If you love strong fish both physically and personality-wise, you would certainly like the Wolf Cichlids. These muscular fish can have a great bond with their owners.

The Wolf Cichlids have a colorful appearance, with shades of yellow, silver, blue, purple, and black spread all over their bodies. Their colorful appearance owes them their common name, rainbow bass.

Even though they have a wolf in their name, these fish are solitary in nature. However, much like wolves, they have an interest in knowing what’s going on inside and around them.

The Wolf Cichlids have a predatory nature, they can be a great addition to your fish tank if you know how to care for them.

The following review offers aspects of caring for Wolf Cichlids, including their required tank setup, diet, mates, and breeding.

Fish Overview

Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name Parachromis dovii
Other Common Names Rainbow Bass, The Guapote
Family Cichlidae
Origin Central America
Lifespan Over 30 years
Size 72 cm
Type Freshwater
Wolf Cichlids Species Overview

Origin and Habitat

The Wolf Cichlids originate in and are native to Central America, specifically the country of Honduras. These fish thrive in freshwater and can even be kept safely in aquariums of the right size.

Originally, they are found in the Aguan and Moin rivers in Honduras and Costa Rica, respectively. Some schools of these fish can also be found in Florida, but they are invasive groups.

Wolf Cichlids like to live in caverns in river valleys, and they eat other fish, insects, and crustaceans. In their native land, these fish are commercially important because the local populations feed on them.

Fact: The Wolf Cichlids is a bully by its very nature. It will most probably try to eat other fish if you keep them in the same tank.

Max. Size of Wolf Cichlids

The Wolf Cichlids are huge fish. They can grow as big as 28 inches or 72 cm.

However, they are not born that big; the average size of the ones you can get is around 2 – 2.5 inches.

Interestingly, the male fish are always larger in size among wolf cichlids, so it’s also a way to determine the gender of the fish.

Appearance and Color

The appearance and color of Wolf Cichlids are their best features. The appearance of the fish changes based on its gender.

Female Wolf Cichlids are always yellow, and the male fish can have either a golden yellow or silver background color.

Both male and female genders of this fish have the colors green and red on their heads and on their dorsal fin. Their tails and fins often have a different green-blue appearance.

When young, these fish don’t have this beautiful range of colors on their bodies as they commonly have a silver background and black horizontal stripes on their bodies as juvenile Wolf Cichlids.

As they mature, the silver background body color changes to a golden yellow color.

Fact: As the Wolf Cichlids grow into an adult, the black horizontal stripes on their body grow, which they have when young stretches out.

Max. Life Expectancy

The wolf cichlids have an incredible life expectancy, which can be over 30 years with proper care. On average, however, they live around 20-25 years.

Interestingly, Wolf Cichlids live longer both in aquariums and in the wild. Despite the fact that they are not difficult to care for, they have a shorter lifespan if not properly cared for.

Sexing – Female or Male

The Wolf Cichlids are easy to differentiate between male and female. This is because, as mentioned previously, the female fish have a distinct yellow appearance, which makes them easily noticeable. Another differentiating factor is that the males have a distinct golden-yellow appearance.

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Male Wolf Cichlids are larger than females and can easily be distinguished by their size.

Sale Price and Availability

Even though these fish are predatory, they have a considerable demand due to their long lifespan. However, it should be noted that these fish are not usually sold as adults.

Commonly, you will find baby Wolf Cichlids available with breeders for an average price of around 35 – 39 dollars. However, before you buy Dovii Wolf Cichlids, be sure to have a big aquarium because you will need it as they grow up.

If you are a beginner aquarist, it is best to start with baby Wolf Cichlids.  The baby fish are easier to handle and care for, and given their smaller size, you can keep them in a tank that you might already have.

If you have the necessary tank required to store the Wolf Cichlids, you can bring home adult Wolf Cichlids, but that is if you can find them on sale.

Care Guide

Quick Care Facts
Care Level Intermediate
Social Solitary
Temperament Aggressive
Diet Carnivore
Breeding Hard
Wolf Cichlids Species Facts

Food and Diet

The Wolf Cichlids are fully carnivorous fish, and their primary diet consists of smaller fish in general.

Their diet varies depending on whether they live in the wild or in an aquarium. In an aquarium, they can even feed on floating pellet-based food, but in the wild, their diet entirely consists of other fish and insects.

If you are planning on keeping Wolf Cichlids in your aquarium, it’s crucial that you also feed them frozen fish. This is because a meaty diet is crucial for their well-being, and live fish can carry diseases.

