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Variabilichromis moorii


Species information

Species: Variabilichromis moorii

Synoma: Lamprologus moorii, Neochromis moorii, Neolamprologus moorii

Common Name: Variabilichromis moorii

Origin: Lake Tanganyika

Localities/Morphs: Mbity Rocks and Kinyamkolo (Mpulungu), Lake Tanganyika, Zambia

Maximum size: up to 11cm but some say that the female is the larger of the pair

Natural habitat: In the lake, moorii are found in the shallow, rocky habitat. Maximum depth in this area is 10 meters.

Natural foods/prey: Small invertebrates and plankton

Water chemistry in the wild: ?

Predators: larger fish

Brood size: up to 500

Breeding method: Territorial cave spawner. egg layer

Husbandry requirements

Minimum tank size: standard 2ft for a single pair is the minimum, as these fish are a secretive spawner a standard 3ft would be much more preferred with lots of caves and hiding places for the pair to spawn.

Sex ratio: 1m, 1f

Tolerance of conspecifics: very aggressive towards its own kind but once a single pair has formed they are quite peaceful towards each other as a pair.

Tolerance of heterospecifics: average - can be very aggressive towards other tank mates but in a large tank can be kept with other tank dwarfs such as Altolamprologus calvus or Altolamprologus compressiceps

Water chemistry in aquaria: pH: 7.5-9, general hardness 12-20 gH, carbonate hardness 8-15 dKH

Temperature range: 24-26 degrees Celsius, can tolerate slightly higher temperatures temporarily but optimum is 25

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

Special requirements: no real special care is required with these fish as they are quite hardy but regular water changes and slightly harder water parameters are preferred.


  • There are several locality variants of this fish, but the only difference in appearance occurs in fry and juveniles. All varieties, as adults, are dark brown to black in appearance. The colour variation in the fry from different localities display from dark brown to pale yellow to a bright yellow/orange.
  • all fry show a very bright neon blue in the dorsal, tail, and pectoral fins, which stays with the fish into adulthood.
  • once the fish matures the colours display incredibly which is the reason why i decided to get a few.
  • one big factor which persuaded me into getting these lovely fish is that they are a substrate/cave spawner and guard the eggs and protect free swimming fry which was a welcome change to the very common mouth brooding technique that so many other African cichlids use.
  • this little African cichlid is a pleasure to keep and i find that they are extremely underrated and would recommend them to any keen cichlid enthusiast.


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