be treated with metronidazol.
Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom:
These fish will swim in the middle areas of the aquarium.
Acceptable Water Conditions:
They have been found in water that is 70 – 99° F (21 – 37° C) but it is not recommended to house them at those extremes.
Hardness: up to 20° dH
Ph: 6.0 – 8.0 (Just keep it stable)
Temp: 75 – 82° F (24 – 28° C)
This is not a community fish, it is a predator that is territorial and aggressive and even more aggressive when spawning. The Wolf Cichlid can be kept alone, or as a mated pair. Other Wolf Cichlids in the tank will be killed by the dominant male.
This fish can only be kept with larger fish that have the same temperament and cannot be swallowed. The Wolf Cichlid will even try to consume a larger fish that is mellower than it by ripping it to pieces if it cannot swallow it whole. The mixed aquarium must be hundreds of gallons with rocks used to form natural territory borders and lots of hiding places for the other fish. It is not suggested to house them with any other fish and they are best served in a species specific tank. If you live in a warm area, they can be kept in a pond.
Males are larger, and the females are mostly yellow.
The Wolf Cichlid or Dovii Cichlid has been bred in captivity. They are substrate spawners and both parents will care for the young. When a pair is formed out of a group, the male should not be too hard on the female. Often times a male will excessively beat up on the female. In this case a divider with the bottom open just large enough to let the eggs be fertilized would be needed.
The female will lay over 1,000 of eggs that hatch in 5 days. The fry are free swimming in a few more days. The young can eat baby brine and other meaty preparations, and offer larger sized foods as they grow. Sort the fry by size as they grow as well, or the larger siblings will eat the smaller ones. The Wolf Cichlid is sexually mature at 10 to 14 months and will spawn about every 4 weeks. See more about cichlid breeding in: Breeding Freshwater Fish.
The Wolf Cichlid or Dovii Cichlid are usually available online and sometimes in fish stores. They will run about $10.00 USD for juveniles.
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