It must be the Malawi cichlid most commonly seen in such tanks. Sciaenochromis fryeri along with Labidochromis caeruleus are the most contrasting color combination in this hobby. These two species belong to different groups and their needs differ greatly, yet some aquarists can't resist the blue / yellow combination. A brilliant blue coloration has earned it the name "Electric blue Hap" (former scientific name still found in older articles : Haplochromis or Sciaenochromis ahli). The female (and the fry) have an amber coloration with vertical bars and is much smaller (clear sexual dichromatism). Males fight a lot in small tanks (500 Lts or less) but this aggression is greatly reduced when ample space is provided. Will eat almost everything therefore good quality food is a must. Greatly favors bloodworms which should be fed sparingly.
Once mature, they will spawn every two months during the warm months (May to September), provided the water condition is next to perfect. They will not spawn during winter. It may occasionally dig and uproot plants (though much less than the Nimbochromis species). When spawning the vertical bars become far more evident and the coloration of the anal fin becomes a bright red. They will choose a relatively small territory and spawn even in crowded tanks. It is the only fish that spawned in my 500 Liter tanks among 40 mbuna. They usually spawn next to a big rock. Quite aggressive during spawning time, though this greatly depends on the kind of species present in the tank. Mine were far more aggressive when they were in the small tank though this may be attributed to the size and nature of their current tankmates (much bigger than they are). Of course, their aggression is nothing compared to Nimbochromis species. The carrying mother can be easily netted and carried to a tank of her own where she will release the fry. She will not care much about them after release so it is a good idea to condition her for a week or so and return her to the main tank (preferably just before the lights go off). The male grows to 20 cm and the female up to 16 cm. Males may take a year to develop their blue color. Broods may be up to 50 fry.
Minimum tank size : 150 cm / 500 liters. Recommended combination : 2 males + 3 females in a 200 cm / 750 tank with lots of hiding places. Tankmates: either haps or mbuna. Prefers to stay under flat rocks.
Close-up shot: 100 ASA film, 125 mm lens, f/11, 1/60 sec, auto-bellows, Sunpack flash unit (GN:36 at 1/8th setting) taped over the lens, shot from a distance of 20 cm. Flash head tilted slightly to avoid reflections from the glass. Hand-held camera.
See next page for more photos.