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Melanochromis johanni.


Article by Hung Tran

Species information

Species: Melanochromis johanni.

Synoma: Pseudotropheus johanni, Pseudotropheus daviesi.

Common name: Johann"s Mbuna, Blue-grey Mbuna, Blue Striped Mbuna, Cobalt-Orange Cichlid, Electric blue Johanni.

Origin: Africa-Endemic to Lake Malawi

Localities/Morphs: Metangula, Chilucha Reef, Masinje Rocks, Cape Ngombo; South of Cape Ngombo, Makanjila Point.

Maximum size: 12cm, females slightly smaller at 10cm.

Natural habitat: Demersal, freshwater along rocky shores, with water less than 6m deep.

Natural foods/prey: Mostly vegetable matter.

Water chemistry in the wild: pH range: 7.2-8.8; dGH range: 12.0 - 18.0; Climate: tropical; 22 - 25?C

Predators: Big fish that can fit them in their mouth.

Brood size: Up to 60 eggs, usually 25-40.

Sexual dimorphism: Males are black with electric blue stripes and females are orange-yellow in colouration.

Breeding method: Maternal mouthbrooder.

Husbandry requirements

Minimum tank size: Above 200L due to territorial temperament.

Sex ratio: One male to several females.

Tolerance of conspecifics: Males will fight for territory with other males and will hassle females.

Tolerance of heterospecifics: Males will display aggression against fish of similar colouration and fight for dominance.

Water chemistry in aquaria: Like other mbunas they prefer hard and alkaline water with pH > 8 and a kH between 8-12.

Temperature range: 25-28C.

Foods accepted: Herbivorous, high quality flakes and pellets are accepted, although spirulina flakes and pellets.

Special requirements: They are quite hardy.


  • They are regarded as the 'peaceful' mbuna, however when only when requirements are not met the aggression is displayed.
  • To combat this problem many hobbyist often provide a large ratio of females to only one male or simply overstock the tank (depends on filtration capability).
  • Melanochromis interruptus is a species that is very similar to the johanni and unfortunately sometimes can be mistakenly sold as one. The main distinction between the two is that M.johanni exhibit very straight stripes whereas the M.interruptus does not compare. In addition the females of the latter species undergoes age-related colour change similar to that seen in the female Melanochromis auratus, i.e masculinisation of their colour pattern.


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