Electric Blue Acara Complete Care Guide: Tank Mates, and More…

The Electric Blue Acara has a mesmerizing appearance.

Their striking iridescent blue color is one of the reasons why they are so popular.

They are naturally curious and enjoy darting around the tank whilst exploring their surroundings. Also, unlike most Cichlids, they are peaceful and can be kept with other tank mates.

It is difficult not to fall in love with this fish.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this dazzling Cichlid…

Electric Blue Acara

What is an Electric Blue Acara?

The Electric Blue Acara (Andinoacara pulcher) is a beautiful and peaceful Cichlid.

They have a murky history though with some people claiming they are a hybrid, whereas others think they are a genetic mutation of the Blue Acara.

Although their origin is up for debate, what is not is their stunning appearance. This fish is a stunning electric blue with yellow highlights. They belong to the Cichlidae family and their Latin name (pulcher) translates to beautiful.

This dazzling fish usually reaches 6-8 inches once fully grown.

These are just some of the reasons why this fish is so popular, but the best reason is that they are one of the more peaceful Cichlids.

When kept in the correct conditions Electric Blue Acaras can live up to 10 years.

Due to their popularity it is easy to find these fish and they usually cost between $5-$15 depending on their size and color.

Key Facts:

  • Experience Required: Beginner.
  • Nicknames: Electric Blue.
  • Color Forms: Iridescent blue.
  • Size: 6-8 inches.
  • Tank Size: Minimum 30+ gallon.
  • Tank Temperature: 72-82°F.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Very entertaining to watch
  • Tolerant to a range of water parameters
  • Beautiful shape and color
  • Peaceful and can be kept with other fish

Cons:

  • Sometimes dig up plants
  • Can be territorial when breeding
  • Susceptible to Malawi Bloat

Appearance

Andinoacara pulcher

The Electric Blue Acara is a gradient blue color that starts sky blue and turns into a rich, deep blue towards their fins.

They have the typical oval body shape with pointed dorsal and anal fins that many other Cichlids have.

The dorsal fin is lined on the top edge with a striking yellow, which can occasionally be found on the caudal and anal fins. Their pectoral fins are a light green, contrasted with their large red eyes and gold/silver shimmer that details their body.

You will notice that the only part of this fish lacking in color is their forehead, lips and the region under their mouth which is a gray color. Their scales are very visible thanks to their electric appearance.

The Electric Blue Acara generally grows to be 6-8 inches in length.

Their dorsal fin starts at the tip of their gray forehead and streaks down the length of their body and slightly overlaps the caudal fin. The caudal fin is symmetrical on both the top and bottom and gives the shape of a heart protruding from the main body, whilst the anal fin mimics the dorsal with a pointed tip, though it is shorter in length. The light green pectoral fins are almost translucent and fan out like strands of hair from the main body just behind the operculum.

Sexing them is relatively easy.

The males are longer than the females and thinner too. You will also notice that their dorsal and anal fins are more pointed.

Blue Acara vs Electric Blue Acara

You may be wondering what the difference is between these two fish.

The Electric Blue Acara has no color varieties and is strictly electric blue. The Blue Acara is a darker blue with light gray and black bands running over their body. They are also more aggressive.

The origin of the Electric Blue Acara is still debated, as it is unknown whether they are a selectively bred variant of a Blue Acara, or a hybrid.

It is thought that Electric Blues come from the breeding of Blue Acaras and Blue Rams to produce a hybrid. Others think that keepers selectively breeding the Blue Acara for their color has led to mutations, giving the Electric Blue their characteristic shimmer, and some people even speculate that genetic modification was used to create this fish..

Although the visual differences are obvious, the genetic difference between these fish is still unknown.

Electric Blue Acara Tank Mates

Although the Electric Blue Acara is a Cichlid, they are actually very peaceful and rarely aggressive.

The key is to pick other peaceful fish that are a similar size.

Some great tank mates to consider include:

This is just the starting point as there are plenty of other fish that will work great with your Acara. Just remember to search for a similar size, peaceful nature and one that can tolerate similar water parameters.

You can also keep them with their own kind.

