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1Linga Prabu, D., 2Arun Sudhagar, S. and 1Ferosekhan, S.

1PG Scholar, Division of Fish Nutrition, Biochemistry and Physiology,

2PG Scholar, Department of Fish Pathology and Microbiology,

Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai, India





            Archocentrus spilurum is a Central American fish species commonly referred to as the Blue-Eye cichlid or simply spilurum. It has been moved back and forth between various genera within the cichlid family and has for instance been known as Chilasoma spilurum and Hericthys spilurum. It is considered a relatively peaceful cichlid and it is not very fuzzy when it comes to water conditions and temperature. Among the cichlids, Blue-eyes are suitable for community tank because of its peaceful nature. It may not be the most colorful, but they are very pretty little fish and their blue eyes set them apart from other cichlids.


Geographical variants:

The variants in the north of their natural range have light green body and maroon head, with 7 vertical bars on the body.


Similar species:

When small, they may resemble their cousins A.nigrofasciata (convict cichlid) and A.septemfasciata (topaz cichlid) but adults are quite different.


Habitat information:

Blue eyes available plenty on Atlantic slope from Belize to Nicaragua in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It lives in both lacustrine (lake) and riverine habitats. They prefer the shallow areas of these waters and are found over sand, mud and rocky substrates. And prefer the slow moving waters of the lower river areas / valleys. Vigorous water movements are therefore not recommended in the aquarium. It inhabits the middle and bottom regions of the tank.


Fig: 1 Blue Eye Cichlid


Species description:

A. spilurus have a pinkish-grey body colour with yellow extending from the underside of the mouth through the throat and into the belly. They have a fairly stocky, deep body, with a short, gently sloping forehead ending in a small, pointed, terminal mouth. Also have around 7 or 8 vertical black stripes, often faint in males, on the body. More pronounced are the black spots midway on the body that start just behind the gills and run the length of the body to the tail. A band running from the eye to the corner of the mouth is often present. The dorsal fin has light aqua streaks through it and is tinged light maroon or vivid red colour. The caudal fin is spangled blue close to the caudal peduncle, less towards the edge. The anal fin is aqua in colour.


Size of the fish:

Males can attain a length of 7 1/2 inches. Females are smaller than males. Usually males and females reaches maximum of 12cm and 8cm respectively.


Food and feeding:

It is an omnivorous fish. They are not fussy about what they eat. They will readily accept frozen foods (blood worms or beef heart), flake foods and small pellets. They relish live black worms and artemia. They should feed twice a day.



Fig: 2 Blue-eyed cichlid with Red devil in the community tank


Blue eyed cichlids are peaceful and should be kept with similar tank mates. They are a relatively easy fish to keep. Although males may be aggressive towards each other, particularly during breeding, they will rarely bother other fish. They are suitable for community tanks with nearly any sized fish, but very small and fancy finned species should be avoided. Normally these are stocked in the community tank along with Red Devil, Angel fish, Discus, Dolphin fish, Guppy, Sword tail, Molly and etc.


Aquarium set up:

Blue-eyed cichlids can be set up in community tanks with compatible species in a minimum 90cm tank. A tank of dimensions 90x45x45 cm has a capacity of 183 litres. It needs 2 x 30W fluorescent tubes. Substrate of 3mm gravel and marble chip roughly 30kg with 20:10 kg mix respectively. Less substrate is needed as no plants will be grown directly into the substrate in this setup. Drift wood (branch or root-like pieces) and some lava rock work to create caves like decoration in the tank. Ceramic or resin ornaments can also be used to good effect. The plants Anubias sp and Microsorium pteropus (Java Fern) attached to rocks and drift woods.


