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Copadichromis melas

Copadichromis melas Male 

AboveCopadichromis melas.  Photo by Jason Libasci. See video below.


Copadichromis melas, commonly known as the Midnight Mloto, is a maternal mouthbrooder which is part of the Copadichromis Mbenji group. They can be found in Mara Point and Cobue, Mozambique of Lake Malawi. The climate is sub-tropical with temperatures in the mid 70's to 80's and native waters for this fish are pH of 7.4

Copadichromis melas is no exception to this nice looking fish of the group of fish when it comes to beauty, however it does not have brilliant colors being more of a midnight blue-black. In addition to being a beautiful midnight color, they have beautifully prominent fins, especially their pectoral fins.

Males achieve a size of approximately six inches in length. The male fish turn midnight black and depending on the location variant or strain show either a grey base or midnight blue base. Copadichromis melas reminds me of the midnight blue cars that were popular in the late 80s or 90s. The females attain a size of about four inches and are a silver-based fish with limited coloring and look like a typical female Copadichromis


Copadichromis melas are an open water utaka.


I obtained seven juvenile fish, which were approximately two inches long, from the GCCA's Rare Fish Auction. They started off in 20 gallon long and later were moved over to a 40 gallon Breeder tank once they reached three inches.

Copadichromis melas really need to be the dominant fish in the tank and also must have a female to display as nicely as possible in their brilliant black coloration. Once they have dominant colors, they can be placed in a tank without a female, but the colors change greatly depending upon their dominance. The tank in which I housed my fish was filtered by an Emperor 400 along with two large sponge filters and had a pH of 7.4. I performed weekly water changes of  approximately 80% of the tanks volume. Fluorescent lighting was used for a duration of approximately ten hours each day.

These fish are fairly aggressive for a Copadichromis and will dominate other Malawi haps of similar size. I found them to be pretty hard on hard on the females. My males would take a territory and just nail any other fish including the females that came into their space.


The fish were fed NLS cichlid pellets with the occasional frozen bloodworms or frozen brine shrimp for conditioning.


I ended up with two groups of Copadichromis melas, one wild trio that GCCA Member Mike Helford gave me as well my original group from the rare fish auction. I kept them separate as I felt they might have been from different location points, although did not have the paper trail to prove it.

The first (F1) group spawned about once every 6 to 8 weeks, but the females never held and when I pulled the eggs they never hatched. However, once I sold them and they were placed in a 75-gallon tank they spawned and held. I assume the 40-gallon breeder may have been too small for them. People have had challenges breeding them when they are too young as well.

The second group from Dr. Helford spawned very frequently and had no problems holding.

When spawning, the blackness and sheen of the males appears to intensify. I did not notice a change in female coloring. The breeding process was observed several times, each time they used a large flowerpot.

I stripped the female of about 45 fry at 15 days and the fry at that stage were fully formed for the most part with just a bit of their egg left. The fry were placed in an external fry container that was connected to the breeding tank so the water parameters and temperature were kept the same. The fry were silver in color and about three-eights of an inch long and looked very similar to the females.

The fry didn't require any special care on my part. They were left in the external fry container until they were bought to a GCCA meeting for BAP.

I started the fry off on New Life Spectrum small fry powder. After five days, they began feeding on New Life Spectrum Small Fish Formula, which are .33mm pellets. The fry grew quickly and were nice sized in short period of time. 

Retail Price

I would not expect to findCopadichromis melas at a pet store as it is currently not very common. Expect to pay about $100 for a pair of wild adult fish. Unsexed F1 fry and juveniles are generally in the $9 to $15. 

Copadichromis melas Female incubating eggs

Copadichromis melas Male



Video by Jason Libasci. Editing by Rick Borstein

Report July 2013 by Jason Libasci

Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar"

Aulonocara sp.  

AboveAulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar".  Photo by Ed Borstein. See video below.


Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar", is a mouthbrooding cichlid from Lake Malawi, Africa. Aulonocara species are commonly called "Peacocks" because of their bright colors.

Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar" is not the most colorful peacock, but it is a pretty fish. Dominant males are a dark blue black color with a yellow band immediately behind the gill cover which gives this fish its common name. The dorsal is edged in a band of white and yellow and the caudal and anal fin are striated in orange. Females are drab by comparison. It is worth noting that coloration of males is dependent on mood. When courting, males deepen in coloration, but at other times may appear much lighter.

Males achieve a size of approximately four inches in length with females topping out at about one-half inch smaller.  

Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar" is one of the members of the Chitande group of Aulonocara, which may be the least well defined group of Aulonocara. Only one species in the Chitande group has been described (Aulonocara ethelwynnae). 


Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar"  is found at the Nankumba peninsula in the lake at depths of 20 meters in the intermediate habitat. 


Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar" does not present any problems. Peacocks are only moderately aggressive, so do not mix this species with aggressive tankmates such as Mbuna. Other than that, clean, neutral to hard water that is 75-80F is all you need.


Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar"  is easy to feed. I offered New Life Spectrum cichlid pellets, Dainichi Veggie Deluxe Pellets, Extreme Cichlid PeeWee pellets and Repashy gel foods.


I obtained eight juvenile fish from Scott Reiser during a visit to his large and well organized fishroom in January, 2012.  I placed the fish in a 90G tank which had a sand substrate. The tank was filtered by a large Tidepool wet/dry filter. Water temperature was maintained at 78F and were kept in standard Chicago water (pH 7.4, 300ppm hardness).

The fish grew quickly, but I lost most all of the females during a weird water changing accident (don't get me started). I later added three more females and by April 2013 both the males and females were up to their full adult size. To condition the females, I fed Repashy Spawn and Grow and they soon swelled up with eggs. 

Shortly after, I observed the first female holding. I let the female hold for twelve days and stripped her of 21 fry at the heads and tails stage. I moved the fry to a two-gallon tank containing a small sponge filter. Eight days later, the fry were free-swimming and were able to immediately eat newly hatched baby brine shrimp. By six weeks, the fry were a tad over half an inch long.

Retail Price

I would not expect to find Aulonocara sp. "Yellow Collar" at a pet store. On the internet or from cichlid specialists, I would guess that unsexed juveniles are generally in the $8 to $12 range. 


Video by Rick Borstein

Report September 2013 by Rick Borstein

Mylochromis ericotaenia "Itungi"

Mylochromis ericotaenia Male 

Above: Mylochromis ericotaenia Photo by Rick Borstein. Video available below.


Mylochromis ericotaenia, is a large, mouthbrooding haplochromine cichlid from Lake Malawi, Africa. This fish was first typed by Regani in 1922. 

Females and juveniles are attractive with four to eight vertical stripes which may be either partial or extend completely down the flank. Males are dramatic looking fish with a large extended, almost sailfin-like dorsal. Males have a rich blue sheen and are covered with red dots throughout the flanks and the dorsal. Konings reports that large males may get a nuchal hump.

This is a large fish. Males may exceed eight inches in length while females stay a couple of inches smaller.

Mylochromis ericotaenia Female


Mylochromis ericotaenia  is found in the shallow, sandy habitat throughout Lake Malawi. 


Mylochromis ericotaenia is not overlay aggressive, but the large size of this fish dictates that a four foot or larger tank is required. Tank temperatures of 75-80F and clean, neutral to hard water are ideal.


I haven't found much research on the food items for Mylochromis ericotaenia in the lake. My guess is that they are an invertebrate sand picker and might opportunistically eat some small fish. Regardless, this fish is not difficult to feed in the aquarium. I offered Tetra Cichlid Sticks, Exreme Big Fella, Dainichi Veggie Deluxe and the occasional treat of Repashy gel food.


I obtained two adult pairs Mylochromis ericotaenia from fellow GCCA member Mike Helford. Mike is a fan of large Malawi haps and always seems to have something interesting in his tanks. Lucky me, he needed tank space!

I placed the adult fish in a 90G tank which had a sand substrate which was filtered by Marineland Tidepool II filter. The tank was decorated with several large flower pots and flat slates. In addition, I added one of my "Cichlid Condos", a glued-up stack of 2" PVC pipes. Tankmates for the fish were three, four-inch Etroplus suratensis

The tank had a well defined pecking order of dominant male, sub-dominant male, dominant female and sub-dominant female. Male Mylochromis ericotaenia will give chase to females, although they seldom do any damage. Interestingly, females will occasionally spar and lip lock, again without damage.

I have found that large, Malawi hap females often need to be brought into condition to breed. To do so, I  fed Repashy Spawn and Grow three times a week and soon both females fattened up quickly over the course of a month or so. After the conditioning period, I observed the dominant female holding. I allowed this female to hold for twelve days after which I stripped her of 46 very large fry at the heads and tails stage. I moved the fry in to a clean 2 gallon container which I maintained at 80F. Eight days hence , the fry were free-swimming and I immediately began feeding live baby brine shrimp.

The babies are very large and are voracious feeders. I was able to feed flake food on the third day free-swimming, which was a surprise to me! A few days later, I moved the babies to a 5-gallon tank for grow out. The babies are really cute with their prominent stripes. 

Retail Price

Mylochromis ericotaenia is not a fish you will find at an ordinary pet shop. On the web, you may be able to find wild caught adults for about $50-80 each. F1 fry, if you could find them, would be $5-8 each. 



Report November 2013 by Rick Borstein

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