Aurora cichlid - Maylandia aurora
Scientific name: Maylandia aurora
Common name: Aurora cichlid
Usual size in fish tanks: 9 - 11 cm (3.54 - 4.33 inch)
Recommended pH range for the species: 7.5 - 8.8
Recommended water hardness (dGH): 12 - 25°N (214.29 - 446.43ppm)
0°C 32°F30°C 86°F
Recommended temperature: 24 - 27 °C (75.2 - 80.6°F)
The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning
Where the species comes from: Africa
Temperament to its own species: aggressive/territorial
Temperament toward other fish species: aggressive/territorial
Usual place in the tank: Middle levels
These fish are endemic to Lake Malawi. They inhabit the lower rocky regions of Likoma island where the rocks meet the sandy substrate.
The Aurora cichlid are quite a popular species housed by many Malawi keepers. Like most of these cichlids they can show high levels of aggression so are not for complete novice fish keepers. Mature males reach an average length of up to 4 inches and will display a blue body colouration with yellow markings around the throat area. They are sometimes referred to as Pseudotropheus aurora but they are the same fish. They spend most of their time in the wild swimming on the lower edges of the rock formations and onto the edges of the sandy substrate.
If cared for correctly, the average lifespan of Maylandia Aurora should average at up to 10 years of age.
The minimum sized aquarium that should be used to house a male and 2-3 females will need to be at least 110 litres (29 gallons), for a larger group or for more elaborate rockwork then a larger aquarium will be required. Add rockwork to the rear of the aquarium and make sure that it is stacked to provide hiding places for the fish. Sand should be used for the substrate (preferably coral sand). All cichlids are high waste producers so make sure that the filtration system is rated for the water volume that the aquarium holds and back this up with regular water changes.
The temperature should range between 24 -27°C (76-81°F) and the pH should range between 7.5-8.8. Plants can be added but be aware that the Aurora cichlid likes to dig in the substrate so they may be uprooted.
Suitable tank mates include other mbuna cichlids and for bottom dwellers synodontis are ideal.
These are definitely not a difficult species to breed as they have a voracious appetite and will accept all foods offered. They are classed as omnivorous so will require a varied diet. Use a quality flake or cichlid pellets for the staple diet but this will need to be varied with spirulina flakes, chopped zucchini or blanched peas. Always try not to overfeed as they are susceptible to Malawi bloat. Only feed as much food as they can digest in a 5 minute interval.
Mature males grow slightly larger than mature females and they will display a much brighter colouration. Males will also develop a yellow area around the throat region.
The Aurora cichlids are maternal mouthbrooders. The males will dig pits in the substrate and invite the female over to deposit her eggs. He will display and dance by quivering, once ready the female will deposit her eggs in the pit and these are quickly fertilised by the male. The female will scoop the eggs into her mouth where she will incubate them for a period of 10-14 days. During this time she may hide away in the rockwork and not eat. Once hatched the fry will be housed in the mouth for at least two more weeks only being released for short periods of time initially. Once the female is confident that the fry are safe she will release them permanently.The fry can be fed on newly hatched brine shrimp or artemia until they are large enough to accept crushed items that the parent fish digest.
It is best to house several females with one male in the breeding tank so that his attention is spread over all of the harem rather than one female becoming harassed.