Dovii cichlids, popularly known as the wolf cichlid, is true to its name in being both majestic, as well as, menacing. This predatory and aggressive tempered fish is indeed a beautiful specimen that is truly majestic.
About the Dovii Cichlid
Parachromis Dovii, commonly known as the wolf cichlid, is also called dovii cichlid, Dow’s cichlid, Guapote and rainbow bass, is a cichlid species that is native to Central America. The name “dovii” is rather ironic as the word means “peace dove”, but the fish is anything but peaceful. These beautiful fish are carnivorous predators and they feed on small fish, crustaceans and invertebrates. Dovii cichlids are eaten in many parts of Central America and are considered prized game fish.
The wolf cichlid is mostly found in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras, particularly on the Pacific slope from the Yeguare river in Honduras to the Bebedero river in Costa Rica and the Atlantic slope from the Aguan river in Honduras to the Moin river in Costa Rica.
Wolf cichlids are very big, deep-bodied, beautiful and muscular fish. The male dovii can grow to over 28-inches and the female to over 16-inches in length. They have a large mouth with big teeth, quite suitable for the voracious predators they are.
The mature male is found in varied colors that range from rich golden-yellow to silver, with speckles of black, purple and blue and the female dovii cichlid are mostly completely yellow in color. The head and base of the dorsal fin of both sexes have red and green colors, while the fins and tail are blue-green in color. The wolf cichlid has large eyes with bronze-colored irises. The juvenile cichlid is silver in color and has a horizontal black stripe running through its body. As the fish grows, the horizontal strip grows thicker and the body turns golden yellow.
You may also find the dovii cichlid in other colors like the orange-red varieties that are found in Rio Peurto Viejo and Lake Nicaragua.
The wolf cichlids are highly intelligent predatory fish. They are fairly aggressive by nature and usually dominate any space they are in, irrespective of the other occupants.
Suitability for an Aquarium
Dovii cichlids are quite suited for aquarium life. However, they need a very large tank with at least 120 gallons of water or more. If you plan to breed them, then you will need at least 300 gallons of water in the tank.
Dovii cichlids are not demanding fish and can withstand a wide range, but stable pH water. They require plenty of water movement with efficient and strong filtration. The water should be maintained at a temperature around 75-82° F. They need plenty of space to swim, love rocks and other things to swim around and places to hide in.
They love to burrow into the sand, so make sure that you provide a sandy base in the aquarium. If you plan to have any plants in your tank, then it is a good idea to plant them firmly in the sand or have floating plants as the dovii will dig up the roots and uproot them, as these fish are avid diggers. You can also put some pieces of flat slate rocks into the aquarium for the female dovii to lay her eggs on.
It’s a good idea to place large and heavy rocks on the tank floor and maybe even glue the rock formations together so that the dovii cichlids don’t knock them over. The cichlid is very active and easily get bored, so it’s a fantastic idea to put in some ping-pong balls and small rocks in the tank for the fish to play with.
The wolf cichlids are not community fish, are highly territorial and need suitable tank mates. The cichlid can be kept alone or as a mated pair. Keeping them with other wolf cichlids may not be a good idea, as the others will be killed by the dominant male.
If you plan to keep the dovii cichlid with other fish, make sure that the others are larger fish that cannot be swallowed by the dovii and are also robust and equally aggressive. Even then, the tank must be quite large to accommodate all the fish and must be divided into distinct territories.
During the breeding season, the dovii cichlid becomes even more aggressive and you may have to remove the other fish from the tank during this time.
Since these fish are naturally aggressive, you must be very careful while putting your hand into the tank with a dovii. All in all, wolf cichlids are great pets to have and with proper care, they can easily live more than 30 years.
Dovii cichlids are quite robust and can survive in varied water conditions. However, it is preferable if the water is maintained at a temperature of 75-82° F and the pH levels are maintained at 7.0-8.0. If the temperature is higher, it boosts the metabolism, which in turn will cause the dovii to eat more, resulting in increased growth. Higher temperature also helps to prevent parasites like Ich. Whereas, the lower the temperature, all the general functioning of the dovii slows down, including their immunity, making them more susceptible to diseases.
The wolf cichlid is a carnivore and in the wild mainly feeds on smaller fish, invertebrates, crustaceans and insects. In the aquarium, they can be fed pellet-based food but once in a while, you can feed them with shrimp, prawns, blood worms, earthworms, beef heart, small fish and other meaty foods.
It is a good idea to stick to frozen food as fresh fish may carry diseases and introduce the diseases into your aquarium. Also, the feeder fish have very high-fat content, which may harm the health of the dovii, especially its liver.
