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Pseudotropheus perspicax


Article by Roland Tarr

Species information

Species: Pseudotropheus perspicax

Synoma: Melanochromis perspicax., Pseudotropheus ndumbi

Common name:Orange cap perspicax, Red top ndumbi

Origin: Africa

Localities/Morphs: Pombo Reef and Ndumbi Reef at north-east part of Lake Malawi at the Tanzanian coast.

Maximum size:8cm maximum 10cm in captivity

Natural habitat: Rocky habitat at depth between 5-8 meters

Natural foods/prey: Vegetarian. It feeds on the algae mat on the rocks.

Water chemistry in the wild:pH 7.5-9, 10-11 dH

Predators:larger fish, birds

Brood size:20-60, it is very prolific breeder. They start to breed from 4cm size.

Breeding method:maternal mouthbrooder

Husbandry requirements

Minimum tank size:standard 3ft for a small colony with one male

Sex ratio:1 male with at least 3 females

Tolerance of conspecifics: aggressive towards other males of its kind.

Tolerance of heterospecifics: they not aggressive towards other cichlids as long as they know who is the boss.

Water chemistry in aquaria:quite tolerant of a range of conditions so long as pH is above neutral. pH 7.0-8.6, carbonate hardness 4-12 dKH

Temperature range:25-28 degrees Celsius. It can also tolerate 30 degrees Celsius. Foods accepted:Main diet spirulina, vegetable based flakes and pellets. Avoid any food that contains high level of protein such as tubifex, blood worms, etc.

Special requirements:none other than water chemistry


It is a pity that these fishes are not more popular. Males have a striking pinkish-lilac base colouration (this can change to almost light pink when excited) with an orange band running from the forehead and running through the dorsal fin. All fins are bordered with orange. The females have a duller brownish colouration and less orange on their fins, although some good females can have very similar colouration to males. In fact I thought my first holding female was a male.

These mbunas considered dwarfs as their size rarely exceeds 8cm, although they are small they are more aggressive than most of the other mbunas. They easily can dominate aquariums that houses larger fishes like zebras, lombardoi, even some melanochromis. Make sure that you provide plenty of hiding places in your tank.

Once I kept some Labidochromis hongis and perspicax juveniles in the same tank and since the hongis also have orange colour on their fins, the perspicax males tried to mate with them. Therefore make sure that you do not keep similar looking fishes with them.

Finally perspicax are active fishes and they are fun to watch.


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