Vieja Argentea (Silver Cichlid) 2-4 inches
The Silver Cichlid (Vieja argentea) is found in the rivers and drainage systems of western Mexico. Their native river habitat is comprised mostly of rocky areas and submerged wood / tree stumps with most of the submerged vegetation growing near the river banks. As is common with many of the central American Cichlid species, the Silver Cichlid is quite aggressive and territorial. Despite being a little bit more aggressive than most hobbyists would prefer, Silver Cichlids are in high demand due to their brilliant appearance. Both male and female specimens have a brilliant silver/white coloration with attractive black and blue markings, with the males also exhibiting a nuchal hump, impressive elongated anal finnage and a larger overall size. Hobbyists will find that Vieja argentea Cichlids are sold under a variety of common names including: Silver Cichlid, White Cichlid, Vieja Cichlid and Vieja argentea Cichlid. Their availability varies much more than the more common species; however, Silver Cichlids (Vieja argentea) are available fairly often at both local fish stores and online. Usually placing an order for one with a local fish store or contacting an online vendor specializing in Cichlids is the best approach to finding a Silver Cichlid for purchase.
Silver Cichlids prefer aquarium environments that are similar to their natural river habitat. This means the aquarium should have a substrate comprised of sand or mixed sand and gravel, large rocks and submerged driftwood or wood root structures. Live plants will need to be very hardy specimens that can tolerate large Cichlid fish digging in the substrate and are not part of the fishes natural diet. In general most any live plants introduced to aquariums housing Silver Cichlids will mostly likely either be eaten or torn up. Fake plants are more suitable, but will need to be well secured in the substrate as Silver Cichlids will often rearrange aquarium decor to fit their own taste.
Mitigating Fish aggression and providing adequate territory play a large part in the keeping or large Cichlid species. Silver Cichlids are very aggressive toward both conspecifics and other similarly sized and shaped fish species. It is best to keep them either singularly, in a mated pair of in an aquarium large enough for them to establish their own territory. At a minimum the aquarium should be large enough to provide both open swimming areas and areas with large rock or wood formations where the Silver Cichlid can retreat to for shelter. A 75 gallon aquarium would work for a pair of Silver Cichlids or for a single Silver Cichlid and a few suitable tank mates. Larger aquariums that provide multiple distinct territorial areas are more ideal as they will help lesson aggression and allow for the Silver Cichlid to be kept with more tank mates. A good starting point for a larger aquarium would be a 6 foot long tank like a 125 gallon or 180 gallon, with a 220 or larger being ideal.
In the wild the Silver Cichlid feed primarily on plants and algae; however, they will readily feed on a wide variety of food items. They will accept all types of commercial cichlid pellet and stick foods, along with insects, worms, prawn, mussels and other similar meaty items. It is important that they are provided with plenty of sources of plant material like algae wafers, algae pellets and pellet foods designed for herbivorous fish species. A mixed diet with a substantial amount of plant material is critical in providing all the minerals and vitamins that the Silver Cichlid requires in order to support a healthy immune system.