Tropheus duboisi hails from Lake Tanganyika in Africa and is divided into three subspecies:
Tropheus duboisi ‘Karilani Island’
Tropheus duboisi ‘Kigoma’
Tropheus duboisi ‘Maswa’
Tropheus duboisi was one of the first Tropheus species kept by United States aquarists, but many people still refrain from getting it since they believe it to be “impossible” to keep. The truth is that Tropheus duboisi is far from impossible to care for, as long as you are willing to cater for its particular requirement. All African cichlids have their own specific needs and preferences, and if you provide Tropheus duboisi with conditions similar to those of its natural environment it will stay happy and healthy even in captivity. A well kept Tropheus duboisi will even breed in captivity, so if you like Tropheus duboisi, there is no reason to refrain from getting one.
Housing Tropheus duboisi
In order to avoid fighting, get a large group of juvenile Tropheus duboisi and let them grow up together. Keep a few males with at least a dozen females. A 55 gallon aquarium is large enough, but when they start breeding you might wish to move them to a larger aquarium to avoid crowding as the fry grow larger. Many breeders suggest keeping 5-8 males with at least 20 females, and this will naturally require a somewhat bigger aquarium than 3 males + 12 females.
The aquarium should be covered in gravel and decorated with plenty of rocks and caves. Placing marbles, small stones, small pvc pipes etcetera in the aquarium will give the fry plenty of hiding spots, but it is not mandatory since the adults usually leave the young ones alone. The males like to have stone piles or caves that they can claim as territory. If you each male with a nice stone pile/cave, he will normally be satisfied with this and refrain from trying to claim the entire aquarium. Tropheus species is known for being vicious, but a Tropheus duboisi set up can actually be quite peaceful as long as it is done correctly. Even spawning Tropheus duboisi can refrain from fighting in a good home. There will naturally be occasional displays of dominance, but it does not have to result in serious stress and injuries.
N.B! Some breeders prefer to go in the opposite direction and keep Tropheus duboisi in really barren aquariums in order to reduce fighting. They only include a few PVC pipes for the females to seek shelter in. This method has also proven successful, so it is simply a matter of personal preferences.
Tropheus duboisi produce quite a lot of waste and using powerful filtration is therefore recommended. Change 50% of the water once a week. Since they hail from Lake Tanganyika, the water must be kept at really alkaline levels; ideally around pH 8.6. The water hardness should be between 250 and 300 ppm and the water temperature in the 25-28 degrees C range.
This fish must be kept on an almost 100% vegetable diet. You can give it occasional treats in the form of brine shrimp, but never more than what the fish would accidentally swallow in its search for algae and vegetable matter in the wild. Bloat and sudden Tropheus death in aquariums are often the result of a diet too rich in protein and/or fat and too low in fibers. Many breeders report successful spawnings in fish kept on a diet of high-quality spirulina based flake food. You can supplement this with lettuce leafs.
Breeding Tropheus duboisi 'Maswa'
Well cared for Tropheus duboisi will often start spawning without any particular coaxing. As mention above, keeping 8 males with at least 20 females is a great ratio for this harem spawner, but will require a 125 gallon aquarium. In order to get this “perfect” ratio, you may have to start out by keeping a lot of juveniles, since they are tricky to sex.
Tropheus duboisi is a material mouth brooder, renowned for taking excellent care of the offspring. You can let the brooding females stay in the aquarium with the other adult fish because the fry is normally left alone when released. The female can hold her offspring for over one month. When the fry has been released, you can start feeding them crushed spirulina flakes.
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