Last update: November 7, 2023

15 Best Red Devil Cichlid Tank Mates – FishLab

The yellow to fire engine red bodies of red devil cichlids are a great addition to any tank but these babies aren’t easy to care for. Housing them with appropriate roommates is something of an art form since any misstep can spell disaster. While these cool-looking fish are quite the character, they’re also very aggressive.

Here we will discuss the best red devil cichlid tank mates. These include other red devil cichlids, plecos, jaguar cichlids, Jack Dempsey cichlids and tire track eels, among a host of others. The idea is to get other species that match the size and temperament of the red devil cichlid to reduce bullying.

Understand that red devils are very territorial and see any species smaller than itself as a threat to their space. This will happen regardless of how big the tank is and how many hiding spots you provide for the other fish. Forget including anything like guppies as they will become dinner for the red devil cichlid in a heartbeat.

What You Need to Know

The one thing that you can bet on with a red devil is how aggressive they are, especially the males. It’s highly advisable to keep them as a single fish or pair, with that being the only fish living in the tank.

But, if you’re bound and determined to have an aquarium with more than the red devil cichlid, then prepare yourself accordingly. A massive tank with plenty of hiding spots that includes plants and decorations to house everyone will be essential.

Also, make sure the tank mates are the same size or larger than the red devil cichlid. You will also have to keep a close eye on your fish for signs of stress, including nipped fins and gouged flesh. Even still, make sure you have a spare tank in case something happens.


The temperament of a red devil cichlid is highly aggressive and territorial. While they’re rather peaceful when they’re young, that definitely changes upon maturity and coming upon breeding age. So, regardless of this list of 15 best red devil cichlid tank mates, keep this at the top of your priorities.

This means it’s very difficult to make them part of a community aquarium. While you can start them off living with others at a young age, they will not tolerate others in their immediate environment as they age. But they do love to play, digging on the surface of the substrate and swimming around at the middle tank sections.


Red devil cichlids are usually around 12 inches long. But, they can be as long as 15 inches, with the males being the bigger of the two sexes. Also note this when looking for a tank mate because they must be large enough to stave off the red devil’s signature aggression.

Males can reach sizes of about 12 to 16 inches (that’s 30 to 40 cm). While the females, typically around 10 to 14 inches (25 to 35 cm). 

Waiting for the red devil cichlid to hit their full size takes a bit of patience, usually about 3 years. However, they are ready to spawn when they’re just 6 inches (15 cm) long.


The red devil fish can be pretty bossy when it comes to mealtime. They might hog the feeding area and make it tough for other tank buddies to grab a bite.

Because red devil cichlids are territorial, they will duke it out with any fish they deem to be weak or smaller than themselves. So, if you want to include a peace-loving breed, make sure it’s larger than the red devil. Likewise, if the fish is slightly smaller, then make sure it’s aggression equals that of the red devil.

Parameters ; Tank Setup

Naturally, whichever tank mate you choose for the red devil, it should have similar requirements for water and environment setup Remember, anything the red devil cichlid perceives as unfit will immediately cause them to get furious and literally rearrange the tank to their liking. Make sure you protect your equipment from their wrath.

Tank Size55 gallons (single fish)125 gallons (pair)200 gallons (community tank)
Water Parameters 
Temperature75F to 79F
Hardness6 to 25 dGH
pH6.5 to 7.5
SubstrateFine sand; absolutely no gravel
Plants?No; they will uproot them
FiltrationDual filter with moderate flow; airstones advisable

15 Best Red Devil Cichlid Tank Mates

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1. Other Red Devil Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name:  Amphilophus labiatus or Cichlasoma labiatum
  • Adult Size: About 12 to15 inches
  • Compatible with:  Red Devil Cichlids or larger, aggressive species
  • Care Level: Difficult/Advanced
  • Origin: Central America

The best tank mate for a red devil is another red devil cichlid of the opposite sex. They will mate for life and don’t often bully each other. However, avoid having two males in the same tank. It doesn’t matter how big the tank is, unfortunately.

