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Amphilophus sagittae


Above: Amphilophus sagittae. Photo by Mario Toromanovic.  Video available below.


Amphilophus sagittae, is one of a handful of the members of the genus Amphilophus that is found in Lake Xiloa, Nicaragua.  Other members of the genus found in this crater lake are Amphilophus amarillo, Amphilophus longimanus, Amphilophus rostratus, Amphilophus xiloaensis and Amphilophus sp. “Fatlips.

Amphilophus sagittae was described by Stauffer and McKaye  in 2002 when they split Amphilophus citrinellus genus into three different species. Stauffer and McKay saw a clear pattern concerning coloration and other morphological characters in relation to the different habitats in Lake Xiloa and described three new species as Amphilophus Amarillo, Amphilophus sagittae and Amphilophus xiloaensis. In 2005, Willem Heijns discussed this topic in his DVD “Nicaragua- Cichlids from the Crater”.

  • Genus Amphilophus: Greek, amphi = on both sides + Greek, lophus = crest, means crested on both sides
  • Species sagittae: Latin forarrows, means arrowhead or shaped as arrow

In the cichlid hobby, there is a three main variants of Amphilophus sagittae. There is a black variant, a white variant (also known as xanthic) and third white-orange variant known as the “creamsicle”.

When born, fry of Amphilophus sagittae “creamsicle” have brown, wild-type coloration. At around three months of age, a yellow color begins to appear under the brown base. If I didn’t know about this color changing process, I would definitely think that something was wrong with the fish. Soon after, the yellow color dominated. Some of the fish developed white blotches, while rest of them turned to bright orange ( see video below ).


Amphilophus sagittae, is endemic to Lake Xiloa where it’s found in depths between 9 and 30 feet. It usually occurs right above the sand.


Amphilophus sagittae does not present many difficulties. Water temperature in their natural habitat of Lake Xiloa is between 75°F and 79°F, pH of about 7.0 and high hardness. It was very easy to mimic those parameters in my fishroom since my source tap water from Lake Michigan is similar. I performed weekly 30% water changes. The aquarist should note that Amphilophus sagittae, like other members of the genus, are large robust fish, so large tanks of preferably six feet in length are required.


Amphilophus sagittae is omnivorous. In the nature they feed on insects, crustaceans and small fish, but in my tank they were did  just fine on a diet of flake and pellet food, frozen Mysis and brine shrimp, with the occasional treat of live black worms.


Amphilophus sagittae is a cave spawner and it is not hard to breed. I obtained my breeding group of eight, 1.5 inch fry as a BAP bag at one of our club meetings, from fellow GCCA member Scott Womack. To start, I put them in 20 gallon tank, and as they grew I moved them to 40 gallon breeder tank, 75 gallon and finally to my 150 gallon show tank. All the fish got along fine, with very little aggression.

At around one year of age, two pairs formed, and after some mild tussling, they settled in opposite corners of the tank. Each pair took possession of a large breeding cave. A few weeks later, they spawned inside the cave. Females spend most of the time inside the cave, while the male hangs close by outside of the cave, making sure no other fish comes close. Once the fry were free swimming and out of the cave,  I began feeding live baby brine shrimp. Amphilophus sagittae are very good parents and both the male and female are very active in guarding the fry.

Retail Price

Amphilophus sagittae is inexpensive, but they are not readily available in the pet stores. With a bit of searching, you can probably find them in your local fish club or via the internet.  Two-inch fish typically retail for $5 to $7. Adult breeders may go for $20 to $30 each if they are in excellent condition.



Report April 2013 by Mario Toromanovic

Aulonocara stuartgranti "Ngara"

Aulonocara stuartgranti

A beautiful Aulonocara stuartgranti "ngara" Male. Photo courtesy Melissa Corcoran of


This fish is one of the many subspecies of fish originally grouped together as Aulonocara stuartgranti. Included in this subspecies are Mdoka, Usisya, Cobue and Flavescent and others. Re-classification of fish is constant and the Aulonocara is no exception. Some of these fish have been renamed Aulonocara hansbaenschi.

As far as I know, the Ngara is still classified as a stuartgranti, but reclassification of this fish is not beyond reason. When this fish was first imported into the country it was called the "flametail peacock". This name has recently resurfaced with a whole new connotation, higher prices. A. Ngara "Flametail" now seems to mean that the fish has been bred for color.

