Above Chromidotilapia kingsleyae Male. Photo by Mario Toromanovic. Video below.
Chromidotilapia kingsleyae is a Western Africa cichlid that was first described by Boulenger in 1892. Body coloration is primarily brownish, with the ventral regions more lightly coloured than the dorsal regions. This is a large fish and males can reach a maximum length of 7 inches and females can reach 5.5 inches, making it (possibly) the largest species in the genus.
Etymology: Chromis = from chroma ( Greek ) color + Thiape = African native for perch like fish, kingsleyae = dedicated to the British explorer Mary Kingsley ( 1862 – 1900 ), who collected several species of fish in the area.
Chromidotilapia kingsleyae is found in Western and central parts of Gabon, the Ogooue River and more southern regions near Franceville. Specimens are collected in both fast and slow flowing waters. It was observed that actual body shape can very; fish from rapidly flowing water are more slender than ones from slower moving waters who are more deep-bodied. (Anton Lamboj, "The Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa".)
Keeping Chromidotilapia kingsleyae does not present many problems. Because they are omnivorous sand sifters in the nature, I furnished my tank with fine sand substrate. I also put in some rocks and caves for shelter and hiding places. Water was straight Lake Michigan tap water which had pH around 7.5. I kept temperature at around 78 degrees and performed 30% weekly water change.
In the nature Chromidotilapia kingsleyae feeds mainly on smaller particles, like small insects and their larvae. However, small crustaceans and algae are also ingested. My tank raised specimens readily accepted prepared food, such as flakes and pellets. They loved frozen food such as daphnia, mysis and brine shrimp, and I enjoy watching them feed on live black worms, or sifting thru the sand after baby brine shrimp.
I obtained six Chromidotilapia kingsleyae fry which fellow club member Jason Libasci turned in as a BAP ( Breeding Award Program ) submission. The fish were around one inch long and sixty days old and were direct descendants of the Chromidotilapia kingsleyae that Ted Judy collected on his collecting trip in Gaboon in 2011.
I kept my new fry in ten gallon tank for a few months, then move them to twenty gallon and finally to forty gallon breeder tank, when they were just around one year old. In this tank, about two months later, I noticed a male and a female hanging out together and soon after they spawned.
Chromidotilapia kingsleyae is an ovophilic or delayed mouthbrooder, which means that after the male fertilizes the eggs, the female picks them up and incubates them in her mouth. I was lucky to witness the whole process and capture it on video (see video below ). After spawning, the pair went their separate ways. The female incubate the eggs remaining staying solitary and hidden for about two weeks.
I usually like to have the parents rear their fry and even leave fry with parents as long as possible. In this case, I stripped the female after fifteen days because I was worred that she wouldn't be able to defend her fry after release. At the point that I stripped the fry, they were fully developed and free swimming, and ready to accept newly hatched baby brine shrimps as their first food.
Chromidotilapia kingsleyae is not a fish you would find at your local pet shop. Fortunateyly, many cichlid hobbyists like and keep this fish. Your best bet would be to place wanted ad in the GCCA Classified, or look for it via the internet. If you could find it, I would expect juvenile fish to go for $10-15 range.
Report February 2015 by Mario Toromanovic