The Electric Blue Acara is a popular freshwater fish that is a showstopper in any aquarium. They’re also easy to care for, making them an ideal fish for beginning aquarists. And lastly, for a cichlid, they’re pretty mellow. The Blue Acara isn’t going to cause a bunch of drama in your tank.
For these reasons, we highly recommend the Electric Blue Acara. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this fish and its tank, diet, breeding, and more to ensure it thrives in your tank.
Recommended Electric Blue Acara Care Items:
The Electric Blue Acara’s scientific name is Andinoacara pulcher. In Latin, the word pulcher means “beautiful” which is no surprise when you see this fish. It is native to the rivers and lakes of Central and South America.
Electric Blue Acaras are a type of Cichlid, a well-known type of fish in freshwater aquariums. Cichlids have a reputation for being a little bit bossy and aggressive, with ritualized forms of aggression built into their behavior.
However, Electric Blue Acara fish are the quiet sheep of the Cichlid family. They are a mostly tolerant fish with a peaceful temperament. They’re no Jewel Cichlid. Breeding can trigger aggressive behavior but outside of that, this species is calm.
Blue Acaras are long-lived, especially compared to other freshwater fish. With the right aquarium conditions, they can live up to 10 years in captivity.
Depending on size, this fish is likely priced between $6–15. Small and younger fish tend to be less expensive than fully-grown adults. So, they’re not tetra cheap but they’re also not as pricey as saltwater fish.
Electric Blue Acara Appearance
You get one guess for the color of this fish. Red? Nope! Blue!
Their name accurately captures their appearance. These fish are a bright and shiny blue color. They typically have some faded yellow on the front half of their body.
The top edge of their dorsal fin has a vibrant yellow line that provides an excellent contrast to their electric blue color. You can also find this line on the back edge of their tail fin. However, it is not as pronounced in this location so you might not notice it.
Their scales are very visible due to the gradient of color on their bodies. Additionally, their scales look metallic which further emphasizes the lines of the individual scales. This creates a beautiful textured pattern on the sides of their bodies.
Like other Cichlids, Electric Blue Acara have the normal cichlid body shape – an oval body shape with pointed dorsal and anal fins. Their caudal fin is symmetrical and as tall as the height of their body.
How long does the Electric Blue Acara live?
For freshwater aquarium fish, Electric Blue Acara live a long time! In the correct tank conditions, their lifespan is 8-10 years in captivity. In the wild, they can live even longer, with reports up to 15 years.
Subpar living conditions will significantly impact how long they live. They need the proper aquarium conditions in order to survive.
How big do Electric Blue Acara get?
Electric Blue Acara can average between 6 and 7 inches in length when full grown.
Electric Blue Acara Temperament
As we mentioned before, Electric Blue Acara are the exception to cichlid aggression. They are easy-going and won’t pick fights in your tank unlike Oscars, or Jack Dempseys.
In terms of personality, they’re curious fish who are eager to explore and investigate different areas of the tank. They’re active diggers which means they’ll find little snacks in your substrate. It also means your plants need to be securely rooted if you’re including this species in a planted tank.
Because they’re easygoing fish, they will mix well with a wide variety of tank mates (more on that in the section below) and will rarely cause any disturbances in your aquarium.
Electric Blue Acara Care
Blue Acaras are easy to care for aquarium fish. However, you need to know what you’re doing. Our guide covers their ideal habitat, including tank, lighting, filtration, and more.
When planning the ideal electric blue acara tank, it is recommended to try to recreate their natural environment. This principle works well when designing tanks and making sure your fish are eating correctly. Recreate their natural environment for best results.
As a native to the rivers and lakes of South and Central America, the Electric Blue Acara thrives in aquariums with soft, sandy substrate and plenty of refuge and places to explore such as clay pots, driftwood, and rocks. Keeping any aquarium fish in non-ideal conditions will stress them out, which is associated with a higher incidence of disease and shortened life spans.
What is the best tank for an Electric Blue Acara?
Electric Blue Acara can grow to a decent size – around 6 to 7 inches when full-grown. With that potential size, you need a medium-sized tank at minimum to house this fish. As such, we recommend a minimum size of 30 gallons for one Electric Blue Acara.
If you’re planning to keep more than one of this species, plan to add an additional 15 gallons for each new fish. So if you want to keep two, look for 45 gallons, and three, plan for 60 gallons.
How many Electric Blue Acara can go in my tank?
The answer depends on the size of your tank. The minimum tank size for 1 electric blue acara is 30 gallons, with an additional 15 gallons needed for each additional fish.
An important thing to note with this species is that they will tend to pair off, so it’s best to keep an even number of fish so that no one gets left out (or picked on). Therefore, the general rule of thumb is making sure the total number of these fish is divisible by two.