Optimum water quality parameters:

            D.O                 : not less than 4ppm

pH                   : slightly acidic to alkaline (6.5 - 8.0)

Hardness      : soft

Temperature : 24 - 320C


Maintenance of aquarium:

Tank maintenance is not difficult as long as the nitrogen cycle is managed; as with many cichlids, ammonia is not well tolerated. Plenty of caves should be provided. Provide an open area for swimming at the front and use plants at the sides and back of the tank. It requires good filtration. The best medicine is prevention by not over crowding the tank and frequent partial water changes. Water changes are about 25% every 2 weeks is compulsory.



Sex difference:

Matured males develop a pronounced hump head and also have longer filaments on the dorsal and anal fins. Females have more pronounced black strips on the body and one of these bars will extend into a dark spot located at the dorsal fin. Males are more colorful than females.



Spawning is imminent when the fish starts displaying breeding coloration. While spawning, the golden yellow throat and belly colour is replaced with jet black. Ventral fins also become black. The female loses her stripes and both male and female develop a horizontal striped pattern on their sides. Blue-eyed cichlids are form monogamous pairs. The spawning tank should be provided with small sized flower pots (3") with part of the top edge cut away so it would not roll, laid on its side. Before breeding, the pair go for quivering and tail slapping, after these, they start cleaning the spawning substratum (flower pot). Then spawn in flower pot or caves or other dark secluded areas. The female laid her eggs on a vertical surface. A female may lay 100 300 eggs. After releasing of eggs both parents exhibit parental care. They clean the dust particles and any micro organisms deposit on the eggs. This action is called "mouthing". The parents aerate the eggs using fins. This action is called as "fanning". The eggs hatch out after 3 days of incubation. When the eggs have hatched, the fry will feed from their egg sacs and stay closely together to the side of the wall. As soon as the egg sac has been consumed, it can start feeding the artemia naupli, rotifers and powdered flake food. The fry are free swimming about 5 7 days after hatching. By this time, they will normally be around 1/4 inch in length.


In commercial point of view, either the flower pot with eggs or parents are removed and transferred to another tank to avoid the long term parental care of these cichlids. This practice is followed for increasing the number of spawning cycle in a year. Regular water exchanges are important to keep the water quality up, but should not change more than 25% of the water each time since big water changes can chock the fry. It is also important to use the water of same temperature.

                        Fig: 3 Parents with young ones exhibiting parental care                                              


Disease Management:


            Blue-eyed cichlids are more susceptible to the following diseases:




Causative agent



Holes in the head, ulceration of lateral line


Hole in head disease


Metronidazole at 12mg per litre of water of 1% in any food

Observed after the presence of hole in head

Nodular white swelling or lumps on fins or body

Lymphocystis disease


Hormone (Testosterone) treatment in separate hospital tank


Treatment is difficult

Swollen abdomen, erected scale

Dropsy (or) kidney bloat

Bacterial disease

Chloromycetin or tetracycline at 10mg per litre of water


Contiguous, difficult to treat

White clumps with cotton like appearance


Saprolegniasis disease

Saprolegnia fungi

1% phenoxethol at 10ml in water

Highly contagious

Red patch in the body

Argulosis / Lernaeasis

Argulus, Lernaea

15min bath in 1-2% KMnO4, painting the region with iodine solution. Repeat it once in a day


Violent rubbing due to irritation



Market Value:


Blue-eyed cichlid being an exotic variety, it has been marketed domestically. In the domestic market, it fetches various prices based on its size. It may not be a most colourful and being little fish, a pair has a value of Rs. 150 250 based on its size and coloration.




  1. Skomal, G., 2001. Setting up a freshwater aquarium: An owner's guide to a happy healthy pet, second Edn., Howell Book house, Wiley Publishing. Inc., New York, PP. 126.
  2. Wayne Toven, 2000. Old blue eyes: Spawning Archocentrus spilurum: In: Tank topics, Greater Akron Aquarium Society.
  3. Axelrod, and R. Herbert, 1997. Dr. Axelrod's Atlas of freshwater fish, THF Publications, Neptune, New Jersey.

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