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Placidochromis sp. "Phenochilus Tanzania"


Species information

Species: Placidochromis sp. "Phenochilus Tanzania"

Synoma: Placidochromis phenochilus (Trewavas, 1935)

Common name: Pheno

Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa, Tanzania

Localities/Morphs: the coast of Tanzania, between Makonde and Lupingu.

Maximum size: males can reach 16cm and females reach 12-13cm

Natural habitat: open areas that have sandy bottoms.

Natural foods/prey: small invertebrates.

Water chemistry in the wild: ?

Predators: birds and other fish.

Brood size: 20-40

Breeding method: maternal mouthbrooder

Husbandry requirements

Minimum tank size: standard 4ft for a small colony but a larger tank is preferred

Sex ratio: as these fish are quite peaceful 2-3 males and 5-6 females would be ideal as the extra males would spawn creating different bloodlines in fry produced. creating better genetics.

Tolerance of conspecifics: peaceful

Tolerance of heterospecifics: very good - should only be kept with other peaceful Malawis.

Water chemistry in aquaria: pH: 7.2-8.2, general hardness 10-20 gH, carbonate hardness 4-9 dKH

Temperature range: 23-27 degrees Celsius, can tolerate slightly higher temperatures temporarily but optimum is 25

Foods accepted: micropredators, they will take almost everything offered. Pellets, flakes, live black worm, and frozen brine shrimp.

Special requirements: no real special care is required with these fish as they are quite hardy but should be kept other peaceful malawis as any fish that is aggressive would have no problems pushing these guys around. the only other thing recommended with these fish is a fine substrate.


Some interesting points:

  • These fish are one that only gets better and better with age. As juveniles they resemble there cousins the Placidochromis electra but as they age they develop a dark blue colouration with black barring.
  • Once this fish reaches approx 12-18 months of age they start developing a chrome silver blue spangling and this patterning only intensifies with age. Unfortunately this colouration only shows with the males of the species but each male is different to the next with the spangling like a fingerprint.
  • One fascinating point is how this species feeds in the wild. The phenochilus follows a larger fish that creates a sandy cloud when it’s sifting for food and picks out the invertebrates as the larger fish is sifting, it has been said that the pheno will follow larger fish for food swimming from cloud to cloud grabbing every tasty bit of food it can. I personally have seen this behavior displayed when doing water changes and disturbing the substrate. All the phenochilus quickly hurry over and dart in and out of the sediment looking for food.
  • i would strongly recommend this fish for any hobbyist especially a hobbyist that enjoys the more peaceful cichlid.


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