When you buy a young Salvin’s cichlid (Trichromis salvini) it doesn’t look very attractive. But things change when the fish grows up. It becomes a very bright and good looking fish, it is quite noticeable in a tank and it draws the eye.
Just like all cichlid species it can be quite aggressive, since this is a territory dependent fish. Also it is a predator, so it’ll treat all small sized fishes as food.
Therefore it should be kept separately from others or with other cichlid species.
Habitat in the wild
Salvini cichlid is widespread in rivers of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras that fall into the Atlantic ocean. The fish was artificially settled in some areas in the South of Florida state.
Most dense population of the fish is in rivers, lakes and other waters along the Atlantic seaboard as well as in freshwater lagoons down the coastline. Salvini cichlid prefers small rivers with moderate and fast water flow, that are located not higher than 500 meters above mean sea level.
The fish is omnivorous, it feeds on juveniles, insects that fall into the water, small crustaceans, larvae, algae and water plants.
Salvini cichlid was first described in 1862 by German zoologist Albert Gunter, though aquarists were able to get this fish to keep in their tanks only at the end of XX century.
The fish males grow up to 18 cm (7.09 in) long, the females are not larger than 15 centimetres (5.9 in). Provided with proper care the fish can live up to 10-13 years.
Salvini cichlid has elongated body flattened from sides; it’s basic coloring is marigold yellow. Along the fish body, in the center there is row of large anthracite-colored spots. A bit higher there is another lateral stripe, that consists of the same spots, but of smaller size.
The fish has large head, fleshy lips and large eyes with red iris. Its gill covers are decorated with small spots and lines of turquoise green color.
Difficulties in keeping
Salvini cichlid can be recommended for experienced aquarists, since it’d be quite challenging for the beginners to keep it.
However, the fish is rather undemanding and it can live in small tanks, but at that it my demonstrate aggression towards its tankmates.
This fish requires frequent water renews and proper care.
Care and keeping in a tank
|Scientific Name||Trichromis salvini|
|Common Name||Salvin’s cichlid, Salvini cichlid, yellow-belly cichlid, tricolored cichlid|
|Tank size||150 liters (33 gal) and more|
|Temperature||24–26 °С (75,2-78,8 °F)|
|Size||up to 18 cm (7.09 in)|
|Lifespan||up to 10-13 years|
Salvini cichlid will enjoy a roomy tank, which capacity is calculated as 150 liters (33 gal) for one couple of the adult fish species.
In case of larger tank volume you can put larger number of the fish into it at the condition that there will be not less than 30-40 liters for one fish in it.
It is crucial for a cichlid to have its own territory. During their spawning period they become more aggressive, but at that they still can get on well with other fishes.
The fish isn’t demanding in terms of the tank bottom substrate, though small pebbles or granite chipplings will be more preferable.
To make sure that tank plants will survive in the tank, they should have strong root system and the layer of the bottom substrate should be up to 8 cm thick.
Put some caves or snags on the bottom, they’ll serve not only as decorations, but as shelters for the fish as well.
The fish isn’t too demanding as for the tank water composition. As for the water parameters, it has to be clean with low level of nitrites and ammonia content. This means, that daily water renew (up to 30%) as well as external filter is required.
Besides the fish likes when there is some water flow in a tank and you can easily create it by means of the external filter. It is also desirable to equip the tank with a heater with a thermostatic switch.
Preferable tank water parameters are the following: temperature – 24–26 °С (75,2-78,8 °F), hardness – 5–20°, pH – 7,0–8,0. Tank lighting should be moderate. The fish likes hiding in shadow of floating plants, caves and snags.
To keep Salvini cichlid you need a tank that has both shelters and enough of free space for the fish to swim.
Flower pots, snags, stones and caves will do as shelters for the fish. Salvini cichlid don’t damage tank plants and don’t dig them as well as they look much better at such green background.
So, you can plan decorating your tank with plants and shelters put near its walls and in corners and leave some free space for swimming in the middle.
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In the wild Salvini cichlid is omnivorous; it feeds mainly on aquatic organisms and small insects that fall into the water.