Below is a handy cheat sheet for number of fish and required tank size:
- 1 fish: 30 gallons
- 2 fish: 45 gallons
- 4 fish: 75 gallons
- 6 fish: 105 gallons
- 8 fish: 135 gallons
Electric Blue Acara are hardy, easy-to-care-for fish. However, this doesn’t mean you can ignore their needs. While they might tolerate a wide range of water conditions, they do appreciate consistency in the water parameters. Failing to provide ideal conditions, or subjecting them frequently to massive water quality fluctuations, will lead to serious health complications.
Below are the recommended water conditions:
- Water temperature: 72°F to 82°F (76°F is optimal)
- pH levels: 6 – 7.5 pH (neutral is ideal, 7-7.5 pH)
- Water hardness: 6-20 dH
In order to maintain stable water conditions, we recommend testing weekly with this Water kit. Even though Electric Blue Acaras are hardy, experienced aquarists tend to play it safe and test regularly. This will prevent any random shifts from causing harm to your fish. This is especially important when first establishing your tank. It is important to get the nitrogen cycle working properly in your tank.
Additionally, keep an eye on the pH in your tank. If you need help lowering the pH, check out our pH lowering guide.
What to put in their tank
Electric Blue Acara are native to the freshwater rivers of South and Central America. Given that they’re used to moving waters, you need to have decent water flow in their aquarium.
Given that they come from rivers, their natural habitat includes rocks, driftwood, and lots of vegetation. They’re a curious species so they’ll appreciate a varied environment with plenty of nooks and crannies for them to explore. Blue Acara are known diggers so you’ll want to make sure to include hardy aquarium plants that are rooted down or firmly attached to other features in your aquarium.
The substrate for your tank is important. We recommend Seachem Onyx, which is great because it is a cichlid-specific substrate. It helps to buffer the water and supports plant growth due to its porous nature. Additionally, it is a dark color which will help your Electric blues really pop with the color contrast. Lastly, it is made specifically for Cichlids, meaning it is soft and smooth enough for their continual explorations.
It is more expensive than other substrates and it is only available in one color, so if you’re looking for a light color substrate, this is not your best option. Simple aquarium sands are also a good option.
Electric Blue Acara can grow to be quite large, adding a significant bioload to your tank. For this reason, we recommend a system with decent filtration. A canister filter for a large aquarium would be a good choice and provide significant clean-up and enough water flow to mimic rivers.
Your lighting choices will be guided by the number and type of plants you decide to include in your tank. For the fish alone, a normal aquarium lamp will suffice. Plan to run the lights on normal daylight cycles (8-10 hours of light) so that you don’t stress your fish with unnatural nighttime light.
Because of the filter and lighting requirements, we recommend using a power strip for your aquarium to keep your aquarium cabinet organized and your key functions (lighting, filtration, etc.) protected against power surges.
When planting your tank,, maintain a healthy ratio between decorations and free swimming space so your fish can stretch their fins.
Cichlids can be a little rough on plants so you will want to include hardy options. Plant options include:
Electric Blue Acara Potential diseases
Important notice: we are not veterinarians at Aquarium Friend so the information below should be used for general awareness only. If you are concerned about the health of your electric blues, consult a fish health professional immediately.
There aren’t any diseases that are exclusive to this species of fish. Overall, this is a hardy species of fish. However, Electric blue Acara are subject to the usual suspects for freshwater fish such as ich and skin flukes.
In order to maintain good health in your tank, it is important to be vigilant about water quality. Perform regular water tests to monitor quality and plan to clean your tank regularly. Anticipate about a 20-30% water change on a weekly basis. Clean water can help your finned friends avoid a lot of trouble. You should also be cleaning the substrate at least once a month.
Also, pay attention to their food and diet. First, you need to be feeding them the correct foods so they can get the proper nutrients.
Secondly, avoid overfeeding. Overfeeding is bad for the fish – you might notice them swimming very slowly after a meal, for example. If you see this happening, skip their next meal so they can get back on track.
Overfeeding is also bad for your tank. Decaying food can quickly change your water parameters in a negative way.
Electric Blue Acara Feeding
The diet of your fish will make a significant impact on their health. It’s important to be mindful of their natural diet and how you can replicate it in captivity.
In the wild, Electric Blue Acara are omnivores. However, they do consume a lot of small invertebrates and fish in their natural habitat so you’ll need to feed them enough protein-rich food to satisfy their nutritional requirements.
What should you feed an Electric Blue Acara?
Some great live food options for this species are bloodworms, brine shrimp, small insects, or earthworms. Make sure that you purchase live food from a reputable source so you don’t accidentally introduce any parasites or disease into your tank. However, you will want to make sure they get some variety. They shouldn’t be eating only protein-focused foods. They’re omnivores, not carnivores!
How often should Electric Blue Acara eat?
It’s important to avoid overfeeding. Feed one to two meals a day and only provide an amount of food they eagerly consume in about three minutes.
If meal time is taking five minutes or longer, you’re feeding them too much!
