have seen other articles about the Malawi cichlids I'm keeping,
you'll probably have noticed that my favorite ones are the large
predators. Aristochromis christyi is also such a fish
eater. In nature they hunt Mbuna who are approached with the
body tilted over. The prey is observed with one eye and when
it's within reach it's grabbed sideward.
The name of this species is derived from his special
shaped nose together with the highly placed eyes, what gives it
an 'aristocratic' look. It's also the most conspicuous feature
of the fish. The rest of it's appearance is rather dull. The
fins are relatively small and discreetly colored, what can be
said of the body too. The black stripe that reaches from the
head to the tail only disappears with the dominant males in
Aristochromis christyi male seems to feel happy in my new
|Again such a
large growing cichlid can't be crammed into a 55 (popular tank
size in the US, in gallons, corresponding to 200 metric liters).
It just needs a large tank. As a rule of thumb you can take 10
cm of aquarium width for every cm adult fish. Drawing the line
towards this fish that grows up to 30cm implies that it needs a
3 meter tank to stand out well. As Aristochromis christyi
normally lives in a rocky habitat, it's best to decorate the
aquarium with some large stones in such a way that caves for
hiding are formed. Although this fish doesn't have a preference
for sand it's always better to use this instead of gravel.
Feeding this hunter is another issue. Live fish will be
appreciated a lot, but apart from the accident on the pics below,
this predator doesn't get feeder fish. 3 to 4 shrimps will find
it's way to the large mouth every day. Cichlid sticks and flakes
are also eaten, but on a limited basis. Giving too much of these
will fatten up the fish too much. Food is always difficult on
Malawi cichlids: they are simply insatiable. The captive bred
ones that are fed on request will become squat and loose their
elegant shape compared to the fish in the lake.
that of other Haps, breeding doesn't really differ. The male "senses"
that the female is ready for spawning about a week in advance.
He starts defending a territory by chasing all other fish away
from that location. When the female is finally ready she'll
accept his "invitation" and comes in to the nest where she
starts circling and shaking while dropping her eggs. Quickly she
turns around to take them into her mouth. Then it's time for the
male to shiver and eject his milt. While the female searches for
eggs she'll come close to the anal fin of the male that has an
egg pattern. This way she swallows the milt cloud and the eggs
get fertilized. This procedure is repeated until all eggs are
laid. The eggs start to hatch in the second week, but the female
will carry the fry (about 3 weeks depending on temperature)
until they're ready to swim independently. Then she'll release
the fry from time to time and takes them back when she feels
threatened. When the juveniles are old enough they're left by
The female carrying
Again the male in breeding dress
Photos by Frank Panis.
See more photos in next page.
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