Physical description: A high-backed, laterally compressed cichlid with a fan-shaped caudal fin.
steep forehead gives way to a protruding upper lip and an undershot mouth.
The color depends entirely on the geographic
population from where the fish is found.
The common or "original strain" has a dark olive to black
body color with a yellow and/or red band that marks the mid-section of the fish.
This band widens at the upper part and
lower part of the body.
Right above this marking, the section of the dorsal fin is red.
Size/Length: To 5.5" (14 cm)
Similar species: Tropheus
Habitat: Eastern Africa; lives at a depth of 6.5-10 feet (2-3 m) along the rocky shores of
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A tank measuring at least 48" (122 cm) with
capacity of 75 gallons (285 L) is needed
for a school of Tropheus
Use a set-up with rock formations that reach the surface of the water.
Included should be many hiding places
including caves, crevices, over-hangs, and tunnels.
Use strong lighting to increase the growth of algae.
A floating PVC pipe can serve as a retreat
for harassed fish.
Over-turned flower pots can also be used for shelter.
Robust plants (Java Fern,
) can be used if live plants are desired.
Water chemistry: pH 7.3-9.2 (8.1), 8-22 dH (15), 77-82°F (25-28°C)
Social behavior: A territorial fish, intolerant of its own species.
Experts have conflicting ideas of how
this fish should be kept.
One successful method is keeping a large number of fish in a large tank.
Suggest keeping a group of fifteen to
forty with an equal number of females to males.
The large number of fish, and equal number of the sexes results in
a fairly even distribution of aggressions.
Do not introduce new
Tropheus into an established school, as
hierarchies have formed and new fish will no be accepted.
Fish that are removed from the tank may not be
reaccepted when returned to the tank.
Perhaps the best method is to obtain a group of young fish and raise
them to adulthood.
is usually not aggressive towards fish of other genera, besides being a greedy eater.
much information has been reported on combining
T. moorii with other
However it is known that some morphs
of T. moorii
are more aggressive than others.
Pairs form short-term monogamous bonds and matriarchal
families during the spawning season.
Suggested companions: Julidochromis,
Synodontis, Lamprologus, Altolamprologus, Pseudotropheus
The most important aspect of
Tropheus care is feeding.
In Lake Tanganyika,
feeds on algae, containing crustaceans and aquatic insects, much like mbunas of Lake Malawi.
In captivity, it may graze on algae
and should be fed a high-fiber diet.
can be fed on such live foods as Brine Shrimp,
Mysis, other crustaceans, aquatic insects,
and black mosquito larvae.
Its diet must include "green foods," including spirulina foods, flakes, lettuce,
spinach, tablets, and even oatmeal.
Avoid beef heart,
Tubifex worms, and red mosquito larvae
as these foods will quickly result in intestinal disorders.
Sexual differences: Almost indistinguishable; females may have darker colors and attain a larger size.
genital papilla of the male is slender and comes to a point.
Breeding techniques: Suggest using a
Tropheus community tank with water having values
between the perimeters mentioned above.
The temperature should be 81-86°F (27-30°C).
The fish, once established, may spawn
frequently dropping 5-16 eggs in open water.
The female quickly takes the eggs into her mouth.
After collecting the eggs, she swims
to the genital area of the male where the eggs are fertilized.
The eggs are large, to 0.3" (0.8 cm) in
diameter, and are incubated for a period of 3-4 weeks.
The female continues to feed while caring the eggs, which may explain
the loss of brood often experienced by some keepers.
The fry emerge free-swimming and measuring up to 0.7" (1.8 cm).
female continues her care of the fry for a week further.
The young are hardy and fast-growing when fed
on a diet of Artemia
nauplii, and fine dry foods.
Breeding potential: 7.
The real trouble with breeding is keeping the adult
Tropheus alive and in good health in order
Once one brood has come, more are to follow.
have a highly developed system of mouth-brooding.
Only a small number of large-sized eggs
In fertilization, no egg spots are used.
The use of egg spots appears to be a primitive fertilization method.
the mother eats, while mouth-brooding the eggs, the fry can also feed.
More than 50 color varieties have been
Many of these are named for their appearance (Firecracker Moorii, Flame Moori, Rainbow Moori) or
their geographical population (Chipimbi, Cape Chaitika, Moba).
These are the result of different geographical
How these come into existence is actually quite simple.
live in schools on rocky "reefs."
When a group separates from the school,
often a result from becoming too large, the group moves to its own area.
Tropheus interbreed and certain color strengths
are brought out.
group remains isolated from others as
Tropheus will not swim in sandy areas.
sandy areas act as barriers between separate populations.
Through this method, the different color morphs
Recent studies have found that
Tropheus possess twice as much genetic variation
as the whole cichlid population of Lake Malawi! (
T.F.H., #444, p. 170).
Tropheus may become inflicted with an invisible
illness which may lead to "bloat" and death.
It is still unclear what causes this illness (most likely an unsuitable
diet), although furan-based antibiotic seem to do the trick.
Tropheus are very sensitive to changes in water
chemistry, so perform water changes with care.
Be sure to quarantine all new fish for a month before adding them to
Try to obtain tank-bred Tropheus
as these are easier to care for than wild caught specimen, and also less expensive.
Difficulty of care: 7.
is an aggressive fish that is sensitive to life in captivity.
The diet, water chemistry, tank set-up,
and behavior all play important roles in keeping
Perhaps the most difficult in the care
is feeding the proper diet.
Once this obstacle, and initial acclimation is overcome,
are tough fish.
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