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Cichlids / Africa / Lake Malawi / Electric Blue Haplo

Electric Blue Haplo
Sciaenochromis ahli

Synonyms: Cyrtocara ahli, Haplochromis ahli, Haplochromis jacksoni
Physical description: An elongated fish with a large mouth. The head forms a 60 degree angle from the mouth. Males have a stunning blue color which is comparable to the hues of saltwater fish. Six faint bars are sometimes apparent. The fins are the same color as the rest of the body. The females are usually brown-gray with a few blue-tipped scales around the mid-section. Six bars are sometimes visible. The fins are also brown-gray in color.
Size/Length: Males to 6.3" (16 cm), females to 4.3" (11 cm)
Similar species: Red-top Aristochromis or Gold-stripe Haplo ( Otopharynx lithobates), Yellow Nape Haplo (Copadichromis chrysonotus )
Habitat: Eastern Africa; found in between rocky and sandy zones, Lake Malawi.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: 56" (142 cm) or 75-100 gallons (285-378 L). These fish need a large open swimming area. Use sturdy, rock structures with large passages and caves. A sand substrate with a scattering of rocks is recommended.
Water chemistry: 7.8-8.5 (8.1), 12-20 dH (16), 75-82°F (24-28°C)
Social behavior: A predatory species that will eat small fish. Otherwise the Electric Blue Haplo is a peaceful, but territorial fish. Males are polygamous, so they should be kept with a number of females.
Suggested companions: Lake Malawi Haplochromines, Synodontis, mbunas, Polypterus, Afromastacembelus.
FOOD: Live; crustaceans, small fish, aquatic insects, insect larvae; tablets; pellets.
Sexual differences: Males have the deep "electric blue" color for which this species is named. The females are considerably smaller with a dull gray-brown body coloration.
Breeding techniques: Place a male with three or four females in a large tank. Use water with a pH between 8.0-8.5, a water hardness from 15-18 dH, and a temperature of 81-84°F (27-29°C). The male will attract the female by shaking his brilliant blue body. The eggs are incubated by the female for a period of 18-22 days. Remove the other fish from the tank. The mother will continue her care of the fry for another week. The young can be raised on Artemia and Daphnia.
Breeding potential: 8. Breeding is difficult.
Remarks: Another color morph is known; it has an obvious white spot on its head. Frequent partial water changes are necessary to keep the fish in good health and to bring out the male's stunning colors. This species is especially sensitive to water pollutants.
Difficulty of care: 6. The Electric Blue Haplo is a beautiful, but sensitive fish. Many feel that it is worth the extra care for its stunning color.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com