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Cichlids / Africa / Lake Malawi / Big-lipped Cichlid

Big-lipped Cichlid, Euchilus
Cheilochromis euchilus

Synonyms: Cyrtocara euchila, Haplochromis euchilus
Physical description: An elongated cichlid, whose head is proportionally large when compared to the rest of the body. The lips are very large, as are the eyes. The body color is light gold to beige. The belly is white. Two brown-black stripes mark the body. The first runs from the corner of the mouth, through the eye, and extends to the fork of the caudal fin. The second line runs from the top of the forehead, back to the base of the caudal fin. The fins are usually light brown with some light markings.
Size/Length: Males to 13" (33 cm), female to 10" (25 cm)
Similar species: None
Habitat: Eastern Africa; along the rocky coastline of Lake Malawi.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: 40" (101 cm) or 45-55 gallons (170-209 L) is sufficient for small fish under 5" (13 cm) in length. Adult fish should be moved to an 72" (183 cm) or 100 gallon (378 L) tank. Use large, sturdy rocks structures to create caves and crevices. Anchor the structure well-as this fish may burrow. Large, broad-leafed plants can be used. Algae growth is welcomed.
Water chemistry: 7.5-8.8 (8.2), 10-25 dH (18), 75-82°F (24-28°C)
Social behavior: A large, but peaceful fish that likes to form schools. The Big-lipped Cichlid will set-up territories to defend. Combine several females per each male. Small fish (under 3" ) are likely to be mistaken for food.
Suggested companions: Lake Malawi Haplochromines, Synodontis, larger mbunas, Polypterus
FOOD: Algae; live; Tubifex, crustaceans, insect larvae; large flakes; tablets; pellets
Sexual differences: The male is larger with more intense colors.
Breeding techniques: Use a large tank with a pH from 8.0-8.5, a water hardness from 10-16 dH, and a water temperature from 79-82°F (26-28°C). Keep one male with three or four females. The female will spawn 20-60 eggs (although broods of 150 have been reported) on a rocky surface before taking them into her mouth. The eggs are then fertilized by way of the dummy-egg method. The young released after 20-28 days. The female continues brood care, taking the fry into her mouth when danger approaches and at night. Start feeding the young with Artemia, Cyclops, and powdered dry foods. The young are sexually mature at four to five inches (10-13 cm).
Breeding potential: 8. A difficult fish to breed.
Remarks: The large lips that this cichlid possesses are a result of feeding specialization. They are used for rasping algae and animal life that can be found on rocks.
Difficulty of care: 6. The Big-lipped cichlid is moderately difficult in care because of the large size that it reaches and the tank that it eventually requires.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com