Ideally, you have to feed your fish every day in the form of floating pellet-based food, but you can also feed them a few times a day, sometimes.

The catch is to not give them any food for the next few days if you are feeding them multiple times a day.

Here’s a list of all the different food items best suited for your Wolf Cichlids.

  • Invertebrates
  • Insects
  • Earthworms
  • Smaller fish
  • Crustaceans
  • Lance fish
  • Crab
  • Whitebait
  • Cockles

General Behavior

The Wolf Cichlids are aggressive.

When you are doing maintenance work on your aquarium, they can attack you as well. So, beware!       

If you are planning to store it with other fish in a tank, please be advised that you will need an incredibly huge tank.

And you will also need to actively keep them away from the other fish, even if your Wolf Cichlids are kept as a mated pair of male and female.

They are a classic loner fish and happiest when kept in seclusion. However, at times of mating, they are interested in company.

Fact: The Wolf Cichlids can even attack fish larger than itself. They nib at the fish until they have successfully killed their prey.

Mating, Breeding and Spawning

It is moderately difficult to breed the Wolf Cichlids.

They can only breed in mated pairs, and the best way to pair them is to store a number of juvenile Wolf Cichlids together and let them pair off by themselves.

To call for mating, the male Wolf Cichlids will perform courting techniques such as dances, head shaking, and gill flaring to attract the female fish.

Once they are paired, the breeding process takes about 5 days, during which the females will lay over a thousand eggs. Be aware that during breeding, the male fish can be aggressive toward the female fish.

Once the eggs of the female fish are hatched, both the male and female fish take care of the babies. Wolf Cichlids are substrate spawners.

These fish are incredibly aggressive when spawning and can attack even other members of their own species during this time.


The Wolf Cichlids are strong by nature, but they are not immune to diseases. Even though they naturally have a long lifespan, they can suffer from diseases that can effectively shorten it.

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One of the most common diseases that affects Wolf Cichlids is Ich. This disease causes white spots on the body of the fish. Luckily, ich is curable.

To learn more about common fish diseases, you can check out our other article here.

Fact: The Wolf Cichlids are substrate spawners which means they don’t build nests, but they return to a particular spot, which they choose and clean before laying eggs.

Tank Care

Quick Tank Facts
Minimum Size 454 liters or 125 gallons
Water Temperature 24 – 28 degree celsius
Water Hardness 5 – 20 dGH
Lighting Normal lighting
PH Level 6.0 – 8.0
Wolf Cichlids Mating, Breeding, Spawning, and Tank Size

Ideal Tank Size

As mentioned in the table, the minimum tank size for these fish is a 125-gallon tank. However; you will need to move them into bigger tanks as they grow up.

Why? Because they are susceptible to diseases and infections if they are stored in smaller tanks. Plus, they need a considerable swimming area, so a smaller tank just won’t cut it.

If you are planning to breed this fish as a mated pair or store them with other fish, the ideal tank size you are looking at would be around 500 gallons.

If that is not possible, you can keep them in your pond as well. However, this is only if you live in a warm climate.

And when you are keeping them in tanks, you also need good water filtration to ensure your fish are safe.


There are various ways you can set up your tank for storing Wolf Cichlids. Before you get into the decorative part, take care of the water filtration and movement.

Water filtration is crucial for their well being because these fishes produce a lot of waste, and if the water is not clean, they can become susceptible to infections and diseases. As a result, clean, waste-free water is critical for safely and healthily storing them in your tank.

Due to the presence of other fish, it is best to keep your wolf cichlids in a separate tank. Even in a separate tank, make sure that the tank has heavy glass or acrylic walls and a heavy cover.

The Wolf Cichlids are known jumpers, and if you store them without a heavy cover, they will try to escape for sure. Even when you are feeding them, they will make a mess by splashing water all around your tank.

Wolf Cichlids require adequate swimming space, so you can skip the decorations if you prefer. However, ideally, you would need to design some hiding spaces for juvenile and female fish from the dominant male if you are storing them for mating.

Read here – Aggressive Cichlid Species – Jack Dempsey


Keep plants very low on your list of priorities when you are designing your Wolf Cichlids’ tank. These fish are destructive and can uproot most plants.

If you are lucky and your plants survive the attacks of the Wolf Cichlids, they can promote algae growth, which is bad for your fish.

If you want to put in plants, choose artificial plants because natural plants cannot promote algae growth at all.

However, please make sure you secure the plants with glue to some parts of your tank to make sure they stay in their place.

