Identification - Is this a Rainbow Cichlid?

Leeman75

Member
I got this fish on Sunday. Thought it was a Rainbow Cichlid, but now I'm not so sure. The coloring is completely off from what they look like in the pictures that I've seen online. The pictures all show bright yellow, but he is dark brown with stripes not a horizontal line of spots. Initially, he was being chased by various fish and so I figured it was stress coloring and stripes. But now, he's not being bullied at all. He is swimming freely all over the place and eating fine, picking at algae and plants. Does not seem stressed, but his coloring is not at all what I think it should be.

Is this a Rainbow Cichlid?

 

Cody

Member
It does look similar but defineitly not the vibrant look you see on google images, of course those are magazine quality fish though.

how big is the fish? Is there a chance it just may not be mature enough to fully color up?
 
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Leeman75

Member
It's only about an inch and a half or so I'm guessing that it's pretty young as it seems that they get up to 4-5". I don't recall it looking that dark in the store, but it may have. My tank is well established and has other similar types of Cichlids in it (Acaras, Bolivian Rams, Firemouth). It does not seem to be bothered by anything really and it doesn't seem to be acting in a way that seems stressed.
 

Cody

Member
Leeman75 said:
It's only about an inch and a half or so I'm guessing that it's pretty young as it seems that they get up to 4-5". I don't recall it looking that dark in the store, but it may have. My tank is well established and has other similar types of Cichlids in it (Acaras, Bolivian Rams, Firemouth). It does not seem to be bothered by anything really and it doesn't seem to be acting in a way that seems stressed.
I would thonk that would be fairly young as well. So maybe as it grows it will start to look more true? It doesn’t look stressed to me either. It’s a very nice looking fish even if it’s not what you expected!
 

Flyfisha

Member
The shape is close enough. This species is called rainbow cichlid. Could it be the name has something to do with the colours that we see from week to week? Two photos of the same fish just a week apart. Note the fry in the dark fish photo. If that’s a rainbow it’s sending a visual message to the other fish ,and yes in my opinion it’s ONLY
a little stressed from the situation with other cichlids. Does it have any of its own kind to display to?
 
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Leeman75

Member
Cody said:
I would thonk that would be fairly young as well. So maybe as it grows it will start to look more true? It doesn’t look stressed to me either. It’s a very nice looking fish even if it’s not what you expected!
Thanks! I think he looks really healthy and moves around like crazy, so makes me feel like he's doing well even though he's dark.
 
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Leeman75

Member
Flyfisha said:
The shape is close enough. This species is called rainbow cichlid. Could it be the name has something to do with the colours that we see from week to week? Two photos of the same fish just a week apart. Note the fry in the dark fish photo. If that’s a rainbow it’s sending a visual message to the other fish ,and yes in my opinion it’s ONLY
a little stressed from the situation with other cichlids. Does it have any of its own kind to display to?
No, I have no other Rainbow Cichlids in the tank, though just from how this one has behaved, I'd love to have another! Perhaps that would be the help that it needs to color up.
 

GlennO

Member
I'm pretty confident that it's a young Rainbow Cichlid. I don't keep them anymore but I bred them for a while. They don't show much colour when young. The males tend to grow larger and a bit brighter than females. Their colours can vary depending on mood and I noticed also that mine were brighter when over a light coloured substrate. When over a dark substrate mine tended to go a muddy colour much of the time to blend in rather than bright yellow. This was my breeding pair, female at front in non breeding colours. When breeding the bottom portion of her flank goes black as in the pic above and the male gets even brighter yellow.

 
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Leeman75

Member
GlennO said:
I'm pretty confident that it's a young Rainbow Cichlid. I don't keep them anymore but I bred them for a while. They don't show much colour when young. The males tend to grow larger and a bit brighter than females. Their colours can vary depending on mood and I noticed also that mine were brighter when over a light coloured substrate. When over a dark substrate mine tended to go a muddy colour much of the time to blend in rather than bright yellow. This was my breeding pair, female at front in non breeding colours. When breeding the bottom portion of her flank goes black as in the pic above and the male gets even brighter yellow.

Thank you...your info makes me feel much better coming from someone who bred them! I do have a dark substrate and dark driftwood in the tank, so it could be between that and youth. Do you think adding a second would help in the coloring? I'm thinking that based on the rounding of the fins, it is probably a female, so I can aim for another female.
 

GlennO

Member
More of them might help. They are a social species. I lean towards female but it's a bit small to sex with any certainty. When I had a bunch of juveniles in a grow out tank it was easier to tell by slight size differences and their behaviour with the males being bossier.
 

GlennO

Member
If it helps, I found some old pics of some of my juvies.


 

chromedome52

Member
When the fish was first introduced to the hobby in the late 1960s, it was given the common name Golden Red Eye Cichlid. Later someone noticed the touches of blue in the fins, and decided that was enough to call it Rainbow, which to my eye is stretching it.

It was the first Cichlid I ever spawned, and while it is a favorite, I've only kept it a couple of times over the decades. In the wild I'm told they live in shallow areas, as colonies. I think this is why they are not very aggressive in aquaria.
 

GlennO

Member
The reference to eye colour in their original name is an interesting topic. Nowadays red eye colour has become a less common feature of the species in the hobby. In my case, both of my adults had quite ordinary looking yellowish eyes. But a small percentage of their offspring had eye colour ranging from light red to bright red.
 
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Leeman75

Member
Thanks to everyone. It is a juvenile for sure. Also, I have a black substrate and plenty of dark driftwood and rocks in the tank, so the coloring is likely a combination of the two aspects. I do really enjoy the fish and will probably get another one or two for the social aspect. It moves all around the tank and is really fun to watch. Even though the color is dark, it has highlights of colors, especially a really pretty blue. Overall, I'm really satisfied with the fish. Hopefully it will lighten up some.
 

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