Sam Borstein's Cichlid Page

Archocentrus kanna
(Schmitter-Soto, 2007)

Synonyms: Amatitlania kanna, Cryptoheros kanna

Archocentrus kanna "Bocos Del Toro, Panama"
Above: A male Archocentrus kanna "Bocas del Toro". Photo by Sam Borstein.


Genus- Arch= anus (Greek), kentron= sting (Greek), Referring to the anal fin spines.
Species- kanna= reed (Greek), in reference to the Rio Canaveral (spanish for reed bed).


Archocentrus kanna is a delightful Convict type cichlid that is relatively new to the hobby. This is the southernmost and tallest bodied representative of the Convict Cichlids. Although very similar to Archocentrus nigrofasciatus, Archocentrus kanna does differ in color. Males tend to get a purple hue to their body with nice blue coloration in the fins. Females have a very nice dark orange belly and lots of orange in their unpaired fins and sky blue in the pelvic are and chest.

There has been much debate about this fish and where it stands taxonomically speaking. Allgayer in 2001 created the genera Cryptoheros, with the type being Archocentrus spilurus. This description was poorly done. Schmitter-Soto published a paper that came out in 2007, Convicts were given their own genera, Amatitlania, composed of the four species and one undescribed species. Off the bat the genus Amatitlania was rejected by many scientists. Although there may be more than one species of Convict, the descriptions for the three new species are poorly done and in doubt. Because of this I leave this fish in Archocentrus until a proper review of the Convict Cichlid and its allies is completed.

The four species described in Schmitter-Soto's paper are:

Although I highly doubt these represent valid species and believe that the Convict Cichlids are just one diverse species, many hobbyists have sucked up these names and use them at present. Because of this you will see them on my site as different species. This may be a good thing as Convict Cichlids are quite diverse in coloration throughout their large range and because they may or may not represent different species they are different enough that one should never keep more than one location of convict in their aquarium for fear of hybridization. These new names are nice as hobbyists have been paying much more attention to where these fish are from and some new location variants of this species have since made it to the hobby.

Archocentrus kanna "Uatsi"
Archocentrus kanna female photographed in the Rio Uatsi, Costa Rica

Archocentrus kanna "Uatsi"
Archocentrus kanna pair defending nest photographed in the Rio Uatsi, Costa Rica



Archocentrus kanna is found along the Atlantic coast of Central America from southern Costa Rica in the Rio Sixaola basin into Panama. Archocentrus kanna tends to inhabit areas of the river that are silty with reduced flow.

Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism:

Size: Males- 5 inches, Females- 4 inches
Maturity: 1.5 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger and may have longer fins. Males also have a more rounded cranial profile. Females have an orange belly, but some males may get a fair amount of orange as well, so it can't always be used to sex the fish, but this is usually a fairly reliable method.

Archocentrus kanna "Bocas del Toro" female
Above: A female Archocentrus kanna "Bocas del Toro". Photo by Sam Borstein.


Archocentrus kanna poses few problems as far as care is concerned. Care should be exactly the same as for the common Convict Cichlid. Archocentrus kanna is fairly mild mannered outside of breeding. Although the fish can hold its own, I've not had issues mixing this fish with goodeids or other cichlids in larger tanks. When spawning, Archocentrus kanna will become intollerant of any fish and actively protect their nest. Although they can be bred in a community tank, it will need to be large enough for the other fish to get away. This should be at least a 4 foot tank. In my experience this fish forms well bonded pairs that can be bred in smaller tanks. I've successfully kept a 4 inch pair of this species in a 20 gallon long and have had lots of luck breeding them in this set up without any aggression between the pair.

I've found the fish to be quite tolerant of water temperatures. They made it in my pond when the water hit about 60°F. I've had this fish breed anywhere from 72-82°F. The tank should be decorated with plenty of rock and drift wood to offer hiding spots.


Archocentrus kanna is omnivorous and will eat anything. In the wild they feed opportunistically. Any aquarium flake or pellet will work well.


Although I've heard from some breeders that this fish is harder to breed than the typical Convict Cichlid, I would have to disagree. I found this fish to be quite easy to spawn. I would note that time between spawnings seems to be slightly longer in this species than in the common Convict Cichlid.


Archocentrus kanna is a cave spawner. Before and during spawning the fish become more drab as far as coloration is concerned. Spawns range anywhere from 150-500 eggs. This is mostly dependent on the age and size of the female. The eggs hatch in about three days post spawn and by nine days are free swimming. The fry grow fast and are easy to raise on baby brine shrimp or crushed flake. The parents defend the fry well and I find it easiest to let them raise the fry for the first 2-4 weeks.

Archocentrus kanna "Bocas del Toro" male in breeding color
Above: A male Archocentrus kanna in breeding color. Photo by Sam Borstein.

The fry grow relatively quickly like most Convict types and will start showing strong bars and orange coloration at about 3 months of age, at which time the fry are around an inch in length.

Archocentrus kanna "Bocas del Toro"
Above: a female Archocentrus kanna "Bocas del Toro" defending fry. Photo by Sam Borstein.


Archocentrus kanna is a very nice and rather new fish to keep. If you are a Convict Cichlid lover, you should try keeping this species. Although not available from pet shops it is occasionally seen for sale from members of Cichlid clubs. Usually, this is a very inexpensive species to purchase. I really think all the Convict types are great fish as far as demonstrating the fantastic breeding behavior of cichlids and one that any die hard cichlid fanatic should keep and breed in their lifetime.