The recently discovered Honduran red point cichlid possesses many of the desirable traits that have made the infamous convict cichlid so popular. Yet this lesser-known fish is smaller, less aggressive, and more suitable for community tanks.
While I’ve had lots of fun breeding convict cichlids, Honduran red points (HRPs) have many unique qualities that make them a hit with beginners and cichlid specialists alike.
Let’s find out about what sets them apart, and how to best care for this very promising species!
Honduran Red Point Cichlid at a Glance
|Honduran Red Point Cichlid Info|
|Scientific Name||Amatitlania siquia|
|Other Common Names||HRP, Honduran Red Point Convict, Blue Convict Cichlid, Honduran Red Fin Cichlid|
|Max Size||Males 4 inches (10 cm) Females 3 inches (7.5cm)|
|Temperature||73°F to 82°F|
|PH||7 to 8|
|Water hardness||5 -20 dKH|
|Minimum Tank Size||30 gallons|
|Temperament||Assertive / Semi Aggressive|
Origin and Background
Honduran red point cichlids are a recent addition to the aquarium scene. The species (or subspecies) was only discovered in 1989 when Rusty Wessel collected them from the Mosquito Shore of Northern Honduras.
Because the isolated population appeared rather different from the convict cichlids found in other parts of the region, the fish received a new name.
The rivers that they come from in the wild are slow-flowing with a soft substrate and slightly alkaline water.
Because HRPs are so easy to breed in aquariums, stocks are almost always captive-bred rather than caught in the wild.
Honduran Red Point Cichlid vs Convict Cichlid
There remains some debate among scientists whether the Honduran Red Points (Amatitlania siquia) should be considered a distinct species or simply a geographical variation on the convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata).
While HRPs do have a lot in common with their relatives, they’re substantially smaller, with a more bluish color, earning them their other common name ‘the blue convict cichlid’. They also have more pointed, beak-shaped mouths than their cousins.
Whatever the taxonomy, HRPs are very closely related to convict cichlids and can crossbreed with them to produce hybrid offspring.
Honduran red points are very handsome fish. Like convict cichlids, they have black vertical bars over much of their body, but these are often more faint than in true convicts.
It’s thought that the bluish colors that have been the primary focus of many selective breeding efforts may have developed at the expense of the black barring that some would consider an equally attractive quality.
Breeding programs, however, have produced a great range of different color variations in Honduran Red Points, meaning that if you shop around, you’re likely to find individuals that suit your taste.
Growing up to 4 inches long, Male Honduran red points are typically about an inch larger than females. They also have longer, more pointed fins.
Female Honduran red points always have at least some orange on their belly which increases at breeding time. In males, this orange coloration may either be entirely absent or less pronounced than in females.
Honduran Red Point Cichlid Care Guide
Because of their small size, a single pair of Honduran red points can be kept in a relatively small aquarium.
A 30-gallon tank with a large surface area is sufficient for a single-species breeding tank, but if you wish to keep them with community fish, a 55-gallon tank or larger will be needed.
To keep HRPs with other types of cichlids, I’d recommend at least a 75-gallon tank to avoid excessive territorial disputes.
Honduran red point cichlids will be happiest when you replicate their natural habitat within your fish tank.
Like convict cichlids, HRPs like to dig in the substrate, especially at breeding time.
While aquarium sand more closely resembles the substrate of their natural environment, gravel is easier to clean, doesn’t get stuck in aquarium filters, and also makes a better rooting medium for plants.
I personally bred convict cichlids on gravel without problems. As long as the gravel is relatively fine-grained, HRPs should be able to dig and move it around without problems.
Plants and Decor
Because of their fondness for digging, aquarium plants need to be tough to survive alongside HRPs! It may be worth establishing vigorous plant growth in your aquarium before introducing this species so that they’re less likely to get uprooted.
I succeeded in growing the ever-resilient Java fern with my convict cichlids, and plants like Java fern, Java moss, and Anubias species can also be tied to pieces of driftwood or rocks to avoid being disturbed.
Floating plants like Amazon frogbit and water sprite also make good choices and provide an attractive dappled shade underneath.
As well as live plants, be sure to provide your HRPs with plenty of rocky caves. In my experience, this is their favorite place to dig their breeding pits and harbor their young away from other fish.
Honduran red point cichlids are tropical fish species that require a reliable aquarium heater. They will accept a wide range of water temperatures, from 73-82°F, so are compatible with most tropical aquarium fish in this way.
Like other tropical species, Honduran red point cichlids are sensitive to sudden changes in water temperature. Acclimatizing them properly in a new tank and avoiding temperature fluctuations is essential to avoid thermal shock.
Unlike South American cichlids that enjoy acidic water, cichlids from Central America prefer water that’s neutral to alkaline. A pH of 7-8 is ideal for HRPs.
As for water hardness, aim for anything between 5-20 dGH.
One of the most important aspects of keeping HRPs healthy is excellent water quality, therefore an efficient aquarium filter is essential.
Because they come from slow-moving rivers, Honduran red points and their fry can get stressed by strong filter flow. To reduce the water current without compromising the filter’s efficiency, I recommend using an aquarium spray bar, or lily pipe.
Honduran red point cichlids are omnivorous and fairly unfussy in their eating habits. The key to keeping them in good health is to offer a wide range of foods, including vegetable matter and meaty treats.
