Orange Chromide Cichlid Care Guide

by | Blog, Brackish Fish, Cichlids

The orange chromide cichlid is a unique type of cichlid for four reasons: It’s a true brackish fish, it does well in community tanks (not all cichlids do!), and it’s a cichlid from Asia, which is not the norm (most are from Africa and South America.) The fourth reason is a big surprise for fish nerds everywhere at the end of the article:)


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1 Species Profile

Common Name:      Orange Chromide

Scientific Name:      Pseudetroplus maculatus

Origin of the Name:      Greek and Latin, deritive for “spotted belly”

Temperament:     Peaceful unless breeding

Size:      ~3in

Care Difficulty:      Moderate

Water Parameters:      71-85°F  with PH between 7.0-8.0

Minimum Tank Size:      At least 20 gallons for a breeding couple; Minimum 40 gal for a school of 6.

Diet:      Combination of frozen meats (like brine shrimp) and vegetables

Orange Chromide Cichlid Photo

Orange Chromide Cichlid Photo by © Roberto Dani |

2 Orange Chromide Cichlid Native Habitat & Appearance

These fish are native to the brackish waters, streams, and estuaries of Southern India and Northern Sri Lanka. They do best in brackish waters that mirror their natural habitat, but they’ve also been raised in freshwater environments successfully.

They’re an eye-catching fish with bright orange scales and white outlines around their eyes. Both male and female orange chromides’ skin changes color during the breeding season (the females more than the males).

3 Temperament & Tank Mates

Orange chromides are a peaceful cichlid, and do well in community tanks.

In a freshwater tank set up, they can be paired with swordtails, some mollies, and green chromides. In a brackish tank, they can be paired with brackish mollies or mono angelfish. 

Despite being a peaceful fish, they do maintain their own hierarchy amongst themselves and can pick on each other from time to time. I’ve never kept these fish but this is what I’ve heard from others who have. It seems to be a bigger problem in tanks that are small or too small for the amount of fish in them. If you maintain a large enough tank and a healthy shoal, I think you’ll be much less likely to encounter any problems.

4 Lifespan

~5 years

5 Feeding & Care

Orange Chromide Cichlid Photo Swimming

Orange Chromide Cichlid Photo by © Roberto Dani |

Acidic, soft water should definitely be avoided. This fish is sensitive to nitrate and requires water changes frequently.

While they will eat commercial foods like pellets, orange chromides do best with frozen meat based food such as brine shrimp or bloodworms. They also do best when provided with vegetables as well, like dried seaweeds or kale.

When it comes to tank decorations, be sure to include rocks and caves for them to hide in and for breeding purposes (if you plan to breed).

6 Breeding

In their natural habitat, these fish breed in shallow depressions in the sand, which they create themselves. If you plan to breed, your substrate should be soft so they can continue this behavior. Like every other aquarium, do your best to replicate their original environment.

They spawn two times a year, and are more likely to breed when the water temperature is on the high side of their range. (68-79°F)

Unlike other fish that eat their fry, orange chromides are thorough and attentive parents that care for both the eggs and the fry until they reach maturity.

7 Fun Facts

At the beginning of this article, I said that there were four things that made the orange chromide fish unique, and that the fourth would be a big reveal at the end. Drumroll:

The orange chromide is actually a cleaning fish, and is the only cichlid that has been observed to demonstrate this behavior (at least at the time of this writing.)

When housed with green chromides, the orange chromide will actually clean its tank mate, removing fungus regularly. The folks at Tannin Aquatics speculate that this might be related to the way that this fish engages in contact feeding during parental care. You can read more about that here.

8 Final Thoughts

Orange chromide cichlids are a fascinating brackish fish that checks many boxes for “one-of-a-kind” fish. Brackish fish are not a good starting place for a beginner or novice aquarist, but experienced aquarists will enjoy the complexity of setting up a brackish tank project, and the orange chromide cichlid is an excellent addition. Here’s a review of what makes it so unique:

  • It’s a true brackish fish
  • It’s one of but a handful of cichlids from Asia
  • It does well in community tanks
  • And it cleans its green chromide tank makes!

Those are the top four reasons why this is a fascinating fish for the experienced aquarist:) Drop your experience with orange chromides in the comments below!



To say that I’m obsessed with all things saltwater is a bit of an understatement. Aquarium Passion has served freshwater and saltwater aquarium hobbyists for over 10 years, and I'm committed to keeping the information accurate and free. My post-bac certification in Sustainability informs my writing about aquarium conservation efforts. When I'm not writing at AP, I'm out in the ocean or researching weird fish.


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