The Green Terror Cichlid, scientifically known as Andinoacara rivulatus, is a unique freshwater fish that are popular among the aquarium community. This fish is very beautiful and has some magnificent colors and patterns, and this has really created interest among the aquarists. This species originates from the calm tropical river basins in Peru and Ecuador, and they have been accepted all over the world as a result of their beautiful appearance.

5snake5, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Due to their temperament, this species does not need a lot of effort to take care of, but they are ideal for experienced aquarists. This species being from the Cichlids family can be a handful and are sometimes prone to some aggressive behaviors. However, their inquisitive behaviors make them a joy to watch. Unlike most of the fish species that dwell in one section of the tank, this species will spend most of their time exploring every part of the tank.

Just like any other fish, the secret to keeping this fish in a happy and healthy life is to provide the best and optimal living conditions. Before you can venture into the business of keeping this species, you need to educate yourself on how to take care of them right. Also, there is a lot of misinformation about this species that has been spread online. This guide, therefore, seeks to give detailed and informative information about all you need to properly take care of this fish, and they will live a happy and healthy life.


Scientific NameAndinoacara rivulatus 
ColorGreen  and Blue
Size12 inches
Lifespan7 to 10 years
Tank size35 gallons
Care levelIntermediate
Freshwater or saltwaterFreshwater
Temperatures68 to 77 degrees F
CompatibilitySimilar size or larger fish


The Green Terrors are aggressive, but despite this, they have a great number of potential tank companions you can consider putting them in the same tank. As long as you provide a big tank and are designed with territorial claims in mind, they can coexist with other fish that are of similar size. This fish being aggressive, should not be housed with smaller species since they will end up eating them. The larger fish cannot be eaten instead.

You can also keep other Green Terrors as tank mates. It is even advisable to keep them in a bonded pair together. The males and females can develop a bond and stick together throughout their lives. Both will not fight and will even establish territorial claims together. This mainly happens during the breeding season. Anything that you need to ensure you do is to keep the pair in a separate tank when reading starts.

Below are some of the ideal tank mates of the Green Terror Cichlids;

  • Clown Pleco
  • Flower horn Cichlids
  • Fire mouth Cichlids
  • Pacus
  • Convict Cichlids
  • Silver Dollar Fish
  • Jack Dempsey Cichlids
  • Gars
  • Convict Cichlids
  • Synodontis
  • Striped Raphael Catfish

One crucial thing that you need to put in mind whenever you are picking the ideal tank mate for this species is to respect the individual temperament of each specimen. You should always keep a close eye on your fish, especially when they are new, and whenever you fish out that it’s not working, you can always leave the projects.


H. Zell, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This species is among the most beautiful freshwater fish you will ever come across. Just as the name suggests, these species are very colorful, and the body is covered with an eye-catching metallic green. This is complemented by a brighter blue marking all over their face and body. The bright orange stripes are very common in this fish too. These stripes can be found at the tip of their pointed dorsal fins and outlining the tail fin. The color patterns can vary a bit. This mainly happens with the females.

The females have duller colors compared to males. Sometimes these iconic orange stripes are not available to the female fish. The juveniles have a unique look also. The young fish tend to have a silver-blue hue. This deepens to the metallic green color as the fish ages. This species also have unique fins. They are ray-finned fish with the fish supported by thin spines. This is mostly found in the expansive dorsal fins.

 Also, this species is sexually dimorphic. Apart from the difference in color patterns, the females are generally smaller compared to their male counterparts. The male species also have a unique hump on their foreheads. It is made of fatty tissue and can become very pronounced. These humps become larger during the breeding season, especially in the wild. In captivity, they have large humps that last a lifetime.


Typically, this species grows to around 8 inches in length when brought up in a normal tank. This implies that this is not the kind of fish you can keep in s small tank. In captivity, the adult males grow to a length of 8 inches, but if you keep them in a big tank, they are capable of growing beyond this size. In the wild, this species can grow to a maximum length of up to 12 inches, but even in-home tanks, they can grow to almost the same length.

The growth rate of the Green Terror is fairly average. These fish need a fairly large tank for them to grow maximally.


Green Terror Cichlid originates from the Tumbes River in Peru and Esmeraldas River in Ecuador, and it was first found by Guther in 1860 in South America. This species is often found in both tropical and brackish water near river mouths and estuaries. It is mainly found living in calm streams that have no current. It does not love living in high flowing rivers and streams.

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


The average lifespan of the Green Terror Cichlid is between 7 to 10 years in captivity. This means you need to be prepared for long-term commitments if you wish to keep them. The lifespan is determined by various factors such as living conditions, water, and diet. If you keep them in quality water and clean tank and then feed those on the right nutritious diet, expect them to reach the maximum limit. If you do not provide these factors, they will develop some health complications and will have a premature death.


These fish are aptly named. If you put this species in a poorly maintained habitat, they can be aggressive and terrorize any fish they come across in the tank. Especially when the fish is smaller, they will be bullied more. During the breeding season, you are likely to witness more aggressive behavior. To prevent a lot of aggressiveness in the tank, you can provide plenty of food in the tank and a big space for the fish to swim without feeling overcrowded.

