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Copadichromis geertsi

Copadichromis geertsi

Above Copadichromis geertsi, Female in foreground, Male, in breeding dress behind. Photo by Tom Rejczak.

General

Copadichromis geertsi is a representative Utaka group in Lake Malawi. Previously known as Copadichromis sp."Virginalis blotch", it was described in 1999 by Ad Konings. Males can reach eight inches in length while females get up to about six inches. In breeding dress, males have a dark blue to black color body and ivory cap. Males also exhibit a yellow bands on dorsal fin and and anal fins. Females and juveniles are gray with two black spots.

According to Fishbase, this fish was named " . . . after Martin Geerts, Dutch aquarist, one of the compilators of the Catalogue of Cichlids."

Habitat

According Ad Konings (Malawi Cichlids in their Natural Habitat), this fish was found in deep water exceeding 25M at Gome and Masinje in Malawi and Meponda and Thundu in Mozambique.

Care

Because Copadichromis geertsi gets big, it should be kept in large tanks 125 gallons or more. They prefer alkaline water about 76 to 82F degrees. The tank should contain fine gravel and some rockwork. The best ratio for breeding is one male to three females .

Feeding

My fish were fed with Spectrum pellets and live and frozen brine shrimps and frozen mysis.

Breeding

If you want to breed Copadichromis geertsi, you definitely need patience. My wild caught fish did not breed until two years after I got them. The male constructs a sand crater that is 15" diameter and 6" deep to attract females. Female incubate the eggs for 30 to 36 days.

The fry are very big, around 3/4 inch long. Spawns range in size from twelve to eighteen. I recommend removing the female to a 30 to 50 gallon brooding tank. Make sure you cover the tank as these fish jump. and cover from outside. I believe this reduces stress and the possibility of eating or spitting out eggs is reduced to minimum. My first food for the babies were live microworms. After several days I gave them Spectrum Grow Formula and frozen Daphnia.

Retail Price

A wild-caught breeding pair of Copadichromis geertsi might be much over $200. I have not seen juveniles on the market, but I guess that two-inch fish might go for around $30-40.

Report May 2008 by Tom Rejczak.

Copadichromis borleyi

Copadichromis borleyi Male

Copadichromis borleyi Male. This nine-inch specimen won the Haplochromis class at the 2001 GCCA Cichlid Classic.
Photo and retouching by Rick Borstein

General

Copadichromis borleyi FemaleCopadichromis borleyi is large, beautiful cichlid from Lake Malawi. It was first discovered by Iles in 1960 and was originally known as Haplochromis borleyi. A number of varieties are available, including the yellow-fin variety (see female at right).

I prefer the yellow fin variety. Even the females have very nicely colored yellow fins. Even better, fry only three-weeks old have the yellow fins making them easily saleable.

They are quite peaceful fish and have a hard time living in the confines of an aquarium with more aggressive haps and mbuna. I have seen them dopminated by A. jacobfreibergi, but you may have good success with other Aulonocara species.

Habitat

These fish are found in shallow to mid-depths of the Lake. For your tank, provide rockwork and caves. If you have a large tank that is over four feet long, provide two to three rockwork piles so that each male can stake out a territory.

Care

Copadichromis borleyi presents no problems to the aquarist. Provide clean, neutral to alkaline water between 76 and 82F. Six adults do nicely in a 40 gallon or larger tank. Regular partial water changes and good tank maintenance will help you to raise better quality and faster growing fish.

Feeding

These fish belong to the 'Utaka' group, which feed on vegetable matter, mainly algae. There are other reports, however, that Copadichromis borleyi is a plankton feeder. In any case, in the aquarium, they will eat just about anything. I fed mine Doromin, various flake foods including Spirulina, Aquadyne and Spectrum.

Breeding

I have raised Copadichromis borleyi fry to breeding size in ten months. They need to be at least three inches long to breed.

This fish breeds like other mouthbrooding fish from Lake Malawi. Provide a couple of pieces of flat slate fore the spawning site. The dominant male will color up and "dance" to attract females. If a female is amenable, spawning will ensue. Brood sizes are in the 20 to 30 range. Larger females may have very large spawns.

