We’re going to cover everything you need to know about the blue acara. This includes but is not limited to blue acara size, growth rate, lifespan, tank size, feeding, tankmates, overall behavior, aggression, breeding and egg laying.
What Are Blue Acara?
Blue acara are an adaptable species native to the Caribbean and parts of South America. They’re naturally found in everything from clear rivers to murky, still waters. Electric blue acara are a breed of blue acara bred for bright neon blue coloring.
These fish are semi-aggressive. They become more aggressive when breeding. For example, they’ll attack bottom dwelling catfish if the fish approaches their nesting site. They will not harm their mates or their fry, if the young are left in the tank.
They’ll bully smaller fish. They will, on occasion, bite someone’s hand while the tank is being cleaned. Note that these fish are sometimes mistaken for the Green Terror. That species is larger, more aggressive, and can be identified by the larger hump on its head that forms when it is mature.
Proper Tank Mates
These fish will get along with tapajo, characins and angelfish. They’ll share a tank with catfish. However, because they’ll eat very small fish if given the chance, only keep them in a tank with other fish that are similar in size or larger. This means limiting their companions to larger tetras, larger catfish, gouramis and rainbow fish.
They can be put in a tank with other South American cichlids if the fish all have enough space. In general, this means the tank is at least six feet or two meters long. Do not put African cichlids in the tank with them. Central American cichlids could be companions if the breed doesn’t need harder water than what blue acara prefer.
If you put more than one blue acara in the tank, they’ll almost always form pairs. The males have more pointed dorsal and anal fins than the females.
Breeding and Egg Laying
These fish are easy to breed. You can put four to six of them in a tank and let them pair off naturally. Once they pair off, remove the other fish unless you have a very large tank. They’ll breed as soon as they’re large enough. They’ll prefer an environment with lots of broad-laved plants and flat stones. Otherwise, they’ll excavate a spawning site in the substrate.
These fish are easy spawners, producing up to 200 eggs at a time. They take good care of their “fry”. They’ll breed every two weeks if you remove the fry. When the fish are breeding, the ideal tank has water temperature between 77 and 82F and water pH of 6.5 to 7.0.
Once the fish fry are free-swimming at four to six days old, you can feed them micro-worms and chopped brine shrimp.
Blue Acara Development and Growth Rates
These fish are relatively small. Their average length is 150 millimeters or 5 inches. A few specimens can reach 8” and 20 centimeters in length. They’ll reach sexual maturity at between six months and twelve months old, when they hit about four inches in length.
When the female breeds, she’ll lay eggs in their nest. The eggs will be incubated for four to seven days. The adults will protect the young for three to four days, sometimes moving the young to safer locations by carrying them in their mouths. After three to four more days, the fry will be free swimming. Parents may eat their eggs or fry if they don’t get enough protein
They’ll live up to ten years if properly cared for. They are able to breed once they are 10 centimeters or 4 inches long. Note that these are freshwater fish, so if you put them in a saltwater tank, you’ll kill them.
The ideal tank for an adult blue acara is 55 gallons or more. If you have just one blue acara, then a 30 gallon tank is the smallest you can get away with, though they’ll be healthier if they have at least 50 gallons. A general rule of thumb is to have one inch of fish per gallon of tank water. If you have a pair of blue acara you want to breed, give them at least 75 gallons.
The best tank for blue acara will have fine sand on the bottom and lots of hiding places. Their aquarium should have at least two inches of substrate. You can use crushed coral as substrate as long as you get the water hardness and pH right. These fish love driftwood branches. They’ll love plants, but these fish dig so much they’ll likely uproot the plant. A potted Sagittaria, however, will be safe. Floating plants are a good idea.
These are some of the first South American cichlids to hit American aquariums because they are so easy to take care of. They simply need good quality water and adequate, high quality feed.
They can be kept in water with a pH of 6.5 to 8.0. They’ll tolerate water hardness between 90 ppm and 447 ppm. Their water temperature should be between 72F and 85F. Their waste pollutes the water and fosters disease, so these fish do require more frequent water changes than other species. Employ a good biological filter, too, to maintain these fish. If nitrate levels get too high, they’re prone to getting sick.
Their ammonia concentration should be less than 0.2 mg per liter. The nitrite concentration should be less than 0.2 mg/liter. And the nitrate concentration should be less than 20 mg per liter.These fish don’t need special lighting levels, though the lights should be on for eight to ten hours a day. They will like floating plants.
In the wild, they’re omnivores but predominately carnivores. They are notable for feeding regularly on insects, so mosquito larvae are an ideal food for them. They can be fed flake food and fish pellets. They’ll eat most dried foods; these fish are popular because they’ll eat almost any commercially produced food. They’ll eat bloodworms, chopped prawns, mysis shrimp, diced mussels, brine shrimp and earthworms. Their diet should be mostly protein with a small amount of vegetables.
These fish should be fed three times a day, though you could feed them two to five times a day as long as you don’t leave behind food residue to rot. Feed them as much food as is consumed in sixty seconds. If they aren’t fed one day, they will be OK.