Get to Know Tropheus Cichlids

Tropheus Nkonde

Get to Know Tropheus Cichlids

Tropheus cichlids are a type of small, highly territorial fish that are typically dark with bright-colored patches – for example, the popular Tropheus Bemba Flame has a black body with a bright orange band around the middle. Originally found in East Africa, tropheus cichlids from Lake Tanganyika can be found in six different varieties. No matter the variety, African cichlids are best kept by experienced fish enthusiasts as they tend to be territorial, like to swim freely, cross-breed easily, and get aggressive if they are confined to small tanks.


In the wild, tropheus cichlids live in colonies in the shallow, rocky edges of Lake Tanganyika with plenty of room to swim freely and avoid rival territories. How can you effectively replicate that in captivity?

Use the largest tank you can find – 55 gallons at minimum

An even bigger tank would be better, but for a colony of 12 to 20 fish, 55 gallons is sufficient. The tank should not contain different varieties of fish.

Add rock piles to the bottom of the tank

Tropheus Red ChimbaThese rock piles create hiding places and also allow the fish to create their own territories. Tropheus Duboisi, a beautiful black and blue variety with white spots, particularly enjoy piles of rocks and driftwood that form caves in which they can hide. Giving the fish plenty of space to hide and get away from rivals or dominant males helps cut down on aggressive behavior.

Keep colonies instead of individual fish

Colonies – 30 fish is ideal – also help diminish aggressive behavior. Try to get all of the colony members at the same time, as it can be difficult to introduce new fish after colonies and territories have been established.

General Care

These small, brightly colored fish can be challenging to care for, but with some careful attention to their basic needs, it’s not impossible. What do they require?


African Cichlids are vegetarian fish that mostly eat algae in the wild. You can feed them spirulina flakes, certain varieties of frozen planktonic crustaceans, and encourage algae growth on the rocks with a heat lamp. As they do in the wild, your fish will graze on the algae.


After eating a balanced diet of algae and seaweed flakes without too much protein or fat, the females are usually ready to breed. After mouth brooding, they should be removed and placed alone in a nursery tank to ensure the survival of their young.

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