Photo and Commentary ©2017 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What would you expect from a fish named a Red Devil Cichlid? I suppose there are lots of possibilities, but most would probably guess a fish that was not only red in color but also had a nasty disposition. And that would be an apt description of Amphilophus labiatus, a tropical fish which originated in Central America. They can grow to be 15 inches in length, and this, along with their aggressive nature, limits where they may be kept. Their temperament is such that they will sometimes bash into glass or break heaters in an effort to thwart supposed invaders. Armed with powerful jaws and sharp teeth, this should cause owners to treat them with respect as some have been painfully bitten. Fortunately for me, mine was not nearly so aggressive and I was able to house it with other large cichlids.

Still, others describe it as a charismatic fish that may become “owner conscious” and will even “play” with you in a manner similar to a dog, showing off their colors, following their owners around the room. It makes you wonder what sort of aquarium these writers owned. Undoubtedly, they were not among those who had been bitten.

If Peter had owned tropical fish, perhaps he would have referred to this species as a comparison to Satan rather than using a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) for there are certainly apt similarities. Both could be considered beautiful in appearance but perhaps another quality might be more appropriate. Besides being disruptive to other fish, they also make havoc on any live plants in the aquarium, uprooting, eating, and destroying them. John, in Revelation 9:11, uses the name Apollyon for Satan. This Greek term simply means destroyer, a fitting description of one who seeks to ruin people’s lives and abolish the happiness God wishes for His children.