Basic Info to Beginners About the Green Terror Fish

We’re going to cover everything you need to know about the green terror. This includes but is not limited to green terror size, growth rate, lifespan, tank size, feeding, tankmates, overall behavior, aggression, breeding and egg laying.



What Are Green Terror?

The Green Terror is a type of cichlid. Their scientific name is Andinoacara rivulatus. There are three subspecies of “Green Terror” cichlids, and there are minor differences in coloring between them. They are sometimes called the gold saum and orange saum due to the tendency to have hints of red, orange and yellow on their fins. The young ones, in particular, are more gold and yellow, though they’ll have strong green markings on their fins.

These fish are mostly green and silver, hence their name. However, they may have hints of red, purple, pink and blue. The males have brighter colors than the females. They’ll also tend to have red and orange coloring on their tail fin, while females lack this trait. The males will have lumps on their heads that are similar to those on the flowhorn cichlid, though the ones on the green terror are not as large. However, the females won’t have this lump and are more likely to have a green anal fin.

These fish are sometimes confused with the blue acara. However, the Green Terror cichlid has a more obvious green shine. The blue acara doesn’t have that green secondary coloring; their scales and fins have blue and gray on them.

Development and Growth Rates

These fish can reach 12 inches or 31 centimeters in length when fully grown.

Life Span

These fish can live seven to ten years. Females become sexually mature when they are about 4.7 inches or 12 centimeters.


They’re aggressive. This is in part because they’re entirely carnivorous. A higher tank temperature and breeding will increase their aggression. Ironically, the females are more aggressive than the males.

Feeding Behavior

These South American cichlids are carnivores. They need a meaty diet. Give them meaty foods like worms, brine shrimp and krill several times a week. Ideally, they should be given frozen cichlid specific fish foods. They’ll eat fish fillet, prawns and crickets.

They need some vegetarian foods to get all of the nutrients they need. Give them cichlid specific flake and pellet fish food. They can eat partially cooked dark leafy greens. Remove it after two or three minutes so that it doesn’t rot in the tank. Feed the cichlids several times a day in small enough amounts that it is entirely consumed within five minutes. If the fish are becoming more aggressive, feed them more often. Don’t give them too much protein, though, or they’ll have digestive problems.

General Care and Keeping In a Tank

These fish are hardy. They can handle water pH between 6.5 and 8. They do well in water with a hardness between 5 and 13 dGH. They need low to moderate water flow, but the water should not be brackish. They want moderate light levels.

The green terror cichlid will move things around, so make sure any decorations in your tank like rocks or decorative items are too heavy for them to move or glued down. Their preferred substrate is medium to large pieces of gravel. They are native to moderately slow flowing rivers, so river rock replicates their natural environment.

However, the fact that they’re native to rivers means they need excellent water conditions in order to survive. For example, you need to carefully control the nitrate levels in the water.
They are sensitive to sudden water changes. This means they should only be added to a well-established tank, and the water needs to be well-maintained.

Their ideal water temperature is 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, increased temperature will lead to greater aggression.

Tank Size

These fish should be kept in tanks with at least 50 gallons or 190 liters of water. When there are two or more fish, their territorial nature means you need at least 75 more gallons per additional fish. Therefore, 2 green terrors need 125 gallons of water, not 100.
These fish swim around a lot, so give them long rectangular tanks. They will swim at all levels of the tank.

Tank Mates

Be careful adding these fish to a community tank. They’ll try to eat any smaller fish. They’ll fight with each other, too, if they don’t have plenty of space.

Don’t put them in a tank with skittish fish, because they’ll attack any fish in their territory. However, they can share a tank with other territorial species like other South American cichlids if each one has plenty of space to carve out their own territory. Put lots of rocks and hiding places in the tank so that the fish have places to hide from each other. Do not put African cichlids in the same tank; they’ll fight each other. If killed, the South African cichlids will eat them.

Green Terrors can often share a tank with silver dollars and plecos. They can also share a tank with slightly larger species of cichlids if that fish isn’t large enough to be interested in eating it.

Breeding and Eggs Laying

These cichlids are easy to breed in captivity. They are open water breeders. If you want to encourage spawning, the water pH should be between 6.3 and 6.5. The water hardness should be between 4 and 8 dGH. The water temperature should be between 77 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 to 56 Celsius.

The male and female will prepare a flat surface that the female lays her eggs in. They’ll remove the rocks and get down to the sandy substrate. If there is no sand, they may spawn on the glass bottom of the tank.
They will lay anywhere from 100 to 400 eggs. The fry will start to hatch on day four. They’ll be swimming around within two weeks. Both parents take care of the fry. Do not make any major changes to the water during this time or you’ll kill a lot of the fry. The fry can eat small brine shrimp and crushed cichlid specific fish foods.

To maximize survival rates, keep breeding pairs and fry away from other cichlids.
If you are trying to breed the fish, it is better to keep a breeding pair together than try to combine new fish. If you have to change out the partners, replace the female while leaving the male in his tank.