Auratus Cichlid Aquarium Care, Feeding and Native Habitat Information
The Auratus Cichlid is one of the first African Cichlids ever to be imported and are an extremely attractive species that is endemic to Lake Malawi. The Auratus Cichlid is also one of the most aggressive of all African Cichlids and is the most aggressive of member the Mbuna group; they have been known to terrorize fish twice their size. Males and females are distinguished by their coloration; males have light markings on a dark blue to black base color while females are the exact opposite. Auratus Cichlids are very popular and are readily available through local retailers as well as online vendors. Definitely not a species for beginners, but they can be a joy to own as long as one does their research and understands their needs.
The Auratus Cichlid requires an aquarium of at least 55 gallons (75 gallons or larger is recommended and over 125 gallons for more than one male) and should be provided with a fine sand to crushed coral substrate as well as plenty of rocks and caves for territory as well as plenty of open swimming space. Live plants may be used, but should be a hardy species that can be attached to rocks (i.e., Anubias nana, Anubias hastifolia, Java Fern). Auratus Cichlids are extremely aggressive (possibly the most aggressive) Mbunas and will violently defend their territory and maybe just terrorize similar looking tank mates for fun; one male per aquarium is recommended. It's possible for this species to have tank mates, but they should either be females of the same species or a different Malawi species altogether and should not have similar markings or coloration.
Auratus Cichlids are omnivores and mainly eat Aufwuchs and invertebrates in the wild. They should be fed a variety of meaty food items such as live, frozen, or freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, and ghost shrimp as well as high quality, vitamin-enriched, Spirulina-based pellets and flakes. Feed what will be consumed in a few minutes, twice a day. Feeding frequency can be increased while time is decreased to help control aggression.
Auratus Cichlids are mouthbrooders. The female cichlid lays her eggs in a cave or rock crevice and then gathers up the eggs in her mouth. The male has egg-like spots on his anal fin and the female will be attracted to them thinking that they are more eggs to gather up in her mouth; when she tries to gather them she receives sperm from the male which fertilizes the eggs. The female will carry the eggs (usually a clutch of 25-50) for up to around 28 days before she releases free-swimming fry. Feed the fry Artemia nauplii and crushed Spirulina flakes.