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Placidochromis electra "Superior"

by Frank Panis


Scientific name: Placidochromis mbamba (according to Ad Konings book)
Trade name: Placidochromis electra "superior".
Natural habitat: Deep water in Tanzania waters.
Food in the lake: Probably crustaceans and invertebrates that are sifted from the sand
Food in the aquarium: A mix of quality pellets, flakes, krill, artemia, etc fed sparingly. No mammal meat!
Behaviour in the aquarium: A very active  cichlid that shows quite much intraspecific aggression. Builds sand nests that are maintained all day long and that are also defended fiercely.
Tankmates: Other various mid-sized haps.  Mbuna are totally out of the question.
Maximal size: Can vary quite a bit depending on water quality and food amount. I guess that mine will grow to about 16-20 cm.
Aquarium: A tank of  >750L with a sufficient amount of rocks is recommended. A large sand bottom, pH between 7.5 - 8.5, temperature about 25°C

 

A dominant male in breeding colours above it's nest.


Notes:

I got a group of these fish from my cichlid-pal Staf. At the very first beginning the Placidochromis were rather shy and dull, but then they started growing FAST!  I even think that they will grow close to 20cm at this rate. Mine are also much duller than the ones you can see in some internet pictures, but I strongly believe that these colours are deliberately oversaturated in order to let them look much more attractive so they will sell better. There is also a small possibility that the original wildcaught Placidochromis electra "superior" show deeper yellow on the body due to specific food that they eat in the lake, just like the Dimidiochromis compressiceps "gold" that loses it's yellow shine in captivity. Maybe I should consider a deep colour enhancing diet especially for them ;-)

Anyway as soon as their size was big enough they started to take their territory in the 1500L kitchen tank, and now the dominant male is already at the top of the tank hierarchy. This dominant Placidochromis male builds a nest against the front window and it even puts the Lethrinops to shame as they don't even come close in moving that amount of sand around. This nest itself is kept clean by the Placidochromis, but it can nowhere compete with the nests that some Tanganyika cichlids produce beauty-wise. The other Placidochromis males only defend a territory near the rocks but they don't build a nest though. Staf already reported breeding with his cichlids of the same age, but my females didn't carry fry yet. Maybe the time has come that they will finally breed. Anyway they have practiced more than enough now and I've also seen one female with her egg tube extended a bit. Breeding them is not my priority though, but I'll applaud them doing it and I will probably leave the females alone and won't recover the fry, unless someone is dying to get them of course.


Right after introduction. First colour starts coming in.


June 2005: A juvenile making a U-turn.


January 2006: they have grown much larger, but they're still not full size adults.


The shaking and fast moving around when the female arrives in the nest is very recognizable from other Malawi cichlid species.


Same as above: they know how to spawn ;-)


The deep digging in the sand reminds me of the much larger Fossorochromis rostratus.


They really are sand shovelling Placidochromis. My Lethrinops are amateurs compared to these fellows.


More displaying against another male opponent (outside the frame).


Of course the females need to be impressed equally!


Deep digging! Oh did I already say that I like cichlids that move the sand around?


Large sand particles are dumped at the edge of the nest.


It seems that I can't get enough from the deep digging behaviour of these Malawi cichlids.

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