In a tank the fish eats all types of live, frozen or artificial food. Special food for cichlids can be its basic diet and live food such as brine shrimp, tubifex and bloodworm in small amounts can be given as supplements.
I myself give some of this food to my pets and as for the rest I’ve heard and read lots of good reviews.
Yet, all of the food is of high quality and it is the best one for this fish kind as well as it keeps the tank water clean.
You should keep in mind that the fish is an aggressive one. They are especially aggressive towards its kind. Therefore, it’s quite difficult to organize keeping of more than one male fish in a tank.
The fish is definitely not for community tanks with small fishes like neon tetra or guppies in them. Salvini cichlid is a predator and it’ll treat any small fishes only as food. Also they are territory dependent and will chase away any other fishes from its territory.
Keep in mind that, the larger is the cichlid, the more spacious tank it requires. Especially, is they start spawning.
Of course, it’s better to keep them separately from other fishes. But if don’t have this chance, they’ll become less aggressive if provided with high feeding and lots of shelters in the tank.
Salvini cichlid male differs from the female in size – it is sufficiently larger. It has longer and more sharpened fins.
The female isn’t just smaller, it also has a noticeable dark spot on the bottom of its gill cover and black spots with blue edges in the middle of its dorsal, while the male doesn’t have them.
By the age of 10–12 month Salvini cichlid becomes reproductive. This species is monogamic. The fish forms couples at the age of 6 month old.
Despite its small size ‘C.’ salvini extremely aggressively protects its territory, which can be up to 2 meters in diameter.
Though the fish can spawn in a community tank, still it’s better to have a separate spawning tank for this.
Otherwise, other tank dwellers will have to constantly keep quite far away from the fish nest, since it becomes very aggressive and timid during their spawning period, which can cause stress and loss of the offspring.
As a result, fights and quarrels may occur in the fish couple because of loosing the offspring. Quite often these lead to the female death.
A tank of at least 100 liters capacity will do for spawning. Put lots of shelters on its bottom. The fish couple lays and fertilizes the eggs on the vertical surface of barque or inside a snag.
The fish cleans the substrate with its mouth. Genital papilla of the fish becomes noticeable 24 hours before the spawning. After the fish finishes cleaning the substrate, it starts spawning.
If the fish couple chooses some open space in the tank for spawning, it is important to put some shed above this place – a large snag or a bunch of floating tank plants.
Otherwise, the spawning may be delayed even if all other requirements are met.
Weekly renew of two tank volumes is required as well as water temperature rise at 2–4 °С – these will trigger the spawning process. Once you provide the fish couple with proper spawning conditions, you can expect getting the offspring soon.
The female fish lays eggs (up to 500) on a smooth surface of a snag or a stone. After the spawning is over, the male fish starts to guard the territory.
The female fish takes care of the eggs – it fans them with its pectoral fins.
Damaged, white eggs are immediately eaten by the parents. The female leaves the eggs for some short time to feed. The male fish performs her duties while she is away.
The egg stage lasts for three days, after this the larvae hatches (it is comparatively large). They don’t swim and eat their yolk bag. In some cases the female fish may carry the larvae herself several times.
After depletion of yolk bag supplies the juveniles start to swim and look for food on the tank bottom.
They may find some food leftovers that were left among the tank plants after preparing the adult fish for spawning.
Start food for the juveniles is brine shrimp nauplii. Also you can feed them with chopped tubifex. You can do it at once or a week later.
You should maintain rigid temperature control in the tank. It can’t be higher than 26 °С. If the temperature gets lower, it may cause the juveniles death.
The male and female take care about their offspring for quite a long time. When there is no situations that cause stress, you can leave the juveniles together with their parents without putting the latter into a separate tank.
However, if the adult fish start to demonstrate signs of aggression, it’s better to put the juveniles into another tank.
Paul Townsend is a founder and author of Meethepet.com. He’s been fond of aquarium husbandry since his early childhood.
His favorite aquariums are biotopes (Amazon River), Echinodorus and Angelfish. However, through the years he’s had experience of keeping almost all types of freshwater fish and shrimps.