The Electric Blue Acara is a unique tropical freshwater fish that’s become popular in the aquarist world for a number of reasons.
For one, the fish is absolutely stunning. The name isn’t just a random attachment, but rather comes from the electric blue coloring of the cichlid.
It’s also an energetic, intriguing fish that enjoys burrowing and playing and has a pretty long lifespan of 10 years when properly cared for. And, despite being cichlids, they’re not particularly aggressive and are fairly easy fish to care for.
Let’s take a look at these stunners and see if they might be a good fit for your aquarium.
Quick Intro to Electric Blue Acara
|Scientific Name:||Andinoacara pulcher/Aequidens pulcher|
Natural Habitat, Identification, and Where to Buy
The Electric Blue Acara is native to South America in the rivers and lakes there. They’re also found wild in Central America.
The fish is a hardy, relatively tolerate and easy to care for breed, which makes them a popular choice among fishkeeping enthusiasts.
In the home aquarium, they often live 10 or more years, while in the wild, they’d typically live closer to twice that long.
The beautiful fish has a unique “glow” of sparkling, almost neon blue (thus the name) and stands out in any freshwater aquarium setting you could have.
The fish is covered with stripes of orange to brown, black to gray, with fins of the same color.
The body shape of the acara is rather oval, though the fish is stocky and looks plump. The spiny rays on the backs of their fins make them look aggressive, but they’re actually peaceful.
Once you’re ready to bring some of these beauties home, you can find them in pet stores online.
Optimal Water Conditions for Electric Blue Acara
|Water Temperature:||73° – 86° Fahrenheit|
|Water Flow Rate:||Strong|
|pH:||6.0 – 7.2|
|Water Hardness:||0 – 10 KH|
|Minimum Tank Size:||30 gallon tank|
|Optimal Tank Size:||55+ gallons|
|Optimal Tank Shape:||Long, rather than tall, required|
|Recommended Filtration Type:||Canister filter, extra powerheads as able|
Electric blue acaras are rather large peacful fish and their natural environment has a strong water flow.
Because of this, in the aquarium they’ll do best with a canister filter, and, whenever possible, extra powerheads to emulate that kind of flowing environment.
This will also produce a stronger circulation for them, helping to keep the aquarium cleaner.
They are tropical fish, so they also need a thermometer to help keep track of the water temperatures. They should be kept in tanks with water between 73 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anything cooler and they won’t do very well. And though a thermometer isn’t absolutely mandatory, they do definitely help you do a better job of keeping them healthy and happy.
Their tanks need a pH range between 6.0 and 7.2, and kH of 0 – 10.
When these water condition needs are met, the electric blue acara is likely to live for 10 or more years.
Author note: A minimum of 30 gallons is truly required for these guys. They need lots of space to swim and keep active for a healthy, happy life.
And if you opt to keep multiples of these beauties, you’ll need to make sure that tank size increases. For each one, tack on an extra 15 gallons.
That means, if you want to keep two electric blue acara, you’re looking at 45 gallons. Six of them and you’ll need 105 gallons. It may seem like a lot, but it’s truly necessary for them.
Creating the Landscape
Acaras are burrowers, so they should soft, sandy substrate – never gravel or coral. They love plants and do well with a wide range of them.
Top tip: They like hiding places among the live plants and other features like turned over flower pots, caves, and textured 3D backgrounds.
The plants should be planted closely together to provide the fish with a dense coverage. But otherwise, the aquarium should have plenty of open space for the fish to swim around in.
They’re very active and large, so this is key to their health and happiness.
Large, flat rocks are a great addition, though you should ensure there are no jagged or sharp edges on the rocks. Treated driftwood is a great idea, as well.
The electric blue acara prefers medium lighting with floating plants to help diffuse that light.
Top tip: To help the fish really pop in the aquarium, a lot of folks recommend a dark substrate to draw that contrast.
|Best Plants:||Amazon Swords, Cryptocoryne, Hornwort, Java Moss, Java Fern, Anubias, Vallisneria|
|Best Lighting:||Medium lighting|
|Best Decorations:||Driftwood, live plants, large flat rocks, dark substrate|
|Decorations to Avoid:||Anything with jagged edges|
Physiological Considerations for Electric Blue Acara
|Size:||5 to 7 inches|
|Lifespan:||up to 10 years|
|Preferred Tank Region:||Middle and bottom|
|Scale Thickness:||Nothing of note.|
|Gill Considerations:||Nothing of note.|
|Swimbladder Considerations:||Avoid overfeeding to prevent swimbladder conditions.|
|Fin Shape Considerations:||Nothing of note.|
The Blue Acara has an oval-shaped body that is both compact and stocky. It has dorsal and anal fins that end in points.
