About the Blue Dolphin
Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Care Level: Moderate. May tolerate only a narrow range of water parameters, have specific dietary requirements including frozen or even live foods, may have behaviors that severely limit potential tankmates or may require a specialized aquarium setup.
Origin: Lake Malawi, Lake Malombe, Africia
Compatibility/Temperament: Mildly Aggressive, this is a micro predator fish.
Aggressive to co-specific (same species)
This fish is a slow growing gentle giant but is easily scared in the home aquarium.
The fish is peaceful and as such should not be kept with more boisterous mbuna such as Yellow Labs.
Ideal Tank mates would be Frontosa and some other large Haps
A gentle giant, this fish is easily scared in the home aquarium, it requires a large open area for swimming with minimal rock structure. If rocks are used in the aquarium they should be placed towards the rear of the tank.
Sand or fine gravel substrate is a must for this fish as it "sand sifts" and does not do well on larger gravel sizes.
This fish as it develops to adulthood will develop a bump on its head (Nuchal hump)
Being a monomorphic species males and females are extremely difficult to tell apart. The only sure way to sex this fish is by venting (checking the anal area and observing the sexual organs).
Males become territorial and slightly aggressive when ready to spawn. The male will pick out an area either a flat rock or dig a depression in the sand. Males can change to a dark black color when ready to spawn or display intense blue coloration. If a female is ready to spawn, she will deposit the eggs in the depression or onto the rock. At this point the male will fertilize them, once this has occurred the female will scoop the eggs into her mouth.
Broods can be between 20 and 90 fry which the female will carry in her mouth for a period of 3 weeks. She will not eat at all during this time. Extreme care must be taken when approaching a tank with a holding female as this species is very prone to spitting fry out early. In the home aquarium, it is advisable to leave the holding female in the tank for at least a period of 2 weeks before potentially artificially stripping her of the fry and raising them in a breeder tank.
To achieve breeding it is best to keep a single male with a group of 3 female, more if multiple males are in the tank. This will allow any females not willing to spawn to not be harassed by a breeding ready male. This fish will also school readily with the group when not breeding.
Females are excellent mothers but should be returned to the tank if stripped of the fry as soon as possible. This prevents her from losing her place within the group and potentially being the target for increased male aggression or that of other females. Females will care for the fry for a few weeks once released to the point at night, if she feels threatened she will allow the fry to take refuse in her mouth while not harming them, this is fairly unique amongst cichlids.
Fry will readily accept Brine Shrimp Nauplii and crushed flake food but should be introduced to bloodworms and small frozen foods early. Fry are extremely slow growing.
Blue Dolphin Diet
Will readily accept Spirulina Flakes and pellets.
Brine shrimp either live or frozen should be periodically fed as well. Mosquito larvae can fed fed as a treat although not often.
Bloodworms can also be fed.
Males generally reach 8" (20cm) although larger specimens up to 10"(25cm) are not uncommon.
Females remain slightly smaller around 6-7" (15-17cm)
This is a very slow growing species taking 1 1/2 -2 years to reach around 4"(10cm) (Spawning size)
Minimum Tank Suggestion
Ideal water parameters for Blue Dolphin
Hard Water (10-25), pH 7.8-8.6, Temperature 78-86°F