Uaru Cichlid Care Guide

Uaru Cichlid Care Guide7 mins read

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Uaru cichlid care guide
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The Uaru or Triangle cichlid forms part of a family of two different species. Though uaru cichlid size is somewhat larger, these guys are actually related to the Discus in their appearance. A rare species, they are quite an intriguing and docile addition to any large aquarium.

In comparison to most more aggressive cichlid species, besides its size, the Uaru is gentle in demeanor. I is an excellent communal fish in the right setting, especially with other South American cichlids. They are known for being relatively robust, but uaru cichid tank size must be large enough, with an aquarium set up that resembles their natural habit. However, any tank should provide them with ample space for agile and elegant swimming. Read on to find out more about the care of this astonishing species plus some of the best uaru cichlid tank mates too.

Breed Overview

OriginOrinoco and Amazon South America
Lifespan8 -12 Years
Size3 cm – 25.4 cm (8-10 Inches)
ColorsYellow to Gray, Black Markings
Water TypeFreshwater
Tank Size246 Liters (65 US G.) for a Male and Female Pair
TemperamentPeaceful, Shy, Docile
Water Temperature26 -28 °C (78.8-82.4°F)
Water pH0 – 7.0
Difficulty LevelRare but easy to keep

Uaru Cichlid As A Species

The Uaru cichlid or “Uaru amphiacanthoides” as it is known scientifically forms a very small genus of cichlids found in the blackwater and whitewater basins of the upper Orinoco and Amazon basin. Uaru, if translated according to their name in a local language, means “toad”. It is originally of high importance as a food fish for local people. Nevertheless, the Uaru has become quite popular in the aquarium trade.


Sometimes also referred to as the triangular cichlid, the Uaru has a shape and behavioral pattern much like that of the Discus and Angelfish. It has a flat, rounded to oval-shaped body, with a blunt head and a tiny mouth. Additionally, there is an elongated triangle extending from the base of the pectoral fin and spots on the tail base and behind the eyes. The body has a yellow-golden color, sometimes almost silver varying in intensity. This then comes with darker colors to contrast the lighter colors on the body.

In the right aquarium setting with proper lighting, you may even notice iridescent blue streaks in the fins. Quite intriguing is the colors of the young fry. These are different to that of adult fish, with a rusty brown body and polka dot-shaped spots in a white color. An interesting fact is that the Uaru has chameleon-like color-changing habits that are subtle and blend in with its environment. They do this as a tactic to camouflage, hiding from predators.

  • Males and Females

Uaru cichlids can rarely be sexed unless they start spawning. This is the only time when the genital papilla is visible enough to establish a male and female. Males generally have pointed genital papilla, while females have a more rounded genital papilla. Females will likewise lay eggs on a flat surface or rock, in more shaded areas in the aquarium. Additionally, uaru cichlid size does not differ much between the sexes.

  • Other Color Variations

Other than changing colors as it ages, and with the effects of light, the Uaru cichlid is a variant on its own. This is of two main species the Uaru fernandezyepezi, that is slightly smaller with more prominent black markings and triangular fins, and the Uaru amphiacanthoides. This is slightly larger and a more subdued color with lighter marking sand rounder shape.

Uaru Cichlid Size And Lifespan

Size and Lifespan of Uaru Cichlids
The adult size of Uaru cichlids will range between 20.3 cm – 25.4 cm (8-10 Inches). Image from Flickr

The smaller Uaru fernandezyepezi, variant reaches an adult size of around 24 cm (9.4 Inches), whereas the Uaru amphiacanthoides reaches 25 cm (9.8 Inches). Females tend to be slightly smaller, and generally, the adult size of Uaru cichlids will range between 20.3 cm – 25.4 cm (8-10 Inches). They mostly enjoy a longer lifespan of around 8 – 12 years. Nevertheless, it will depend on the care that they are given.

Temperament And Uaru Cichlid Tank Mates

As the Uaru is a species very closely related to the Discus. Indeed, they share many behavioral traits and preferences in terms of water conditions, aquarium style. Peaceful and graceful, they swim effortlessly in a docile manner through their aquarium. The Uaru can similarly be quite secretive and are prone to get spooked easily, especially as adults.

They may seem to have a rather shy demeanor. However, in a calm and properly set up aquarium, they will quickly be at ease and will entice you with their elegant nature. Uaru cichlids prefer to live in groups of at least 4 – 5, and because of the larger uaru cichlid size, a spacious tank is necessary. It is similarly advisable always to have a larger female-to-male ratio.

Being peaceful and shy in temperament, aggressive and smaller active uaru cichlid tank mates may not be suitable. However, some of the best tank mates of other species are:

  • Angelfish
  • Discus
  • Gouramis
  • Tetras
  • Peaceful South American cichlids

Because of their behavior and nature, Uaru cichlids have quite specific requirements. For instance, they are not very tolerant of bright light and prefer shaded areas. Likewise, they require ample room for swimming, as well as a few hiding spots. Being destructive, it is not advisable to use live-rooted plants as décor, instead, you can choose floating plants. Luckily, they are not as sensitive to changes in water conditions, or as much of a picky eater in comparison to the Discus. This makes them a much easier species to care for.

