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Malawi Cichlids

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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