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Metriaclima estherae

Metriaclima estherae

Above A 4-inch Maylandia estherae "red" male. Photo by Rick Borstein

General

Metriaclima estherae (aka Pseudotropheus esteherae and Maylandia estherae) is a robust Malawian mouthbrooder first typed by Ad Konings in 1995, although it had been exported since the 1970's. Konings has shown that this fish is different enough from the popular Pseudotropheus zebra types to merit it's own genus.

Maylandia estherae can be difficult to identify because several color morphs are available

  • Red males and Red females (actually orangy-yellow to yellow, see above) from Minos Reef
  • Blue males and Red females from Minos Reef
  • Blue males and OB (spotted) females from from Meluluca, Mozambique
  • Blue males and Yellow females from Minos Reef

The species name "estherae" (and common name Esther Grant's Zebra was chosen by Konings to honor Esther Grant, the well-known wife of cichlid exporter Stuart Grant.

Habitat

Metriaclima estherae is found over rocky areas in the lake near reef structures.

Care

You should have little trouble caring for this cichlid. Maylandia estherae is hardy and easy to keep. Provide regular, partial water changes, a temperature of 76-80F and moderately hard water.

This fish is moderately aggressive. I kept mine with some more aggressive Malawians with no trouble. I have not observed aggession or mate killing.

Males of the species get up to about 4.5". Females attain a maximum size of 4" or so.

Feeding

Metriaclima estherae will eagerly consume a variety of prepared foods. I fed Tetra Cichlid Flakes, Aquadine Duraflakes, Tetra Cichlid Sticks, spirulina flakes and earthworm flakes. They are omnivorous, so a good mix of fish-based and vegetable-based food is a good idea.

Breeding

I obtained six young fry from Scott Moreen of the GCCA. The "red" morph was the type he was seeking for some time and was finally able to obtain. Scott is quite a discerning hobbyist so it was no surprise to me that these fish turned out to be something special. I think you'll agree from the photo above.

Folks who know me understand that I'm usually first in line to try just about any yellow or orange-colored cichlid, so I was prepared to bid high in when Scott brought in fry to the BAP auction.

Metriaclima estherae is one of the easier cichlids to breed and it does so in typical Malawian fashion. Sexual maturity is reached at 3 inches. Males of the "red" type, exhibit a powder blue sheen on the dorsal fin and a pointed anal fish with conspicuous egg spots.

To breed the fish, condition them on a variety of foods by feeding twice a day. Provide a flat stone or piece of slate for the "act". That's about it.

Brood sizes are similar to many other Pseudotropheus species; about 20-30 eggs.

Females are good holders, although for production I generally strip females at a couple days post-spawning and artificially raise the eggs.

This fish occasionally is inihibited from spawning by more aggressive tank mates. If your fish aren't "getting busy", remove the agressive fish from the tank. Some peace and quiet generally gets them in the mood.

Retail Price

I have not seen this fish in local pet stores. My guess is that young adults would go for $12-18.

Metriaclima estherae "red" is something of a hobbyist's fish at the moment and it has not yet become highly popular outside of "cichlidiot" circles. As of this writing, there are a few GCCA members who have the fish. Several wholesalers list this fish, but not often the "red" variety. Ask your pet shop to order some for you . . . you will enjoy this fish.

Report February 2003 by Rick Borstein. Updated August 2011.

Labidochromis caeruleus "Lundo"

Labidochromis sp. "Zebra Lundo"

Labidochromis caeruleus "Lundo" Male above. Photos by Rick Borstein.

General

Labidochromis caereuleus Lundo FemaleLabidochromis caeruleus "Lundo" a mouthbrooding mbuna from Lake Malawi, Africa. In the hobby, you will most often encounter this fish under the trade name of Labidochromis sp. "Zebra Lundo".

Indeed the common "Zebra Lundo" nomenclature confused me. After a chat with my son Sam, I was able to locate pictures of this fish in Konings' book Malawi Cichlids in their Natural Habitat, New 4th Edition. What? This is just a color morph of the incredibly popular Labidochromis caeruleus? It is!

Indeed, Labidochromis caeruleus comes in many color and striping patterns according to Konings and, as a I looked more closely at the fish, the body shape is unmistakable.

Males are reminiscent of Labidochromis chisumulae , but the underlying stripe color is black rather than blue. The dorsal fin is edged in white, while the anal and pectoral fins are edged in black. Males have two to three prominent egg spots.

Females are a tan-grey color and unremarkable like many female mbuna.

Habitat

Labidochromis caeruleus "Lundo" is likely found in and among the rocks of Lake Malawi..

Care

Labidochromis caeruleus "Lundo" presents few problems to the cichlid fancier who has kept mbuna previously. The dominant male individual will often give chase to sub-dominant individuals, so provide cover and rockwork. Like other Malawian cichlids, provide a tank temperature of 76-80F and neutral to hard water. I would suggest a 40 breeder as a minimum tank size for keeping and breeding this fish.

