Umbee Cichlid Care: Max Size, Tank Mates, Breeding & More

Scientific NameKronoheros Umbriferus
Common NameUmbee Cichlid, Blue Freckled Monster, Blue Speckled Monster, Turquoise Cichlid
OriginSouth America
Temperature Range72-80°F (22-27°C)
Water ParameterspH 7.1-8.0
Adult SizeMales: 24 inches
Females: 18 inches

Umbee Cichlid Facts:

  • The Umbee Cichlid is a large Cichlid from South America. They grow to up to 2 feet in length.
  • Umbee Cichlid are aggressive predatory fish. Tank mates should be selected carefully, if any.
  • These fish have a beautiful blue coloration, but they may not display their full colors as juveniles.
  • The Umbee Cichlid was first introduced to the fishkeeping hobby in 1975.
Juvenile Umbee Cichlid. Ictiologia Universidad Católica de Oriente, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Umbee Cichlid Care

Umbee Cichlids are beautiful fish that are found in rivers of Columbia within South America. They are a rather large fish at full maturity. Their striking appearance is noticeable from far away. In an aquarium, they definitely demands the attention of the observer. Their faces are dark but they are marked by turquoise and blue reflective dots under their eyes and the rest of their body.

It is very difficult to distinguish a young Umbee Cichlid male from a female. You will most likely not be able to tell the difference between the males and the females until they are older. The growth rate of the male Umbee Cichlid is twice that of the female. At full maturity, female Umbee Cichlid are smaller and usually have a duller coloration than the males as well.

Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a Umbee Cichlid is 150 gallons. They are large fish, and they require a large tank. If you plan on adding tank mates with your Umbee Cichlid, you will need a even larger tank.

If you are keeping juvenile specimen, you can keep them in smaller grow out tanks. However, once they are about 8 months old, you will want to put them in a larger tank.

Tank Setup

It is important to make your Umbee Cichlid comfortable in their aquarium or they will become stressed. When Umbee Cichlids are stressed, it can weaken their immune system and increase the likelihood of sickness.

In regards to lighting, the amount of light that they receive needs to be similar to the amount of lighting that they would receive in their natural habitat. This would be a standard 12 hour light cycle.

You can use the same rule for decorating their tank. They will be most comfortable if you use decor that is similar to what they would encounter in the wild. This would be plenty of driftwood and plants. For substrate, you can use sand or gravel at about 2 inches depth.

Make sure that the aquarium you choose to house your Umbee Cichlid has a lid that is secure, so that there is no risk of it jumping out.

Food & Diet

Umbee Cichlids are predatory fish with a carnivorous diet. Their diet should consist of high protein food. In the wild, they eat live fish and invertebrates. However, in an aquarium they can be conditioned to eat pellet food. This should be quality pellets that are high in protein.

The amount of foods they get, and the number of times they need to be fed per day will depend largely on their size. When your Umbee Cichlid is less than 6 inches long, they will need to be fed at least twice a day. Once they are over 6 inches long, you can take their feedings down to 1 time per day. You will want to vary what you feed them as well. They do best when fed a varied high protein diet.

When choosing the amount to feed your Umbee Cichlids, they should be given an amount that they can consume in about 2 to 3 minutes. Overfeeding can make your fish unhealthy and it will also make their water dirty. If you are planning on feeding your fish freeze dried pellets that expand when placed in water, it is a good idea to soak them in water first. If it is not pre-soaked, the food will expand in the fish’s stomach, which may cause health issues.

Live fish food such as blood worms, mysis shrimp, and brine shrimp are good sources of protein. Including these invertebrates in their diet would help mimic their natural diet. However, providing a balance diet based on live foods alone can be difficult. Therefore, quality pellet feed should remain the main source of food.

Growth Rate, Max Adult Size, and Life Expectancy

Umbee Cichlids are one of the largest cichlids, and they reach their maximum size around the 2 year mark. This means that a juvenile Umbee Cichlid could be doubling in size every 6 months. The males will reach their max size at around 24 inches, while the females will reach their max size at around 18 inches. This is a significant size difference, and it will be easy to tell males from females once they reach maturity.