2. Plecos

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  • Scientific Name: Hypostomus plecostomus
  • Adult Size: 12 inches
  • Compatible with: Many species of fish
  • Care Level: Easy/Beginner
  • Origin: South America

The second best choice for a red devil cichlid is the pleco. They’re peaceful, easygoing creatures that love to hang out at the bottom of the tank. Their size and area of the tank they inhabit means plecos can withstand any potential danger from living with this kind of fish.

3. Jaguar Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name: Parachromis managuensis
  • Adult Size: 16 to 24 inches
  • Compatible with: Other large cichlids like red devil and Midas
  • Care Level: Medium/Intermediate
  • Origin: Honduras ; Costa Rica

Jaguar cichlids can be a fabulous roommate for a red devil. Their water requirements are the same essentially and jaguars tend to be a little bigger than red devils. This means even if a red devil decides to get aggressive, the jaguar will hold their own since they themselves are semi-aggressive.

However, it’s best to introduce them to the tank around the same time and at a young age. This will mitigate aggressive behavior as they get older.

4. Jack Dempsey Cichlid

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  • Scientific Name: Rocio octofasciata
  • Adult Size: 8 to 12 inches
  • Compatible with: Any large fish and bottom dwellers (i.e. Oscar fish, jaguar cichlids, plecos, silver dollar fish, severum cichlids, convict cichlids and firemouth cichlids)
  • Care Level: Medium to Hard/Intermediate to Advanced
  • Origin: Central America; Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras

Even though Jack Dempsey cichlids are smaller than red devils, they match in aggression. For a fish’s namesake to be from an actual boxer, you can bet they will hold their own. Just ensure their tank is large enough with a variety of healthy foods for both breeds.

They don’t always share well with others, but that doesn’t mean they can’t coexist with different species. They can be combative, especially during breeding and when protecting their territory making the Jack Dempsey ideal Red devil cichlid tank mates.

5. Tire Track Eels

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  • Scientific Name: Mastacembelus armatus  
  • Adult Size: up to 26 inches
  • Compatible with: Most large species of fish
  • Care Level: Medium/Intermediate
  • Origin: Southeast Asia

For a peaceful tank with a red devil cichlid, adding a tire track eel is ideal. These bottom dwellers burrow into the substrate and generally occupy a different area of the tank. So, the chances of these two clashing is rather minimal. However, you should really have a tank that’s at least 150 gallons or more to assure peace.

6. Oscar Fish

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  • Scientific Name: Astronotus ocellatus
  • Adult Size: 12 to 15 inches
  • Compatible with: Large cichlids like Green Terror, Blood Parrot and Texas
  • Care Level: Medium/Intermediate
  • Origin: Amazon Basin, South America

Because Oscar fish are very similar in size to a red devil cichlid, their chances of coming to blows is next to nil. Plus, red devils love the mid to lower levels of the tank while Oscars love the middle to top parts of the tank. This translates to them hardly interacting with each other at all.

7. Flower Horn Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi
  • Adult Size: 10 to 16 inches
  • Compatible with: Any fish of a similar size and temperament; jaguar cichlids, giant gouramis and lepard plecos
  • Care Level: Medium/Intermediate
  • Origin:  Malaysia ; Thailand

An interesting cichlid, the flower horn gives red devils a run for their money. They have the exact same temperament, but they may be more aggressive than red devils due to their hybrid natures. Even still, they usually make excellent tank mates because they generally leave each other alone.

8. Green Terror Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name: Andinoacara rivulatus
  • Adult Size: 8 to 12 inches
  • Compatible with: Any fish with a matching temperament; Oscar fish, jaguar cichlids, plecos and Midas cichlids 
  • Care Level: Easy/Beginner to Medium/Intermediate
  • Origin: South America

These iridescent green fish come from the same area as red devils along with having a similar size and temperament. So, they are ideal tank mates. However, you have to house them at a young age and pay close attention as they mature. Any harsh aggression by either fish means you must take immediate action.

