About the Otopharynx lithobates, Sulphur Crested Lithobate. Aristochromis Red Top
Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Care Level: Easy. Does well in a slightly more narrow range of water parameters and shouldn't be used to cycle an aquarium. Will eat most prepared foods. May have some specific care requirements in terms of particular water parameters, social behaviors, food items etc.
Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa
Compatibility/Temperament: Generally peaceful compared to other Rift Lake Cichlids and usually only shows aggression when spawning.
Should not be housed in a aquarium containing smaller fish as it will see them as food. Will readily eat fry.
Being on the more peaceful side of Lake Malawi Cichlids, this fish can kept with smaller more active mbuna sich as Yellow Labs (Labidochromis Careleus), although care must be taken when any fry are present in the tank.
When Spawning Males are rather aggressive and will relentlessly pursue a female sometimes to the point of killing her if she is not ready to breed. Recommendation would be to keep one Male with several Female to spread the aggression of the spawning male.
Broods of fry are usually in the 15-40 range, fry are very slow growers and this must be taken into account if one attempts breeding these fish.
O.Litohbates does not have egg spots like other Rift Lake Cichlids, Males will turn a brilliant Metallic Blue color while females will remain a drab brown color. Sexing these fish while young is extremely difficult and as such should not be attempted by inexperienced aquarists unless you know how to "vent" a fish correctly. Venting will not be described here as it is a stressful process to only the keeper but the fish also.
The species originates from various locations within the Lake although those collected from "Zimbabwe Rocks" and sold sometimes as "Z-Rock" Lithobates are the most common available in the trade. Color variations occur depending on the original collection point.
Sand would be the preferred substrate of choice and unlike other cichlids, this fish will not dig / eat live plants in the substrate or aquarium. Provide rocks as well in a well stacked manner allowing the fish caves and crevices in which to display its natural instinct to search these areas for food.
Otopharynx lithobates, Sulphur Crested Lithobate. Aristochromis Red Top Diet
Being an Omnivore, this fish will readily accept high quality Cichlid flakes, supplemented with either Live or Frozen Brine Shrimp, Mysis Shrimp and very occasionally feeder minnows.
Males are generally larger than females and reach about 6" (16cm).
Minimum Tank Suggestion
Ideal water parameters for Otopharynx lithobates, Sulphur Crested Lithobate. Aristochromis Red Top
Hard Water (10-25 dH), pH 8, Temperature 78-82°F