Another very popular aquarium fish that comes from Lake Malawi is the Pseudotropheus estherae or Red Zebra. Because these cichlids are so brightly colored and constantly on the go, they are truly aquatic entertainers. The males of this species have a light blue body with several darker vertical “stripes” and bright yellow egg spots on their anal fins. Contrastingly, the females are colored a brilliant orange. In general, Red Zebras will grow to 4-5 inches in length.
Red Zebras are found in rocky areas and their aquarium habitat should also feature many rocks and caves to provide shelter and security and enough space for each fish to establish his own territory.. It is also recommended that a fine gravel or sandy bottom along with hardy vegetation (such as Java fern, anubias, etc.) be provided. A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is required along with a good filtration system and regular water changes being mandatory if you are to have healthy fishes.
The temperature in the aquarium should be kept between 78-82 F with a pH of 7.8-8.6. Red Zebras are omnivorous and readily accept all types of foods. Besides feeding them a variety of protein sources (brine shrimp, bloodworms, etc.) it is important to also include vegetable based foods in their diet (spirulina flakes, specially formulated cichlid pellets, etc.). These fishes tend to be “semi-aggressive” so they should not be kept with smaller or less aggressive fish. Rather they should be kept in a species tank or with other Lake Malawi cichlids that are similar in size and disposition.
Like many of the Lake Malawi cichlids Red Zebras are mouth brooders. If you are interested in breeding these cichlids it is best to begin by obtaining a group of juveniles, choosing several females per male, and raising them together. After the eggs have been fertilized the female with carry them in her mouth. The female “holds” the eggs for about 3 weeks and then the newly hatched fry in her mouth for another week before they are finally set free. During this time she does not eat so it is best to remove her to a tank of her own.
It is important to nourish her back to full strength before returning her to the main tank so that she can fend for herself. The fry (which usually number 20-40) can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp as well as finely ground flake foods.
Compatible: Lake Malawi similar size , and African Catfish.