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Metriaclima Aurora – The Dawn of Lake Malawi
Get ready to be enchanted by the Metriaclima aurora, formerly known as Pseudotropheus aurora. This magnificent cichlid hails from the depths of Lake Malawi and boasts a striking appearance that sets it apart in the world of aquarium fish. Here’s everything you need to know about this captivating species:
A Splash of Color: The male Metriaclima aurora is a true spectacle with its vibrant blend of blues and golden yellows. Its dorsal fin showcases the absence of a black submarginal band, while its lower head, breast, and dorsal fin shimmer in a bright yellow hue. As for the females, they exhibit a graceful light-brown coloration, occasionally adorned with a subtle bluish or purplish sheen.
Habitat and Distribution: Metriaclima aurora thrives in the intermediate zones of Lake Malawi, seldom venturing into deeper waters. It can be found at depths ranging from 23 to 49 feet, making it one of the most common Metriaclima species in this habitat. Originally discovered around Likoma Island, it has also been identified at locations such as Mala Point, Mbweca, Tumbi Point, and even Chizumulu Island’s eastern shore.
Size and Dimorphism: In its natural habitat, Metriaclima aurora typically reaches lengths of up to 4 inches, with males slightly larger than females. In captivity, these cichlids can grow slightly larger, but they usually stay under 5.5 inches.
Social Behavior: Male Metriaclima aurora are known for their territorial nature and striking coloration. They often establish territories beneath small rocks, where they construct burrows for spawning. Females, either solitary or in small groups, are courted by males when near their territory. Breeding takes place inside the male’s burrow, and females are responsible for mouth-brooding the fry.
Aquarium Care: Keeping Metriaclima aurora in your aquarium is a rewarding experience. These cichlids thrive in tanks with a minimum length of about 39 inches and plenty of hiding spots in the form of rocks or shelters. A fine-grained substrate, preferably sand, allows males to create burrows. Water conditions should include a pH between 7.0 and 8.5 and a stable temperature between 73.4°F and 82.4°F.
Tank Compatibility: It’s crucial to maintain harmony in your aquarium when housing Metriaclima aurora. These males are highly territorial, and it’s best to keep only one male in a tank, unless it exceeds 78.7 inches in length. Additionally, avoid placing similar-looking species in the same tank to prevent aggression, particularly towards lookalikes like M. chrysomallos. Females of the latter species can be differentiated by their yellow anal fin but may interbreed with Metriaclima aurora.
Conservation Status: Metriaclima aurora is classified as “Least Concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This species is endemic to Lake Malawi and is known from several locations, with no significant threats to its population.
Discover the Beauty: Embrace the vibrant beauty and intriguing behaviors of Metriaclima aurora in your own aquarium. These cichlids are not just aquatic creatures; they’re living masterpieces that will bring life and color to your underwater world.
Explore the captivating world of Metriaclima aurora and witness the splendor of Lake Malawi, one fish at a time.