Keeping Electric Blue Acaras together has proven to be very successful.

Just make sure that the number of them you have is divisible by two (2,4,6 etc), so that nobody will be bullied. Also, you should know that these fish are monogamous and will mate for life, so if you decide to breed they cannot be mixed and matched.

If you are looking for some non-fish tank mates then the main ones to avoid are small shrimp, but crayfish and snails are ideal.

Avoid large and aggressive fish or much smaller fish.

Therefore, Platys, Tetras, Danios and Guppies are all off the table. So too are Jack Dempseys, Green Terror Cichlids and other aggressive Cichlids such as the Dovii Cichlid.

Habitat and Aquarium

A Electric Blue Acara Swimming

The Electric Blue Acara cannot be found in the wild.

Instead we need to look at the Blue Acara’s natural habitat.

They inhabit slow-flowing rivers in South and Central America as well as Trinidad. These streams are generally high in oxygen content as they are quick flowing and have sandy riverbeds. Acaras can also be found in almost stagnant waters that are rich in vegetation.

When designing your tank, you should picture a warm, tropical river with a sandy bed, some smooth rocks and plenty of vegetation.

To replicate their natural habitat you will need to create a warm tank with a high water flow.

You will need at least a 30 gallon aquarium for the Electric Blue Acara. Each additional specimen will need 15 gallons.

The water conditions should be as follows:

  • Temperature: 72-86°F
  • pH: 6-7.5
  • Hardness: 6-20dGH

A canister filter or powerhead should be used to create a strong water flow. The water flow will not only simulate their natural environment, but it will oxygenate the water too.

The substrate is straight-forward as they require a fine sand or rounded gravel substrate for their digging.

Plants are a must for these fish and they can either be planted or floating. Floating plants in particular are recommended, as they are prolific in the Acara’s natural habitat and cannot be dug up. Hornwort in particular is a good pick.

Other good options are Java Fern or Anubias. You will need to make sure your fish cannot dig these up, so potting them would be a good idea.

These fish love caves so you can use upturned plant pots and rocks to make caves.

To maximize the swimming space for your Electric Blue Acaras you can place the décor around the edges of the tank. This provides plenty of open space in the center of your tank for swimming.

Care

These fish are naturally hardy and are perfect for beginners.

To keep them as healthy as possible and to prevent illness you will need to maintain the tank.

Every week you should carry out a 25% water change whilst wiping the glass of algae and siphoning the substrate to remove any food waste and excretion. This will help to keep ammonia and nitrate/nitrite levels down.

You should also make sure your plants are not overgrowing by removing their dead leaves and trimming them. Also change or rinse the filter media as sludge can accumulate here.

Whilst Electric Blue Acaras are not susceptible to any particular disease, they are still vulnerable to all the regular diseases such as Ich, fungal and bacterial infections.

These are generally easy to spot on your fish as you will see skin ulcers, white cotton-like growths or, white spots covering the body and fins. If these issues do present themselves you should immediately quarantine your fish and buy the appropriate over-the-counter medication given your fish’s symptoms.

Overfeeding can lead to digestive issues too; the most common is Malawi bloat.

This is caused by a poor diet and the fish’s body will swell in addition to a loss of appetite and ulcers on the body. This can be treated using antibiotics, but should be initially prevented by not overfeeding and maintaining a high quality diet.

Electric Blue

Feeding and Diet

Blue Acaras are naturally omnivorous.

In the wild they will eat lots of insects, worms, and crustaceans that they find by digging in the sand.

You should feed your Electric Blue Acara a high-quality flake or pellet made specifically for Cichlids. You can supplement this with frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, red earthworms, tubifex and bloodworms. You can also add some leafy veggies like spinach or broccoli.

Here are some of the different foods that you can give them:

  • Red earthworms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Tubifex
  • Bloodworms
  • Larvae
  • Daphnia
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli

You can also feed them small live insects.

Do not feed them wild insects as they may have a number of parasites or diseases.

Their diet is very important and helps them to stay healthy.

You need to give them a varied and high-quality diet as well as sticking to a regular feeding schedule. You should also keep in mind that with live food comes the risk of parasites, so you may wish to culture your own food or stick to frozen foods to minimize the risk.

