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Sciaenochromis ahli (Electric Blue Cichlid, Cyrtocara ahli)

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A streamlined fish with a long, tapering snout. The mouth is rather large, and this predatory fish can eat surprisingly large prey. Males are brilliant blue, with vague dark vertical bands on the flanks. The edge of the dorsal fin may be lighter blue, and there are not only the usual egg spots on the anal fin but also similar, but fainter, spots to be seen on the dorsal fin and tail fin. Females are smaller than the males and less brightly coloured, being brown-grey with only a scattering of blue of the flanks.

Fish information (behaviour and breeding):

A beautiful but sensitive species that should only be kept in a well-filtered, mature aquarium. Take care to ensure the carbonate hardness is sufficiently high to prevent pH fluctuations. Rocks are appreciated, but this species likes to spend time in open water over sandy areas.

In the wild these fish are predators and eat crustaceans, insect larvae and small fish. Under aquarium conditions they enjoy a meaty diet but will also take pellets and flake food.

A popular species of community systems, males are aggressive to one another (and other cichlids with similar colouration) but otherwise tolerant. They are of course predatory, so tankmates should be chosen with care. Best kept in a single species aquarium or with peaceful mbuna with completely different colouration, such as Labidochromis.

Males should be kept with multiple females to avoid aggression problems. After mating, the males play no role in broodcare. These fish are mouthbrooders, the females incubating the eggs for up to three weeks. Once the fry are free swimming they are easily reared with artemia nauplii, daphnia, and liquid fry foods.

Family Group: African Cichlids
Distribution Africa: Lake Malawi
Temperature 24-28 C
Size Males over 15 cm, females smaller
Water Parameters Hard and alkaline water essential; salt is optional but perhaps beneficial
Water PH 7.5-8.5
Diet Adaptable
Care Level Difficult
Water Chemistry More than pH 7 - Alkaline
Schooling Fish No
Sociability Peaceful