As a staple food, tried and tested cichlid pellets such as Hikari Cichlid Gold make a good choice. Always supplement dry foods with high-protein fresh and frozen foods such as bloodworms, tubifex worms, daphnia, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and mosquito larvae.
Hikari Cichlid Gold Floating Pellets Large is a premium fish food designed specifically for cichlids, a popular and diverse group of aquarium fish. These pellets are known for their high-quality ingredients and optimal nutritional content, making them an excellent choice for promoting the health and vibrancy of your cichlid fish.
Occasional helpings of vegetable foods like blanched spinach, dandelion leaves, nori flakes, or spirulina wafers may also be appreciated and aid healthy digestion.
As usual, feed your fish twice a day, with no more than they can eat in 2 minutes. Overfeeding is one of the most common causes of water quality problems which are so detrimental to cichlids.
Are Honduran Red Point Cichlids Aggressive?
One of the most appealing qualities of Honduran red point cichlids is that they’re usually less aggressive than convict cichlids and most other Central American cichlids.
That’s not to say that HRPs are always peaceful fish, though! Males in particular can become territorial towards other fish when breeding, and each individual also has a unique character. Tank mates still need to be chosen carefully to avoid casualties from aggressive outbursts!
Should You Keep Honduran Red Point Cichlids Alone, in Pairs, or in Groups?
HRPs are intelligent, social fish with fascinating monogamous courtship behavior so are best kept in pairs.
Scientific studies have revealed that this species may develop a ‘pessimistic attitude’ when separated from their partner, indicating it’s best not to keep them alone.
Although Honduran red points could be kept in groups when young, as they mature, males will fight for dominance so it’s best not to keep more than one pair per tank.
Compatible Tank Mates
Since HRPs are still considered semi-aggressive, very small, fragile schooling fish like neon tetra, ember tetra, and harlequin rasboras are better avoided, as are guppies and small bottom-dwelling fish like corydoras catfish.
A better choice for dither fish would be deep-bodied tetras like black skirt tetra, Congo tetra, and red eye tetra. Fast-moving, agile fish like zebra danios, giant danios, scissor-tail rasboras, rainbow fish, and the barb family also make for good tank mates.
While more experienced cichlid enthusiasts have kept this species with other peaceful cichlids like rainbow cichlids and blue acaras, the territorial disputes that could ensue make this practice inadvisable for beginners.
Because they’re prone to eating aquarium shrimp and snails, you’ll need to choose a more robust species to clean up any problematic algae, such as a bristlenose pleco.
Health and Disease
Honduran red points demand excellent water quality and may develop health problems and diseases if water conditions deteriorate or they become stressed.
Common parasitic diseases like ich, velvet, and flukes and bacterial infections like columnaris and water molds only tend to affect fish that are already in a vulnerable state.
Likewise, Honduran red points are susceptible to bloating and HLLE (Hole in the head disease) when kept in stale water with high nitrates.
Keeping Honduran red point cichlids in pairs with plenty of rocky hiding places and excellent water quality is the best way to keep their immunity systems strong and protected from unnecessary diseases.
Like convict cichlids, Honduran red points are incredibly easy to breed. But because they have smaller broods and are less aggressive than convicts, they make for an even better subject for beginners to get their first taste of breeding cichlids.
- HRPs normally need no encouragement to breed. When the female is becoming plump with a bright orange belly, spawning is usually imminent.
- Place a flat rock at the bottom of the tank for the pair to spawn onto.
- Whereas convict cichlids often lay more than 200 eggs in a brood, 40-50 eggs are more typical for a pair of HRPs.
- Eggs hatch within 3 days, and fry are free swimming within another 3-4 days.
- HRPs are usually excellent parents and will devote several weeks to caring for and protecting their young.
- Raise the fry on baby brine shrimp, microworms, and crushed flake food.
Did you know that cichlids are some of the longest-lived aquarium fish? Honduran red points are no exception and should live for between 8-10 years when kept in good condition.
Some top tips for keeping your Honduran red point cichlid in tip-top condition!
- Install a good filter and clean it every 2-3 weeks.
- Vacuum your substrate and make partial water changes of 20-35% every 1-2 weeks with treated water of matching temperature.
- Get yourself a reliable heater and thermometer. Make daily checks to ensure the temperature is within the ideal range for all of your fish.
- Observe your fish closely every day to ensure they are in good health and interacting peacefully with each other.
- Test your aquarium’s water at least once a month or any time your fish seem unwell. Always make sure nitrate levels remain below 20 ppm since there’s a high correlation between high nitrate levels and ill health in cichlids.
Honduran red points still aren’t seen as often in pet stores as convict cichlids, therefore specialist cichlid stores and online retailers are the best places to find them.
If you’re buying your fish in person, only choose active individuals, with bright colors, shiny eyes, and healthy-looking fins. If you’re buying online, always check reviews to ensure the site’s integrity.
Expect to pay between $10-25 per individual fish or around $40-50 for a breeding pair in 2023.
Although they’re a relatively recent addition to the aquarium scene, Honduran red points are fast becoming more popular.
Because they’re smaller, more peaceful, and breed less prolifically than convict cichlids, they make a great choice for community tanks with robust tank mates.