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My Top 10 Favorite Malawi Cichlids, From the Mind of a Cichlid Mad Man

Hey folks, as promised, here’s the first installment of my favorite fish! Just remember everyone’s opinion differs and I would like to see other peoples faves,  too, so please leave a comment if you have an opinion.  Here goes, (in no particular order)!

Copadichromis azureus – This haplochromine is a zooplankton feeder. Males attain a length up to 8 inches with females around half that. A colorful fish, males sport a metallic blue with a white dorsal edge and black fins. Also sold as C. chrysonotus.  They are as attractive as they are interesting to watch.

 

Protomelas insignis juvenileProtomelas insignis – Also known as P. spilonotus (Tanzania) this particular hap attains a length of about 10 inches, with females at 7.  Males develop a bluish green head with 3/4 of the upper body dark blue while the bottom 1/4 is yellow. Beautiful!

 

Pseudotropheus polit – This feisty little Politcave brooder, which tops out at 4 inches, has a nasty napoleon complex. Males become a very light blue with a black face. This fish will keep you on your toes!

Aulonocara ethelwynae – This peacock attains a length of 5 inches, and has an understated beauty.  It is not a very colorful fish, as compared to other peacocks. The body is mostly brown with some yellow accents, and it has a blue lower jaw. The fins are their most attractive feature as both the anal and dorsal are blue to a light purple in color.  A fish that lives around the sandy areas of the lake,  it also needs rock for protection and breeding.

Dimidiochromis compressiceps – This piscivore (fish eater), which is also known as the Malawi Eye Biter, attains a length of 11 inches and is rarely encountered in the rocky habitat. It mostly frequents reed stands and vallisneria beds where its laterally compressed  body can allow it to hide as it stalks prey. Males develop a metallic blue face and body, a white dorsal edge with red tips, and a red anal fin with blue white egg spots.  What is not to love about this fish!

 Nimbochromis livingstoni juvenileNimbochromis livingstoni – This 11 inch piscivore has an intresting hunting behavior, and is a blast to watch in action. It partially buries itself in sand and feigns death. It has a mottled pattern of brown blotches on a pale body.  The pale color attracts smaller fish, which are then caught with a sideways thrust, like lightning! Dominant males develop gorgeous dark  blue coloration.

Tyrannochromis macrostoma –  Another predator, this species attains a length of 14 inches and has a peculiar hunting technique, also spectacular to observe. It hovers in a head-down vertical position and tilts its body to one side.  The position allows this hunter to observe its prey in the rock and snatch it out of its hideout.  Males are a blue with yellow-orange in the anal and pelvic fins.

 Protomelas steveni juvenile
Protomelas steveni (Taiwan Reef) – This awesome species hails from three different areas with differences in colors. Higga Reef variants are all blue with a red anal fin and a white blaze, Ngkuyo Reef variants have a blue head some blue in body, while the back and belly are both yellow, and the anal fin is yellow. Taiwan Reef is my favorite, featuring a blue face and back, yellow body, red anal fin and a white blaze. Simply gorgeous fish. There is also an albino version which is stunning.

Rhampochromis sp. – Open water predators, these “Malawi Barracudas” range in size from 10 inches to 18 inches. They are mostly silver, though a couple species also have yellow anal and pelvic fins. They’re made to chase down prey, natural hunters you can’t help but to admire.
Any Lethrinops sp. or Tramitichromis sp.- These sandy living species come in all “flavors” and I will always have a soft spot for them for the variety of color they exhibit and their unique and interesting behaviors. My favorite variants are the Tramitichromis ‘Red Flush’ and the Lethrinops ‘Auritus Lion’.

In closing, lets not forget that these are my faves I would love to hear from anyone who reads this blog about their favorite Malawi species and variants, please take a moment to give your take in our comments section and as always if you have any questions, let me know! Next up are my favorite Victorians!

2 comments

  1. avatar

    I would have to say the Jake, Aulonocara jacobfreibergi, is probably my favorite Malawi, ever since you introduced me to them Jose. I saw one of these guys there for $60 bucks, and its dorsal fin was growing out of it’s body off-center. With the prices going up like they are, I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on a fish that’s of poor quality or breeding.

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About Jose Mendes

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That Fish Place’s resident “Cichlid Pro.” In addition to working at TFP for 13 years, Jose’s been breeding Cichlids for over 14 years and has produced over 200 different species. Jose is the man to question for everything cichlid. Check out Jose’s work in the article: Keeping and Breeding African Cichlids in Small Aquariums, and his many other contributions on cichlid husbandry, behavior, and his personal experiences with keeping cichlids from across the globe.