The Neon Blue Acara is a freshwater fish native to the slow flowing rivers and lakes of Central and South America. They are from the Cichlidae family , a well-known group among fishkeeping enthusiasts.
They are a relatively tolerant fish that has a peaceful temperament. It will rarely cause you any trouble and will get along with most fish just fine. The only time you need to worry about aggression, is during breeding time.
The Neon Blue Acara can live for a relatively long time, especially if you compare them to other freshwater fish. With good care and aquarium conditions, they can live up to 10 years. In the wild this number is closer to 20 years.
Like many other members of the Cichlidae family, the Neon Blue Acara has become a popular choice for many aquarists.
They are very curious fish – this can be seen by their love for digging in to the substrate. In the wild this is of very little concern but when it comes to the tank, your equipment may fall victim to their boundless interest.
Given their passion for burrowing, they will usually be found near the base or middle layer of the tank. Sometimes they may swim up to the surface, but that would only be on rare occasions.
The swimming behavior of these fish is a healthy mix of hiding and swimming around. You will see them swimming around as well as navigating through the bushes of plants in the tank.
Maternal care in this species deserves a special mention too. The female acts like most mammals and will bring food to give to the offspring. This is quite unusual for fish.
The appearance of these Neon Blue Acaras is truly electric. Their eccentric colour pattern and unusual shade gradient combination makes them stand out from other aquarium fish. Their body is predominantly light blue with scales forming a netted dark pattern across their skin. They often have white, black or yellowish spots on the sides. Towards their head, the blue gradually turns into dull gray or black. This uneven pattern usually just covers their head but sometimes reaches lower. Their fins are also blue but in addition have an orange edging. It has densely packed scales that form beautiful, easily distinguishable cascades. Their body is elongated and compressed on the sides. The thinnest part of their body is where the abdomen transitions into the tail (caudal fin). They have a single, large, merged dorsal fin. Their caudal fin is circular, and is bigger than their pelvic, pectoral or anal fins. Their eyes are large with a dark pupil, enclosed by a reddish or orange iris. They also protrude above their head, this is especially apparent if you look at them as the fish swims towards you.
As for their size, they are not large. They usually grow up to 17-18cm in length.
This fish comes from the slow-flowing freshwater basins of South America. These rivers are usually heavily planted – this creates a safe environment for them, allowing them to escape predators and raise offspring. The substrate in their natural habitat presents rich feeding grounds containing all sorts of meaty invertebrates and smaller fish. In addition to the planted bed, rivers are also sheltered from above. Drifting plants on the water surface provide protection from the sun as well as act as a food source.
Given that these species will be kept in a pretty large planted tank (Min 140 litres), there should be a nice aeration and filtration system. A normal filter on a medium-high setting would do the job just fine. The lighting will depend on the number and type of plants you decide to get. Usually a normal aquarium light will suffice. Just make sure that the lighting does not disturb the natural cycles of your fish.
An important aspect of any tank setup is the substrate, but even more so when it comes to Blue Acara. We already mentioned their love for digging it up. For this reason we recommend using rounded gravel or large even grains of sand. The type of the substrate doesn’t really matter, as much as the shape. Finally, plants and decorations. Their natural habitat is filled with plants. To make your fish feel comfortable, plants can be mixed up with some driftwood or rocks. Whatever you do, maintain a healthy ratio between decorations and free swimming space.
Neon Blue Acaras can definitely be kept together. It’s better to keep them in pairs or in groups of at least six.
Whilst they are not very greedy fish, overeating can still be a major issue if feeding is not carried out properly. If you notice fish swimming strangely (tilting to the side, or very slow) they most likely ate too much. Give them a break for a day or so to process everything. To avoid this happening again change their diet or feeding patterns. Excessive amounts of food are not the only dietary problem. Poor quality foods may cause irritation of their skin or disturb their natural behavior. You will notice this because of colour fading and fish disorientation. If you notice that something’s not right, consider buying different quality fish foods.
Although Neon Blue Acaras are peaceful little fish, in the wild they can be vicious predators. The core of their diet should be meaty foods, like bloodworm, shrimps and maybe even little pieces of mussel. The important thing to remember is that their diet should be diversified as much as possible. This helps your fish get all the nutrients they need.
You should consider buying specialised premade fish foods – they typically come in frozen, pellets or granules. More importantly, quality feed will provide your fish with the right amounts of nutrients and save you time and money in the long run. As they are omnivores, some part of their diet should also be plant based. You should either have suitable live plants in the tank or add some spirulina flake as part of their diet. The Neon Blue Acara should be given as much food as it can eat in a 2-3 minutes sitting. To avoid any health complication feed them twice a day.
Neon Blue Acaras are possibly one of the easiest Cichlids to breed. A breeding tank should be about 140 litres and have slightly less plants than the main tank. For the substrate you can use large grains of sand and cover it with flat rocks. Water temperature should be slightly around 26°c with pH being neutral or slightly below (6.5-7 pH). Having a good aeration system in place is a must. Males and females form pairs and spend most of the time close to the bottom, near the rocks. The rocks will be their breeding grounds. These fish usually reach sexual maturity when they are about 8-10 months old. Females will lay about 150-200 eggs and will stay around to protect the offspring. Male fish will swim a little further away and will also stay there to protect juveniles. Incubation period usually lasts for about 2-3 days, after which the first juveniles will appear and start looking for food. For a couple of weeks, however, they won’t leave their mother and stay close to her.
- Species – Andinoacara pulcher
- Common Name – Neon Blue Acara
- Origin – Central and South America.
- Diet – Omnivorous
- PH Range – 6.5 – 7.5
- Temperature – Tropical 22°c – 28°c
- Breed Type – Egg Layer
- Current Size – approximately 4cm (Grows to approximately 17cm)
- Sex – Un-sexed