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A review of cichlid species of the world.

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Cichlids of the World

Cichlids have adapted to live, survive and breed in different parts of the world, in a vast array of habitats, with specialised feeding techniques and a myriad of breeding and parenting styles.

Broadly speaking cichlids are grouped according to their location, and the broken down into subgroups based on physiological features, habitat and behavioural traits. Cichlids are found in Africa, Central America, South America and Asia.

African cichlids can be further divided into the following main groups prior to examining the other traits;

Tanganyika Cichlids

Malawi Cichlids

Victoria Cichlids

Madagascan Cichlids

Other African Cichlids

Central American cichlids can be further divided into the following main groups;

Archocentrus Group

Thorichthys Group

Rheophilic Group

Detritus Feeders



South American cichlids can be further divided into the following main groups prior to examining the other traits;

Large Cichlids

Dwarf Cichlids



Crenicichla Group

There is only one true Asian cichlid and all belong to the one genus, Etroplus, commonly known as Chromides. There are three species located in coastal regions of Sri Lanka and Southern India. The three species include E. maculatus (Orange Chromide), E. suratensis (Green Chromide) and E. canarensis which was presumed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the 1990s.


Steatocranus casuarius

Species information

Species: Steatocranus casuarius

Synoma: Steatocranus casuarinus

Common name: Lionhead, Humphead Cichlid and Blockhead Cichlid

Origin: Africa: Pool Malebo (i.e. Stanley Pool) and the lower Congo River in both Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo


Maximum size: In the wild they can grow to 10cm (Total Length)

Natural habitat: Fast flowing streams

Natural foods/prey:

Water chemistry in the wild: pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5 19

Predators: Large fish and birds

Brood size: 40-60 orange eggs

Breeding method: Cave spawner

Husbandry requirements

Minimum tank size: 80cm tank

Sex ratio: 1:1 as they are best kept in pairs.

Sex differences: Males 15cm and Females 10cm growing to about 2/3 the size of the male. Sexing is easy when they are 5cm +. Females have a smaller head and don't develop the nuchal hump that males develop.

Tolerance of conspecifics: Peaceful

Tolerance of heterospecifics: Peaceful

Water chemistry in aquaria: Are tolerant of a range of pH (6.0 - 8.0). Avoid rapid changes.

Temperature range: 24°C - 28°C

Foods accepted: Good quality sinking pellets and can be supplemented with the occasional wafer.

Special requirements: Eggs hatch after four days and the fry are free swimming five days later. They are a cave spawner and hold the fry in for approximately two weeks post hatching. Any sort of pot, shell or spawning log that allows to female to fit in but also tallows het to block the male out.


Some interesting points:

  • Steatocranus species live in fast flowing stream and as a result have under developed swim bladders. This allows them to maintain contact with the stream bed and rocky structure in which they inhabit.
  • In the aquarium they benefit from rock structure that allows them to hop around.
  • Steatocranus casuarius tend to pair for life and if one is lost the remaining one is unlikely to bond again.

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