Electric Blue Acara Fish

The Electric Blue Acara fish is a variation of the Blue Acara fish, which is part of the cichlid family of fish.

The Acara fish is a popular fish for beginners because it is very hardy species for breeding and ease of care.

Electric blue acara
Electric Blue Acara Fish

The Electric Blue Acara is a freshwater fish which can be found in the streams and ponds of Venezuela, Colombia, Trinidad, and Panama. As a variation of the Blue Acara, the Electric Blue acara is incredibly vivid and brightly colored, making it an eye-catching conversation piece in any home aquarium.

History

The electric blue acara fish is a subset of the aequidens pulcher species. “Pulcher” is Latin for “beautiful”, and the appearance of this fish lives up to its name.

The aequidens pulcher was first identified by Theodore N. Gill in his 1858 book Synopsis of the Fresh Water Fishes of the Western Portion of the Island of Trinidad, WI. The fish is indigenous to the West Indies, but it is believed to have been seen as far north as Miami until the 1970s when it was declared extirpated, possibly due to cold temperatures during the winter.

There is some doubt in parts of the research community as to whether they made it so far north as Miami, or if it was a misidentification of another species. Regardless, these fish thrive in areas with fresh, warm waters and are very common in Central and South America.

The electric blue acara is a variant of the blue acara. The electric blue acara is likely a hybrid of the blue acara and the electric blue ram, which itself is a hybrid variant derived from the ram cichlid.

The purposeful interbreeding of the blue acara and the electric blue ram led to the dominant traits of the acara being expressed (larger size, spiky dorsal fin, long anal fin), and the dominant colors of the ram expressed.

The result is a bigger fish with more dazzling colors to flash, making it a mesmerizing sight in the water.

Appearance and size

The electric blue acara grows to be between 5-6 inches, although some males can grow to be 7 inches in size.

The males are generally larger and more colorful than females. Their heads are more rounded than other cichlids, and they are notable for their long, flowing anal and caudal fins.

Their dorsal spins are shorter than an acara’s, but spiky like a ram’s, and usually topped with yellow or light orange tips.

The scales are iridescent and bright blue or green, so bright that they almost seem like they should glow in the dark. Sometimes the scales are more white in appearance, yet still reflective, with bright blue fins.

There are usually spots of iridescent blue spots around the face, and some fish have the light black stripes throughout which is characteristic of their acara heritage. 

In an aquarium, they stand out against the background and their tank mates. They are incredibly impressive to watch, and they are pleasing to the eye.

Electric blue acara temperament and characteristics

The electric blue acara is popular with fish breeders and enthusiasts because of its docile nature. The only time it usually becomes openly aggressive is during breeding times, in which case it should be separated into a smaller tank with its mate until the breeding is over.

The electric blue acara fish likes to dig, so plants and other decorations at the bottom of a tank can become dislodged.

They also like to have a place to hide in and under when they need some time alone, or during breeding. River sand is best for the bottoms of the tanks to help keep plants in place and to give the electric blue acara ample material to dig in.

Blue acara and plants

Floating plants are an excellent alternative if you are having difficulty keeping plants in place.

Flat rocks, timber, and driftwood branches are all excellent surfaces for spawning, and plants with large leaves make an excellent breeding shelter.

If the electric blue acara is kept in a shared tank during breeding, they will strike out at other fish who come to close to their spawning area.

There have been some instances of the mother and father fighting with each other in the spawning area, but that is rare; for the most part, the two work together to protect and raise their fry. 

Food, care, and spawning

Blue acara fry

The electric blue acara fish is an omnivore, so it likes food such as blood worm, larvae, chopped prawn, tubifex, brine shrimp, and white worm.

Flakes, tablets, and pellets are also acceptable forms of food, along with foods rich in vegetables such as spinach and peas. They should be fed 3-5 pinches per day throughout the day, rather than all at once.

Electric blue acara fish should not be kept in small tanks; they do best in tanks of 20 gallons or more. This gives them plenty of space for spawning with their mates, which they will naturally pair off with if multiple males and females are together in the tank.

It is best to separate the pairs into separate tanks once they begin to couple to avoid potential scuffles. As an interesting side note, the pair will mate for life, so their early connection should be obvious and lasting.

The two will spend a lot of time together and eventually begin to clean an area for breeding, which they can become territorial and aggressive about protecting.

The female will lay between 200-300 eggs for the male to fertilize, and they will guard them for 3-4 days until they begin to spawn. The parents will then dig an area for the newly-spawned fry, and place them there until they begin to freeswim. The pair will fiercely protect their fry for up to two weeks, and will be ready to breed again shortly after this time period.

The electric blue acara mates relatively easily, but to encourage breeding, raise the temperature in the tank to between 78-85° F and keep the pH between 7-7.2.

The acara prefers to have a warmer, slightly more acidic environment for breeding conditions. Regular feeding of live feed such as blood worms or earthworms will help to keep both parents nourished with lots of protein as they prepare to breed. In normal conditions, the tank should be kept between 72-80° F and the pH between 6.5-7.

Health issues and lifespan

Reputable stockers of the electric blue acara fish will carefully source them from established breeders. These breeders will ensure that the bloodlines have not been too diluted or corrupted, and the electric blue acara fish should live a relatively healthy, normal life.

Many stockers of the electric blue acara, however, do not always source their fish from reputable breeders. As a result, they may show deformities in their gill covers, jaws, spines, and fins. There is some evidence of internal abnormalities that appear as the electric blue acaras age and struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

The typical electric blue acara fish will live between 8-10 years, which makes it a great investment with relatively little risk because they are so hardy and easy to care for.

Tank mates and rivals

The electric blue acara is docile most of the time, and only seems to display aggression when it is defending its fry. However, it can bully or even eat smaller fish, so it’s best if it’s kept with fish no smaller than 2 inches. Medium-sized fish such as other cichlids, catfish, characins, and loricariids are good options for neighbors in a large tank.

Electric Blue Acara with tank mates

Additional breed information

While not much is known about the process of hybridization that resulted in the electric blue acara fish, it’s thought to have begun on Asian decorative fish farms. While there are many reputable breeders who maintain the integrity of the genetic line and do not over-breed the hybrid, there are many breeders who do not take as much care.

The diluting of the blue acara line is also a common practice, and as a result, most modern blue acara fish are not as vibrant as they once were, or as they are found in their natural habitats.

If a diluted blue acara fish is used as a parent of the hybridized electric blue acara, this may result in a sicklier, duller fish.

The electric blue ram is also thought to be a hybrid of the blue ram fish, and the diluting of this genetic line is thought to cause some of the health problems and deformities seen in electric blue acara fish.

Be vigilant when selecting your electric blue acara fish, and do not buy a fish that looks sickly or has deformed fins. These may be indicators of greater internal problems, and if you intend to breed them, their spawn might have many of the same issues.

Final thoughts

If you are a beginner to the arena of fish, or if you simply desire to have a fish that will be around for many years, the electric blue acara is an excellent choice for your home or office aquarium. With its hardiness, ease of breeding, docile nature, relatively low maintenance, and brilliant colors, it will quickly become a favorite fish in your tank.