Uaru Cichlid Care Requirements

Care Requirements for Uaru Cichlids
They are ideally quite tolerant in terms of pH ranges and should be kept within a pH range of between 5.0 and 7.0, which is slightly more acidic.

Uaru is relatively easy to care for given that they have the proper aquarium set up and feeding regime. However, because of their size, and how the need to live in groups, a substantially sized tank is necessary to keep them content and stress-free.

1. Uaru Cichlid Tank Size And Water Parameters

Though it is essentially recommended to keep a group of 4 -5 Uaru in an aquarium and consider other species as tank mates, the absolute minimum uaru cichlid tank size for a single male and single female would be 65 gallons. A strong filter is a necessity as they produce plenty of waste. This is despite the fact they can tolerate some pollution. Uaru may lose their appetite and will grow much slower in an aquarium that has higher nitrate counts.

They are ideally quite tolerant in terms of pH ranges and you should keep them within a pH range of between 5.0 and 7.0, which is slightly more acidic. Advanced hobbyists sometimes add an under gravel filter and a biological base, with peat moss. They may even use rainwater as the ideal solution to increasing acidity in their aquarium. Furthermore, Uaru cichlids enjoy more tropical climates with temperature ranges between 26 -28 °C (78.8-82.4°F).

As mentioned, they are not too fond of very bright light, though light of some degree is necessary. With the addition of plenty of hiding spots, and some floating plants, you can also provide them with plenty of shade.

2. Aquarium Décor

Once again, it is always the best option to invest in a more spacious aquarium for your Uaru cichlids. Don’t be too concerned about decor. Replicating their natural habitat to that of the Amazon basin tributaries will provide them with the most comfortable and best quality environment. Ideally, you can achieve this by using a thick layer of sandy substrate or gravel with plenty of bogwood, Rocky caves, and roots.

They will however require open space for swimming as much as a few hiding spots. Aquatic Live plants are not ideal. This is as the Uaru will eat and destroy them, though you could opt for a plastic plant or two. On the other hand, floating plants will create much sought-after shade, as these fish do not appreciate direct light. Ideally, because of their shy and peaceful demeanor, it would be best to place the aquarium in an area that is quiet and has less traffic.

3. Maintenance

Though not thought of as overly sensitive to water conditions, the Uaru cichlid is sensitive to changes in their water conditions. Therefore keep water changes small, at around 25% of the tank water or less. Removing waste material and leftover foods will aid in keeping ammonia levels down which could be detrimental to your fish.

  • Changing Tank Water – To replace dirty tank water you can use a siphoning hose to siphon the 25% of tank water from the bottom of your Uaru aquarium. In a separate container add the 25% heated water and use your heater or thermometer to achieve required temperatures. You can condition water with aquatic salts and conditioners to attain suitable pH ranges and water hardness. When the water is at the right temperatures and parameters you can slowly add it to the aquarium.

4. Feeding Your Uaru Cichlid

Many owners and even scientific studies have proven that though omnivores, the Uaru cichlid will prefer plant-based foods over meat-based foods. They tend to have a more distended stomach and thus are gluttonous and aggressive eaters who will eat almost anything provided to them. However, keep in mind heavy feeding will aid in pollution in your tank. Thus more regular water changes may become necessary. Uaru are omnivores, but will prefer plant matter over meat.

  • What to Feed – Ideally flakes or pellets with a higher vegetable content are suitable, with the addition of fresh vegetables, and meat-based foods such as brine shrimp, Tubifex, Daphnia, blood worms, and even minced beef heart.
  • Frequency – Ideally adult Uaru cichlids need to be fed one large meal, or two smaller meals daily, whereas young fry and juveniles can be fed smaller portions, more frequently.

Introducing New Uaru Cichlids

Introducing New Uaru Cichlids to the Tank
Always ensure that the chosen specimens are healthy and exhibit lively behavior with an eager appetite. Image from Flickr

After you have properly set up your aquarium and decided on a reputable breeder or pet store to purchase your new cichlids from, you are ready. You can now add them to their new home by following the right procedure for acclimation. It is essential though to ensure that you choose healthy Uaru cichlids that are either juvenile, in which case a group is best, or an adult male and female that have been properly sexed. As some of the best uaru cichlid tank mates are others of their kind, you may also be adding fish at a later date.

Choosing A Healthy Cichlid

Always ensure that the chosen specimens are healthy and exhibit lively behavior with an eager appetite. Check the body, eyes, and fins for any signs of damage, discoloration, growth, and especially white spots that could indicate an infection.

