Red empress

Protomelas taeniolatus (often sold under various trade names: Haplochromis Red Empress, Red Empress or Spindle Hap) is a cichlid endemic to Lake Malawi in Eastern Africa. The fish is popular in the aquarium hobby due to the bright rainbow-like colors of adult males and its relatively peaceful temperament. Juvenile and female P. taeniolatus, like many Haplochromines, do not display bright coloration. A freshwater fish, the Red Empress thrives in a shallow, rocky habitat with little, if any, sediment. It feeds on a variety of small invertebrates.

Home Aquarium

Due to the attractive colors of the male, these fish are used in the freshwater home aquarium to add variety and color. When kept in captivity they usually grow to around 15cm and should be kept in at least a 150 liter tank. They prefer a pH level of 8.2 and like a temperature of 82.4°F (28°C).


The Protomelas taeniolatus is generally a peaceful fish until breeding time. At this time the male will guard quite a large amount of territory and chase away any fish that enters his ‘lair’. The males are mostly aggressive to each other unless in a large area of water. When the breeding time is over he will, again, allow any fish to enter his territory and will not guard it.