Both genders are known to be similar in appearance but the male’s fins are longer and the dorsal fin’s rays will often arc around the tail fin.
They reach sexual maturity around ten months and upon reaching 2 ½ inches and are known to start breeding when they are at four inches in length.
Cichlids are known to have a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth in their throat, along with a regular set of teeth.
Top tip: To help discourage predators from attacking them, they have a series of spiny rays along with their anal, dorsal, pelvic, and pectoral fins.
The front portion of these fins is soft and aids the fish to make effortless movements while swimming away fast.
The average lifespan of the Electric Blue Acara is upwards of ten years in a home aquarium if it is given the proper care. There are reports of this species living close to twenty years in its natural habitat.
Another difference between when this fish is kept in a freshwater tank and when it lives in the wild is that it can only grow to be 15cm when it lives in captivity.
In the wild, it can reach up to 20cm in length. But, it should be noted, that the Electric Blue Acara is considered to be one of the smaller fish species of South American cichlid.
It is an easy to recognize fish that has a steel blue and gray coloration. It also has a variety of spots and striping alongside its body and head.
Some fish will have green horizontal lines on its face. In certain light, their coloration can take on a sparkle-like appearance.
This fish is known for having a curious personality that will lead it to explore every inch of your tank and frequently dig and burrow into your tank’s substrate.
In nature, this digging is a way for which the fish finds food, for the unprepared fish keeper, the digging in an aquarium can be a nuisance. Without proper preparation, digging can disturb and kill live plants.
While it is known for being one of the more peaceful cichlids, the Electric Blue Acara has been known to be territorial and actively belligerent.
Most of this negative behavior occurs during spawning and is caused by both genders of this fish being aggressively protective of their spawn.
Though most cichlids are known for being aggressive, the electric blue acara cichlid is an easy-going, less aggressive fish. It tolerates other tank mates pretty well, though it does get territorial during spawning (like most species).
The fish has a tendency to burrow into substrate and uproot plants but rarely involves hiding. The behavior is ramped up during spawning. They’re strong swimmers (which is why a long tank is better than a tall one!) and enjoy socializing.
The fish does well with a variety of tank mates that are the same breed or smaller and peaceful.
Author note: Do keep in mind that size absolutely is important on electric blue acara tank mates, though – they are likely to become prey for larger fish or may become a bit of a bully for smaller.
Plus, they’re into live food, so, the smallest breeds will be gobbled up.
Some of the best tank mates for these guys include:
The easiest tankmate for the electric blue acara is always going to be more of its kind. As you stock, though, be sure to keep them in numbers divisible by two. They do best this way.
Gender, Breeding, and Reproductive Considerations
The Electric Blue Acara reaches its sexual maturity around ten months of age. By this time the fish will have reached the length of ten centimeters. As they age their skin will slowly become darker in coloration.
Differentiating between the two genders of Electric Blue Acara is not hard. The easiest way to tell the difference is to do a careful examination of the fish’s body.
The anal and dorsal fins are almost always longer and pointer in the male, compared to the female who has shorter and rounder fins.
The male also tends to have a larger body than the female, along with a hump around their forehead. Another distinguishing mark is that the male has a body color that is more pronounced than the female.
To boost the possibilities of a breeding pair, it is best to have a two-to-one ratio of female to male fish. The typical arrangement is four females to two males.
After a time it will be easy to note which fish are starting to court and then you can isolate the pair from the other fish.
If you do not want to go out and buy multiple aquariums, one solution is to separate a single tank into two compartments, with each compartment holding a breeding pair.
To help induce spawning, the tank water should be increased by 2 degrees Centigrade. The idea is to slowly raise it until you reach and do not exceed 28 Centigrade.
Leading up to the fish courting and eventually mating, it is important to provide the fish with a high-quality diet. Most people will feed their fish live food, such as worms.
The fish should be fed at least three times a day over two to three weeks.
The tank’s water pH level needs to be maintained around 6.5-7.0. The aquarium needs to have regular changes of at least 30% of the water every week to keep the tank water clean and healthy.
The design of the tank should incorporate the use of finely-grained sand and flat rocks. It is important to avoid the use of an air-powered filter because it has a high chance of sucking up the fry.
When this species is ready to mate, it is known for having an elaborate courtship dance and then will proceed to mate.
