Introduction to the Green Terror Cichlid

The Green Terror Cichlid, Andinoacara rivulatus is a popular addition to Cichlid community tanks. While their primary colors are green and silver, they can also display colors such as reds, purples, pinks and blues.

As with most Cichlids, the males display the most coloration and are easily identified by the red/orange coloring on the tail fin. The Green Terror is also commonly referred to as the White Saum, Orange Saum, and Gold Saum.

A young Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Intermediate – Experienced
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (190 L)
  • Maximum Size: 12 in. (30.5 cm)
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Temperature: 70 – 80° F (21.1 – 26.6° C)
  • pH Range: 6.5 – 8
  • Water Hardness: 5 – 13 dGH
  • Diet: Carnivore

This species is often confused with the Blue Acara which is similar in appearance. While shapes are somewhat similar, the Green Terror has a more prominent green shine to it, whereas the Blue Acara has a noticeable blue and gray coloration.

Green Terrors are also bigger than the Blue Acara and adults will often develop a bump in its head, similar to that of a Flowerhorn Cichlid.

This Cichlid is a great choice for most aquarists given their hardiness and availability. They are also easy to breed in captivity. The only concern that should be noted is that they are an aggressive fish and as such, should be carefully thought over when planning any introductions to a community tank.

A mature Green Terror Cichlid

Aquarium Setup

Green Terror Cichlids require plenty of room as they grow, and are very active and aggressive fish. A minimum of 50 gallons is should be provided for a single fish and 75 gallons plus for additional fish. Being a South American Cichlid, they prefer water hardness that is soft and a slightly acidic to neutral pH level.

They also do best with plenty of rockwork and hiding places in your tank, and require good lengths for swimming, so a rectangle sized tank is best. All objects should be securely anchored down as this Cichlid will move items around your tank and cause major problems if you fail to plan for this. They will also claim an area in the tank and become highly defensive of this territory, attacking any other fish that come within range.

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Green Terror Cichlid Aquarium Guide

  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (190 L)
  • pH Range: 6.5 – 8
  • Water Hardness: 5 – 13 dGH
  • Temperature: 70 – 80° F (21.1 – 26.6° C)
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Substrate: Medium/Large sized gravel.
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Flow: Low to Moderate.
  • Tank Region: All areas.

A Green Terror Cichlid / Gold Saum


While this Cichlid is quite hardy and is easy to look after, difficulty arises when you fail to control the aggression. Other species that have no territory or dominance in the community will be attacked. When the Green Terror Cichlids form a pair, they are even worse and will gang up on victims in the aquarium.

Although they are hardy, they are still quite sensitive to sudden water parameter changes, so it is highly important that your tank is well established and that you perform regular maintenance.

If you intend to keep this species only, and are a beginner then you should be OK. For multiple fish and community aquariums, it is best that you are an experienced aquarist that can manage aggression appropriately.


Being a carnivore, they will do best with a diet consisting of frozen foods such as worms, krill, brine shrimp, and other frozen Cichlid specific, meaty foods. To supplement their diet, it is important to also include Cichlid specific flake and pellet food.

They also eat partly cooked dark leafy greens.

While these fish enjoy protein meals, it is important not to overfeed protein based foods (several times per week only) so to avoid any digestive system problems which is common with Cichlids.

Feed small amounts, several times per day and more if needed to help curb the aggression.

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Green Terror Cichlid Feeding Guide

  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Frequency: Several times per day to curb aggression.
  • Pellet Foods: Yes, Cichlid specific pellet food.
  • Flake Foods: Yes, Cichlid specific flake food.
  • Live Foods: Yes, worms, smaller fish, shrimps.
  • Meat Foods: Yes, frozen and live foods. Monitor protein and do not give too much.
  • Vegetable Foods: Occasionally. Will eat partly cooked dark leafy greens.

Sex Differences

Males will usually display a red/orange color around the tail fin and usually have anal fins in a shade of blue. Males are generally bigger and develop large lumps on their heads, similar to the Flowhorn Cichlid, but not as large. The females do not grow this lump and their anal fins are often green in color. Unlike many other Cichlids, the female is the more aggressive sex of this species.


The Green Terror Cichlids are egg layers and open water breeders. They are easy to breed in captivity.

Unless purchasing a breeding pair, you should be able to get at least one pair from a group of 5 of more young fish and waiting for them to develop.

To encourage and support spawning, adjust your water parameters to around 6.3 to 6.5 pH and between 4 – 8 dGH. Temperatures should also be raised to be between  77 – 79° F (25 – 26° C). Be aware that increased temperature means more aggression and coupled with the fact that spawning will be taken place, the aggression levels will be at an all time high.

The female will lay her eggs on a flat surface that the pair has cleared in preparation. The male will then fertilize the eggs. Egg numbers can range between 100 – 400 eggs. Young fry generally begin to hatch within 4 days and will be swimming around within 12 days. Both male and female Green Terrors will take care of the fry, however, for maximum survival rate, it is best to raise the fry in a separate fry tank using the same water from the main tank. Ensure the water quality is excellent and no sudden changes in parameters take place.

The young fry will take small brine shrimp, crushed Cichlid specific flake and pellets foods providing the crushed pieces can fit in their mouths. Be sure to remove any excess food from the tank immediately to avoid unhealthy water parameters.


Other South American Cichlids can live with the Green Terror, as long as the tank is large enough and there are enough areas for all fish to have their own territory. These fish will sometimes become very docile and relaxed when there is no need for aggression and this can happen in a very underpopulated tank with plenty of space, or an overstocked tank where the aggression is spread.

The Green Terror will attack other Green Terror Cichlids, especially if they are small or new additions to the tank.

Tank mates to avoid are African Cichlids as these will often be bullied and killed, then eaten. Green Terror Cichlids usually do well with peaceful tankmates like Plecos, Oscars and Silver Dollars, however, this still needs to be monitored closely.

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