Uaru Cichlid (Uaru amphiacanthoides): Ultimate Care Guide

Native to the fast moving waters of the Amazon, the Uaru Cichlid is a large and uncommon aquarium addition. In their natural habitat this species is seen as a food fish and commonly sold in local markets. It features an oval to disc-shaped body with tan to blue coloration and black blotches along the sides. Mature fish have bright yellow eyes with black pupils.

While this isn’t a common aquarium fish in the US, Uaru Cichlid can be a rewarding species for those with large tanks. They also like company, so it’s best to have a pair together in one tank. This fish is peaceful and intelligent with a great personality, but its special care requirements mean it isn’t the best fish for inexperienced hobbyists. For those comfortable with caring for larger fish species, Uaru Cichlid is an intelligent and good-natured aquarium addition.

Uaru Cichlid Care

Uaru Cichlids are a larger species with some specific care requirements. The extra effort can be worth it to enjoy this large species with lots of personality. We’ve put together this guide to tell you what you’ll need to know when caring for this large Cichlid species!

Are Uaru Cichlid easy to care for?

Uaru Cichlids can be a challenge to care for due to their need for very clean water. This involves lots of filtration and frequent water changes. Maintenance is made more difficult by the large tank sizes this species needs. Experienced hobbyists who are comfortable caring for larger fish with special needs may have more luck with this species than beginners.

Uaru Cichlid
Uaru Cichlid (Uaru amphiacanthoides)


Uaru Cichlid prefer warmer water temperatures between 80° and 85° F. Tank mates for this species will need to tolerate this warmer water temperature range.

Water pH

Uaru Cichlids like water that is slightly acidic to neutral, with a pH range from 5 to 7. You’ll want to avoid aquarium substrates that increase alkalinity such as those containing crushed coral. These substrates are a great choice for African Cichlids but will raise your tank’s pH levels beyond what this species can tolerate.

Uaru Cichlid Size

Uaru Cichlid can grow between 10 to 12 inches in an aquarium. In the wild, they have been known to reach lengths of 14 inches. Make sure you have a large enough aquarium to support the large mature size of this fish.

Food & Diet

Uaru Cichlids are mainly herbivores but will appreciate a varied diet which includes some meaty foods. This species is most comfortable in heavily planted tanks, but expect them to eat, or at least nibble on, most common aquarium plants. They will eat a range of vegetables including cabbage, lettuce, cucumber slices and chopped zucchini. Any plant material you add to the tank will need to be blanched in boiling water and cooled. This process will kill any bacteria or diseases they might carry. It’s best not to add vegetable matter you haven’t blanched as it can introduce diseases to your aquarium. You should feed Uaru Cichlids twice daily, but give them meaty foods twice a week. Bloodworms and chopped shrimp are two common foods that this fish will appreciate. Only feed what your Uaru will eat in a few minutes, and remove any uneaten portion. It’s important to keep your tank free from uneaten meaty foods as these can rot and spoil tank water.

Uaru Cichlid Lifespan

Uaru Cichlids can live 8 to 10 years in an aquarium with excellent care. For the longest lifespan, make sure you give this fish a large aquarium and well filtered water.

Tank Size

Uaru Cichlids can grow to 12 inches and prefer to live in pairs. Plan for at least a 75 gallon tank, but preferably 125 gallons.

Tank Setup

Uaru Cichlids need well planted and well filtered aquariums. Robust heating is needed because of their higher water temperature requirements. The large tanks this species likes will give you great opportunities for aquascaping. Lots of plant growth is a must. Don’t use plastic plants as these fish may eat them, and small pieces of plastic can clog their digestive tracts. Hardscaping elements like bogwood give Uaru something to chew on which helps their teeth. Water filtration is key for this species: they produce more waste than many other species, and need high purity water. Combined with their larger tank requirements, this means you’ll need to make sure to invest in enough filtration capacity. The best filtration will be able to turn over 5 times the tank’s volume in an hour. If you have a 125 gallon tank, your filter will need to run at 500 GPH (gallons per hour) or more. Canister filters are a good choice as they are capable of high GPH, and hold more filter material.