They are known to lay upwards of 150-300 eggs during one spawning session, capable of mating every two weeks. In between broods, both parents will take care of the fish, even assisting in the fry during hatching.
The fertilized eggs with hatch after 4-7 days and then will be swimming juveniles after another 3-4 days.
Primarily omnivores by nature, electric blue acaras are pretty open to whatever food comes their way.
They enjoy live foods, plant matter, commercial fish food, small tank mates (watch out!), freeze dried proteins, wafers, insects, and, well, pretty much everything else you can think of.
Though they are omnivores, they do best on a rather protein-heavy diet. This diet of things like tubifex and brine shrimp, pellets, and flakes, should be supplemented heavily with vegetables and algae wafers on a semi-regular basis.
They should be fed between two and three times daily with an amount they can consume in under 3 minutes at each feeding.
More than that will lead to overfeeding and ultimately illness potential, heavy detritus in the tank, increased levels of ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and more problems.
Ideally, feed your electric blue acara a base meal of high-quality flakes two to three times daily, with some veggies, live foods, and other protein snacks several times a week.
The best foods for your acara include:
- Brine shrimp
- Blanched cabbage
- Blanched broccoli
- Boiled peas
- Algae wafers
- Insect larvae
- Boiled spinach
|Best Sustenance Food Type:||High-quality, low-grain or no-grain flake food|
|Additional Food For Optimal Health:||Supplement with vegetables, lots of proteins, and algae wafers|
|Special Foods and Considerations for Best Color and Growth:||Heavy on the protein items with a good smattering of vegetable matter|
|When and How Often to Feed Fish Based on Life Cycle:||2-3 times daily, depending on your schedule and the behaviors they demonstrate during feeding time.|
Common Diseases and How to Avoid and Treat Them
Electric Blue Acaras are susceptible to freshwater diseases that arise due to poor diet and poor water conditions.
Not only is this a reason to make sure the fish has a healthy environment but also a reason to be vigilant for any symptoms of illness that the aquarium fish may develop.
Malawi Bloat is a disease common among cichlids. Another common name for this illness is Cichlid Bloat. This can be caused by poor diet, poor water qualities, and the bacteria Clostridium difficile has been identified as a major cause.
A fish suffering from Malawi Bloat will have a swollen abdomen and have a decreased or complete loss of appetite. Another symptom can be difficult breathing where the fish will visibly begin to breathe rapidly.
The best treatment involves the use of medication such as metronidazole, octozin, and other antibiotics.
Skin Flukes are another disease that can affect the Electric Blue Acara. This disease will irritate the fish’s skin.
This is easy to spot because the fish will start rubbing itself against any hard surface in the tank to have relief from the irritation. Besides skin damage, this can result in the fish developing a potentially fatal secondary infection.
In addition to the skin damage, this disease can result in the fish losing skin coloration, and becoming depressed and lethargic.
The most commonly used treatment is Praziquantelis.
Freshwater Ich is another common ailment that can affect the Electric Blue Acaras.
An infected fish will develop white spots that the fish will frantically try to scratch on any hard surfaces in the tank. Other symptoms involve a loss of appetite and breathing problems. Some fish experience anxiety and will start to hide.
Proven medications that can cure Ich include formalin, sodium chloride, or malachite green. In addition, most treatments involve increasing the water temperature to help kill the disease.
|Best Antibiotics:||Malawi Bloat should be treated with octozin or a similar antibiotic. Skin flukes should be treated with a strong antibiotic like Praziquantelis. Ich can be treated with formalin and higher water temperatures.|
|Treatments to Avoid:||N/A|
|Food Recommendations When Sick:||Fresh and healthy food.|
|Hospital Tank or Isolation Withing the Community Tank:||Hospital tanks are necessary when these guys are ill.|
2 Facts About Electric Blue Acara
- The electric blue acara is known as the “easy cichlid” for beginners because of its low maintenance requirements, hardiness, and those lovely shades of blue.
- Electric blue acara are an especially curious variety of cichlid fish. Be sure to give them plenty of substrate to dig around in for discoveries.
Should You Consider an Electric Blue Acara for Your Aquarium?
This beautiful fish is a show stopper and always a bright, vibrant addition to any aquarist’s collection of exotic fish.
They’re calmer and more social than many other fish species out there in the cichlid family and they will always draw the attention of the crowds.
But they do have specific needs that must be met – and that largely includes tankmates. If you already have a stocked aquarium you need to carefully consider the addition of an electric blue acara based on those tankmates.
They are easy to care for, though, so if you’re looking to build an aquarium stock around a focal fish, they could well be your centerpiece species.