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Dicrossus filamentosus


Article by David Midgley

Species Information

Scientific name: Dicrossus filamentosus

Synoma: Crenicara filamentosa

Common name: Checkerboard cichlid

Country/Region of Origin: South American

Specific localities/morphs: relatively few - almost exclusively from Columbian Orinoco region.

Natural habitat: clear (although tanin rich), shallow, moving water (

Natural foods/prey: micropredator, primarly insect larvae.

Water chemistry in the wild: pH: 5.3- 5.5, gH

Predators: larger fish/birds etc.

Brood size: ~100 - 200

Sexual dimorphism: pronounced, males have a lyre shaped tail, along with blue colouration in the dormal, ventral and anal fins. The face also in the male is also spotted with blue and red, primarily under the eye.

Breeding method/family structure: biparental substrate spawner

Husbandry Requirements

Acceptable water chemistry: pH 4-6, peat filtered water, low in nitrate.

Tolerance of conspecifics: good - in tanks large enough to house multiple pairs

Tolerance of heterospecifics: good.

Minimum tank size: 60 cm, 80 l

Sex ratio: 1m: 1f

Temperature range: 27-30 C

Acceptable foods: unfussy, will accept a variety of live, frozen, flake and pelleted food.

Tolerance of plants: excellent.


  • This is without doubt one of the loveliest cichlids I have ever kept. Graceful, intriguing and inquisitive is how I would describe them. They are, however, not for beginners. They are very hard fish to keep well.
  • I never achieved what I would now consider to be good success with these fish. They are (in my experience at least) inveterate egg eaters - a habit which they will undertake at the slightest stress.
  • My best sucess was raising a small number of fry in a tank that was very densely planted with Anubias spp., Java moss and Java fern. The plants should be planted in such a way that the spawning site (although they often choose flattened leaves) should only be partially visible and only from 1 side of the tank. I used a sponge filter on this tank along with an aquaclear mini (which was filled with stockings containing peat moss) and it seemed to be adequate.
  • Water changes should be carried out with religious zeal (at least weekly - possibly more). Denitrifying filters such as denitrating coils or plenums may be useful in keeping this nitrate sensitive species.
  • They are a most underrated species and I would recommend them to anyone with a spare 2' tank who wants to try their hand at something really challenging.


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