francais anglais
Cyrtocara moorii

Malawi Blue Dolphin
(Cyrtocara moorii)

This species has been available for fishkeeping for many years now, but its popularity is still as high! Discover here this charming cichlide.

Names

Scientific name
Cyrtocara moorii
Cyrtocara moorei
Cyrtocara moori
Haplochromis moorii
Haplochromis moori

Common name
Malawi Blue Dolphin
Moorii Hump-head
Beulenkopfmaulbrüter (DE)

Origin

what are its countries of origin?

Origin: Africa (Lake Malawi)
Biotope: African

Dimorphism

what are the physical differences between males and females?

Generally (but this is not systematic), the male has a larger bump on the head than the female, and the blue of its dress is slightly more intense. The female has 3 dark and diffuse spots on the body

Group

Group

Cichlidae

Volume

what is the minimum volume for this species?

500 L / 110 imp gal / 130 US gal

Parameters

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

T°: 25 à 26°C or 77 to 79°F
pH: 7.8 to 8.2
Hardness: 12 to 30°dGH

Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

Size

what is the maximum size of this fish?

Female: 20cm (8") - Male: 25cm (10")

Longevity

what is the average Longevity of this fish?

15 years

Living zone

in which area of the aquarium does this fish live?

Middle and depth

Individuals

sociability of the species

3 (harem)

Alternative species

Click on the thumbnail to see the card

  • None (for the moment!)

Food

How to feed the Malawi Blue Dolphin?

Food

How to feed the Malawi Blue Dolphin?

This fish will need various foods because it is omnivorous. The basis of its diet will preferably consist of live or frozen prey, such as daphnids, artemia, earthworms, shrimp or mussels...

Warning: "red" foods such as bloodworms, beef heart, red meat ... can cause serious intestinal disorders to these cichlids, sometimes resulting in the death of the fish.

In addition, you can use freeze-dried foods traditionally used in aquariums (special "cichlid Lake Malawi"). However, note that this type of food will have to remain casual as it harms the health of the fish in the long run.

If your Malawi Blue Dolphin coexist with sand filtering fish (such as Fossorochromis rostratus for example), bury dry food in the sand. You will see them activate to get their meal! The Fossorochromis frantically searching the sand, the Malawi Blue Dolphin following him to retrieve pieces. A stimulating activity, both for them and for you!

Behavior

What kind of behavior does the Malawi Blue Dolphin have?

Behavior

What kind of behavior does the Malawi Blue Dolphin have?

In general, this fish is quite calm. There is, however, an aggressiveness between males if they feel too cramped, especially during the breeding season. The dominant male can go so far as to kill the dominated.

Sociable, the Malawi Blue Dolphin is a fish that lives on a shoal. It therefore needs the presence of its congeners, even in captivity. The group establishes a hierarchy led by a dominant male. The right ratio is to maintain one male for two or three females. Thus, the trio configuration is the minimum to have, but a larger group (from 2 males and 5 to 6 females) is much more beneficial to fish showing more interesting behavior. However, you’ll need ti provide an aquarium of at least 1000 liters or 220 Imp Gal or 260 US Gal for this!

Despite its size, it can easily get scared and stressed.

It lives near the bottom of the aquarium.

Cohabitation

Who can live with the Malawi Blue Dolphin?

Cohabitation

Who can live with the Malawi Blue Dolphin?

Given its need for space, a specific aquarium would be preferable.

Nevertheless, the Hump-head can live in a community aquarium, as long as it makes a minimum of 500 liters or 110 Imp Gal or 132 US Gal. The most appropriate cohabitations are of course with other species of Lake Malawi, cichlids of similar size and temperament. For example, fish of the genus Lethrinops will be very well adapted (it shares the same area of life in the wild), as well as those of the genus Copadichromis that swim in open water. Fossorochromis rostratus, Cyphotilapia frontosa or Synodontis will also be a good choice for roommates.

The smaller fish will be killed. The M'bunas are also to be avoided because they are too turbulent for the shy Hump-head. Because of the risk of hybridization, do not associate with closely related species such as Protomelas Annectens, Placidochromis electra and others with hybridizations reported as Dimidiochromis compressiceps.

Breeding

How to breed the Malawi Blue Dolphin?

Breeding

How to breed the Malawi Blue Dolphin?

Breeding can be done in captivity with a small group of one male for 2 or 3 females. The difficulty lies in the fact of sexing fish with certainty. Sexual maturity is reached only when specimens are around 12 to 14 cm or 4.7 to 5.5 inch.

The recommended water parameters for spawning are 25/26°C or 77/79°F and pH 7.8/8.

These Malawi Blue Dolphin are oral incubators. During the breeding season, the male will defend its territory. In the center of it, it will clear a small hole in which the female will deposit the eggs. The male will fertilize them later. Once this fertilization is done, the female will gather her eggs in her mouth where the incubation will last about 3 weeks. The eggs hatch after 6 to 7 days, but the larvae remain for two weeks in their mother's mouth). Once the fry are expelled from their shelter, they measure about 8 mm or 0.3 inch. Some females seem to teach them the basics of fish life and protect them for another two weeks.

To maximize the survival rate of your fry (they are not very resourceful or apathetic and are quickly eaten in community aquariums), you can isolate the female after the first week of incubation. The ideal is to isolate it by mounting a glass wall in your main aquarium (if your volume and your population allows it, be careful not to disturb territories) so as not to handle the female who may spit her little ones too early. Thus, young fish will be protected from predation of other fish (if any) from the main aquarium. The female will also be quieter to teach her fry.

The fry can be quite numerous, sometimes a hundred. Their pretty blue color appears after 4 months of development. Their growth is slow, and sometimes it is necessary to wait 2 years before they reach their adult size.

Fry food: Artemia nauplii.

Cyrtocara morii reproduction

Its aquarium

Which aquarium for the Malawi Blue Dolphin?

Its aquarium

Which aquarium for the Malawi Blue Dolphin?

Depending on the number of specimens maintained, it will be necessary to have aquariums of different volumes:
Trio: 500 liters or 110 Imp Gal or 132 US Gal (at least 1.5 meters or 4.9 foot of facade)
Group with 2 males and 5/6 females: at least 1000 liters or 220 Imp Gal or 260 US Gal

The decor will consist of a sandy bottom and rock piles, with large open spaces for swimming. In fact, this fish does not hide very often behind the rocks and prefers to swim. A high and narrow decoration decorating the bottom of the aquarium will be perfect for this species. The plants are not essential but if you want to put some for ornamental purposes, choose robust species such as Anubias Gigantea for example. For the soil, choose sand.

The water parameters will have to be very stable. In fact, they do not vary in Lake Malawi, from where the Hump-head originates. These fish are also sensitive to nitrates: change 1/3 of the volume of water every 15 days (adjust according to the configuration of your aquarium).

Good To know

Find all additional information!

Good To know

Find all additional information!

Its color can vary according to its mood: breeding, stress, dominance...

Interestingly, in the wild these fish follow species filtering the sandy bottom (Taeniolethrinops praeorbitalis or Fossorochromis rostratus) and eat invertebrates that have been dislodged. Moreover, the Moorii is not strictly territorial by nature, but will rather defend this food companion!

The bump on the male's head grows from year to year. So, the oldest males have the biggest bumps!
Cyrtocara morii bosse male

Cyrtocara moorii is the only member of its genus Cyrtocara! Thus, the genus Cyrtocara is a monotypic genus.

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