Trimac Cichlid Care Guide

Trimac Cichlid Care Guide7 mins read

Fact checked by
Sydney Perry
Reading Time: 10 minutes
Trimac Cichlid Care Guide
Image from

The The The The Trimac cichlid, or Three Spot cichlid, is a rare and intricate American cichlid that occurs mostly in Mexico. Hobbyists have found that the trimac cichlid is happiest on its own or in a male and female pair. They need ample space and a more natural setting and can be an exquisite addition.

However, many newbies find themselves asking ‘What tank mates can cichlids have?’ For trimac cichlid tank mates this is no exception. It’s very important to take the individual species’ behaviour into account!

The trimac is great for expert aquarists, especially for collectors of more rare and aggressive cichlid species.  This article will answer these and similar questions, such as ‘how big does the Trimac cichlid get?’ It will also cover feeding, breeding, and more. Though not entirely recommended for beginners, with the right knowledge and guidelines, they could easily become your favorite pet.

Breed Overview

OriginCentral America and Mexico
Lifespan12 Years
Size12 – 14 cm ( inches) males, 8 – 10 cm (3.1 to 3.9 Inches) Females
ColorsGreen or Yellow with black and red markings
Water TypeFreshwater
Foodomnivorous, prefers meat
Tank Size55 Gallons for 1 fish
TemperamentAggressive and Unpredictable
Water Temperature72 to 86°f (23 to 30°C)
Water pH7– 8
Difficulty LevelTricky and Advanced

Species Information

The Trimac Cichlid (Cichlasoma trimaculatum), has many other names such as the Red-Eyed Cichlid, or Three Spot Cichlid. It is a cichlid species native to Mexico and Central America mostly. It comes from the subfamily Ciclasomatinae, and is quite rare in the aquarium trade. The Trimac cichlid has similarly been moved to the genus Amphilophus by some authorities.

In its natural environment, the trimac cichlid enjoys slow-flowing lower river valleys in the Pacific slopes of Central America. These generally have muddy or sandy substrate and plenty of roots and weeds growing naturally.

Physical Appearance And Color Variations

Known as medium and heavier-bodied cichlids, the trimac cichlid has some interesting colors and markings. In fact, these differ slightly in males and females. For the most part, they have either a greenish or yellow hue base color as adults with distinct spots on the sides of their bodies. The male has longer, pointier fins and exhibits a large red spot behind the gills, which is lacking in females. In older females, the trimac cichlid will develop a black blotch in the center of the dorsal fin that males do not have. Whereas older males may develop a Nuchal hump on the head. Males are also larger than females.

In terma of color, trimac cichlids have some similarity to Flowerhorn cichlids. These are actually a hybrid cichlid that does not live in the wild. Many times, you will find flowerhorn cichlids under the name of Trimacs. Flowerhorn cichlids are essentially a hybrid between a Trimac cichlid and other cichlid species.

How Big Do Trimac Cichlids Get And How Long Do They Live?

How Big Do Trimac Cichlids Get And How Long Do They Live?
An adult male Trimac can reach sizes of between 12 – 14 cm ( inches), and an adult female between 8 – 10 cm (3.1 to 3.9 Inches). Image from

So, How big does the Trimac cichlid get? As a rule, male Trimac cichlids are substantially larger than females. An adult male Trimac can reach sizes of between 12 – 14 cm ( inches), and an adult female between 8 – 10 cm (3.1 to 3.9 Inches). With proper care and nutrition, these cichlids can easily achieve a lifespan of up to 12 years in captivity.

Temperament And Behaviour

Trimac cichlids are robust with a heavier body shape, as discussed and they have a matching aggressive nature, making them quite powerful and risky to keep in a communal tank. Adult males will usually select a suitable female and they will create a pair and find a territory to claim. If provided with ample tank space and hiding spots you may be able to keep Trimac cichlids with other robust cichlid and fish species.

Trimac Cichlid Tank Mates

If you are wondering ‘What tank mates can cichlids have?’ know that there is no easy answer. Cichlids can be peaceful or aggressive, and their temperament varies considerably.

Unfortunately, because of their aggressive and temperamental behavior, it is not possible to fully rely on peaceful coexistence between Trimacs and other species’ tank mates. There has been a case where even a bonded breeding pair shows occasional aggressive behavior towards each other.

Thus, if you are adamant about introducing tank mates, your best options would be similar robust, and sizable cichlids. These include ones like Oscars, the Jack Dempsey cichlid, or the Green or Red Terror. It is best to introduce all fish together as juveniles. Even then you can only hope for the best as they age, and ensure that you have a separate tank at hand if aggression breaks out.