Electric Blue Acara Tank Mates
Because of their peaceful disposition, you have some flexibility when it comes to choosing suitable tank mates.
A general rule of thumb is to avoid pairing them with fish that are known to be aggressive (Arowana, etc.). Significantly smaller fish (like neon tetra) can also bring out some aggression, so avoid opposite ends of the size spectrum.
Your best bet is peaceful fish that are similar in size. Here are some ideal Electric Blue Acara tank mates:
- Cory catfish
- Discus fish
- Green Terror Cichlid
- Zebra Cichlid
- Moga Cichlid
- Bristlenose Pleco
Electric Blue Acara Breeding
Electric Blue Acara breeding is quite easy, especially in the world of Cichlids.
In order to breed, these fish must grow to 4-5 inches long and be about 8-10 months old. Also, these fish are loyal, as mates stay together for life. Once you have a breeding pair, you’re not going to be able to mix and match them with others.
How to Sex Electric Blue Acara
In order to breed your fish, you first need a male and a female. The most commonly used features to differentiate the two sexes are the anal fin and dorsal fin.
In the male electric blue acara, these fins are longer and pointier. In the female electric blue acara, these fins are shorter and rounder.
Male electric blue acaras tend to be larger and also possess a hump on their forehead.
Breeding Tank Set-up
The breeding tank should be smaller than the normal tank size to encourage mating. The most common recommendation is a 20-gallon tank. Water temperature should be about 75 or 76 degrees Fahrenheit and pH should be neutral or slightly below (6.5-7 pH).
Use a soft substrate like sand in the bottom of the tank. Add a few rocks where the female can lay the eggs. When choosing rocks, look for flat and smooth versus pointed and craggy. The fish tend to lay their eggs on the rocks.
Regular feeding of live foods such as blood worms or earthworms will keep both parents nourished and in ideal condition for breeding.
The Breeding Process
Once your tank is ready to go, add your bonded pair to the tank. A pair that’s about to mate will interact with each other more often than before. The pair will spend most of the time close to the bottom, near the rocks. The rocks will be their breeding grounds. The female will spawn the eggs and the male will fertilize them (usually shortly after).
The female will lay about 150-200 eggs. Both parents will stay nearby to protect the eggs and fry, once they hatch.
The egg Incubation period lasts for about 2-3 days. Once hatched, the parents will dig an area for the newly-spawned fry, and place them there until they begin to swim. The pair will fiercely protect their fry for up to two weeks and will be ready to breed again shortly after this time period.
Breeding is the only time period when Electric Blue Acara are known to be more aggressive than normal. This is why a separate breeding tank is recommended. They’re protective parents and want to take care of their little ones!
Electric Blue Acara FAQs
Is Blue Acara aggressive?
Electric Blue Acaras are some of the most peaceful cichlids around. They can get along well with most other similarly sized, peaceful fish. However, they sometimes bully fish that are quite a bit smaller in size, like neon tetras. They should not be housed with other famously aggressive fish – like arowana – as the other fish will bully the blue acara.
Can Electric Blue Acara live with angelfish?
Yes, Electric Blue Acaras can live with angelfish. It is best if the blue acara is slightly larger than the angelfish so the angelfish is less likely to attempt picking a fight.
It will also be important for both fish to have enough space to swim and explore so don’t try combining these two in a small tank. Some users have report fin nipping behavior from Blue Acaras when the tank is too small.
Do Electric Blue Acara have teeth?
Yes, electric blue acara have teeth. Two sets, actually. Like most cichlids, they have a pharyngeal set of teeth in their throat, along with regular teeth in their mouth.
Will Blue Acara eat Tetras?
Yes, Blue Acara will eat tetras. Electric Blue Acaras are mostly peaceful fish; however, when there is a large size difference, such as a fully-grown Electric Blue Acara and a neon tetra, aggressive tendencies can emerge. We would expect tetras to be a snack in this situation.
Will Blue Acara eat guppies?
Yes, Blue Acara will eat guppies. Electric Blue Acaras are mostly peaceful fish; however, when there is a large size difference, such as a fully-grown Electric Blue Acara and a guppy, aggressive tendencies can emerge. We would expect guppies to be a snack in this situation.
Do Electric Blue Acara eat plants?
No, electric blue acara are not likely to eat your plants. However, they are famous diggers so they might damage your plants by uprooting them.
Now that you’ve learned just about all there is to know when it comes to caring for electric blue acara, you should be able to decide for yourself if they’re a good fit for your aquarium.
Electric blue acara are peaceful cichlids, which feels like an oxymoron but is actually the truth. They’re a favorite of aquarists who love their bright, flashy colors and inquisitive behavior. They can live in harmony with a lot of other tank mates but avoid aggressive fish who will pick fights with them, as it will stress them out.
If you can accommodate their need for space, protein-focused diets and long lifespans, they make beautiful centerpieces for your tank with their electric pops of blue.