It may feel like you’ve seen everything there is to see when it comes to aquarium fish these days. But there are still new breeds popping up now and again, and the Electric Blue Acara is proof of this. These are a recent addition to the world of freshwater fish and are a new take on an old favorite, the venerable Blue Acara. What does the Electric Blue morph have to offer fish keepers?
Getting to Know the Electric Blue Acara
The latin name, Adinoacara pulcher, gives you a clue as to it’s looks; “pulcher” literally means beautiful. And that’s only referring to the original color form; the Electric Blue Acara is even more special!
Blue Acaras are found natively in Venezuela, Colombia, Trinidad, and other parts of Northern South America. However, the vast majority are tank raised now. Blue Acaras have been a part of the aquarium hobby for a very long time but have never been especially popular; more of an uncommon find in stores.
The Electric Blue Acara is helping to propel this species to popularity, though. On a normal morph Blue Acara, the blue scales are scattered throughout a duller background. And while they do become more beautiful when breeding, they have fairly average looks.
But the Electric Blue Acara has vibrant blue scales that entirely cover it’s flanks. And if kept in exceptional health or when breeding, the males often take on green and gold tones that rival the hues of any tropical reef fish.
As Cichlids, Blue Acaras are very middle of the road in terms of size, temperament, and other factors. While they do show some aggression, particularly when breeding, their tempers are very manageable with the right tank mates. And while not small, they are far from large, either.
You might notice a strong resemblance to their close cousins, the Green Terror (Andinoacara rivulatus). As the largest Andinoacara, Green Terrors are infamous for being gorgeous but short tempered and hard for some aquarists to handle. Electric Blue Acaras just might be even more beautiful than a Green Terror in its prime yet far easier to manage!
When searching for information on Electric Blue Acaras, make sure that you include their former scientific name as well (see below). They were only recently reclassified into the genus Andinoacara, so there is a lot of good information out there using the term Aequidens!
- Common Names: Electric Blue Acara
- Scientific Name: Andinoacara/Aequidens pulcher
- Origin: South America
- Length: 6 inches
- Aquarium Size: 30 gallons
- Temperament: Peaceful to Semi-Aggressive
- Ease of Care: Easy
Electric Blue Acara Care
Fairly peaceful, hardy, and even tempered, Electric Blue Acaras are an excellent addition to the mid-sized community tank! Just watch out if yours decide to spawn…
As I mentioned earlier, Electric Blue Acaras are middle of the road in terms of size. At 5 to 6 inches you don’t need an especially large sized aquarium. But they can’t live in smaller aquariums as adults, either.
30 gallons is an absolute minimum for an adult pair of Electric Blue Acaras, with 40 gallons being much more comfortable. And if they decide to breed, the other fish in the tank will be very thankful for the extra room to keep out of the way of the aggressive parents.
If you buy them when young you can certainly raise them in aquariums as small as 10 gallons in size. But you’ll quickly want to scale up the tank size as your Acaras grow, and especially if two pair off. Otherwise, you’ll eventually end up with two angry, brilliantly colored parents with eggs and a bunch of sad, frightened siblings bunched into the corners of the tank.
Electric Blue Acaras are very adaptable when it comes to water conditions because they are 100% tank raised. In nature, Blue Acaras are found in neutral to slightly acidic conditions (pH 6.0-7.0). They still prefer these parameters and you have a much greater chance of seeing them spawn if you provide your Acaras with acidity.
That said, they are well adapted even to alkaline conditions (pH 7.0+) and won’t suffer if you don’t cater to their preferences. What’s more important to keep track of is ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.
Like many highly inbred fish varieties, Electric Blue Acaras are a little more delicate than their descendents. You should always aim to keep nitrogenous waste products as close to 0 ppm as possible but it’s even more important with these fancier varieties of Acara. When cycling a new tank, your Electric Blue Acaras should be the last fish you add as they need a fully mature ecosystem.
And as near-equatorial fish, you should provide Electric Blue Acaras with higher temperatures with little fluctuation. 78-84℉ is their preferred zone and will keep their metabolisms high and enable them to fight off opportunistic infections like fin rot and ich.
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Plants and Substrate
Live plants and substrate choices should always be carefully considered when buying cichlids of any kind because these fish can be rough on aquascaping! Again, Electric Blue Acaras are very middle of the road in this department. They are prone to digging shallow pits on occasion, especially the males. But established, well rooted plants like Amazon Swords, Cryptocoryne, and other species with deep root structures will be able to resist an occasional nip or tug from an Acara.
When breeding however, all bets are off. If your Acaras decide they really like a particular spot and there is a plant in the way, it will eventually get uprooted. But Acaras have nothing on Jaguar Cichlids, Jack Dempseys, and other large species that do more serious earth moving.
When choosing a substrate, if you want to discourage your Acaras from digging, you should choose heavier gravel sizes. The smaller the grain, the more it will get shifted about. Of course, you may decide you’d rather see your cichlids engage in natural behavior. And if you go with silk plants then no real harm will be done.
I recommend medium colored to dark substrates for these fish because they help bring out the deeper blue tones in Acaras. Light and white substrates cause most fish to wash out because they instinctively want to blend into their background.
Other additions to your aquascape include driftwood and rocks, which provide cover and are aesthetically pleasing. But be careful to look into what you add to the tank because both driftwood and rocks can have drastic effects on water chemistry.
Most kinds of driftwood have varying levels of plant tannins and humic acids. These substances have an acidifying effect on the water and help buffer your tank towards acidity. In the case of Electric Blue Acaras, they prefer these conditions so it’s not an issue. In fact, you can even add plant tannins to boost their color and health.
