The Auratus Cichlid is a very good looking elongated fish. It can grow to be around 4 inches. Juveniles and females are bright and yellow with stripes on the upper part of the body that are black and white. The adult male looks very different with a dark brown or black body and the top half has light blue or yellow stripes. It's pretty easy to tell the difference between the males and the females.
This is not a fish for beginners. The male Melanochromis Auratus are especially aggressive and are often known for killing other males that invade its territory. Those with females also have to deal with aggression. They are also known to kill each other, but to a lesser extent. That is why the Melanochromis Auratus Cichlid is only for experienced home aquarium owners.
Dealing with Aggression
There are two ways to take care of the Malawi Auratus Cichlid and limit the aggression. One way is to have at least five females with one male. This will allow for the male in the tank to spread his aggression between the different female fish. If an aquarium owner attempts to have only all females, one or two of them will change into a male with the most dominant Auratus Cichlid assuming the male role. Ideally, there should be lots of rocks and caves in the aquarium so that females can run and hide against the males.
The other way to deal with aggression is to have a big home aquarium. A male Melanochromis Auratus Cichlid can control territory of up to 50 gallons very easily. If there are two males within this volume, it is likely that they will try to kill each other and one of them will die. Ideally, the home aquarium will have at least a size of 125 gallons so that the females have a place to run off to when pursued by the aggressive male.
For this fish, the ideal temperature is between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH of the water should be in a range between 7.0 and 8.5. Deviations outside of this range can cause health problems for this fish. Aquarium owners should make sure that they have the right equipment to maintain both the pH and the temperature within this range.
This fish is for the experienced aquarium owner. However, those who have a large tank to devote along with many females to each male will be more successful in taking care of these aggressive fish.
Read these related InfoBarrel articles about African Cichlids:
- The Pseudotropheus Demasoni Cichlid in a Home Aquarium
- Keeping an Electric Yellow Cichlid in a Home Aquarium