Midas Cichlid Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

The Midas Cichlid is a vibrant fish, often displaying gold or white coloring, and is a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. Its unique behavior and high adaptability make it an interesting subject for scientific research too. This guide will provide you with all the necessary information you need, from setup to feeding and even breeding. 

midas cichlid

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Midas Cichlid Species Profile and Identification

The Midas cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) is a powerhouse amongst cichlids. Endemic to the San Juan River and its adjacent watersheds in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, this large cichlid can reach size of 35cm (or 13.8 inches). Be sure to remember this, taking its large size into account is paramount for its proper care.

  • Scientific Name: Amphilophus citrinellus
  • Size: Can grow up to 35 cm (or 13.8 inches)
  • Distribution: Native to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, introduced to several other countries
  • Temperature: Prefers a temperature between 23-26°C
  • Water Parameters: Can acclimate to a range of conditions, optimal pH: 6.5-8.0, dH: up to 25 degrees.
  • Lifespan: Typically, 10 –12 years if correct care is provided.

Midas Cichlids boast a unique look with their robust bodies and bright, often gold or white hues. They can reach up to a foot in length, with males sporting a distinctive forehead hump. Each individual’s patterns and colorations can vary, making them a fascinating sight.

Their physical attributes, such as powerful jaws, sharp teeth, and overall size advantage compared to other aquarium inhabitants, make them truly distinctive.

But be careful. While they’re commonly known in the trade under the name ‘Midas cichlid’, don’t mistake them for their somewhat similar-looking cousin, Amphilophus labiatus, also known as the Red Devil Cichlid.

The sexual dimorphism becomes apparent in mature fish, where males are larger, with extended anal and dorsal fins, coupled with a more prominent nuchal hump, distinguishing them from their female counterparts.

Midas Cichlid Supplies

When you’re gearing up to welcome a Midas Cichlid into your aquarium, knowing perfectly what you need is of utmost importance. Below are the necessary supplies you’ll want to have to keep your Midas Cichlid happy.

Aquarium: Midas Cichlids are pretty sizeable fish, so a large tank is non-negotiable. For a female, you need a tank of at least 55 gallons (208 liters). For a male, it should be 75 gallons (284 liters), and for a breeding pair, it should be 125 gallons (473 liters).

Lighting: Midas Cichlids don’t have any special lighting needs. Normal, dim, or bright lighting, the choice is entirely yours.

Water Test Kit: To ensure suitable water parameters, a good water test kit is required. This way you can detect any unhealthy shifts in pH, temperature, and hardness.

Heater: A consistent temperature between 73-79°F (23-26°C) makes for a comfortable home for a Midas Cichlid. A reliable aquarium heater can maintain these temperatures precisely.

Filter: Midas Cichlids are messy eaters. Therefore, a robust water filter is paramount to keep their habitat clean and healthy.

Substrate and Decor: Midas Cichlids do not require a special type of substrate or decor. Use gravel or sand for the substrate. Provide pieces of driftwoodcaves, or rocks for hiding spots.

Let’s not forget food appropriate for an omnivorous diet, including high-quality flakes, granules, and cichlid pellets. Frozen foods are also suitable, and can provide a nice variety for the fish.

Lastly, a tank divider is crucial, especially for tank mates or during breeding. This ensures safety for other fishes and prevents any unwarranted hostility.

Getting these supplies will set a strong base for your Midas Cichlid’s habitat. They’ll help ensure your fish stays healthy and their home clean and inviting.

Setting up for your new aquatic friend might seem daunting at first, but with these supplies in hand, it won’t be long until you’ve created the perfect abode for your Midas Cichlid.

Midas Cichlid Tank Setup

The Midas Cichlid is a larger species of fish that needs ample space to thrive. Remember, a small environment may stress the fish and result in poor health, so provide at least a 55-gallon (208-liter) tank for a single female. For a male, raise the minimum tank size to 75 gallons (283 liters), and for a pair, invest in at least a 125-gallon (473 liters) tank.

  • Creating the appropriate habitat is crucial. Remember, these species replicate the environment of a River, with plenty of rock formations and sandy substrates.
  • Avoid sharp objects; the cichlid’s active nature makes it prone to injuries.
  • Provide plenty of hiding places, including caves constructed from rocks. They afford the fish a chance to de-stress.

Mimicking the natural surroundings, the optimal lighting should be moderate. While the Midas Cichlid has considerable tolerance for various light levels, sudden changes can cause stress. Aim for a steady illumination pattern. A structured environment promotes their health and well-being.