They will need two small meals a day. Give them enough that they can eat in two minutes. Overfeeding has been known to lead to digestive issues in these fish, so sticking to two meals a day is just fine.

Behavior

Do not be put off by the fact that this fish is a member of the Cichlid family.

The Electric Blue Acara is a surprisingly calm Cichlid!

They are generally very peaceful and are compatible with similarly sized fish. They can be territorial at times but if you give them enough space to swim it will help to minimize this aggression.

These Cichlids are naturally very curious and like to explore. You will see them burrowing in the substrate and exploring the plants and decorations. They spend the majority of their time swimming in the middle and bottom layers of the tank throughout the day as they are diurnal; they are most active during the day, whilst sleeping at night in caves.

Electric Blue Acaras are not schooling fish, although they might occasionally hang around in pairs.

They tend to stick to themselves most of the time. Most of the time they will dart about the tank but if they are startled they will hide.

Breeding

Electric Blue Acara can be bred in home aquariums relatively easily.

They reach sexual maturity at 3-4 inches and are egg layers.

To breed them you will need a 30 gallon breeding tank and a mated pair. Once Electric Blue Acaras have mated, they remain mated for life, so keep them together.

You will want the water temperature in the breeding tank to be around 75°F. Then raise the temperature of the tank slightly to trigger the breeding. It is also necessary to exclude any other fish from this tank, as the mated pair will become very aggressive towards intruders. Keep the pH normal at 6.5-7.0 and the water hardness medium-soft at 3-12dGH.

A common behavior during breeding is for both the female and male to spend an excessive amount of time digging through the substrate and remaining at the bottom of the tank, so make sure you have a soft substrate. In addition, make sure to include some smooth rocks that will act as a place for the female to safely lay her eggs; the flatter these rocks are the better.

Once the perfect breeding environment is established the pair will clear a spot on the flattened rocks and the female will lay 150-200 eggs ready to be fertilized by the male.

After the eggs have been fertilized the parents should not be removed.

They will watch over and care for their eggs, which will develop for 2-3 days before hatching into fry.

The mother is particularly maternal and the fry will remain close to her for the first few weeks of their lives. The parents will also care and feed the fry initially, so feed your Acaras as normal.

You will notice that they are ready to fend for themselves in two weeks, but must not be introduced to the main tank until they are fully grown. In the meantime, the parents can go back into the main tank.

History and First Sighting

The discovery and origin of the Electric Blue Acara is debated due to its controversial history.

It is not known whether they are a hybrid of the Blue Acara and Blue Ram or a mutation due to breeding of the Blue Acara. The best way to understand the true origins of this fish would be to sequence their DNA for evaluation.

The Blue Acara’s history is less convoluted.

They were first discovered by German biologist H. G. Reiss in 1956 in the Amazon River Basin in South America.

The nature of the transition of the Blue Acara from wild-caught to captive-bred is unknown.

However, now both the Blue and Electric Blue Acaras are prolific in the fish-keeping community, and without the initial introduction of the Blue Acara, we never would have seen the Electric Blue Acara.

They previously belonged to the genus Aequidens, and were known as Aequidens pulcher. However, this was revised in 2009 by a paper that studied the Cichlasomatine phylogenetic relationships and found six species (including the Blue Acara) to be in a different genus. They are now known as Andinoacara pulcher.

Facts about Electric Blue Acaras

Electric Blue Acara
Other Common Names: Electric Blue
Scientific Name: Andinoacara pulcher
Family Name: Cichlidae
Distribution: Captive only
Size: 6-8 inches
Color: Iridescent blue
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Tank Mate Compatibility: Compatible with fish of a similar size and nature

Final Thoughts

You do not want to miss the Electric Blue Acara!

Their animated personality and captivating appearance which enchant you.

They are tolerant to a range of water parameters due to their hardiness and are one of the most beautiful Cichlids around.

Not only this but they have a docile temperament which means you can keep them with lots of other fish.

Are you looking for a dazzling fish to brighten up your tank?

Let us know in the comments below…

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.