Black Acara Fish

Black acara cichlasoma bimaculatum

Cichlid family

Other Names: Cichlasoma bimaculatum

Black Acara Cichlasoma bimaculatum

The black acara (cichlasoma bimaculatum) is a family member of cichlids and tilapia identical to the chanchita genetically. The acara species is a tropical freshwater fish in the family Cichlidae and goes by the names port cichlid, brown acara, two-spot cichlid, and the two-spotted cichlid. The scientific name is black acara cichlasoma bimaculatum.

The chanchita, a South American freshwater fish, living in Florida’s rivers for at least two decades, has been regarded by experts as another invader, the black acara.

The black acara cichlid, introduced by the pet trade, has been a famed invader in the Miami, Florida, area since the 1950s and is now widespread throughout South Florida. The introduction to Southeastern Florida was the result of intentional releases and escapes from fish farms.

The black Acara live in creeks, streams, canals, lakes, irrigation ditches, and wet prairies. This species only shows their vivid colors when they are in an optimal healthy setting.


The acara has a wide forebody, a more compressed rear body, and its shape is oval to slightly rectangular. The body is beige to tan, the caudal or tail fin is spotted symmetrically, and four anal spines are usually present. 

A black to green-gray stripe extends across a mid-lateral spot from the eye, extending to the upper caudal-fin base to a black spot. The fading blotch running across its body is its most distinguishable feature.

This species has a tiny and terminal jaw and black rimming around the edges of the scale, but this feature can be absent in some fish.

These fishes only show their color brightly when held in an optimal setting, opposed to fishes kept in a tank in traumatic situations that may present a very pale color.

There are some conflicting details about the sexual dimorphism of the black acara fish; the female has the plumpest and ovipositor belly visible, while the male has the most tapering, straight belly during the spawn.


The tropical black acara fish is a resident of equatorial South America, unlike the chanchita. Even though the two species appear remarkably identical, the subtropical chanchita doesn’t inhabit waters north of southern Brazil.

Researchers suggest that since the chanchita is more cold-tolerant, it may have a more widespread effect in Florida than the black acara and could endanger native plants in habitats in North Central Florida. It lives in seven different counties and five other drainages of rivers in Florida, well beyond Tampa Bay’s drainage, where it was first introduced.


Black Acaras live mostly in South America in the Orinoco River Basin, located in the Rio Caroni in Venezuela River. They also inhabit the Guianas from the Essequibo River. Typically, Black Acaras live in areas with slow current flows. Acara’s like places such as lakes and canals with a lot of vegetation. They also appear to have a liking for rocky bottoms to blend into for protection from predators.

Size and Diet

Because of its narrow mouth, Black Acaras usually nibble on their meal rather than eating it whole. Black Acaras are generally not picky eaters and will eat almost anything.

In the wild, the Cichlidae mostly eat crustaceans, worms, and insects living in the canals or lakes. Black Acaras in home aquarium settings are usually fed fish flakes, bloodworms, and algae’s daily serving.

Acaras average around 4-8 inches long, the maximum length for this species is currently eight inches. They’re tiny and don’t exceed a weight of more than 1 lb. The heaviest Black Acara on record was just four ounces.


The spawning location is usually a flat surface such as logs, gravel, broad-leaved, and more rigid plants, including the aquarium’s glass.

The female acara lays the eggs, and the male fertilizes them soon after; right after the process, the pair will take care of the nest to help oxygenate the eggs, eliminate the fungi that are not fertilized or invaded, and remove any approaching predators. For home aquariums, a different tank is recommended for breeding, reducing tension for the aquarium community.

The eggs hatch in around 24-48 hours, the fry then feeds on the yolk sac in the first 3-5 days after hatching and begin swimming close to their parents at the end of this time.

Live food can be offered from this point on according to the size of the young, artemia nauplii, shelled artemia larvae, infusoria, and unique oviparous fry rations. The young isolate from the parents after about a month or as soon as the two avoid showing interest in them.

Sporting Quality

Fishing for acaras and any fish in the family Cichlidae is perfect for kids or anyone learning the sport. This species is small enough to handle but strong enough to keep interested.

A lightweight tackle is best when fishing for black acaras. To find the best spots to catch an acara, look for water bodies containing their favorite food and habitat. Usually, Black Acara loves water bodies filled with algae, which they like to eat. Acara’s are known to stay near the fishery’s shallow parts since the deeper areas are likely to have larger predators, such as catfishes.

Use the smallest hook possible, then put on a piece of bread, bloodworms, or dough to catch them. They have very light bites, so using a rod that’s light and sensitive enough to detect its bite is essential. Once the acara bites, they’ll start jumping around in the water before you can finally pull them out.

Wait to pull them out until they calm down; lightly drag them through the water and tire them out before bringing them up. Black acaras tend to play possum when caught. Once you take out the hook, make sure you have a good grip on them. Otherwise, they’ll jump out of your hand.