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Family: Cichlidae

Common Name: Red Top Thumbi

Origin and Habitat: Africa, Lake Malawi

Compatibility/Temperament: Aggressive

Diet: Algae, Romaine Lettuce and De-Shelled peas along with High Quality Cichlid pellets.

Size: 7"

Tank Size: 55g minimum, 125g ideally as they are active fish.

Water parameters: They just be kept in an aquarium with a high Oxygen content, these fish inhabit natural areas with very strong current in the wild, a trait carried over to even farm raised ones today. pH like most African cichlids should be between 7.2 and 8.2. They do well in a tank with strong current and not heavily stocked, an over stocked tank creates lower oxygen content. If you notice these fish towards the top of the tank gasping for air at the surface, you need to increase oxygen in the tank.


Best kept with at least 1 male to 4 females to help spread aggression, CANNOT be kept as a male and female pair, the male will simply kill the female. These fish are very similar and often confused with Labeotropheus Fuellerborni, having the same curved over upper lip.

Males generally will stay in their chosen territory towards the bottom of the tank, females towards the top. When the male is spawning mode, he will extremely aggressive to other fish and not allow anyone near him. Fry broods usually consist of between 20-28 fry. First time breeders should expect a total kill off from the parents, although some fry may survive. They are prolific breeders and upwards of 200-300 fry in 6 months is not uncommon if they like the conditions in the tank.

Given the close appearance to Labeotropheus Fuellerborni is not advisable to house these fish together unless the tank is 125g in size. Having a 6ft, 72" tank allows them to co-exist as it allows space for separate territories and minimal contact.

Many females of the species are OB or Orange Blotched. Males have a solid color body although fins can and usually are of different color variations.

In the wild there are over 40 confirmed color and regional variations in the lake. In the aquarium trade, most fish will be blue in color with different fin color.

Contributing Members: Tazman

Pictured here is the Red Top Thumbi island variant along with a OB female.


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