Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlid – Care, Diet & Breeding

Double Red Cockatoo Cichlid Signalling to breeding pair


The Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlid (Appistogramma cacatuoides) originates from South American streams and pools. In local fish stores it is often called the Big Mouth Apistogramma, the Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlid or a number of other colloquial names. This breed has a beautiful elongated body with radiant red and black dorsal fins. It is commonly available from LFS or other hobbyists as of 2017. 

The double full red cockatoo cichlid is very active and can be somewhat aggressive to other, smaller species. When housed with other similarly sized cichlids they are generally more placid and gentle. Aside from this, its beautiful coloration makes it a target from fin nippers and aggressive fish. It is a good idea to keep them separated from larger more threatening species.

Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlid Parameters

Temperature – 72 – 86 F

pH – 5.0 – 7.0

Hardness – 7GH

Max Size – 3 1/2″

Min tank size – 30 gallons

Diet –carnivore

Care Level – moderate

Temperament – semi-aggressive

Cost – ~$10 (2017)

Other Notes & Facts

Due to it’s maximum size, a tall and wide aquarium is necessary if you plan on housing a Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlid. Due to their South American origin, they are readily compatible with plants and do well in planted aquariums and aquascapes. When kept in groups the Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlids will establish ownership over tank space and can become territorial. It is recommended the aquarium is at least 30 gallons in size with 55 gallons being a good benchmark for most cichlids.

It is also advisable to put a fine gravel or sand in the aquarium. Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlids are not readily suited to bare bottom aquariums. Fine gravel will satisfy the fish’s need to conceal themselves as well as play an integral role in courting and mating (the male will often excavate ‘sand caves’ to attract the opposite sex). Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlids are playful and will enjoy soft, sand based substrates. Seachem ‘Cichlid Sand’ or any fine aragonite substrate are a great choice.

Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlid with Red Fins Displaying


Courting from the males will take place a number of weeks before eggs are visible in the aquarium. Males use their brilliant color and ready made dens to attract female counterparts. Once the Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlid Female lays its eggs in caves its male counterpart will then fertilize the eggs and leave. At this point the female cockatoo cichlid is left to take care of the eggs and raise the young. Double Full Red Cockatoo Cichlids are an extremely fast growing species. Amazingly the fry will be capable to swim freely on their own in just seven to ten days and at this time, feed the fry with brine shrimp. Newly hatched baby brine shrimp are a suitable size for the fry. Sexual maturity will take place in about five months from this date.


The Double Full Red Cockatoo is a carnivore and its diet consists of a variety of food ranging from frozen to live shrimps and worms. Flake food is also excellent for cichlids because they are packed with necessary vitamins. A broad mix of foods will ensure continued health for your cichlid and the best coloration. 


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