I let the females hold 20 to 22 days and then strip out the free-swimming or nearly free-swimming fry. The fry are pretty large. I initially fed my fry Cyclops-Eeze for three days then transitioned them to flake foods. They are easily saleable at two months of age when you can expect them to be 1.25" long with nice yellow fins.

Retail Price

Expect to pay about $10 to $15 dollars for this fish at your local pet shop. Fry are frequently available at GCCA meetings and auctions. A bag of five fry would probably run you about $10..

Availability

Copadichromis borleyi isn't hard to find. If your pet shop doesn't stock them, they should find the fish easy to purchase from a variety of distributors. Make sure you know what variety you are getting. Some varieties have very little red on the body and ordinary, plain finage.

Report May 2001 by Rick Borstein

Champsochromis caeruleus

Champsochromis caeruleus

Above Male Champsochromis caeruleus. Female Below. Photos by Sam Borstein.

General

Champsochromis caeruleus FemaleChampsochromis caeruleus is a piscivorous maternal mouthbrooder from Lake Malawi. This fish, first typed by Boulenger in in 1908, is nicknamed the Trout Cichlid because of the similarity in body shape and swimming style. There are two species of Champsochromis, the Champsochromis caeruleus, and the Champsochromis spilorynchus. Only Champsochromis caeruleus is readily available.

The name Champsochromis is derived from two Greek words, Champso, meaning crocodile, refering to the snout on the fish, and chromis, meaning perch. The species name is Latin for blue.

Male Trout Cichlids can approach 18" in size, but the 14 to 16 inch range is more likely, which is very large for a Malawian cichlid. Males are a magnificent blue color, and have a red anal fin. The scales on the body range from an orange to red color. The fins on males can be massive, stretching well past the caudal fin, especially so in older specimens.

Even though this is one of the largest Malawians, it is peaceful. Because Champsochromis caeruleus is a pursuit predator, it is an active swimmer in the tank, which can sometimes stress fellow tank inhabitants.

The common name for this fish is The Malawi Trout Cichlid

Habitat

Champsochromis caeruleus has a lake-wide distribution in Lake Malawi, and is found in open water.

Care

Caring for Malawi Trout is not very difficult. The most important requirement is to give this active fish a large enough tank. Champsochromis caeruleus likes hard water in the 77-80F degree range.

Because this fish is so large and active, be careful with tank decorations. Make sure you don't use rocks that are to sharp or other objects which could cause injury during a collision.

Feeding

In the wild Champsochromis caeruleus is a pursuit predator, and it's favorite activity is dining on are Lake Sardines of the Engraulicypris genus. In aquariium, they will accept almost any food. I fed mine Spectrum and Tetra Cichlid Sticks.

Breeding

I obtained my Champsochromis caeruleus from fellow GCCA member Mike Helford and placed them in a 75-gallon tank. The fish were young and about two inches long.

At about four inches, my dominant male began to color up, and show an interest in spawning. When the male was about six inches, the fish spawned. At this point, I had only had the fish about six months and all accounts I had read indicated that this fish would have to be older to reproduce. I let the female hold assuming that the first spawn would be infertile, or the female would drop. The female held 30 days (Full Term), at which point I stripped her of her eggs.

For being such a large fish, the spawns are small, only about 35 eggs. However, egg size is very large. Newly free swimming are 3/4 of an inch long.

I preserved some eggs for Dr. Ron Coleman to use in his Cichlid Egg Project. After seeing the eggs, he said they were some of the largest he has seen, especially for a Malawian. Many people I know who have spawned the fish say it is a poor holder and the spawns are small— not my experience.

Fry are easy to raise, but can be over fed. Don't feed too much baby brine, and try to ween the fish to flakes as soon as you can. In my experience, this fish grows fast, but at the 2 inch range, they grow much slower. At about 3.5-4 inches, growth accelerates.

Retail Price

Champsochromis caeruleus is occasionally available at retailers that specialize in cichlids. Expect to pay $25 to $50 each for juveniles.

Report December 2008 by Sam Borstein.

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