Adjust the tank temperature to mimic their natural ecosystem, ideally between 73 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (23-26°C). Consistent maintenance will ensure a healthy and happy Midas Cichlid.

Remember, setting up a tank for the Midas Cichlid is not simply about buying a big tank. It’s about creating the right habitat within that space to ensure the wellbeing of your pet fish.

Midas Cichlid Water Requirements

The vitality of your Midas Cichlid hinges heavily on its water habitat. These impressive fish bear a wide range of water conditions but still require meticulous attention to their environment. Let’s dive into what Midas Cichlids need most from their water habitat.

Ideal water parameters for your Midas Cichlids are:

  • Temperature: 23-26°C (73.4 – 78.8°F). A stable temperature within this range promotes the health and energetic demeanor of these fish.
  • pH Level: 6.5 – 8.0. This slightly more alkaline water mimics the Midas Cichlid’s natural environment.
  • Hardness: up to 25 degrees dH. Midas Cichlids tend to tolerate harder water, relative to other species.

Don’t overlook water flow. Less is more with these fish. Midas cichlids prefer a slow to moderate water flow, simulating their native calm river bedding and lake habitats.

Avoid complacency with water cleanliness. Swing into regular water changes every 1-2 weeks, replacing around 25-50% of your tank’s water. Diluted waste and toxins can build-up, posing a threat to your Midas Cichlid.

Ensure your aquarium has an efficient filtering system. It will aid the removal of dissolved and particulate waste, providing good water clarity. After all, your Midas Cichlid’s remarkable appearance is part of the joy of owning them.

Lighting requirements are minimal. No special lighting is needed. However, dimmed or more natural lighting is often appreciated by Midas cichlids.

Heed to these water requirements and parameters. In return, you’ll get a vigorous, eye-catching, and fully at ease Midas Cichlid to enjoy.

Midas Cichlid Diet and Feeding

Feeding Midas Cichlids correctly plays a significant role in ensuring their overall health. As these robust creatures are omnivorous, they thrive on a diverse diet.

  • Plant Material: Incorporating an array of plant-based foods like spirulina, seaweed, lettuce, and peas will aid in their digestion and meet their nutritional needs. Source these items from reputable places to avoid introducing toxins to their diet.
  • Smaller Fish and Molluscs: Midas Cichlids have an instinctive preference for live food. Smaller fish, snails, and molluscs fit the bill perfectly. This predatory component of their diet boosts their energy levels, ensuring they remain active.

Feeding should follow an organized schedule. Midas Cichlids typically have hearty appetites, so be mindful not to overfeed them as it can lead to obesity. Try feeding them twice daily, with portions they can consume within two to three minutes.

Consider using a variety of high-quality flake, granules, and cichlid pellets for their everyday needs. For protein sources, you can supplement with frozen foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp.

The inclusion of the proper variety and amounts of food in their diet cannot be overstated for it contributes greatly to their vibrant coloration and prolonged lifespan.

Developing a feeding schedule and sticking to it will make your Midas Cichlid thrive, leading to a more vibrant and lively aquarium.

Midas Cichlid Care Schedule

Caring for Midas Cichlids involves a routine of maintenance activities that should be followed religiously. A set schedule will ensure the health and wellbeing of your fish.


  • Morning: Start your day by feeding your Midas Cichlids once. They thrive on an omnivorous diet that includes flake, granules, cichlid pellets, and frozen foods. Ensure that the amount of food introduced is eaten within a few minutes. If not, reduce the feeding quantity accordingly.

Tank Maintenance

  • Weekly: Perform water checks at least once a week. This consists of checking your water parameters, ensuring they’re within the required range. The pH should remain between 6.5 and 8.0, and the water hardness (dH) can go up to 25 degrees.
  • Bi-weekly: Every two weeks, replace about 15-20% of your tank water. This means for a 55 gallon tank, you’re replacing approximately 8 to 11 gallons (30 to 41 litres).
  • Monthly: Once a month, clean the tank’s internal surfaces, filters, and any implemented decorations, to prevent unwanted bacterial growth.

Monitoring Fish Health

Inspect your Midas Cichlids daily to detect any potential signs of illness. Look for changes in behavior, eating habits, coloration, or any visible signs such as spots or cloudy eyes. Early detection is key to successful treatment.

Remember, the care schedule is a proactive approach to fish upkeep. Following a care routine diligently can prevent many health issues before they begin, making your aquarium hobby more enjoyable and your Midas Cichlids healthier.

