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Tilapia mariae (Five-Spot Tilapia)

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A large, quite colourful species fairly frequently offered as an aquarium fish. Young fish are tan in colour with a series of sharply defined vertical bands. As the fish mature, these spots become fade to little more than oval spots on the flanks. In addition, a reddish patch develops across the lower half of the body, particularly around the pectoral and pelvic fins. The eye is bright red. Sexual dimorphism is slight, but the male has longer dorsal and tail fins that are more brightly marked with bluish-white spots.

Fish information (behaviour and breeding):

Primarily an herbivorous fish, this species needs plenty of algae and soften plants (scuh as blanched lettuce and spinach) to do well. Vegetarian flake and pellet foods can also be used. Supplements of animal foods, such as bloodworms, will be welcomed.

Fairly aggressive and unsociable, so best kept with only other robust cichlids (such as jewel cichlids) and sturdy catfish (such as plecs). While tolerant of hard, even brackish, water, for breeding purposes the water should be soft or only moderately hard, with a pH around neutral. The parents both guard the spawn and fry.

Family Group: African Cichlids
Distribution West Africa
Temperature 24-26 C
Size Up to 35 cm, usually smaller
Water Parameters Fresh or brackish water
Water PH 6.5-7.5