Generally, in terms of their activity, this fish species will spend more time as they explore the tank. They are benthopelagic, which implies that they do not stay in one section of the tank. Thye keeps moving up and down in search of food and will explore any part of the tank as long as they are able to reach it. Picking the tank mates for this species, therefore, earns it can be a bit tricky since they cannot stay in one section.


Green Terror Cichlids loves living in an ornamental tank that is decorated with driftwoods and some substrate. It is important to ensure that the tank meets all the necessary requirements so as to enable a quality and conducive living environment for the fish. Below are some of the things that you should maintain in the tank so that the Green Terror Cichlid can live a healthy and happy life.


This species is generally large in size, and therefore it is important to have a sizeable tank. At the very minimum, most aquarists say that the average size of the tank that you need is 35 gallons. However, we recommend bumping that up to 50 gallons for the best results. The reason behind this recommendation is due to the fact that this species is a free swimmer that needs enough room to roam. A larger tank that is 50 gallons will provide ample space for the fish will live comfortably. This spacious stank can also naturalize aggressive behavior.

Suppose you are interested in keeping two Green Terror Cichlids plan for a 75 gallons tank at least. That is 35 gallons for every fish that you add to the tank.


The Green Terror are high jumpers, and therefore you need to provide a tight lid to the tank to prevent them from jumping off. The tank also helps to protect tank water from pollution. Ensure there is a space between the water level and the lid to prevent the fish from hitting the lid and getting injured as they jump.


The tank needs a good filtration system. You should purchase a sponge filter in the tank since this will be helpful in filtering all the unnecessary toxic elements from the tank. These wasters are a result of the high bio load released by the fish and maybe some rotting food leftovers. This will ensure the quality of water remains high.


This fish needs a decorated tank with plenty of hiding places. This will be a mimic of their natural environment. You should, however, avoid large graves and rocks because these fish may eat those rocks, and they may end up affecting their health wise. Decorate the tank with some green plants driftwoods. Arrange plenty of caves so that this fish can rest and hide whenever they need. These decorations should be cleaned before being added to the tank ad should also have no sharp edges or rough surfaces. This is because they might hurt the fish.


As said earlier, this species does not dwell in a specific section of the tank. Therefore it is important to also provide a substrate of sand at the bottom of the tank since the fish will sometimes be going at the bottom column. This will also help the plants to grow, especially the live plants.


This species is so sensitive to light, and this explains why they hide from bright light. It is therefore recommended to arrange a moderate light in its tank. This is because they live in heavily planted habitats even in the wild, and this needs to be replicated in the tank.


To maintain the health and quality of the tank, it should be cleaned regularly. You can choose to clean your tank on a monthly basis so that it does not accumulate a lot of dirt. Just use a soft brush with mild liquid freshwater to scrub the walls of the aquarium and decorations. After you have finished scrubbing, wipe out the aquarium by using a cotton cloth. Ensure that you do not use any soap-based or chemical product when cleaning. This is because they will harm the fish health-wise.


As an aquarist, if you want your fish to be happy and healthy in the aquarium, the best thing is to replicate their natural environment. In the wild, this species lives in slow-moving rivers. Therefore there are some of the conditions that you should meet so as to mimic the natural environment. Failure to provide these conditions your fish will be stressed, and this will affect their health, and they will be prone to freshwater diseases. These conditions include;


In the wild, the water is warm, and therefore the tank water should always be kept warm. Therefore the average temperature should range between 68 to 77 degrees F. The temperature should always be maintained within this limit, and you can use a thermometer to keep monitoring in case of a drop. Whenever you notice some drop, you can always increase it by warming it using a heater.


The water Ph. of water in the tank should always be at the neutral level within the range of 6.5 to 8.0.


In a tank that is housing the Green Terror, the water hardness should range between 5 to 20 dGH.


It is important to ensure that you replace the water in the tank after some time so as to ensure you always have quality and clean water in the tank. The change should not be done in its entirety since it might kill the beneficial bacteria. The replacement should be done in an interval. It is advisable to change about 15 to 20 percent of the water every week because this species has a high bio load, and therefore water gets polluted fast. This should happen regularly every week throughout. This will ensure the fish lives in s clean conducive environment and will always be happy and healthy.


In the wild, this species mainly dwells on the carnivore’s side. However, in captivity, they are opportunistic eaters. They are mainly omnivores with a wide variety of diets for their main supply. You can provide high-quality fish flakes or pellets. The best commercially available foods are balanced and provide all the necessary nutrients. In order to give their diet a variety, you can supplement it with some live or frozen foods.

This fish is not picky, and therefore you should be free to experiment with every food you wish to, especially the protein-rich. Some of the ideal foods you can feed on your Green Terre Cichlids include brine shrimp, feeder fish, bloodworms, and even crickets. Once in a while, you calm also try to feed your fish some dry food, and they will be grateful for the treat.

