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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Cichlids > Festivum
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This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

South America



Mesonauta festivus
(Cichlasoma festivum)


    Another one of the original Cichlids we saw from times past. The Festivum is a peaceful and graceful cichlid that deserves greater distribution in our hobby. A nice compliment to the angel..

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: up to 4 inches (10cm)
    Tank: 30 gallons +
    Strata: Mostly middle, lower
    PH: 6.5-7.5
    Hardness: Medium hard to hard
    Temperature: 72°- 82°F (25 to 34°C)


    Order: Perciformes
    Suborder: Percoidei
    Family: Cichlidae
    Genera: Mesonauta

Common name:

    Festivum, flag cichlid, Barred cichlid

Image gallery:

    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    The Amazon area and Western Guyana

General Body Form:

    The Festivum has a truly unique look. It is deep bodied with a pointed head. This point is more pronounced in young specimens. The Dorsal, Ventral and Anal fins are pointed and can reach to the back edge of the caudal fins. Older adults take on a more hunchbacked appearance.


    The Festivum have many distinct coloration patterns. This is due to the fact that some sub species are occasionally imported and each has slight variations, mostly in the number of bands and how they are arraigned. Here are some of the variations. Mesonauta insignis has 7 faint vertical bars that these fish exhibit when stressed,the 2nd and 4th are joined and the scales above the diagonal flagbar are reticulated. M mirificus third bar is divided and there are think horizontal lines above the diagonal flag. M. egregius has the third bar divided into two. I will give a general description here. The most easily identified trait is the diagonal bar or "flag" that extends from the mouth, across the lower part of the eyes and then up to the soft part of the dorsal fin. The back or the part above this band is a dark shade of Brown. The rest of the body color is a Green-Yellow with a metal like sheen. Air the start of the tail fin there is a large Black spot outlined in gold and sometimes a similar spot is seen in the center of the flag band. The pectoral fins are colorless and the rest have an over-all faint yellow look interlaced with small spots. Sexing is hard, with the females being slightly smaller than the males.

    Mesonauta festivus Is a timid fish that should be kept in a fairly large and tall aquarium, with plants that reach from the substrate to the water surface. Festivum prefer to live among the plants. There should also be an open area for swimming. The water temperature should be kept at least at 72°, but preferably higher. The hardness of the water is not overly important, but as with all fish the, you must do your water changes. They are not fussy eaters and will accept flake and frozen food and relish live foods of all kinds including small Crustaceans and Tubifex worms. The Festivum are usually peaceful with all but the smallest fish, they do not dig up the substrate or destroy the plants and they prefer to swim in the middle layers of the tank. They are happy in groups and should be kept in small schools
    and purchased small, not as older specimens. An all around winner for any aquarium.

    Mesonauta species are widespread in South America, Inhabiting most types of waterways.

    Reports of the Festivum have been reported, but no widespread process has been described. The sexes are difficult to tell, some say the males have longer fins. They are very selective when choosing a mate and several attempts might be needed before a pair is formed. They are the typical cichlid open breeder which spawns mostly on rocks and sometimes on the glass. Once a pair id formed they will remain faithful for life.

festivus spawning

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Erik
Date: 08/11/2006
I purchased an adult festivum (about 4-5 inches) about 4 months ago... also in the tank is an angel fish, pink tail chalceus, tiger barb, hongsloi cichlid, 2 rainbows, and an algae eater... the festivum is completely peaceful except when it starts to get a little hungry it tries to eat the pink-tail chalceus' back fin... so aside from my pink tail's tattered fin the festivum has been great (no clue on it's gender)
From: Dana
Date: 04/04/2006
I purchased my two festivums as tiny juveniles almost a year ago. There was no way to determine their gender. On April 3, 2006, they spawned during the day while I was away from home. They laid their eggs inside of a shark ornament that has a fairly large mouth (some of you may know what I'm talking about). They laid approximately 100 eggs, but ate them overnight. This was their first clutch, so maybe they were unsure or stressed. Anywho, there was no way to determine what sex they were, but became overly apparent that the male DID have the longer anal and dorsal fin extensions. It is not easy to tell until you know for sure they are opposite sexes! I look forward to many more clutches in the future!
From: Sam
Date: 11/23/2005
I think festivums are cool I have owned two small 2 inch ones for about five months in a 50 gallon tank with some convicts, a red top mbuna,tiger loach,pleco and a white carp .My festivals are now 3 1/2 inches and I can tell they are close to breeding because the female is very plump and her pappella is showing(the tube in which eggs come out of)IM very exited so I wanted to show you how I cared for them so you will get the same breeding results. I fed them frozen brine shrimp followed by tropical flakes twice daily I kept their lighting natural by turning on in the morning and off at night, the environment was lots of plants and big rocks to swim around, temperature was 80 degrees, water partiality changed weekly and for best results you don't always get a boy and a girl so as suggested in the forum keep in small schools. Overall aside from breeding these are great intelligent fish.
From: darren
Date: 10/05/2003
Festivums are great cichlids to keep, as they show many of the courting habits and territorial habits we enjoy from cichlids, while only being moderately aggressive towards others. They are very graceful and have amazing yet not too overpowering colors when they reach maturity. It is very unfortunate not to see them available in the stores more often.

From: Joyce
Date: 07/17/2001
Festivum are large 8" Cichlids and can be territorial . Contrary to popular belief they do not always get along with angels. They will eat any pond snails in your tank. I suggest keeping in at least a 40 gallon as they can be a bit rowdy like Oscars and tend to knock heaters and equipment around if kept in too small of a tank. They really interact with their owners and have lots of personality.

From: Carole
Date: 03/25/2002
This fish is very sociable and is currently alone in a 39 gallon tank. Extremely large, apparently on the large end of the size scale and colorful, with golds and blues in his fins and blue bands between the black on his sides.





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