Togo, the H. elongatus from Nigeria,
and the H. guttatus from the Densu
River in Ghana. The T. mariae and C. g.
guentheri were from an unknown import.
In his experience, the two Sarotherodon
species are apparently not too aggressive
at breeding time and need only a small
place for spawning, possibly because
they are mouthbrooders, as are the C.
g. guentheri. On the other hand, the
substratum-spawning T. mariae can get
very aggressive and need a large breeding
area. Of the Hemichromis species that are
substrate spawners, H. elongatus are much
more aggressive than the H. guttatus,
which were already behaving badly in
In the wild, each of the cichlid species
above are fairly specialized feeders—their
target foods, depending on the species,
range from algae and plant materials to
plankton, crustaceans, and small fish. In the
aquarium, however, these cichlids generally
take all foods offered, such as flakes and
pellets. The larger cichlids tend to be
greedy eaters and will gorge themselves, so
food should be fed in small amounts at two
to three times a day. Plant material can be
offered in their diet to keep them healthy.
The Hemichromis cichlids should get some
frozen fish foods at least once a week, since
their diet contains a lot of crustaceans in
the wild. All the cichlids here are partial to
small, live animal life from the garden, such
as earthworms and woodlice, which will
help bring them into breeding condition.
The tilapia tank at the “Cichlid Days” display, part of the 2007 Duisburg Ornamental Fish and
More About the Cichlids
Sarotherodon melanotheron melanotheron
RÜPPELL 1852 is commonly known as
the blackchin tilapia because of black
patches that develop on the adults. Adult
fish, which show no sexual dimorphism,
are relatively slender and can reach 11
inches in length. They tend to have a
golden yellow back and a pale blue lower
body, sometimes with additional patches
of black on the flanks that make for an
The blackchin tilapia’s range stretches
from freshwater to estuarine mangrove
areas and is widespread in West Africa
from Senegal all the way down to Benin.
They are schooling fish that feed primarily
on zooplankton and creatures found in
the muddy substrate. During the breeding
period, blackchin tilapia form stable pair
they feature iridescent scales with black
markings between them. These cichlids can
grow up to 16 inches in length, and males
generally have longer dorsal and anal fins
than the smaller females.
S. g. galilaeus has a wide distribution in
lakes in East Africa and rivers in Central
and West Africa stretching through to
North Africa, where they prefer open water.
There is also mention of them in Israel
and Jordan. These cichlids feed mainly on
phytoplankton, algae, and plants. Loose
pair bonds are formed prior to spawning,
followed by the digging of a pit to take the
eggs. Usually the female (sometimes the
male) will take up the eggs, which take
about nine days to release and become
free-swimming, after which the mother
typically continues to protect them for a
few more days.
bonds, with the female digging the nesting
pit. Following a mating where 50 or more
eggs are laid, the male usually carries the
fertilized eggs in his buccal cavity for about
14 days while the female defends the nest.
Aftercare of the released fry is about a
week, after which the adults are ready to
A pair of blackchin tilapia Sarotherodon melanotheron melanotheron.
Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus (LINNAEUS
1758) is sometimes known as the mango
tilapia. Four other subspecies have also
been described (S. g. multifasciatus, S.
g. boulengeri, S. g. borkuanus, and S. g.
sanagaensis), but these are not available
to the aquarium hobby. S. g. galilaeus
are deep-bodied with a small head. Body
coloration is generally a golden brown, and