Physical description: An oval shaped fish with a black body coloring. Eight to nine yellow, transverse stripes mark the body. The head has small irregular yellow lines that extend from the eye to the snout, forehead, and mouth. Size/Length: To 8" (20 cm) in nature, not usually larger than 4.7" (12 cm) in aquaria.
Similar species: Tilapia buttikoferi, T. mariae
Habitat: Western Africa; found near the banks of clear rivers and tributaries of the lower parts of the Moa and Moro Rivers, southern Sierra Leone and northern Liberia.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A tank with the dimensions of 48" (122 cm) with a capacity of 55 gallons (209 L) is sufficient. The tank should have hiding places created by caves, rock structures, roots, and wood. Use robust plants along the back and sides of the aquarium. Use a fine gravel or sand substrate. The water should be clear and well-aerated. Use an effective filtration system to keep the water clean.
Water chemistry: pH 6-7.5 (6.7), 4-15 dH (7), 73-77°F (23-25°C)
Social behavior: A peaceful, calm species that does well when combined with fish that have a similar temperament. Although it is territorial it will not harm other fishes. Pairs form monogamous bonds and later patriarch/matriarch families.
Suggested companions: Hemichromis, Synodontis, Anomalochromis, Pelvicachromis, Loricarids, Cichlasomines.
FOOD: Live; crustaceans, insect larvae, aquatic insects, Tubifex; vegetables; lettuce, spinach; flakes; tablets; chopped meat. It is important to include high-fiber foods in this fish's diet.
SEX: Males have an elongated anal and dorsal fins and, with age, have white tips on their fins. Breeding techniques: Use a separate breeding tank with a pH from 6.2-6.7, a water hardness from 2-4 dH, and a temperature from 77-81°F (25-27°C). Up to 200 muddy-yellow eggs are deposited on the ceiling of a large cave. The female cares for the eggs, while the male guards the territory. The eggs hatch after four to five days. The young are moved to a pit where they are free-swimming four to six days further. The parents continue their care for another week. Start feeding with Artemia nauplii, Cyclops nauplii, and crushed dry foods. The young are difficult to rear.
Breeding potential: 7. Breeding is fairly difficult to initiate.
Remarks: Requires frequent partial water changes to prosper.
Difficulty of care: 5. A pleasant fish that requires a varied diet that includes high-fiber foods. Better suited to aquaria than T. buttikoferi.
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