Tank Mates for Umbee Cichlids

Choosing tank mates for Umbee Cichlid can be a challenge since they are aggressive fish. They are large predatory fish, and they may kill and eat other fish in the same tank. When in doubt, it is best to avoid adding tank mates. This is especially true if there’s not enough space for the additional fish in the tank.

If your tank is over 300 gallons, there may be enough space for tank mates. However, there are many factors to consider in addition to the size of the tank. The tank must have adequate hiding places and objects to help break the line of sight. This would help minimize the chance of fights occurring, or at least minimize the frequency of fights. Lastly, it is important to consider the type of fish you are adding as tank mates. The fish should be able to fend off the attacks. This would most likely be an equally large fish with some degree of aggression. Regardless of what type of fish is being added, it is important to closely monitor the behavior of the fishes when new tank mates are being added.

Even in a single species tank of only Umbee Cichlids, they are not always good tank mates for each other. First, male Umbee Cichlids should not be kept together because they will become aggressive towards each other. Even juvenile specimen should be separated after they are a few months old.

Umbee Cichlids pair off and breed for life, so keeping a pair of compatible Umbees may be possible. However, it is wise to keep a tank divider ready at all times. Some males are aggressive, posing danger to their female mate. Even mild tempered males may become aggressive during mating. By installing the tank divider as needed, the female can safely coexist with the male in the same tank.


If you are planning on breeding Umbee Cichlids, it is recommended to set them up with a dedicated breeding tank. Umbee Cichlids are monogamous breeders. They pair up in the stages of early adulthood, and they will mate for life.

In the wild, the males guard the territory, and the females protect the eggs. Once the Umbee Cichlids are ready to breed, the pair will clear off and prepare a flat surface for the female to lay her eggs on. Female Umbee Cichlids can lay anywhere from 100 to 2000 eggs, and the male will fertilize them.

After about 72 hours of fertilization, the eggs will hatch and become free swimming fry. Even after the eggs hatch, female Umbee Cichlid will still stay with the fry and guard them until they can support themselves on their own. However, young or inexperienced parents may each their fry. Some breeding pairs will never learn to properly look after their fry and continue to eat their fry. If that is the case, the parents and the fry must be separated.

Disease & Health Issues

Umbee Cichlids are prone to the same disease and health issues that many of the other cichlids often suffer from. Cichlids are one of the largest groups of fish, and there are several disease that they are often associated with.

One common disease in Umbee Cichlid is Ich. Ich is a parasite that can affect not only Umbee Cichlid, but also many other freshwater fish species. If left unchecked, it can spread to other fish in the aquarium. To prevent an ich outbreak in your aquarium, it is important to purchase your fish from a reputable breeder. I’m addition, new fish should be quarantined for a few weeks before adding them into the main aquarium. Ich can be recognised by the white spotting that appears on the fish’s skin. If left untreated Ich can lead to death.

Umbee Cichlids can also be affected by a disease called swim bladder disease. As the name suggests, it affects the swim bladder of the fish. The swim bladder is an abdominal sac that helps the fish stay afloat. If your fish is having trouble floating, it may be affected by this issue.

Gill flukes are another issue that can affect Umbee Cichlid. Gill flukes are parasitic flatworms that attack the gill membranes of the fish. They coat the gills of the fish with a slime and will cause suffocation, and eventually death.

Umbee Cichlids can also be affected by cotton wool disease. This condition is easy to diagnose because of the fuzzy white growths that appear on the head, fins, and scales of the fish. This disease is a fungus that can appear if the aquarium has poor water quality. Stress and prior injury will make your fish more susceptible to this infection.

Umbee Cichlids require a large tank, but they are not the most difficult fish to keep. They are adaptable to a range of water parameters, and they are generally hardy fish. Many owners of Umbees would agree that as long as regular water changes are done, and quality pellets are fed, they will grow large and healthy.