Acclimating Your Cichlid

Most cichlid species are quite sensitive to sudden changes in water parameters and temperatures. This is why it is vital to follow these steps to properly acclimate your new cichlids to their new home.

  1. Firstly, switch off all aquarium lights and ensure that the area is calm and quiet.
  2. Allow the bag with your new fish to float on the surface of the water for around 20 minutes.
  3. Now at intervals of around every 15 minutes remove a quarter cup of the water from the bag and replace it with water from the tank.
  4. When most of the water in the bag is replaced, you can now allow your fish to swim into their new home, preventing too much water from the bag from entering the tank.


Breeding Uaru cichlids can be tricky as they are close to impossible to sex, though ideally, an adult pair will easily spawn in a suitable aquarium. The female lays eggs on a flat surface such as a rock, they are tiny and sometimes hard to spot with their clear brownish color.

The male fertilizes the eggs, and both parents will care for the eggs and young fry, as noted in most cichlid species. The eggs usually hatch within 2 – 3 days, and the young fry becomes less sensitive to water conditions, and more independent at around one and a half to two months.

Health Issues Cichlids

Cichlid Health Issues
If you notice fraying or damage and discoloration on the fins or tail of your cichlids, it may be because of physical damage, or ammonia burns that have become infected. Image from Wikipedia

The Uaru cichlid, though quite robust and tolerant, is similarly prone to most freshwater fish health issues, and health conditions more prevalent in cichlids.

  • Fin Rot

If you notice fraying or damage and discoloration on the fins or tail of your cichlids, it may be because of physical damage. It can also be due to ammonia burns that have become infected. Usually using clean water and an antibacterial medication will clear the situation up in time.

  • Ich/White Spot Disease

Small white spots on the body of your fish could indicate a protozoan parasite called Ich. Parasites are often introduced when you acquire new fish or plants that may carry infection. These will thrive especially in poor water conditions. There are medications on the market to treat Ich, though it is vital to ensure that the tank water is optimally clean, and you should also raise the temperatures slightly.

  • Swim Bladder Disease

Sometimes freshwater fish may get either a bacterial or fungal infection in their swim bladder, causing them to struggle to keep upright and swim. Ideally, you must place the sick fish must be in a separate tank with pristine clear water and treat it with an antifungal or antibacterial medication.

  • Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is quite prevalent in cichlids, and a dire situation that is fatal most of the time. In the case where you expect a fish to have this contagious disease, you must remove and place all other healthy fish in a separate tank. Then treat the sick fish with melafix in the original aquarium. Symptoms of Tuberculosis include weight loss, a loss of appetite, frayed fins, blotchy skin, and a sunken stomach.

  • Cotton Wool Disease

Similarly a fungal infection, with causes still under debate. Cotton Wool disease will form cotton wool-like growths on the body of your fish. A proper clean or water change and antifungal treatment is usually the best course of action.

  • Hole in the Head Disease

Caused by the Hexamita parasite there may be dents in the head of your fish, and other symptoms such as a lack of appetite, and weight loss. By improving water clarity and mineral balance, along with the use of antibiotics, you should easily be rid of the parasite.

  • Gill Flukes

Gill Flukes is also a parasite that mostly attaches to the gills of your fish. This can lead to gills that are red and have a slimy coating. You may likewise notice that your fish is gasping for air. Gill Flukes will respond to you using a tablespoon of aquarium salt per 55 Gallons and increasing the temperatures.

  • Malawi Bloat

Though mostly common in African cichlids, Malawi Bloat could still affect other species. It causes swelling of the abdomen, lethargy, and even discoloration of waste. Malawi bloat usually comes from an inappropriate diet for the specific fish species and poor water conditions. Addressing these issues should help to relieve the condition.

Final Thoughts

Though not the most colorful and active cichlid, the majestic appeal and elegant nature of the large Uaru cichlid make it an exceptional pet and rare collector’s item for avid aquarists. It is not the most difficult cichlid species to keep. It is also quite hardy, although Uaru cichlids need ample space and can become expensive. Beginners with the right knowledge could easily attempt this species if they are willing to take the time and patience to care for such a shy and peaceful-natured fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Uaru Cichlids Aggressive?
Uaru cichlids are well known to be peaceful, shy, and graceful fish, even with their large size. They can be kept in a community tank with peaceful and larger fish species, especially South American cichlids that have a similar tolerance for more acidic water conditions. It is not recommended to keep a Uaru on its own, they fare well in groups or a male and female pair at least.
Can You Keep Uaru Cichlids with Oscars?
Though peaceful and tranquil, the Uaru is a large robust fish species that could easily hold their ground against Oscars, thus in the right setting and with ample space it can be kept with Oscars.
Tank Size for Uaru Cichlids?
Usually, the smallest recommended tank size for a pair of Uaru cichlids will be around 65 – 70 gallons, however, if you intend on keeping any more, or other species, you will require a larger tank.
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