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Cichlids / Africa / Lake Malawi / Mbuna / Parallel-striped Mbuna

Parallel-striped Mbuna
Melanochromis parallelus

Synonyms: None
Physical description: The body shape is similar to that of the Auratus. The coloring differs entirely depending on the fish's age and sex. Juvenile and female fish have yellow to white belly, with a broad black stripe that extends through the eye and back to the caudal fin. Above this marking is a yellow to white stripe, which runs below another black stripe. On the crest of the back is another yellow to white marking. The elongated dorsal fin is black in color, as are the anal and pelvic fins. The male has a black body with three to four indigo blue stripes. The first of these stripes runs from the eye, back to the caudal fin. The second, third, and fourth runs, alternating with black stripes, above the first one. All the fins are black.
Size/Length: To 5" (13 cm)
Similar species: Auratus (M. auratus), Chipokae ( M. chipokae)
Habitat: Eastern Africa; found in the rocky zones of Lake Malawi
S: All
Aquarium: 36" (91 cm) or 35 gallons (132 L). See the mbuna introduction.
Water chemistry: pH 7.5-9 (8.0), 10-25 dH (18), 72-81°F (22-27°C)
Social behavior: A robust, but aggressive fish that can be combined with other Mbunas. Although fish are agamous, several females should still be kept with one male.
Suggested companions: Small Haplochromines, mbunas, Synodontis
FOOD: Algae; flake; live; snails, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, microorganisms, crustaceans, snails, Tubifex ; pellets; tablets; plant matter; vegetables; peas, lettuce, spinach; fruit.
Sexual differences: Clear sexual dichromatism - see "Physical Description."
Breeding techniques: An agamic ovophile mouth brooder. Use water with a pH around 8.2, a hardness around 16 dH, and a temperature from 79-82°F (26-28°C). Keep one male with several females and provide several caves. Up to 50 eggs are mouthbrooded by the female for 20-25 days. Brood care ends just after the fry are released from the mouth. Start feeding with Daphnia, Artemia, and Cyclops.
Breeding potential: 7. Breeding this Mbuna is moderately difficult.
Remarks: For a long time, the Parallel-striped Mbuna was confused with the Auratus. It was actually sold as the Black and white Auratus in the United States. Now it is recognized as a separate species. The males develop their mature coloring at 2" (5 cm). The colors may vary, depending on the fish's geographical population.
Difficulty of care: 5. An aggressive and robust Mbuna.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com