Pseudotropheus is a genus of rock dwelling (Mbuna) cichlids found in Lake Malawi. Like some other large cichlid genera, such as Cichlasoma, a number of related fish have been recently re-assigned to different genera such as Tropheops and Maylandia. Mbuna literally means “rock dweller” and this description accurately depicts the lifestyle of these cichlids which mostly live in rocky areas. Most Pseudotrophine cichlids are algal grazers in the wild.

Pseudotropheus reproduction

Like most cichlids from Lake Malawi, fishes from this genus reproduce via maternal mouthbrooding. The males often have egg spots on their anal fins which attract spawn-ready females towards them where they attempt to retrieve the imitation eggs while the male emits sperm into her biting mouth, thus fertilizing the eggs. The female and male generally move in an intensive circular motion while they spawn. Eventually, the female retrieves all of her eggs and incubates them in her mouth without eating for 2-4 weeks depending on the species and the particular fish after which the fry are released.

Pseudotropheus in the aquarium

Fishes from this genus are popular amongst tropical aquarists. They include P. demasoni, P. flavus, and the ever popular variant of P. zebra. They are relatively aggressive fish requiring usually large aquaria with ample rock coverage for hiding and providing havens from aggression. It is usually important to keep a high population of fish in the aquaria to distribute the aggression. They are extremely hardy fish and can live nearly ten years. It is best to keep them with other African cichlids of similar size.