Cichlid Room Companion
Breeding tanks

Archocentrus sajica (Bussing, 1974)

By , 2000. image

Classification: Captive maintenance, Central and North America.

Archocentrus sajica

Archocentrus sajica pair in the aquarium, preparing spawning site. Fish and Photo by Ian Tan.

Everybody knows the Zebra Convict (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) and the ease of breeding it. It's always being recommended as a cichlid to rear and breed for beginners. I had the same experience years ago when I had a pair of them spawning in all types of tank setups and conditions. I've even tried transferring the parents (with a net) and the egg laden log to a separate tank - no problem.

Recently, I was introduced to a species from the same Archocentrus genera - the A. sajica. The common name for this fish is the "T-bar Cichlid". I was not impressed when I first saw the fish, they certainly weren't the prettiest thing alive. The body was very brown, with several darker vertical strips across. I couldn't even tell the sexes apart. The whole tank of A. sajica looks so similarly drab.

It was only a week later when a friend showed me the A. sajica picture from the Aqualog that changed my mind totally. The fish is BEAUTIFUL! Shades of yellow and blue covered the olive-brown body. The male was larger and had a slight nuchal hump. Its fins were covered with blue and red speckles. The female was smaller, more plump, and has more yellow on its fins. It is amazing how nice the A. sajica can look at it's best.

I wasted no time and purchased 6 of the A. sajica. They were put into a 3-ft tank with gravel, driftwood and some plants to make them feel cozier. Temperature was kept between 25 to 27 degrees Celsius and pH at 7. The fishes were fed twice a day. I alternate the feedings with dried and frozen food. Within a month, I saw 2 of them hanging around a piece of driftwood most of the time and determined that they were a pair preparing to spawn.

Archocentrus sajica

Archocentrus sajica male guarding the eggs in the aquarium. Fish and Photo by Ian Tan.

At that time, I removed the other 4 fishes and started feeding the pair frozen blood worms twice a day. The pre-spawning activities would increase by the day. They can be seen flaring at each other, with lateral displays and a little bit of fin nipping. They also moved a lot of gravel, probably preparing future nesting sites for the wrigglers. A lot of time was also spent cleaning a hollow of the driftwood. This seemed like the probable site for egg laying.

Within another week, it was obvious spawning was approaching as the female looked ripe with the ovipositor showing. The pair laid about 200-300 eggs in the hollow of the driftwood. It was unfortunate when the eggs were eaten up within 2 days after being laid. The flash of the camera probably scared off the A. sajica pair.

Archocentrus sajica

Archocentrus sajica juveniles in the aquarium. Fish and Photo by Ian Tan.

The second spawning came almost a month later, at the same location! I did not take any chances this time around so I separated the eggs from the parents and did the hatching artificially. The standard procedure of putting in an air stone and adding some anti-fungus solution was practiced. The eggs took almost 3 days to hatch, and another 5 days before the wrigglers became free swimming.

The fry was fed baby brine shrimps for the first 3 weeks, after which I started feeding them frozen daphnia and dried flakes. Even though water quality is maintained by daily 50% changes, the growth rate is rather slow compared to the larger cichlids. At almost 3 months now, the largest juvenile is only tipping 1 inch (TL). I'm not sure if it's the way the fry was raised or if it's due to the nature of the species but the juveniles are turning out to be nice little "T-bar Cichlids"!


Tan, Ian. (Jul 07, 2000). "Archocentrus sajica (Bussing, 1974)". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Dec 10, 2023, from: