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Above Tomocichla sieboldii. Photo of female in breeding color by Mario Toromanovic. Video below.


Tomocichla sieboldi MaleTomocichla sieboldii, or Siebold’s Cichlid, was originally placed in the genus Heros by Kner in 1863. Regan later moved it to the genus Paraneetroplus in 1908, but eventually the original nomenclature was revalidated by Kullander in 1983.

Tomocichla sieboldii has a relatively small distribution in fast moving waters on the Pacific slope of Central America in Costa Rica and Panama. The vicinity of Esparta appears to be the western limit, whereas the drainage of the Rio San Pedro in Panama represents the eastern border.


The fish inhabits a wide variety of biotopes. They live in flowing as well as in stagnant water bodies and appear to be fairly tolerant regarding hardness and pH.


Tomocichla sieboldii does not present many difficulties. These fish are very generally shy but may exhibit intraspecific aggressuib. It is important to keep them in large tanks with plenty of structures and hiding spaces. Fully mature males can reach up to 10 inches, while females stay a bit smaller, around 8 inches. Water temperature in my tank was around 78°F and pH was around 7.4. 


Tomocichla sieboldii are very hearty eaters and will accept any kind of food presented to them. Some reports indicate that Siboldii is mainly herbivorous. I based the diet for my fish on vegetable flakes and pellets and the occasional treat of frozen brine shrimp, mysis shrimp and live black worms. Live black worms are excellent food to condition pairs and trigger spawning.


My fish start pairing off at around eight months old. After some chasing and fighting, a pair formed and staked out a corner of the tank and began cleaning a large pleco cave. At this point, it was easy to tell male from female, since the male was much larger. The smaller female was nicer looking since she “dressed” in breeding colors. From the female’s original gray coloration, she turned almost white, with traces of black over the back, with black coloration on the gills and lower edge of the mouth. The black color became even more intense as the pair approached spawning.

The pair laid about 300 eggs. The female was constantly inside the cave with the male close by outside, chasing anybody that would come close. The eggs hatched three days later and on the eight day the fry were free swimming. At this point, I began feeding live baby brine shrimp.

I left all the fry to be raised by parents, who by the way, did an excellent job raising and protecting fry for almost two months.

Retail Price

Tomocichla sieboldii is occasionally available at pet stores and online. Expect to pay $10 for 2" juveniles.


Tomocichla sieboldii is not very common, but can be found over the internet and it is usually inexpensive.



Report January 2013 by Mario Toromanovic.