Tropheus species - Care in fish tanks
The genus “Tropheus” is a very popular cichlid found in Lake Tanganyika. Lake Tanganyika is located in central Africa, and is known to be the second deepest lake in the world. Below the surface of the lake live over 600 species, and among them are Tropheus. Tropheus are not a fish I would recommend for a beginner aquarist. They are very demanding and require a lot of attention not only with the food you feed them, but with the habitat you create for them in your aquarium. Tropheus are very aggressive and should be kept in large numbers. With my personal experience I have found that the aggression is kept to a minimum if you are female heavy and provide lots of rock work for them to seek shelter.
In the wild, Tropheus are found throughout rocky habitats, all over Lake Tanganyika. They feed on algae, andother vegetation that may grow on the rocks. They can be seen in schools of more than one Tropheus species feeding together, although it is not recommended that you keep more than one Tropheus species together in the same aquarium because of hybridization. They also prefer to stay close to the rocks, as they not only feed off of them, but they enjoy the shelter that the rocks provide them as well.
In the aquarium, male Tropheus are very aggressive and will defend a territory of rocks for feeding and breeding. Females will also defend a territory for feeding. I would recommend an area of rocks for each male you keep in your colony as well as many other rocky areas for females to seek shelter and feed from. The substrate in your aquarium should consist of sand that is fine enough for the Tropheus to sift in their mouths. The sand is good for them because in your aquarium it will not only grow algae that they will sift through, but they will eat small amounts that will help them with their digestion. If your aquarium is not large enough to have a lot of rocks to support the correct habitat, I would recommend you either consider a larger tank for the Tropheus or a different genus all together.
Tropheus speciesare all maternal mouthbrooders. Some of the Tropheus species form a sort of relationship between the male and female a few weeks before they spawn. Meaning the male will allow the female to stay in his territory until they spawn, I have seen this with my T. Duboisi and my T. Moorii Bemba Flame, and then the female will either return to her territory or even sometimes go to a group of other females that have also spawned. The females will hold the fry in their mouths for about 4 weeks before releasing them. The female will also eat very small amounts during the time she is holding her fry. Most Tropheus will release their fry and care for them for up to a week. Now in the aquarium,the fry will seek shelter in small rocks and crevices. The adults will not eat the fry in your aquarium, but they will most likely pick on them, sometimes to the point of death. If you plan on letting the females spit the fry into your tank, you should keep a cluster of small lace rocks in the corner of your tank where the adults can’t get into. Otherwise you can strip the female and house the fry in a breeding net for about a week then they should be ok to move to a separate tank.
Now the Tropheus genus can be broken down into eight different species, although, many aquarists break the genus down to only four species. The following is a list of the eight species according to Ad Konings as he wrote in his book “Tanganyika Cichlids in their natural habitat”: T. Moorii, T. Annectens, T. Duboisi, T. Brichardi, T. sp. “black”, T. sp. “red”, T. sp. “Mpimbwe”, and T. sp. “Ikola”. Each Tropheus species seem to display variations in their behavior. Some are more aggressive than others and some seem to be found deeper in the lake than others. But all Tropheus are very active and can very aggressive towards their own territories. Tropheus are known mostly because of their beautiful colors and or markings, as well as that they are very entertaining and active in the aquarium. Now as I mentioned before, it is not a good idea to have more than one species of Tropheus in your aquarium. For example, T. Moorii is a type of species under the Tropheus genus. The T. Moorii, are mostly found in the southern part of Lake Tanganyika, and in my opinion, the Moorii seem to display more bold, and bright colors. But I would not house to types of Moorii in the same tank, because they will most likely interbreed. Now I have housed my T. Duboisi and T. Moorii Ilangi together without problem. In fact they did not breed at all while they were in the same environment. Once I moved them they did start to breed again.
I have also kept T. Brichardi Ulwile. These Tropheus seem to displaymore aggression than any of the other Tropheus I have kept. The T. Brichardi species as adults do not have as bright and bold of colors as some of the other Tropheus species. The fry from the T. Brichardi Ulwile are very interesting. They are a bright beautiful orange with black stripes. The orange fades to yellow and most of the body turns a dark brownish color leaving 2-3 stripes of yellow. And it is believed the male T. Brichardi Ulwile display only one to one and a half yellow stripes and the female with have two and a half to three stripes. T. Brichardi Ulwile also hasblue eyes. So even though as adults they lack bright bold colors throughout their body, they have some neat markings that set them aside from other Tropheus.
The T. Duboisi is another example of extreme color changes occur in Tropheus as the fry grow into adults. T. Duboisi seems to be a species with only a few types. The neatest thing about the T. Duboisi is the fry display a jet black body with white spots all over. As they mature into adulthood, they will lose their spots and gain a white or yellow band with a blue face and a dark body. The color they mature into depends on the type of T. Duboisi they are (or really what part of the lake they are from).
Tropheus are some of my favorite cichlids to keep. They are challenging as well as rewarding. If you are thinking about keeping Tropheus here are a few key factors you should keep in mind. You should set up a large tank for them. The height of the tank should be considered if you are purchasing a tank just for them. They swim all over the tank and will use top to bottom, so if possible a tall wide tank is perfect for them. I have kept some of my Tropheus in a standard 125 gallon, which is longer, not as tall as a 110 gallon tall tank, which I have also kept them in. With my experience the Tropheus seem to prefer the height to the length. I would also recommend a sand substrate. I have noticed that my Tropheus prefer finer sand they love to sift through it. In my tank with the coarser sand, the Tropheus don’t really move it at all. You will also want to make a good rocky habitat. I like to build lace rock up as high as possible in the tank all along the back half, leaving a good portion of the front of the tank open. That’s where I feed the Tropheus, and they will also swim around the open area and only sleep, or seek shelter along the back of the tank. By following these guidelines you should have a tank set up that looks like a rock slide hit the sand, which is close to their natural habitat. Also make sure the water is extremely clean and has plenty of air. Tropheus are very fun and entertaining, take care of them and enjoy them.
Species and links
- Labeotropheus fuelleborni (Blue mbuna)
- Labeotropheus trewavasae (Trewavas mbuna)
- Pseudotropheus aurora (Aurora cichlid)
- Pseudotropheus crabro (Bumble bee)
- Pseudotropheus demasoni (Demason’s cichlid)
- Pseudotropheus elongatus (Slender mbuna)
- Pseudotropheus estherae (Red zebra)
- Pseudotropheus fainzilberi (Mbuna cichlid)
- Pseudotropheus lanisticola (Malawi shell dweller)
- Pseudotropheus lombardoi (Kenyi cichlid)
- Pseudotropheus socolofi (Powder blue cichlid)
- Tropheus brichardi (Blue eyed tropheus)
- Tropheus duboisi (Dwarf tanganyikan cichlid)
- Tropheus moorii (Blunthead cichlid)
Tanganyika Cichlids in their natural habitat, by Ad Konings