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Pseudotropheus demasoni Male

Above Pseudotropheus demasoni male. Photo by Rick Borstein


Pseudotropheus demasoni (Konings 1994) is an agressive, attractive, striped Malawian cichlid. It was first brought into the hobby by Ad Konings and named after his good friend Laif Demason. In an interview in GCCA's Cichlid Chatter  icon 1999-003 March Issue (946.66 kB), Ad shared the very interesting story of how he brought this exciting fish into the hobby. Worth reading!

Like all Pseudotropheus, Pseudotropheus demasoni is a maternal mouthbrooder. An unusual feature of this fish is that both the male and female share the same color pattern. This makes this fish even more desireable.

Pseudotropheus demasoni is somewhat smaller than others in the genus; males get up to about 3 inches and females generally top out around 2.5 inches. Males are more brightly colored and robust than females and there is more definition between the stripes.

There are a number of location variants out there, and they all look good to me!


Pseudotropheus demasoni like all Malwian fish, comes from hard, alkaline water ranging in pH from 7.6-8.6. It is found among rocks.


Pseudotropheus demasoni is an aggressive cichlid. I bought five juveniles in my first attempt to keep this fish and had only one left over after a week!

Your best chance for success is to provide a species tank and keep a lot of them. Decorate sparsely to avoid territory-related aggression tank. If possible, keep a limited number of males. I obtained 20 juvenile fish (and a lot of good advice) from fellow GCCA member Sam Miller. I housed my fish in a 55 gallon tank. Sam was kind enough to try to pick out a limited number of males and I believe I ended up with about 6 males.

Pseudotropheus demasoni despite it's small size, is mean and can easily dominate other tankmates. Only house this fish with other fish that are similarly disposed or you will be netting out dead fish on a regular basis!

One thing I have noticed with this fish is a tendency for males to get a white area around the lips. At first, I thought it was mouth fungus, but on closer examination I realized that the fish were mouthlocking frequently and the wear and tear was the cause. At any rate, the fish did not seem the worse for it. I added sea salt to my tank at the rate of 1 TBS per ten gallons which seemed to improve the appearance somewhat, but the white marks never completely disappeared.

Since crowding this cichlid is obligate for success, make sure you do regular partial water changes. I changed 50% of the tank water per week.


Pseudotropheus demasoni should have a diet rich in vegetables and low in proteins. I fed spirulina flakes frequently, but also a variety of cichlid flakes and cichlid sticks. Avoid heavy meaty foods such as beefheart, earthworms, etc.


Breeding Pseudotropheus demasoni isn't difficult. I always seem to have several females holding in my tank. Provide a flat rock or two for the breeding to take place. My fish often bred after a water change in typical Malawian fashion. The male gives vigorous chase to the females and is relentless. Fortunately, with a lot of females and males in a crowded space, there are many other targets for his aggression.

Females are excellent holders and, surprisingly, I always seem to find fry surviving in the tank. I normaly strip the females at 14-16 days. The fry are easy to raise. I fed Cyclops-eeze and Golden Pearls #1 and they grow quite quickly.

Retail Price

At retail, expect to pay $14 to $18 each for 2 inch long fish . Fry, if you can find them, are 2$ to $5 each for one half-inch long specimens.

Pseudotropheus demasoni is regularly available in better pet shops in the Chicago area. Many GCCA members keep this fish; make sure to check out our Cichlid Classifieds as they are often listed. There is a ready market for this fish, so there are a good number of local breeders.

Report August 2002 by Rick Borstein