Adult Polleni Cichlids, and sub-adult dominant individuals are jet black in color, covered with brilliant iridescent spots which shift from golden to blue depending on the movement of the fish and the angle of the light. It has bright yellow eyes! This coloration makes them among the most beautiful and desirable of cichlids.
The male Polleni Cichlid can reach 30cm in length, females usually half that length. Sexing individuals becomes easier as they mature, but males are larger than females and males tend to have longer and sharper pelvic fins, and the edge of the dorsal and anal fins are often straighter and more 'rounded' in females. Among aquarists, it is often said that the females, though smaller are more beautiful in their coloration patterning. This is the large-spot ted version of this cichlid, the smaller-spotted variant is called a Galaxy Polleni Cichlid.