About the Auratus
Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Care Level: DifficultThis fish may have multiple properties that make a fish moderately difficult to care for and is therefore only recommended to experienced fishkeepers who have had success in dealing with species that may have particular care requirements.
Origin: Jalo reef to Crockodile Rock, Lake Malawi, Africa
Compatibility/Temperament: Amongst the most aggressive mbuna available in the hobby, these fish need large 125g+ tanks if you want to keep more than one male. A single male can quite easily take over anything smaller than a 75g killing ALL occupants as it does so.
To keep the aggression of this fish down it is IMPERATIVE that 1 male be kept with at least 7-12 females. Anything smaller than this ratio and it WILL lead to dead fish very fast. Males will simply not tolerate other males and will fight until one is dead unless provided the space of a large 6ft or larger tank with plenty of rocks and hiding places.
This fish is definitely not for beginners starting out keeping African cichlids, being one of the first fish exported from the Lake many can be found in the trade. People will more often than not find these fish in "returns" tanks as they have been brought back from people who simply cannot keep them due to aggression issues.
Males will fight any fish of similar coloration and also try and mate readily with any females present. BE WARNED, the spawning displays of the male is usually extremely aggressive and as such a multiple females need to present to prevent one female from being stressed to death.
The aquarium MUST be decorated with plenty of rocks, preferably a sand substrate to mimic the natural conditions of the Lake. The rocks as well as being their natural habitat, provide cover for females being courted by a male, or sub-dominant males refuge from the dominant male aggression.
Males have a darker stomach area compared to females but as this is a diamorphic fish, males and females look almost identical.
Spawning will see the female carry eggs in her Buccal cavity in her throat for 18-21 days, after this time, she will spit the free swimming fry out. For several days she will care for the fry, scooping them back into her mouth if a perceived threat is close by. After 1 month fry will be around 1". Towards the end of her incubation period, the female will stay close to a spot and show increased aggression to passers by. Once spawned it would be beneficial after an initial 2-3 day period to remove the female to a hospital tank, to regain strength. A male will not leave her alone regardless if she has just breed if he is ready to spawn again.
During her holding period with the eggs, the female will NOT eat and overtime, you will notice her throat size increasing and what looks like "burping", this is the female rearranging fry in her throat.
Males start to get the darker coloration on their stomachs around 6-9 months.
Primarily a herbivore these fish do well on a diet of good quality flake and pellets supplemented with vegetable such as zucchini, peas, lettuce and carrots.
Males attain 5" while females remain slightly smaller
Minimum Tank Suggestion
55g for a single male, 125g for multiple males
Ideal water parameters for Auratus
Temperature: 78 - 82°F
pH: 7.8 - 8.6
Water Hardness: Hard