Feeding

Labidochromis caeruleus feeds on insects and occasionally snails in the wild. I fed balanced foods high in vegetable content such as Dainichi Veggie Deluxe pellets and HBH Graze flakes.

Breeding

I obtained seven adult Labidochromis caeruleus "Lundo" (sold as Labidochromis sp. "Zebra Lundo") at the 2010 American Cichlid Association convention held in Milwaukee, WI. I purchased the fish in the auction and paid $12 for the bag, which I considered a bargain. Unfortunately, the group was heavy on males and turned out to be five males and two females. Perhaps that is why they were so cheap!

Low on tank space, I placed them in my 300G pond for the Summer. In the pond, the fish flashed their colors frequently, although I did not see any signs of brooding females.

In October, a sudden cold spell in Chicago dropped the pond temperature down to 52F. Incredibly, these tropical cichlids were still actively swimming! I netted them out and brought them inside to house them in a 90G tank with a sand bottom.

Within a week, two females were holding. I stripped one female at twelve days post spawning of twenty "heads and tails" babies. I put the partially developed fry into a small, two-gallon bare tank to mature.

At 21 days post spawning, I stripped the second female of eighteen free-swimming fry. All the babies were able to take baby brine shrimp and a week later were eating flake food.

Interestingly, I found that the fry I stripped first were slightly larger than the ones from the female who held to term., Within a couple of weeks, however, the size difference was not noticeable.

Retail Price

Labidochromis caeruleus "Lundo" is not a common pet shop species, but if found would be in the $10-15 range..

Availability

Labidochromis caeruleus "Lundo" is, at this time, widely available from hobbyists, but almost always under the alternate name of Labidochromis sp. "Zebra Lundo".

Report December 2010 by Rick Borstein.

Labidochromis chisumulae

Labidochromis chisumulae

Above Labidochromis chisumulae, Male. Photo by Sam Borstein.

General

Labidochromis chisumulae is a mouthbrooding Malawian cichlid first typed by Lewis in 1982.

Males are pearly white with dark, navy blue markings on the top part of the body extending from the head halfway through the dorsal fin. Depending on mood, males may exhibit a pronounced blue sheen throughout the body, especially when breeding.

Females are a pearly white to tan-white, with faint stripes on the flanks.

Males get up to about 3 to 3.5". Females are a tad smaller, topping out at 3".

Habitat

As the name suggests, this fish is found in the rocky habitat near Chisumulu Island in Lake Malawi.

Care

Labidochromis chisumulae presents no major problems. Neutral to hard water conditions are fine. I kept mine at pH 7.4, 78F in hard Chicago water.

This fish is moderately aggressive. Males will sometimes pick on females, so provide adequate hiding spots.

Feeding

Labidochromis chisumulae are good eaters. I fed a variety of prepared foods including HBH Graze, Dainichi Veggie FX, New Life Spectrum and Tetra Cichlid Flakes. In the wild, reports indicate that this species picks invertebrates from the biocover. Like other Mbuna, I recommend feeding food containing vegetable matter.

Breeding

My son 14-year-old Sam obtained four juveniles in November, 2006. Sam wanted to know if I wanted them after he spawned them. That's the confidence of youth talking . . .

I had never heard of Labidochromis chisumulae and told him I wasn't interested.

To be perfectly honest, the white-ish looking fish did not impress me and this is what I shared with him. Sam told me I didn't know what I was talking about— not the first time I've heard that from him! Sam said he not only would breed Labidochromis chisumulae, but show me that they were great looking fish.

Not surprisingly, Sam was right. After all, he's bred about 50 species of cichlids and he's only fourteen!

As the fish developed, the male turned out to be an outstanding looking fish. Seriously, Labidochromis chisumulae is one of the best looking Mbuna I've seen! I was happy to be proven wrong and Sam was nice enough to give his "old man" his group after successfully spawning them.

Humbled, but happy about it, I placed the group in a 40-gallon breeder along three Neolamprologus mustax and six Thorachromis callochromis. In short order, two females were holding.

I stripped one female of about fifteen fry at 12 days. The fry are about the same size as other Mbuna fry and are tan-white in color.

At this point, the fry were at the "heads and tails" stage. I placed them in a small, 2-gallon container with a heater and small sponge filter. Five days later they were completely free-swimming and were eating live baby brine shrimp.

After a week, I moved the fry to a 10-gallon grow out tank. At one month, the fry are about 1/2" long and eating flake food.

Retail Price

For adult Labidochromis chisumulae, expect to pay about $15-20 per fish. Juveniles would go for about $10-12. Labidochromis chisumulae is seldom available in pet shops, but can be found on several wholesaler's lists.

Report March 2006 by Rick Borstein. Additional report on Sam Borstein's website.

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