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Auratus cichlid

Auratus cichlid
(Melanochromis auratus)

This is a fish with a strong character! This African Cichlid is as beautiful as bellicose. It is a fish reserved for experienced aquarists.

Scientific name

Melanochromis auratus

Common name

Auratus cichlid
Golden mbuna
Malawi golden cichlid

Origin

what are its countries of origin?

Origin: Africa (Lake Malawi)
Biotope: African

Dimorphism

what are the physical differences between males and females?

The male has 2 clear horizontal bars while they are black in the female

Group

Group

Cichlidae

Volume

what is the minimum volume for this species?

400 L / 88 imp gal / 106 US gal

Water parameters

what are the water parameters for the maintenance of this fish?

T°: 24 to 28°C or 75 to 82°F
pH: 7 to 8
Hardness: 10 to 20°dGH

Difficulty

Difficulty

Average

Size

what is the maximum size of this fish?

12 cm (8")

Life expectancy

what is the average life expectancy of this fish?

8 to 10 years

Living zone

in which area of the aquarium does this fish live?

Middle and depth

Individuals

sociability of the species

1 male and 3 females

Food

How to feed the Auratus cichlid?

Food

How to feed the Auratus cichlid?

In the wild, this species is mainly herbivorous. Sometimes, in rare cases, it will also be carnivorous. On the other hand, in aquarium, this fish accepts all kind of food until becoming obese! Be careful not to overfeed it.

To respect its diet, you can give him flaky food (there are products specially designed for algae cichlids, which are based on spirulina). You will complete this base by adding fresh vegetables daily (spinach, broccoli...). Be careful, it is very important to ban all products and food containing hemoglobin (such as bloodworms).

This fish also browses the algae that cover the stones. Sometimes it can even attack the plants (watch out for the fragile plants that may suffer from the appetite of Melanochromis auratus).

Behavior

What kind of behavior does the Auratus cichlid have?

Behavior

What kind of behavior does the Auratus cichlid have?

Pretty active fish or even aggressive at times. It has a strong character and nobody resists him! This is particularly true during the breeding season, when the Melanochromis auratus will show a very territorial character, with no intrusion into its living area.

It likes the company of its peers. Compose your group with 1 male and 3 females (pay attention to the cohabitation of the males: see «cohabitation»). Avoid pairing for the well-being of the female (the male is naturally polygamous).

You will see very often the fish digging the bottom of the aquarium, it can thus transform its environment in a rather important way.

Cohabitation

Who can live with the Auratus cichlid?

Cohabitation

Who can live with the Auratus cichlid?

Be very careful in choosing the fish that you will associate with the Melanochromis auratus because it has a strong character! Indeed, it will tend to dominate the other occupants of the aquarium. Even big fish will have no chance: it is fast, lively and combative!

Avoid introducing 2 males in a small aquarium because the inter-species agreement is rather catastrophic. The larger your aquarium (or very large) the more likely you are to have your males cohabit without turning to disaster. If in doubt, only prefer a group of 1 male and 3 females in your aquarium.

Of course, given the character of our fish, do not associate it with shy, fearful or stress-prone species. It’s the same for the territorial species because they will inevitably go to the confrontation (the Melanochromis auratus is a little more tolerant with the non-territorial fishes).

Privilege cohabitation with Mbunas, if possible with individuals of the same size as your Melanochromis auratus.

Breeding

How to breed the Auratus cichlid?

Breeding

How to breed the Auratus cichlid?

The water should be as close as possible to the natural environment, according to the following parameters: 26°C or 79°F, pH 7.5 and gH 16°dGH.

In a community aquarium, there is no chance that fry will survive (they are not very resourceful, a paradox considering the wild adults they will become!). If you want to breed this species, plan an aquarium specially dedicated to breeding.

Couples are formed only for breeding, and the male is polygamous. After mating, the female will collect its eggs in its mouth and keep them for about 3 weeks. Take this female after one week of incubation to put it in the dedicated aquarium. Small curiosity: during the period during which the female keeps the eggs in its mouth, it will not eat (this behaviour is normal).

When the fry reach the size of 1 centimeter (0.4 inches), they will be definitively expelled from the mouth of their mother. During the expulsion, they are rejected throughout the aquarium. Afterwards, they will look for hiding places, especially near the rocks.

A breeding may have from 10 to 40 fry.

Its aquarium

Which aquarium for the Auratus cichlid?

Its aquarium

Which aquarium for the Auratus cichlid?

The Melanochromis auratus loves open spaces just like its natural environment. Opt for an aquarium with a large glass area (at least 120 cm or 47 inches) with powerful filtration.

Its natural habitat consists mainly of rocks and very few plants (or not at all). Recreate this rocky scenery by piling stones (set up hiding places in this pile so that the females can rest there). Be careful however to the stability of your arrangement: a landslide is quickly arrived.... You can for example glue the stones between them to avoid that.

On the plantation side, avoid delicate plants as the Melanochromis auratus will have fun destroying them and uprooting them. Rather, choose resistant plants like the Anubias that you can trap between two rocks.

A change of water of about 20% will be necessary every week, because by digging the soil the fish will pollute the aquarium. Check the temperature of the new water which should be identical to that of the aquarium.

Good to know

Good to know

Find all additional information!

In the wild, Melanochromis auratus lives exclusively in Lake Malawi, Africa.

The maintenance of this species is reserved for experienced people with good aquarium knowledge.

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