Cichlid Room Companion
Breeding tanks

Laetacara dorsigera

By , 1996. image

Classification: Captive maintenance, South America.

You see a 10 gallon setup in the corner. It looks green. Seems that there are lots and lots of plants in the tank: an Amazon Sword, crypts, rotala, java moss, dwarf pygmy chain sword, and hygrophila polysperma. The tank is absolutely loaded with plants. You see an old sponge filter in the corner (hidden behind some plants). There are some rocks (slate and petrified wood) laying on the fine gravel. You also notice that the Amazon Sword has several holes in the leaves where the pair of Smiling Acaras attacked it. At this time, the male is completely black, with a hint of red on the chest area. The female is colored similarly.

Conrad tells you that before they spawned, they were mostly yellowish with some black markings. During spawning, they were a truly beautiful sight, but now that they are guarding fry, they have turned completely black. The male is about 2.5 inches long, and the female is 2 inches long. They are guarding about 100-130 fry, which were quite "beefy" from the very beginning. Conrad tells you that Laetacara dorsigera has few requirements. Since he was restricted to a 10g tank, Conrad bought six juveniles and after four months, a pair formed and so he sold the rest.

Conrad tells you that he got away with keeping them in a 10g because he did 1/3 water changes three or four times a week. And they grew extremely quickly because he fed them five or six times a day. Smiling Acaras when young seem to eat and eat and eat... Conrad fed them a straight diet of Freeze-dried Bloodworms for three months before they became comfortable with eating Hikari baby-sized pellets.

Nowadays Conrad changes 15-25% of the water about every other day, because he feeds the fry a lot of live baby brine, and also because he'd like the fry to grow a little faster. The temperature in the tank is about 79 F, although the Acura 1000 heater doesn't keep the temperature anywhere near constant (fluctuates from 77-81F). Conrad tells you that although 79 is good for breeding, Laetacara dorsigera is from subtropical areas, so its temperature requirements are not as high as its cousin, Laetacara curviceps. dorsigera can be kept in water as low as 65 F or lower.

Conrad tells you that they're the hardiest fish he's ever kept. Since rejoining the hobby in November, Conrad has made numerous mistakes (such as RADICAL pH jumps) and yet the Smiling Acaras still made it. The only problem Conrad has had was recently, when he moved the pair from a 45g tank to a 10g tank. They quickly succumbed to a major outbreak of ich.

Male and female have not been getting along recently; this may have something to do with the fact that there are no other fish present for the male to vent his aggression. After the last spawning, the male took it upon himself to guard the eggs, so I removed the female. Hatch size was about 350 eggs. I did not have any brine eggs, so I tried using an egg yolk solution, which the fry were large enough to eat, but surprisingly would not eat at all (not tasty enough?).


Yang, Conrad. (May 27, 1996). "Laetacara dorsigera". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Sep 23, 2023, from: