Photo courtesy: Andrzej Zabawski
Many cichlid lovers are lured by the striking appearance of Tropheus duboisi, especially in its juvenile form with its deep black body sprinkled with brilliant white spots. Even in its adult coloration it remains a beautiful fish as both males and females sport a black body with a blue face and a white or yellow stripe behind the gill cover (unfortunately the spots all fade away), growing to manageable size of 4-5 inches. Yet, this expensive fish requires not only an investment in terms of money but also specialized needs and care.
In their native Lake Tanganyika, Tropheus duboisi live among the rocky outcroppings where they feed on algae. Likewise, in the home aquarium they should be provided with numerous rocks and caves. Males are very territorial and need an area to call their own. The substrate should consist of a fine gravel or sandy bottom.
It is recommended that these active fish be kept in a group or colony of at least a dozen specimens. Therefore, a minimum size of 75 gallons is best to begin with. As with all Tanganyika cichlids high water quality is vital. Not only is a good filtration system important but regular water changes (approx. 50% per week) is mandatory. The temperature in the aquarium should be kept between 76-82 F with a pH of 8.0-8.6.
For these herbivores their diet should consist mainly of vegetable matter such as spirulina flakes and other high quality prepared products from your LFS. They should not be fed much animal products, if any at all, because this has been known to lead to bloat. 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 Tanganyika cichlids that are similar in size and disposition.
Breeding the Tropheus duboisi, though not easy, can be accomplished by beginning with a large group of a dozen or more juveniles and raising them together. They will reach sexual maturity when they are approximately 3 inches long. Males will establish their territories and try to lure females to them with various displays. As with many other cichlids, these fish are mouthbrooders. After spawning, the female with carry the fertilized eggs in her mouth. The female “holds” the eggs and then the newly hatched fry in her mouth for about a month before they are finally set free. The fry (which usually number 5-15) can be fed finely ground spirulina flakes.
Compatible: Lake Tanganykan similar size, and African Catfish.