Called the "Red Empress" because of the coloration of the breeding male this fish is a very popular addition to Malawi tanks. Due to the temperament of the males it is not recommended to keep more than one male in the tank unless it is a very big one (bigger than 1500 Liters). Usually, one female is enough if other species of similar nature and size are present in the tank. The species grows to more than 20 cm (female considerably smaller) and will spawn readily if given ample space. It is worthy to note that my pair spawned one week after they were added in my tank, despite the fact that they were the last addition to it. The territory is relatively small and is not defended at all times. It is mainly defended (and used) for spawning. After that, the male will swim freely without actively defending it, even if another species is using it for spawning.
The species has a voracious appetite and will eat anything offered from flakes to pellets and frozen food. Extra care should be taken to avoid overfeeding otherwise the fish will lose its shape becoming more "rounded". A very good swimmer it needs ample free space. Compared to other Africans it is a relatively peaceful species which will not chase other tankmates (not even its female; at least not very actively). Due to its very distinct coloration which distinguishes it from other species I have observed that even known trouble seekers (like Nimbochromis venustus, Nimbochromis livingstoni and the Red Parrot cichlids) will not chase the Empress. I have observed this fish to have kind of an obsession with Chilotilapia euchilus. It will chase it all over the tank and will do everything possible to prevent it from spawning. This may be due to the fact that the females of these two species look quite similar. Will not harm the plants and it can live happily in a planted tank as long as the plants will not limit the available swimming place. Needs rocks and caves for hiding.
Minimum tank size : 150 cm / 500 liters.
Recommended tank size : 200 cm / 750 liters.
For more pictures see next page.