You can feed the dovii a couple of times in a day and once in a while, let them go without food for 2-3 days. This helps to keep the water clean for a longer period of time. Vitamins and supplements can be added to their food to keep the dovii healthy. The female dovii may not eat for long periods of time during the spawning season as she is usually occupied with courting, preparing the breeding nest or protecting her eggs.
Depending on the quality of your water, you can change the water in the aquarium with the wolf dovii up to twice a week. You must change 20-40% of the water in the tank. The dovii are messy eaters and you must make sure that the sandy substrate is cleaned well and ensure that all the waste is removed. You can use a substrate vacuum cleaner to clean the sandy bottom of the tank. Also, make sure that any algae in the tank is removed. Do take care when cleaning the dovii’s tank, as they are known to attack their cleaners.
Also, check the water conditions such as temperature and chemical levels of the tank once a week. If there are too many fluctuations or your fish is acting unusually, then it may be a good idea to check the tank more often.
Dovii cichlids can be bred very easily. They are usually substrate spawners. If the water has the desirable quality and the conditions are suitable, the pair of the dovii cichlids will spawn readily. To increase the chances of breeding, it is a good idea to buy many active and healthy juvenile dovii cichlids (around 6-10 numbers) and grow them till they are sexually mature.
The dovii cichlids are usually sexually mature when they are 10-14 months old and spawn around every 4 weeks. As the dovii become sexually mature, you will have one or two pairs that will be ready to breed. The behavior of the fish will become more territorial and aggressive. The male dovii starts courting the female by exhibiting his erect fins. If the female dovii is responsive to the male’s courting attempts, the pair will start cleaning a flat surface and the female dovii will lay around 1000 orange-colored eggs on the flat surface, which the male dovii cichlid will fertilize by spraying his sperm.
The female dovii cichlid will pass over the breeding area many times and deposit more eggs on every pass. After every couple of passes, the male sprays his sperm. Both the parents then guard the eggs quite fiercely displaying a high level of parental care.
The eggs turn a tan color, which is a sign that they have been fertilized, while white colored eggs mean that the eggs are dead and have turned moldy. The fertilized eggs hatch after 5-7 days approximately. The offspring are known as wrigglers. The wrigglers are cannot swim and are quite defenseless in this stage. The wrigglers are transported by both the parents to pits that they have dug earlier, where the parents guard their offspring.
In around 7 days, the fry start swimming and during this stage, it is best if they are fed with food like baby brine shrimp. If you plan to grow the dovii, then the fry must be removed from the tank at this stage or they will be eaten by the parents since the female is ready to spawn again.
The fry can be fed with baby brine shrimp until they are grown up enough to feed on daphnia, blood worms and other types of live food. It is best that you feed the baby dovii with crushed pellets or tiny cichlid pellets and get them accustomed to eating these as they offer the best nutrition.
When buying dovii cichlids for breeding, make sure that you buy the dovii from different sources. Buying the fish from a single source may result in you getting a pair of fish with the same parents. Breeding between siblings may result in the offspring to be born with genetic diseases associated with inbreeding.
Differentiating Between the Sexes
Female dovii cichlids are usually smaller than the males. The golden yellow coloring is more pronounced in the female dovii, especially during the period of breeding, courtship and raising the fry. During the time of breeding, the distinction between the golden-yellow and black becomes more noticeable. When the female dovii is ready to lay eggs, she has a small tube extending from the bottom.
The male dovii cichlids are bigger than the females and their fins, both dorsal and ventral are more elongated when compared to the female dovii’s. The male fish are bluer than the female and the alpha male is the brightest blue. However, if a fish is very dark blue in color, it means that the dovii is either stressed or ill.
Just like other freshwater fishes, dovii cichlids are also susceptible to diseases. A common disease that occurs in dovii is Ich. In the case that the dovii gets Ich, the condition can be treated by raising the temperature of the tank to around 86° F for three days. If the Ich is not cured by this method, then any water conditioners must be removed and the fish must be treated with copper, by administering copper-based medicines. A combination of raised temperature and copper medication can be used to treat Ich.
Intestinal disease in the dovii can be treated with metronidazole. Dovii cichlids are also prone to problems such as parasitic infestations such as worms, protozoa, bacterial and fungal infections. It is a good idea to read up on the various diseases and their treatments so that you can spot any problems and treat them at the earliest.
The wolf cichlid is indeed a very interesting fish to keep in your aquarium. Fully grown, these are really awe-inspiring. However, to reach a size of around 2-feet in length, they need skilled and specialized care. The aggression and the power of the dovii cichlid are indeed amazing and if you are a fish lover, wolf cichlids can make fantastic aquarium pets.