Caring For A Trimac Cichlid

The Trimac Cichlids’ natural habitat consists of slower-moving water with sandy and muddy bottoms. Here, it hides between roots and weeds from vegetation in the lower river valleys. These habitats are teeming with small fish, invertebrates, and aquatic or terrestrial insects that Trimacs enjoy feeding on. In an aquarium set-up and caring for them it is best to try and mimic their natural habitat and stick to their specific requirements.

1. Tank Set-Up

Firstly, Trimac cichlids need large aquariums with ample space. They are messy eaters creating plenty of waste, and as such proper filtration is important to keep the tank clean.

On the other hand, they can similarly be quite destructive. You will see them rearranging tank décor, and eating and digging up live plants, so proper planning of your tank décor is essential.

Water Parameters

Firstly, and most crucial, this cichlid species needs very clean and clear water. Thus a powerful filter is essential. However, because Trimacs do not like strong currents, a spray bar may be necessary to spread out the returning water flow.

In addition, a sump filter can act as both a filtration system and a medium to grow plants in. The Trimac Cichlid enjoys a more neutral pH-based water of around 7.0 – 8.0 with tropical temperatures ranging from 72 to 86°f (23 to 30°C).

Tank Size

In general, ‘How big does the Trimac cichlid get’ can be limited by tank size. If they are in a tank that is too small, it may stunt their growth. Ideally, you should account for at least 55 gallons for one fish.

Likewise, you should buy a filtration system that can turn over 5 times your tank’s volume in an hour. For instance, a 125-gallon aquarium will need a filter that can run at over 600 to 750 GPH (gallons per hour).

Trimacs don’t like strong water currents; if the output of your filtration system is strong, it is best to use a spray bar to spread out the returning water flow.


Keep in mind that Trimac cichlids, unlike African cichlids, need water that has a more neutral pH. Therefore, coral-based substrates are best to avoid. Opt for a sandy substrate for American cichlids, and use a thick layer. Rocks and driftwood can create caves and crevices for them to claim as territory and for breeding.

A sump filter is usually a good choice. Likewise, you can use it in freshwater tanks because it is ideal for growing live plants that your Trimacs will not destroy. Then again, you could also try a few floating freshwater aquarium plants.


Because Trimac cichlids are so messy, especially when eating it is vital that you regularly check their tank. At this stage, you should remove all dirt, leftover foods, dead plant matter, and other debris. Also rearrange any items that they may have moved around, so that filters can perform optimally. Potential trimac cichlid tankmates may also be messy eaters too. Bear in mind, the more fish you have, with these large cichlids, the more maintenance may be necessary.

A weekly water change of between 25 % and 30 % of the tank water, siphoning it from the bottom and replacing it with clean, conditioned, and heated water is vital as part of maintenance.

2. Feeding A Trimac Cichlid

Trimac Cichlids are omnivores but in their natural habitat mostly prefer meat based foods. A quality pellet or flaked cichlid food for their higher protein needs can work as a staple. Otherwise, you can feed them meat based foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimps and insect larvae, or small crustaceans.

Some vegetable matter is also beneficial, however only in moderation. These messy eaters can be fed twice a day, just enough to finish within a few minutes.

3. Breeding Trimac Cichlids

Trimac cichlid males will pair up with a single female. The female usually chooses a flat surface to lay her eggs, sometimes up to 1000 eggs, which will be fertilized by the males. Remember, if you have any trimac cichlid tank mates, you should remove them from the breeding tank!

Both parents guard over the eggs and will take care of the young fry once they hatch. When they become free swimming, you can supplement them with baby brine shrimp or finely crushed cichlid pellets.

Trimac Cichlid Male Or Female

How can you tell if you have a male or female trimac cichlid? Young juvenile Trimac cichlids are quite difficult to sex as the males and females are reasonably similar. As adults though males are much larger than females and have a prominent red marking behind the gills and sometimes develop a Nuchal hump.

Adult females also tend to have a dark black blotch on the Dorsal fin. Essentially you could house together a group of juveniles and watch them to see if they pair off as they get older, unfortunately, you can only keep a single pair in a tank and will have to rehome the others.

Introducing A New Cichlid

Introducing A New Cichlid
The newly set-up Aquarium will require at least a few days to a week to properly cycle, and you will need to test the water parameters frequently to ensure that they are in line. Image from

Most cichlid species can be relatively sensitive to changes in water temperatures and parameters, and that is why it is crucial to properly acclimate your new Trimac Cichlids after obtaining them.

However, before even thinking about new fish, the newly set-up Aquarium will require at least a few days to a week to properly cycle, and you will need to test the water parameters frequently to ensure that they are in line.

Choosing A Healthy Fish

A reputable breeder or pet store that specializes in aquatic pets may be your best bet at finding this rare beauty. It is vital to ensure that you purchase fish that are healthy, lively, and show no signs of damage, disease, or parasites on the surface.

