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Cichlids / Africa / Lake Malawi / Mbuna / Dogtooth Cichlid

Red-dorsal Afra, Dogtooth Cichlid
Cynotilapia afra

Synonyms: Chromis afra
Physical description: The body is elongated and the forehead is steep. Males are usually dark turquoise blue with six to seven navy blue bands. The first starts just behind the gill cover, and the last ends near the end of the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin is elongated, running from the peak of the forehead, back to the base of the caudal fin. The dorsal fin is light turquoise or yellow depending on the fish. The caudal fin also varies from yellow to turquoise. The pelvic and anal fins range from turquoise to navy blue in color, while the pectoral fins are transparent. Three to four egg spots are located on the rear part of the anal fin. Females are light blue to slate gray in color, and usually have no stripes. The fins are also more dully colored, and not egg spots are present on the anal fin.
Size/Length: Males to 4.7" (12 cm), females to 4" (10 cm)
Similar species: Zebra Mbuna (Pseudotropheus zebra), Red-Dorsal Cobalt Zebra ( P. greshakei)
Habitat: Eastern Africa; Lake Malawi. The Dogtooth Cichlid is found near Likoma Island swimming in large schools in open water (unusual for a Mbuna).
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: 40" (100 cm) or 45-55 gallons (170-209 L) is required for adult fish. The tank should be arranged with rocky structures. Caves and other retreats are very important for this fish as it tends to be aggressive. Tough-leafed, well-rooted plants that tolerate hard water can be used. Use a coral sand substrate as an alkaline buffer.
Water chemistry: pH 7.5-9 (8), 10-25 dH (18), 73-81°F (23-27°C)
Social behavior: A territorial cichlid that tends to be especially pugnacious among its own species. The combination of the Dogtooth Cichlid with other, dissimilar species helps reduce aggressiveness. Keep one male with at least three females. During the spawning season, this cichlid becomes even more aggressive.
Suggested companions: Synodontis, Lake Tanganyika Rainbows, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, mbunas.
FOOD: Live; bloodworms, mosquito larvae, crustaceans, snails, Tubifex; pellets; tablets; flakes. In nature, Cynotilapia are primarily plankton feeders.
Sexual differences: Males are striped with six to seven black stripes, And have 3-4 egg spots on the anal fin. Female are not striped, and are usually lighter in color than males.
Breeding techniques: Use water with a pH from 8-8.5, a water hardness from 10-15 dH, and a temperature from 77-82°F (25-28°C). The Dogtooth Cichlid makes exceptions to normal mbuna bonding patterns. The males are agamous, and do not form bonds. Keep one male with at least three females, as the male may be overly aggressive in his mating attempts. A small amount of eggs are mouthbrooded by the female who participates in a matriarchal care. Remove the male at this point, as it is easier to rear the young without him. The eggs are incubated in the female's mouth for a period of 20-21 days. Start feeding with Artemia and powdered foods.
Breeding potential: 6. Breeding is not difficult in water with the right conditions. The male becomes highly aggressive, so retreats for females are needed.
Remarks: Fish are mature at 6-8 months.
Difficulty of care: 4. A hardy, but highly aggressive mbuna.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com