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Rocks, on the other hand, can make the water more acid or, more frequently, more alkaline. Many common aquarium rocks, such as limestone, marble, and sandstone have this effect. So be certain of what kind of rocks you’re adding to your Electric Blue Acara tank beforehand.
Feeding Electric Blue Acaras
Electric Blue Acaras are thankfully very easy to feed as they are entirely tank raised and have seen pellets and flakes their entire lives. That said, I always recommend reading up on the ingredients in a given formula and choose a blend that has high concentrations of animal protein. Most standard aquarium formulas use potato and wheat starch as filler, along with other ingredients that carnivores like Acaras can’t digest and does them no good.
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Alongside a high quality pellet (flakes when younger) you can provide an array of frozen and live foods. Invertebrates are their staple in nature, so bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex, and the like are eagerly eaten by Acaras, regardless of how large they are. Providing these foods also gives them nutrients a prepared food may be missing and conditions them for spawning with extra fat and protein.
Despite what some other articles on Electric Blue Acara care might suggest, these fish are not omnivores. So save the peas, lettuce, and algae wafers for your Plecos!
Tank Mates for Electric Blue Acaras
Electric Blue Acaras are very middle of the road in terms of temperament and their small mouths make them a great addition to most community aquariums. I still wouldn’t advise keeping them alongside bite-sized Neon Tetras, Guppies, Dwarf Otocinclus, and other small fish as adults, however. While they aren’t really fish predators, tiny fish like these can be too tempting for a hungry Acara.
Small invertebrates are definitely a bad idea for Electric Blue Acara tank mates as well. That means no Ramshorn Snails, no Ghost Shrimp, and other snacks. You might be able to get away with Mystery Snails, freshwater clams, and other larger invertebrates. But I still wouldn’t risk them being stressed from being picked at.
Stick to medium sized to large community fish, such as Swordtails, Gouramis, Barbs, Black Skirt Tetras, and other sizable tank mates. You can also keep Electric Blue Acaras with other cichlids but you’ll need to be very careful that they are well matched in terms of temperament, coloration, and size.
If you keep them with other vibrant blue species, such as Electric Blue Rams, you may see aggression between your fish. Even a Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami may be mistaken for a rival despite not being related in any way. Mild mannered cichlids that look very different in appearance include Severums, Angelfish, and Earth Eaters (Geophagus sp.). More aggressive species that are significantly smaller, such as Convict Cichlids can also work so long as the tank is large enough.
Lastly, don’t keep Electric Blue Acaras with some of the more aggressive large cichlids. Acaras simply aren’t all that mean when they aren’t breeding. A Red Terror, Jaguar Cichlid, Midas Cichlid, or Flowerhorn will gladly pick an Acara to pieces if the tank is too small or it’s just in a bad mood.
Good Tank Mates for Electric Blue Acaras:
- Gouramis, Swordtails, Giant Danios, Barbs, Black Skirt Tetras, and other medium to large Community Fish
- Angelfish, Severums, Earth Eaters, and other more peaceful Cichlids
- Catfish, Plecostomus, and other bottom dwellers
Poor Tank Mates for Electric Blue Acaras:
- Guppies, Tetras, Rasboras, and other small Community Fish
- Electric Jack Dempseys, Peacock Cichlids, Electric Blue Rams, and other bright blue Cichlids
- Dwarf shrimp, Snails, Clams, and other Invertebrates
- Flowerhorns, Midas Cichlids, Red Terrors, and other Aggressive Fish
Breeding Electric Blue Acaras
As beautiful and in high demand as Electric Blue Acaras are, it makes perfect sense that you’d want to spawn them! You’re guaranteed to get some good money for the fry and it’s not especially difficult to breed them. Plus, cichlid breeding behavior is really fun to watch and one of the best parts of the freshwater aquarium hobby!
The first and trickiest step to breeding Electric Blue Acaras is determining their sexes. Usually, male cichlids are much more colorful than females but this isn’t the case with Electric Blue Acaras.
Instead, you have to rely on more subtle cues that only become obvious as the fish approach sexual maturity (2½ – 3 inches). Male Electric Blue Acaras are always larger than females of the same age; so buying the largest and smallest fish in a tank of imports gives you a good chance of scoring a pair.
Male Acaras have slightly more pointed dorsal and anal fin extensions and often have a deeper orange to red stripe on their dorsal fin. And as they grow past 4 inches you’ll see a nuchal hump develop in your males: a growth on the head that can get impressively large as they reach full size.
Female Electric Blue Acaras never grow a nuchal hump and their fins are more subdued in length and color. But other than that, you don’t have many other cues to go by. The best way to breed these fish is to buy 5 to 6 juveniles and grow them up together in a breeder aquarium. Once a pair forms naturally, remove the other fish. Natural pair forming is ideal because even if you manage to find a male and female they may not take to one another.
Like most cichlids, Acaras are dedicated parents. They may do a bit of digging and tearing up of plants in preparation but they prefer spawning on hard surfaces. So provide them with an overturned flower pot or flat rock to deposit their eggs on.
Once the pair has spawned, you’ll see drastically increased aggression from your Blue Acaras at this point. You may want to spawn them in a breeder tank, to keep your other fish from suffering torn fins from bites. Otherwise, make sure your community tank is 40 gallons in size or larger so the new parents have room to themselves.
Cichlid fry are fortunately very easy to care for as they will accept brine shrimp nauplii within 2-3 days of hatching. You’ll want to transition them to crushed flake within a week of their first feed. You may also want to move them to a fry rearing tank, as the parents stop providing care a few weeks after spawning. At this point, it’s only a matter of time until the fry grow into miniature Electric Blue Acaras and can be resold to your local pet store or fish club!