The Proper Care and Maintenance of the Salvini Cichlid
Although the Salvini cichlid sounds like a Sicilian gum that is popular in Mexico, it is actually a popular aquarium fish, originating far south of the border.
Basic Facts about the Salvini Cichlid
The Salvini Cichlid keeps several aliases, including the anglicized Salvin’s Cichlid, the more descriptive Tricolor Cichlid, and the derogatory Yellow-Belly Cichlid. Regardless of what you call him, the Salvini calls Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and part of southern Mexico home. There they dart through the turbulent waters of rivers and lagoons terrorizing the tinier fish.
These fish are a little deceiving in terms of appearance when they are young, having a rusty yellow and ash color to them before they have grown to maturity. When they reach sexual maturity, however, nature injects their shades with an eye-catching depth of hue that is a wonder to see.
The Salvini Cichlid is on the shrimpy side of the cichlid family, growing only to about half a foot, unlike some of its chunkier cousins. It is still a cichlid, however, and that means it likes to stake out its space and bitterly defend it—all other fish beware! This means that if you are going to introduce any other fish into the Salvini cichlid’s tank you need to introduce all members of the tank simultaneously, otherwise you may see some real violence before long.
In addition, when choosing other fish to go with the Salvini cichlid, you need to choose carefully and remember the Goldilocks rule. Don’t choose too small or wimpy of a fish or your Salvini will literally have him for dinner. Don’t choose too big and aggressive of a fish either, however, or your paranoid little Salvini will do what all bullies do when faced with a bigger threat, and spend his time in hiding. You need to choose one that is just at the right level of aggressiveness so that he compliments your Salvini. If you have a big tank, your best bet is either another Salvini or one of their kissing cousins, either the Jack Dempsey cichlid or the Red Devil.
In addition, be prepared for them to just not get along. With aggressive fish, you never know when things will end in violence. This is especially the case during spawning, when most bloodbaths occur.
The Salvini Cichlid needs room to roam and a healthy amount of private nooks in which to hide. Be sure to decorate the edges of the tank with all sorts of visual obstructions behind which your Salvini can feel safe--sunken pirate ships, strategically piled rocks, and lots of rising seaweed, really have at it!
To keep your Salvini from becoming claustrophobic, you need at least a 50-gallon tank for one lone fish. If you’re going to keep a pair of Salvini or a Salvini and another fish, like say a Jack Dempsey, you’ll need no less than a 100-gallon tank, otherwise you are just asking for trouble of the violent kind between your Salvini and its tank mate.
To help the initial transition, an old trick is to place a divider across the middle of the tank, at first, until both fish have habituated to their sides. When you remove the divider, both fish should remain territorially connected to their side and fewer confrontations will take place.
Your Salvini’s tank requires frequent water care to retain clarity and to reduce the chances of disease. Change one-fifth to one-quarter of the water weekly to reduce the chances infecting your Salvini with disease.
The best diet for the Salvini Cichlid is a mix of both regular fish flakes and higher protein foods like live brine shrimp. You can use the frozen brine, but the Salvini’s predatory instinct shows a distinct preference for the live hunt. Bloodworms are the perfect snack for the Salvini on special occasions.