Pseudotropheus is one of the biggest genera in the family Cichlidae. It is a diverse genus that includes a lot of different cichlid species, but they all hail from Lake Malawi in eastern Africa. The cichlids in lake Malawi are usually divided into two major groups; the rock dwelling Mbunas and the open water living Peacock cichlids. All Pseudotropheus cichlids belong to the first group, the Mbunas. Mbunas means rock-living in one of the local languages spoken around Lake Malawi. Some Pseudotropheus cichlids are more aggressive than Mbuna cichlids, while others are more peaceful. If you wish to keep comparatively peaceful Pseudotropheus species the Pseudotropheus demasoni and the Pseudotropheus saulosi are two good choices. The species belonging to the Pseudotropheus elongatus group are among the most aggressive Pseudotropheus fishes. Between these extremes you will find a lot of Pseudotropheus species that, although aggressive, are still possible to keep together with other fish. These mid-range Pseudotropheus species are often found in mixed Mbuna aquariums. Aggressive Pseudotropheus species should only be kept in large aquariums and never together with more docile species since those will be bullied and harassed. You should also decorate the aquarium in a way that creates natural borders. It is important that the fishes can stay out of each others sight to avoid constant fighting.
Set up an aquarium and let it mature before your place the Pseudotropheus cichlids in it. Pseudotropheus cichlids require a water temperature between 78 and 82° F. You can also take water from another mature aquarium to add mature filter to the aquarium that you are setting up for the Pseudotropheus cichlid. If you do this, it is important that the old aquarium's water chemistry is similar to the water in Lake Malawi. The pH should be in the 7.6-8.6 range and the water must also be very hard. It is recommended to add all your Pseudotropheus cichlids simultaneously since they are territorial. A Pseudotropheus cichlid added later will always intrude on already claimed territories and will therefore be constantly chased away. If you wish to introduce a Pseudotropheus cichlid later, you should ideally buy several Pseudotropheus cichlids and add them together. Each newcomer will thereby experience a smaller amount of aggression since the old inhabitants will be busy chasing away several intruders. You should also rearrange the aquarium décor before you introduce the new cichlids, since this will break up old territorial borders and make it easier for the newcomers to claim their own territories. Another tip is to distract the old residents with food when you add the new cichlids.
Since all Pseudotropheus species belong to the rock-dwelling Mbuna group, the aquarium where you keep your Pseudotropheus cichlid should be decorated with plenty of rocks, preferably on a sandy bottom since this resembles Lake Malawi. The Pseudotropheus cichlids will de best if they are provided with a lot of good hiding places among the rocks. Algae growth on the rocks is a good thing, since this will provide your Pseudotropheus cichlids with an additional food source and allow them to graze just as they would in the wild.
Some Pseudotropheus species are known to frequently spawn in aquariums, such the Pseudotropheus demasoni. A larger water change will usually induce spawning in healthy Pseudotropheus demasoni cichlids. It is recommended to keep one male Pseudotropheus demasoni with several females, since the male will chase and harass the females a lot during the courting period. With several females in the aquarium, each female will experience less stress. Pseudotropheus demasoni cichlids are female mouth brooders. If you plan to breed some other Pseudotropheus species, it is advisable that you find out more about that particular species since the requirements and spawning behaviours vary a lot between different Pseudotropheus species. For example, if you wish to breed Psedotropheus crabro you must provide them with a flat rock in the aquarium to deposit their eggs on, while a female Pseudotropheus saulosi will deposit her eggs in a pit in the sand dug out by the male Pseudotropheus saulosi.
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