There is an intensely red strain of A. Ngara in the Chicago area, originally bred by Rick Boester, that is sometimes referred to as A. Ngara "Red".


Aulonocara stuartgranti "ngara" is from the northwestern shore of Lake Malawi, not surprisingly near Ngara. Males reach a size of about 6-8 inches, females somewhat smaller. As with most Aulonocara, the Ngara like a rocky area close to a sandy bottom. Lone males will stake out a claim near rocks and lure females from their groups to spawn.


In the aquarium, a good sandy bottom with caves will do nicely. One male with 4-6 females is a good ratio for a breeding colony. I house my Ngaras, as well as most of my Aulonocara colonies, in 50 breeders. Smaller Aulonocara may be housed in 30 longs or 40 breeders.


Aulonocara stuartgranti "ngara" is a crustacean and insect larvae eater by nature. I fed mine anything from redworms to frozen brine shrimp to flake food. They accept all with vigor. The young are fed newly hatched brine shrimp exclusively for about two weeks and then I integrate flake food.


Aulonocara stuartgranti "ngara" can breed about every thirty days with females carrying anywhere from 5 to 50 eggs. The size of the spawn is relative to the size of the female. The longer you allow the female to brood the eggs, the longer the interval will be between spawns.

Retail Price

Fry $1 to $10 Adults $20 to $40.

If you plan on obtaining Aulonocara stuartgranti,, know what color variety you are purchasing. Don't be fooled! The price can vary greatly. When buying adults, the difference is obvious. When purchasing fry, if at all possible, see the parents first. If not, buy from a reputable dealer.

Report May 1999 by Jim Stigliano. Updated 2009 by Rick Borstein.

Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba"

Above Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba Bay" Male. Photo by Rick Borstein.


Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba Bay" is a member of the Stuartgranti complex of Aulonocara species and is often sold by the trade name of "White Tip Masoni", thus a synonym for this fish is Aulonocara masoni. Another designation for this fish is "Chitimba Deep".

The Aulonocara species flock are often called "Malawi Peacocks" generically.

No matter what you call it, this is a nice looking peacock. Males get an overall royal blue metallic cast with an impressive white or ice blue edging to the dorsal fin. Males also have nice orange ventral fins, too.

Females, like most peacocks, are drab with an overall grey-tan case a few markings.

You should not keep Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba Bay" with any other Aulonocara species as it may interbreed.

About eight to ten years ago when first introduced, this fish caused a considerable stir in the hobby. If I recall, a variety of fish were exported as "Masoni" but not all of them matched the description we know today.

The common name for this fish is The White Tip Masoni


Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba Bay" is a deeper water peacock often found at 20M or so over rocky areas.


Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba Bay" presents no problems. I recommend a tank at least four feet in length. Water conditions are the same a recommended for other Malawi cichlids (hard and 76 to 80F).

In my experience, Aulonocara species do better over a sand substrate. The fish can be observed picking through the sand which is the natural feeding behavior of this fish.


Aulonocara species generally feed on invertebrates found in the sand and I assume Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba Bay" does as well. I fed a variety of foods such as Dainichi Veggie Deluxe, HBH Graze, HBH Soft and Moist Veggie and the occasional treat of frozen Bloodworms.


I obtained a trio of Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba Bay" from fellow GCCA member Mike Garibaldi. The fish were in good shape and only needed a few weeks to fatten up before spawning. I placed the fish in a 125G tank which also house a few Tanganyikans and Synodontis. The Malawians were ignored by their tankmates as I expected.

On 1/23/2010, I observed a female holding. The female turned out to be a very good holder. At the time the fish bred, the male was about 4-1/2 inches long and the female about 3-1/2 inches.

I let the female hold until 2/6/2010 at which time I stripper her of 28 fry with only the slightest bit of egg sack remaining.

I immediately began feeding freshly hatched baby brine shrimp and the fry grew quickly. At one week, I transition the fry to flake food.

Retail Price

Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba Bay" is sometimes found at pet shops that specialize in cichlids. Colorful large males would be $35 to $50 US .


Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chitimba Bay" is available in the hobby at the time of this writing. You can find this fish on many wholesalers lists..

Report February 2010 by Rick Borstein.

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