Acclimating Your Cichlid

To properly acclimate a cichlid and ensure that you introduce it into its new home in a calm and safe manner, the following steps are suitable as guidelines;

  • Ensure that the area is calm with no noise or heavy traffic, and switch off all tank lights.
  • Allow the bag with the new fish to float on the surface of the tank for around 25 minutes.
  • Remove small amounts of the water in the bag and replace it with water from the tank, do this at intervals of 10 to 15 minutes.
  • When most of the water in the bag is now tank water, you can allow your new fish to swim into their new home, or gently net a place one at a time in the tank.

Common Health Conditions

Common Health Conditions of Trimac Cichlids
Keep their tank water clean and perform regular water changes and proper maintenance. Image from

Trimac Cichlids are robust, however are still prone to most freshwater fish conditions, as well as a few conditions that mainly affect cichlids. To Keep your Trimac cichlids healthy and stress-free these basic steps will usually be an ideal guideline, which will similarly help to prevent diseases and other pests:

  • Keep their tank water clean and perform regular water changes and proper maintenance. Ammonia buildup from waste can lead to stress and many health issues, especially ammonia burns causing physical damage to your fish.
  • Always quarantine new fish or plants first, and thoroughly inspect them for any signs of parasites or pests that could enter into your tank.
  • Always remove and quarantine injured or ill fish as they could affect their partners, or may be fighting which could lead to injuries.
  • Try to keep water temperatures and parameters constant and within the recommended ranges, most cichlids are sensitive to sudden changes in water conditions.
  • Feed them good quality cichlid pellets and foods that cater to their specific dietary needs. Also prevent overfeeding as this could lead to digestive issues, or food waste that can dirty the tank water.
  • Ammonia build-up can cause severe burns and other health issues, thus regular maintenance and a strong filter are vital.

A few common health conditions:

Swim Bladder Disease

A fungal or bacterial infection of the swim bladder (the organ that keeps fish afloat) can come from poor water conditions and other issues. Symptoms include lethargy, your fish struggling to stay upright, and sinking to the bottom of the tank. The best course of treatment is clean water with antifungal or antibacterial medication.

Fin Rot

Any physical damage can quickly cause infection, leading to issues such as fin rot, which causes fraying and discoloration of the fins on your fish. Fin rot can be treated using clean water and an antibacterial treatment.

Ich/White Spot Disease

Ich is a parasite that causes small white spots on the body of your fish. These parasites will spread so the entire tank so you must treat them with medication, and raise temperatures slightly.


In cichlids Tuberculosis is almost always fatal and highly contagious. Symptoms include frayed fins, a sunken stomach, and loss of appetite. The most successful treatment method here is to remove healthy fish from quarantine and treat the ill fish in the initial tank with melafix.

Cotton Wool Disease

A fungal infection causing fuzzy growths on your fish or plants comes from poor water conditions, but luckily you can treat it easily with antifungal medication and a good clean of the tank.

Hole in the Head Disease

A hexamita parasite in cichlids mostly, causes a dent in their head, along with weight loss, and lack of appetite. The parasite is usually treated with antibiotics.

Gill Flukes

Small parasites in the gills of your fish can cause them to become red and slimy. The parasites will eventually make it difficult for the affected fish to breathe. The best course of action is to add a tablespoon of aquarium salt and to slightly elevate water temperatures, gradually.

Final Thoughts

Once again, Trimac cichlids are not ideal candidates for a communal tank, and are a species for aquarists and collectors. the ideal owner is someone who has a specific interest in these rare and intriguing cichlid species.

Generally, trimac cichlid size and colors set it apart from most other cichlid species. What’s more, its aggressive and temperamental nature can be something that you must handle with care. Hopefully, this article will have answered questions like ‘What tank mates can cichlids have?’ as well as ‘How big does the trimac cichlid get’.

Thus, you will have a better idea as to whether one of these fish is for you.  As with animals, the nature of the Trimac cichlid is not set in stone as these are their personalities overall, yet every individual fish is different.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Tank Mates Can Cichlids Have?
Cichlids in general are very species in the choice of tank mates. It depends on the species and their behavior. Mostly it is best to keep similar species together. However, in the case of the Trimac cichlid, there are not many success stories in keeping them with tank mates other than Oscars, even within their species, they are usually kept in a pair or as singles.
How Do You Distinguish Males from Females?
Males are substantially larger than females, and develop a Nuchal hump on their heads as an adult. Males similarly develop a brighter red patch below the gills, and females have a dark black blotch below the dorsal fin.
Are Trimac Cichlids Aggressive?
Unfortunately, yes, they are extremely aggressive, and it is very unlikely that they can be kept with other tank mates. Your best bet is to keep them in a pair with a male and female, or as a single fish.
View sources