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Champsochromis caeruleus


 

Champsochromis caeruleus (also Lake Malawi trout or Haplochromis thola) is one of the largest predators of Lake Malawi. The splendid large fins on the adult male is one of the reasons why I keep this species, together with the elegant torpedo-shaped body that's perfectly adapted for high swimming speed, needed for chasing it's favorite natural food: the Malawi sardine Engraulicypris sardella. With a total adult size of 40 cm this beast is best kept in an aquarium larger than 1000L, with of course lots of open swimming space.




This blurry photo shows the caeruleus when he was just introduced in the tank (oct 2000). At this time the fish didn't show very much colour and the fins were not grown to their final size. Also notice the big mouth: large food like shrimp and most likely fish can easily disappear in it.

Normally this cichlid doesn't leave much choice for tankmates. Due to it's final size only large sanddwellers like Fossorochromis rostratus or predators can be kept as company. At the moment the juvenile caeruleus lives in an overcrowded tank together with Copadichromis azureus, Aulonocara lwanda and stuartgranti sp. "maisoni", Pseudotropheus saulosi and Placidochromis phenochilus. No agression is shown yet and I hope it stays like that.

    


1,5 month later (dec 2000) the Champsochromis already gained much colour and fins, but it still has to grow a lot. I hope it will pass 35 cm, what's not that easy. Feeding has to be very balanced to obtain good results. Too fat food makes the fish loose it's elegant slim shape. Also water changes have to be done on a regulary basis to eliminate grow-reducing substances.

Like I wrote before the aquarium needs lots of open space to give the fish the opportunity to stretch his fins. A few large rocks are used for hiding. Breeding is not yet observed in my tank but in nature the territorial male makes a flat hole by turning around on the sand a couple of times. He displays to the female and if she's ready to breed they will go down to the hole where they mate.
Large fish need large food so the best diet is a combination of shrimp, cocles,  mussels, fishmeat and occasional pellets. Live fish can be fed but that is the choice of the keeper. 

Photos by Frank Panis. See next page for more photos.

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