Thanks for stopping by! This complete, comprehensive guide on blue acara care will teach you about their tank parameters, health, diet, behavior, tank pairings, and more!
Blue Acara, Blue Neon, Electric Blue. This fish goes by many names. Being a cichlid, people assume they are going to be aggressive, but they are surprisingly chilled.
The Blue Acara is a delightfully bright fish found in several different habitats. Traditionally, they are found around Central and South American countries including Venezuela and Colombia, but they have also been introduced in Indonesia and Australia. The captive bred variants of this species are much more brightly colored due to selective breeding.
This fish is often confused with another cichlid, The Green Terror, but this big beast grows much bigger and becomes more aggressive than the Acara.
Due to their popularity, Blue Acaras are very easily to source. They are also pretty reasonable when it comes to price. This differs depending on country, region and age, but the average cost is £5-£10 in the UK, compared to $15-$25 in the US.
Blue Acara Lifespan
The Blue Acara is definitely not one to purchase on a whim. A specimen well cared for, kept in good water conditions and fed a healthy and varied diet, can easily live between 8 and 10 years. In the wild, Acaras are capable of living much longer!
Blue Acara Appearance
As the name suggests, Blue Acara are a luminous, neon blue with clearly defined scales. The blue fades around the gill area to a pale green or yellow. The only place on the body where there is no blue coloring is a small spot on the face that runs from the top of the head to the mouth.
The dorsal fin has a striking yellow or orange line along the edge, making them look even more striking.
As an adult, Blue Acara grow to between 6 and 7 inches/15 and 18cm, so they require a more spacious tank. Most aquarists sell fish as juveniles, so be sure to do some research on their adult size and tank requirements.
Blue Acara Aquarium Care
The recommended minimum tank size for Blue Acara is 30 gallons/115 litres. Tall tanks are not suitable for several reasons. Blue Acara are territorial, so they need space to set up their own territory and also room to swim. They are also quite large fish and fairly active swimmers. Ideally, your tank will be rectangular and at least 4ft in length.
Blue Acara are enthusiastic diggers, even more so when they are spawning, so you should choose a fine sand to prevent injury. If you are using live plants, plan for a thicker layer of substrate to prevent your plants from being dug up.
Plants and Decorations
Acara are very easy to breed in an aquarium, provided the water conditions are good and they are well fed. When the female lays eggs, she will look for a broad, flat leaf to lay on. Go for plants like Anubias or Echinodorus as they have long stems and large, wide leaves.
For decoration, driftwood is best, as this replicates their natural habitat. If you have the space, you could interlace several pieces of branching driftwood and strategically place certain plants to create pockets of shelter and shade.
Different sizes of aquarium stone and pebbles will also add a more realistic look to the tank and also allow algae to form, which your fish can graze on.
When it comes to water parameters, Blue Acara are fairly tolerant and have a wider range than some other cichlids. For temperature, anywhere between 23 and 27°C/73-80°F is considered acceptable. If you are wanting your Acara to breed, aim for the warmer end of this range.
A heater is recommended to maintain a stable temperature, even if you are keeping it at the cooler end of 23°C/73°F. Really only on room temperature means you have no control over fluctuations. Aquarium heaters have a built-in thermostat that turns the heater off when the desired temperature is reached and turns the heater on if the water cools below the preset.
pH and Water Hardness
Blue Acara are also fairly tolerant to acidity and water hardness, but again, it is advisable to stick to one reading. Too much change or changes that occur too quickly can trigger stress related behavior and illness.
The ideal pH for Blue Acara is 6.5-7.8, but 7.0-7.5 is the sweet spot. Water hardness can fall anywhere up to 25dH. To find out the hardness of water in your area, check your water provider’s website.
For tank lighting, Acara do not like very bright light, but neither does it need to be dim. The ideal set up is standard lighting while making use of plants and decorations to create shaded areas. Floating plants such as frogbit or water lettuce will create shade and also act as a natural filter for nitrates.
Since this fish is a digger, it is recommended to choose a strong filter that can keep up with the constant disturbance of the substrate. They also produce a fair amount of waste, so you will also need to invest in a gravel siphon. This helps to pick up debris and food waste during your weekly water changes.
Blue Acare Species Profile
Blue Acara Health
Acara are robust fish and there are not any species-specific diseases you need to worry about. They are, however, still susceptible to common freshwater infections.
Common Health Issues: Ich is a fungal infection common in freshwater aquariums and even hardy fish can suffer from it. The classic sign of an Ich infection is white spots. There is medication available, but this can be expensive. If you spot signs in one fish, isolate them immediately in a separate tank to prevent the infection spreading. It is far easier to treat one fish than it is to dose a fully stocked tank.
Be mindful of how much food you are putting into the water. Most fish are prone to bloat, which is caused by over-feeding. This can cause swim bladder issues and more serious digestive problems.
Most common infections can be prevented by maintaining good water parameters. This means keeping on top of your weekly water changes and regularly testing your tank water.
Healthy Signs: healthy Acara will have a good appetite and will show clear signs of establishing and/or defending a small territory within the tank. If your Acara looks listless or is remaining hidden, these are signs that there is a problem.
Blue Acara Food & Diet
Acara are omnivorous, so you will need to feed them a varied diet. The base to any good feeding regime is a high-quality flake or pellet. Ask your local aquarium store if they sell species specific brands, as these are tailored to that particular species’ dietary needs.
You will also want to supplement some protein into their diet. This can be done by giving live food. Good options include brine shrimp, bloodworms and finely diced prawns.
Blue Acara Behavior & Temperament
Although they are a cichlid, Blue Acara are pretty mild-mannered. The only time you should expect any trouble is if you have a breeding pair who are spawning or protecting eggs/fry. You may also run into problems if you have more than one pair, but not enough tank space for them to set up their own territories.
Generally, Acara are active swimmers and will explore the tank, but they prefer to stay close to the area of the tank they have claimed as they own territory. They especially enjoy rooting through the substrate, and you can gain hours of enjoyment watching them digging around.
If you are wanting to breed your Acara, there isn’t much you need to do besides maintain good water quality and provide a few broad leaf plants and a soft substrate. Female Acaras will lay line of eggs for the male to fertilize. The pair will repeat this, laying up to 300 eggs. Acara are great parents, guarding the eggs until they hatch and protecting the fry for the first 2 weeks. Once the fry are free swimming and eating, a breeding pair are able to lay eggs again.
Blue Acara Tank Mates
As previously mentioned, Acara are the exception when it comes to South American cichlids. They are much calmer and can live peacefully with a bigger pool of fish. The best community tankmates for Acara are similar sized cichlids.
They can also be kept with L number Plecos, Catfish and giant Gourami. It is possible to keep Acara with loaches or Corydoras, but this is advised with caution. Loaches and Corys are bottom dwellers and Acara like to dig around in the substrate. This can create tension and Acara have been known to harass or chase off other bottom dwelling species. A longer tank may prevent this from occurring.
Despite them being a cichlid and the assumption that they are aggressive, Blue Acara are wonderful fish to keep. Their dazzling appearance and confident personality make them a great centre piece fish.
They do not have strict requirements or specialist diets. Their only needs are space and the commitment to owning a fish that can live 10 years or more.