Make sure you have enough heating capacity for this species according to your room temperatures. Uaru Cichlids need higher water temperatures than many other common species. If your room’s temperature dips low, your tank heater will need to work hard to maintain warm water. Be sure you have enough heating capacity to maintain the correct water temperature even during cold weather.

Uaru Cichlid (Uaru amphiacanthoides)
Uaru Cichlid (Uaru amphiacanthoides)

Uaru Cichlid Breeding

Uaru Cichlids are difficult to breed because it’s almost impossible to determine sex. If you’re planning on breeding this species, it’s best to have multiple individuals in the breeding tank. When you want to encourage breeding, increase tank water temperature to 89° F. When ready to spawn, this species goes through a striking color change: their sides become black with brown around the edges, and their eyes gain a red spot. Make sure your breeding tank has some flat pieces or rock or bogwood to receive eggs. When a pair spawns they lay eggs on a flat surface, and will eat any unfertilized eggs. A female Uaru Cichlid often lays around 400 eggs which will hatch in around 48 hours. In the first 5 days after hatching, Uaru Hichlid fry will feed on mucus secreted by their parents, so special foods for very tiny fry aren’t needed. After this time you can begin supplementing their diet with small live foods until they’re ready to eat larger Cichlid foods.


Uaru Cichlid are sensitive to water quality and can develop diseases if tank water isn’t kept clean enough. Make sure you have enough water filtration capacity, and perform regular water changes. This maintenance can be the most important protection against disease. Uaru Cichlid are susceptible to hole-in-the-head disease which can cause cavities or pits along the head and face. While this condition is likely caused by poor water quality, other causes are suspected, such as: nutritional deficiency and over filtration with chemical media like activated charcoal. Uaru Cichlids are also susceptible to common freshwater parasitic and fungal infections like skin flukes and worms. Protect your tank from unwanted additions by quarantining any new plant or animal additions for up to 8 weeks. Keeping a quarantine tank allows observation of new tank mates for any signs of disease before adding to your main display aquarium.

Uaru Cichlid Tank Mates

Uaru Cichlid are a generally peaceful species and are more likely to be a victim than an aggressor. Any tank mates you choose should be peaceful. Avoid “fin nippers.” Once challenge to finding tank mates is the higher temperatures that Uaru Cichlids need. Any new addition will need to be comfortable at the higher temperatures Uarus prefer. Some good choices include Dwarf Gourami, Silver Dollars, Rosy Tetras, Neon Tetras and similar species. Avoid including most other Cichlid species as many are too aggressive to coexist with a peaceful fish like Uaru Cichlid.

Uaru Cichlid and Oscar Cichlid

Uaru Cichlid and Oscar Cichlid would be a bad match as tank mates. Part of the reason is that Oscars can be aggressive towards peaceful Uaru Cichlid. Oscars also want water temperatures cooler than what Uarus need.

Uaru Cichlid and Discus

Uaru Cichlid and Discus can be a good tank mate match. They both need similar water chemistry and temperature. Discus can be active, so make sure your aquarium has enough plants which your Uaru Cichlids can use for cover if they get spooked.

Uaru Cichlid and Green Terror Cichlid

Uaru Cichlid and Green Terror Cichlid can be problematic as tank mates. Uaru Cichlids may be bullied by the more feisty Green Terror.

Uaru Cichlid and Red Terror Cichlid

Uaru Cichlid and Red Terror Cichlid are a bad match as tank mates. Red Terror Cichlids are too aggressive to share a tank with the more timid Uaru Cichlid.

Where can I find Uaru Cichlid for sale?

Uaru Cichlid can be hard to locate in local fish stores. Most specimens are found via online suppliers. Prices vary by size, and can range from $25 USD for 1 to 2 inch juveniles to $60 USD for a 4 inch fish.