Blue Frontosa - Cyphotilapia frontosa "Zaire blue"
Blue Frontosa - Cyphotilapia frontosa "Zaire blue"

Blue Frontosa - Cyphotilapia frontosa "Zaire blue"

Common Name: Blue Frontosa, Zaire blue frontosa
Scientific Name: Cyphotilapia frontosa "Zaire blue"
Max.size: 40 cm / 16 inch
Temperature: 22-28˚ C / 72-83ºF
pH: 7.8-9.5;

The term blue frontosa usually refers to the Zaire blue frontosa.  There are however other blue strains of frontosa that are less common in the trade. The blue Zaire frontosa is collected in deep water, a process that requires a lot of effort and manpower as the fish needs to be brought up to the surface slowly not to be damage by the change in pressure. Add to this the fact that the fish is collected in a politically very unstable area and it comes as no surprise that the blue frontosa is much more expensive than regular wild caught frontosa. There is another frontosa strain called "Zaire purple" that some people claim is "Zaire blues" but there is a clear differences in color between them.

Cyphotilapia frontosa "Zaire blue" is very beautiful fish and it has become popular despite its high price. Aquarium bred Cyphotilapia frontosa "Zaire blue" are still rare in the trade, but they are becoming more common as this species is becoming more widely kept.

The name Cyphotilapia frontosa means "hump fish with big head"

"Zaire blue" frontosa aquarium

This cichlid grows very big and therefore needs a large aquarium. I recommend an aquarium of no less than 190 gallon / 720 L to keep this species although some might say that 150 gallon / 500 L is enough. They do well in groups and it is ideal to keep one male with 5-6 females or keep even larger groups with a similar sex ratio.  The aquarium should be decorated with a few large caves and rocks and a lot of open space to swim on. It is important to anchor the rocks well since these fishes like to dig. Good circulation is essential.

The water should be hard and alkaline (pH 7.8 -9.5). The temperature is best kept between 22-28˚ C / 72-83ºF.

Feeding blue frontosa

The Zaire blue frontosa is a predatory fish and needs protein rich food. Shrimp, fish meat, crayfish etc makes good food choices for picky frontosa but most specimens can be trained to accept cichlid pellets as well. A varied carnivorous diet is important.


Zaire blue frontosas are very hard to sex and even experts are sometimes wrong. The best way of sexing them is "Venting" or "Tubing" which involves looking at the genitals of the fish. The genitals of the female fish are broader and rounder and the male have more pointy genitals.  This is best left to an expert if you haven't got experience in identifying fish this way. The hump is not a sure sexual indicator, because large females can also have humps.

Breeding Cyphotilapia frontosa "Zaire blue"

Zaire blue frontosas are harem mouth brooders which means that one male keeps and spawn with several females. The eggs are very large and can take more than a month to develop. If you keep a harem group under good conditions they will usually start to spawn eventually but this is not the easiest fish to breed. You can learn more about breeding Zaire blue frontosas by reading our article on breeding this species.