Instead of plants, put branches in your tank. Branches provide good hiding space for female and juvenile fish. Plus, they are safer against attacks by the Wolf Cichlid, and they don’t promote algae growth also.


The Wolf Cichlids are not bothered with lighting too much. However, both too much and too little lighting have effects on the fish.

Too much lighting can help the fish enhance their colors, but it will certainly disturb them and promote a lot of algae growth, which is bad for the fish.

On the contrary, too little lighting will also harm them, as it affects their immune system and makes the fish prone to diseases.

The ideal would be to go for moderate or normal lighting and to opt for LED lights. This will help you keep the water temperature within optimum limits and keep your fish safe and healthy.

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For Wolf Cichlids, fine gravel and sand are great substrates since these fish love to dig around in search of hiding spaces.

You can also place heavy rocks directly on the glass but not on the substrate. These fish are strong and can dig underneath the rocks if they are placed on the substrate.

In such cases, falling rocks can damage your aquarium, which can be a major problem, so if you are putting rocks in your tank, put them as advised.

Oxygen and Filtration

Filtration is one of the essential things you will need to take care of for storing Wolf Cichlids because they are freshwater fish.

Moreover, they produce equally large amounts of waste. So, in order to keep the tank water habitable for these fish, you need several water filters.

Ideally, you would need to use multiple sponge and canister filters to ensure the water is clean and habitable for the fish.

Once that’s done, you need to clean the substrate and remove all the fish waste. This can be done using a substrate vacuum.

You also need to keep the algae growth in check using algae magnets or brushes. And change the water in the tank as much as two or three times a week.

This is necessary because having good water quality in the tank will ensure your Wolf Cichlids are healthy and enjoy their full lifespan.


These fish are destructive without rhyme or reason. So decor items will most probably be attacked and dismantled if they are unsecured inside the tank.

To ensure your Wolf Cichlids don’t break your rock formations, secure the rock formations using glue. However, make sure that decor items don’t take up much space inside the tank, which would reduce the swimming area of your Wolf Cichlids.

Water Parameters

The water temperature, pH, and KH levels are essential factors in keeping your Wolf Cichlids healthy. Sure, there have been cases where these fish have survived in extreme conditions.

They were, however, both in the wild and in captivity; keeping them in such extreme conditions only raises health concerns for the fish. So, make sure you follow the guidelines to the letter in order to keep your fish safe.

The ideal water temperature for your Wolf Cichlids needs to be within the range of 24 – 28 degrees Celsius.

The pH level of the tank water needs to be within the range of 6.0 – 8.0, and the KH level needs to be within 2 – 10.


Tankmates for Wolf Cichlids, as you can imagine, are best left alone. However, the best tankmates for them would be fish that are larger and more aggressive

If you’re wondering, that list is quite short, and here are some of the names you’re considering for tankmates with your Wolf Cichlids from it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Wolf Cichlids have teeth?

Yes, Wolf Cichlids teeth are a fact. These fish have big teeth inside their mouth and even inside their throat, which are known as pharyngeal teeth.

How fast do Wolf Cichlids grow?

Wolf Cichlids grow quickly, as they are able to breed from the age of 10 – 14 months. These fish spawn quickly, and they can grow as big as 72 cm, or 30 inches, throughout their lifespan.

Are Wolf Cichlids and Red Wolf Cichlids the same fish?

No, the Wolf Cichlids and the Red Wolf Cichlids are not the same fish. Wolf Cichlids can be identified by their blue and black coloration over a golden background, while Red Wolf Cichlids have a silvery to golden background with an orange or red coloration.

Final Word – Should You Get Them Home?

To answer the final question, should you get them home? The answer is both yes and no.

The Wolf Cichlids are adaptable fish, and they can survive even in non-optimum conditions. However, it can cause health issues and shorten their lifespan.

To properly care for your Wolf Cichlids, you must always be present with them. You need to be attentive to their behavior and work hard on their maintenance.

If you are storing them with other fish, you have to always stay vigilant to ensure that the Wolf Cichlids are not attacking the other fish.

So, if all of these factors are present, as well as changing the water twice or three times a week and vacuuming the substrate while the fish attack you, don’t bring them home.

But if you are somewhat experienced and know you can handle all of these regulations and limitations, you should definitely bring them home.

About the Author

Victoria Lamb

Victoria is a freshwater aquatics specialist, fish keeper, and amphibian enthusiast. She has had more than 6 years of experience caring for aquariums and keeping several fish species, and her home boasts of 3 aquariums and a garden pond. Her goal is to educate fish owners on raising healthy and happy aquatic pets. Career Highlights:…

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