is the photo of a 5 month old Melanochromis auratus born in my tank.
What you see is the female coloration which the fish will keep till
the age of 6 months. When adult males are present in the tank, young
males will keep the female coloration much longer as a
"camouflage" which will protect them from their father. A
really beautiful species which is among the few giving females with
more intense colors than males.
species grows to 12 cm (even more in an aquarium) and is regarded
among the most aggressive mbunas. It should be housed with species
of equal or bigger size and of the same temperament. Keeping more
than one male in a tank is almost impossible in tanks smaller than
150 cm (450 liters). Even then, all other males will be probably
killed by the dominant one. Despite the presence of two females, my
dominant female killed the submissive one in less than a month.
Females are also territorial and intolerant of their own species and
are extremely aggressive when carrying eggs. It is not unusual for a
male M. auratus to kill one or more of the females. This is
especially true in small tanks so I recommend you take the minimum
tank size seriously into account if you plan to keep this fish.
will eat almost anything offered. A good spirulina containing food
should be given regularly. The fish (as with almost all mbuna) is
mainly a vegetarian. It will graze the algae from the rocks of the
tank and will also eat the soft edges of the plants. Its dietary
needs are to be followed otherwise the fish may develop "malawi
bloat" which is usually fatal. I recently donated all parents
and kept their fry to "refresh" the tank. Many species
(Haplochromis nyererei, Maylandia lombardoi) spawned immediately
after the removal of the parents and managed to release the fry.
Minimum tank size 150 cm / 450 liters.
100 ASA film, 50 mm lens, f/11, 1/60 sec, auto-bellows, Sunpack
flash taped over the lens, shot from a distance of 9 cm. Hand-held
camera (a manual Pentax MX)
next page for
close ups of adult fish