Synonyms: Chromis dumerili, C. mossambicus, Tilapia dumerili, T. mossambica, Sarotherodon mossambicus
Physical description: An elongated, oval-shaped fish with lateral compression. The mouth is wide. The general body coloration is olive to blue-gray with a silvery iridescence. The belly is lighter and may have reddish overtones. The fins are edged with red and and pectoral fins are red. At spawning times, the throat of the male is silver-white, while the rest of the body darkens.
Size/Length: To 20" (50 cm)
Similar species: None
Habitat: Originally from standing fresh, brackish, and marine waters of Eastern Africa. Now this species has been introduced throughout Africa, Indonesia, and the Southern United States as a food fish.
Aquarium: A 48" (122 cm) or 55 gallon (209 L) tank is only sufficient for fish to 6" (15 cm). Eventually adult fish will out grow most home aquaria, by requiring a tank exceeding 80" (203 cm). The tank should be furnished with a thick, fine gravel or sand substrate with scattered rocks and wood. This species will eat plants. Use a large filtration system to deal with this species' copious amounts of waste.
Water chemistry: pH 6.3-8.5 (7.8), 12-30 dH (22), 70-81°F (21-27°C)
Social behavior: A belligerent species that is generally peaceful towards other species. At spawning times this fish becomes highly territorial and more combative. This species can be kept with other large fish. Mature males for spawning colonies for agamous pairing. The female participates in brood care.
Suggested companions: Haplochromines, Tilapia, Synodontis, Polypterus, Cichlasomines
FOOD: Live; fish, insects, crustaceans, frogs, worms, insect larvae; algae, chopped meat; plant matter; vegetables; tablets; flakes; pellets; oatmeal. A messy feeder.
SEX: Males are brightly colored at spawning times.
Breeding techniques: In nature this species spawns during the summer months. The male constructs a spawning pit in which 200-350 eggs are placed. The male abandons the female, who guards the eggs and cares for the fry. The female mouth broods the eggs and fry until the fry are able to fend for them self. Even then, the fry may retreat into the mouth of the female at times when danger threatens. The fry can be raised on Artemia nauplii and crushed flake foods.
Breeding potential: 6. The major obstacle in breeding this species is the large tank requirement.
Remarks: This species has proven to be very durable. In nature it tolerates a wide range of temperatures, from 59-108°F (15-42°C); and water conditions: from pure freshwater to pure saltwater. This species has even been bred in salt water. Due to the isolated populations throughout the world, the coloration is variable. An albino form has been developed. This species requires water changes to remove the large amounts of waste that it produces. This is a popular angling species.
Difficulty of care: 6. This species is extremely robust, but is not an aquarium fish due to its large size and aggressive behavior.