You can also sometimes mix up the diet every so often to include treats such as

  • Fish fillet
  • Tube worms
  • Peas
  • Crickets
  • Spinach

Since these fish species are larger in size, they need to be fed twice a day in order to sustain themselves. For the younger fish that are still growing, they need to be fed more frequently so as to support their development.


The process of breeding this fish species is pretty simple as long as you have a compatible pair. You can choose to buy a well-established pair, or you can go for several young fish and let them pair naturally. It is important to ensure that you separate the breeding fish from the others during the spawning since the males are very aggressive and are likely to kill other species. Generally, the role of the male during this period is to protect the territory while the female takes care of the eggs.

 During our very easy to recognize during the reproduction stage since have a round hump on their forehead, and other colors will become brighter. The Green Terror Cichlids are open egg layers with external fertilization where the female deposits the eggs first, and then the male fertilizes them in open waters. The normal water conditions of the tank should be good enough for breeding with an average temperature of 77 to 80 degrees F with a slight acidity of PH 6.5. This will bring a couple of spawning.

After the couple has paired, they will begin to clean the chosen site before actual breeding starts. They can clean the bottom of the tank from the sand and lay eggs on the tank glass. The fry will be moved to sandpits until they are ready to swim on their own. After around ten days, they are free swimmers. The average number of eggs a female lays is about 400 to 600. The healthy fertilized eggs can be distinguished by the semi-transparent yellowish color. The eggs take approximately 3 to 4 days to hatch.

This species makes good parents, and therefore it would be better to keep them with the eggs and the fry. The fry can be fed with brine shrimp which is the most recommended micro worms and powdered dry food. Do not remove the newly hatched fish until brood care diminishes as the male could try breeding with the females again and turn on her.


There are some distinct characteristics between males and females. The biggest and most visible difference is a large, bulbous shape that appears during the breeding season. The pink bulbs are visible during the mating season when in the wild. But can be permanent for those in captivity.

Also, the females are generally smaller compared to the females in the aquarium. This is another sexual dimorphism that you can use to reduce aggression. Ensure that you keep one of each gender in your tank.


This species is naturally a hearty and healthy fish; they are prone to the common freshwater diseases, and they include;


The parasites are caused by unclean water conditions and other health issues. They can infect and make your fish sick very fast. It is important to get the special medication that can be applied to this species.

  • ICH

This disease is common, and it is classified as the patch scales and the fish rubbing itself against the rocks and props. To help treat this condition, you can put medicine in water.


This disease can appear on the finds and bodies of the fish in the form of small lesions, which are caused by infectious toxins in the water. If this disease is ignored and not attended to quickly, it can be severe. This disease is mainly caused by stress combined with pollution.


This disease is called the Head and Lateral Line Erosion or Hole on the Head disease. This disease can cause holes in the flesh of your fish, and this will cause their health to deteriorate quickly. This can happen if the water hardness levels of your fish are too high.

Generally, if you want to avoid all these diseases is, to provide excellent care for your Green Terror Cichlids. A healthy and happy fish that is living in a great environment is far less likely to get sick compared to that living in suboptimal conditions.


Is the Green Terror Cichlid freshwater fish?

Yes, the Green Terror Cichlid is a freshwater fish that originates from South America. This fish prefers living in tropical and brackish water near the river mouths and estuaries.

Can Green Terrors be kept together?

The Green Terrors Cichlids are named for the behavior they display when they become territorial. . They are prone to aggression, but it does not imply that they cannot be kept in the same tank. All you need is to give them a lot of space if you want to reduce the aggression in the tank. With a large space, there will be reduced competition, and they can be able to introduce their own territory without bothering others. If you are keeping two, ensure that you have a minimum of 75 gallons, and every one fish you add should come with extra 35 gallons.

How fast do Green Terrors grow?

The rate of growth of this fish depends on various factors such as the diet you are feeding them, the tank conditions, and the general quality of care they are receiving. If they are being fed ample nutrients and protein every other day, the rate of growth will be rapid. Some of the young fish can have a growth rate of about half an inch every month until they reach maturity. They sometimes might grow slowly compared to other cichlids. This solely depends on the individual nature and personality of each fish. You should expect a baby Green Terror to become fully grown within a few months.

Do Green Terror have teeth?

Some of the aquarists have a worry about how they will be able to clean the tank when they have a very aggressive pair of fish swimming around. This is because they might bite you anytime as you scrub the glass or as you drop some food. Do not be worried; this is because the fish is more afraid of you than you are afraid of her. However, these teeth are dangerous to other fish, and they might tear them. They are generally carnivores, and their teeth are designed to tear the flesh.


The Green Terror Cichlids are popular and strikingly beautiful fish that any aquarist would want to have in their tank. If you have a large and spacious tank of at least 35 gallons, you need to consider this fish as the ideal addition. This is aggressive and territorial, but as long as they are in a spacious aquarium, they will be happy and will not bother others.

 They are easy to breed and, therefore, will mate and give you a whole school of green terror cichlids to enjoy. This beautiful and cautious species will swim through the tank all day as they explore and look for places to hide. If you are looking for a long-time commitment where you are ready to dedicate your time and take care of the fish passionately, then the Green Terror Cichlid is the ideal choice for you. 

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