9. Midas Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name: Amphilophus citrinellus 
  • Adult Size: 10 to 14 inches
  • Compatible with: Convict cichlids, Oscar fish, Green terrors and African cichlids
  • Care Level: Easy/Beginner to Medium/Intermediate
  • Origin: San Juan River; Costa Rica ; Nicaragua

Its name comes from the classic Greek myth about the king who turned everything to gold. This golden fish with a bulbous forehead is interesting indeed. Not only will it be a great match for a red devil, it’s the only cichlid in its species with sexual dimorphism.

Midas Cichlid tank mates are often quite similar to those you’d consider for the Red Devil Cichlid. It’s because both Midas and Red Devils share a lot in common when it comes to their size, aggression, and territorial instincts.

10. Texas Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name: Herichthys cyanoguttatus
  • Adult Size: About 12 inches
  • Compatible with: Any fish that is aggressive or semi-aggressive and large
  • Care Level: Medium/Intermediate
  • Origin: Southern Texas and northern Mexico

Also known as Rio Grande Perch, the Texas cichlid is a feisty character with a stunning display of spots. Their iridescent scales shimmer against the backdrop of the red devil, which makes for a wonderful aquascape. But, because both species are incredibly aggressive, you’re going to need a huge tank to keep everyone happy.

11. Blood Parrot Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name: Amphilophus citrinellus × Vieja melanurus
  • Adult Size: Up to 8 inches
  • Compatible with: Bala sharks, firemouth cichlids, tiger barbs and plecos
  • Care Level: Medium/Intermediate
  • Origin: Taiwan

This pure hybrid species of cichlid lends itself to a home aquarium. It’s colorful, vivacious and can also stand up to the aggression a red devil can pose. Plus, they have similar water requirements, so it’s okay to try them together in a community tank.

12. Silver Dollar Fish

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  • Scientific Name: Metynnis argenteus
  • Adult Size: 6 to 8 inches
  • Compatible with: Plecos, loaches and Cory catfish
  • Care Level: Easy/Beginner
  • Origin: South America

These calm and happy fish love to swim at the top of the tank. So, while they may be a bit too small and are a great cause of worry, they shouldn’t bother a red devil doing its thing at toward the bottom. Plus, silver dollar fish look really cool in a tank with red devil cichlids due to the awesome color contrasts.

13. Firemouth Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name: Cichlasoma meeki or Thorichthys meeki
  • Adult Size: 6 to 8 inches
  • Compatible with: Catfish, blood parrot cichlids, Oscar fish and convict cichlids
  • Care Level: Easy/Beginner
  • Origin: Central America

Firemouth cichlids are a bit small for red devils and it’s the size that’s quite concerning. However, their high level of aggression makes up for their size. In fact, many experienced aquarists recommend them as tank mates for red devils. They’re easy to keep, have similar parameter requirements and tend to mind their own business.

14. Convict Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name: Amatitlania nigrofasciata 
  • Adult Size: Up to 5 inches
  • Compatible with: Any fish that’s aggressive, large and proud
  • Care Level: Easy/Beginner
  • Origin: Central America

Exercise extreme caution when housing a convict cichlid with a red devil. This is not only due to their small size but also because of this fish’s wavering temperament. While they can hold their own when aggressive, this only happens during breeding time. Yet, many experienced aquarists say it’s okay to make them tank mates.

15. Wolf Cichlids

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  • Scientific Name: Parachromis dovii
  • Adult Size: Up to 28 inches
  • Compatible with: Only large and powerful fish
  • Care Level: Difficult/Advanced
  • Origin: Central America

The reason why this ubiquitous cichlid comes in last is due to its voracious appetite and aggression. If you choose to house this with any species, a red devil should be okay. But, you will have to monitor them closely from the first day you introduce them, even at a young age.


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Red devil cichlids are amazing and beautiful with a character that makes a wonderful addition to any aquarium. By now, you’ve probably figured out that if you’re thinking about having a Red Devil Cichlid, it might be a one-fish show. Their aggressive nature necessitates routine tank monitoring, if they are kept with other fish. But, when you want to house it with other species, these are the only 15 Best red devil cichlid tank mates. It is a delicate choice, so choose wisely. 

Ian Sterling

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

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