Synonyms: Haplochromis thomasi, Hemichromis thomasi, Paratilapia thomasi, Pelmatochromis thomasi
Physical description: An oval-bodied cichlid with a slightly arched back. The base coloration is yellow-brown to brown. The body is marked with five faint, black bars that extend from the back to the mid-section of the body. The body has many rows of iridescent spots ranging in color from purple to blue to green to yellow. These spots usually are light hues (yellow, green, turquoise) that develop into darker hues (blue, purple) and then back into lighter hues near the caudal penuncle. A black band extends from under the mouth, through the eye, where it stops near the forehead. The caudal fin is fan-shaped and the upper tip is red. Just below the red tip is a turquoise stripe. The dorsal fin has a red edge with a yellow line paralleling it. A dark spot is located on the gill cover. The iris of the eye may develop a red color.
Size/Length: Males to 4" (10 cm), females to 2.8" (7 cm)
Similar species: None
Habitat: Western Africa; found in small, wooded streams that are tributaries of the Moa River- a river that flows from the Loma Mountains in southern Guinea, southeastern Sierra Leone, and western Liberia.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A tank measuring 30" (76 cm) with a capacity of 20-25 gallons (75-98 L) is sufficient. The tank should be arranged in dark colors with pebbly substrate. The tank should be heavily planted with roots, rocks, wood, and over-turned flowerpots to serve as hiding places. Use flat stones as resting places and potential spawning sites. Leave open swimming areas.
Water chemistry: pH 6-7.8 (6.8), 4-15 dH (8), 75-81°F (24-27°C)
Social behavior: A peaceful fish recommended for community tanks including even small fish. A. thomasi forms strong monogamous bonds and later nuclear families. Sometimes a pair may quarrel, and in this case one should be removed or replaced. This fish becomes territorial during spawning.
Suggested companions: Pelvicachromis, Synodontis, Barbs, Nanochromis, African Tetras, Butterfly fish, Mormyrids.
FOOD: Live; crustaceans, aquatic insects, Tubifex, insect larvae; flakes; pellets; tablets SEX: Females are smaller with brighter colors. When ready to spawn, females have rounder bellies.
Breeding techniques: This fish can be easily bred in a tank measuring 24" (61 cm) with a capacity of 20 gallons (75 L). Water maintenance must be kept up in order for the fish to get in a spawning condition. The water should have a pH from 6.1-6.5, a water hardness of 4-8 dH, and a temperature from 79-82°F (26-28°C). The tank should be equipped with large, flat stones and broad-leafed plants. As many as 500 eggs are laid on a previously cleaned stone or plant leaf. These are carefully guarded by the parents. The eggs hatch in 3-5 days and the fry are moved to a previously-dug pit. The fry can be fed on Artemia nauplii and dry foods. The parents continue their brood care. Some aquariasts experience a loss of broods. This can usually be attributed to lack of room in a breeding tank or a lack of food.
Breeding potential: 5. Breeding is not difficult in a well-maintained tank.
Remarks: A. thomasi is a monotypic species, meaning that it is the only fish belonging to its genus. Different color variants are available, although the Liberian population may be a separate species. Wild-caught fish are more colorful than the common tank-bred fish.
Difficulty of care: 3. A hardy fish recommended for an African River community tank.
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