Midas Cichlid Health Problems

Caring for Midas Cichlids means being aware of the potential health issues they might face. Since they are a hardy species, most health problems arise when their environment is not optimal.

Poor Water Conditions: The leading cause of health problems in Midas Cichlids is poor water quality. High levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates can lead to the development of diseases such as fin rot, gill disease, and even systemic infections. Regular water testing and changes are vital to avoid this.

Parasites and Fungal Infections: Like most fishes, Midas cichlids can contract parasites and fungal infections. Symptoms often include changes in color, behavior, and overall appearance. Antifungal and antiparasitic medications, widely available, are the best course of treatment.

Digestive Problems: Overfeeding or not providing a diverse diet can cause digestive problems. These issues may manifest as loss of appetite, bloating, and abnormal swimming patterns. Offering a varied diet and avoiding overfeeding can prevent such issues.

Aggression-related Injuries: Being a territorial fish, the Midas cichlid can sometimes suffer injuries during disputes. Typical signs are visible wounds or changes in behavior. Good tank management and providing plenty of space can minimize such incidents.

Malnutrition: Nutrition-related problems can occur if their dietary needs are not met. Symptoms might include slow growth, lack of color or energy. Supplement their diet with high-quality, nutrient-rich foods to avoid malnutrition.

Remember, a healthy tank makes a healthy fish. Early identification of health issues in your Midas cichlid is crucial for a quick recovery. Always consult with a veteran aquarist or veterinarian if any serious health problems appear.

Midas Cichlid Tank Mates

Choosing tank mates for your Midas cichlid should be done with care. Remember, Midas cichlids are aggressive, especially when they hold territories or during mating. So choose their tank mates accordingly.

  • Other Midas Cichlids: Keeping more than one Midas cichlid in the same tank can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you’re intent on this, you’ll need an appropriately large tank to accommodate their aggression.
  • Large, Aggressive Fish: More robust, aggressive species can coexist with Midas cichlids. However, it’s vital to understand their behavior and compatibility before introducing them.
  • Avoid Small Fish: Smaller fish, or those that are slow-moving, should never be housed with Midas cichlids. They’re inevitably viewed as food or a threat.

It’s essential to highlight that their tank mates’ selection should always consider the space available. Midas cichlids require a lot of room, and overcrowding can increase the already heightened levels of aggression seen in these fish.

Remember, each Midas cichlid is an individual and may not react the same way as another. Observation and close monitoring are crucial when introducing any new species to the tank. Always have a plan B in case separations need to be made.

Lastly, when it comes to choosing tank mates, it’s always best to consult with aquarists experienced with these fish, either at your local pet store or online. They can provide you with specific recommendations based on your situation and the Midas cichlid’s individual temperament.

Midas Cichlid Breeding

Breeding the Midas cichlid brings forth a set of unique challenges, but fascinating rewards. Procreation among these fish isn’t as simple as housing a male and female together. Caution is advised – the results could be disastrous if the pairings aren’t to their liking.

  • Choosing a Pair: You’re more likely to succeed with a group of juveniles growing together, allowing them to pick their partners. Remember, once pairs are formed, a plan needs to be in place for rehoming the remaining fish.
  • Preparation for Spawning: When ready to spawn, you’ll notice an increase in size of the nuchal hump on both fish. Their colors pop, and a dance of sorts ensues, involving much mouthing and tail slapping. During this period, a tank divider may be required if things get too heated.

Midas cichlids lay their eggs on vertical slate or flat driftwood, or in a rocky cave. They can produce up to 1000 eggs that should hatch within 72 hours (3 days).

  • After Spawning: Post spawning, the wrigglers are moved to a pre-dug pit by the parents. They become free-swimming in a few days and can then be fed baby brineshrimp or crushed flake. It’s at this point that males may become excessively aggressive.

Ensure you have a tank divider handy to segregate the male, as he may try to protect the fry aggressively. Even an innocent attempt to service the tank may be met with hostility! Parental care continues for around six weeks, so be prepared for frequent care during this phase.

Breeding Midas cichlids can be a regular event, with production of extremely large numbers of offspring, hence choosing to breed these fish in a home aquarium must be a well-considered decision.

Young ones quickly overrun a tank, and a plan must be in place for their future even before the spawning occurs. After all, a responsible fish keeper’s job includes ensuring the well-being of each fish, even those that are yet to hatch.


The care of Midas Cichlid can bring both challenges and rewards. It demands your time and effort, but the fascinating behavior and beautiful appearances of these fish are certainly worth it. What has been your experience with Midas Cichlids? Leave a comment below.

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