Pseudotrophies – Malawian Pearls

Lake Malawi (Nyasa) is the third-largest lake among the African Great Lakes. It is of tectonic origin, that is, it is a fault between lithospheric plates filled with water. The peculiarities of origin and relative isolation made the lake a real cradle of speciation. A huge number of fish are found only here, many of them do not yet have a scientific description. Some of the most popular lake dwellers in aquaristics are pseudotrophies, which will be discussed in our article.

General information

Pseudotropheus (Pseudotropheus sp.) Is a genus of freshwater ray-finned fish from the Tsikhlov family. In natural conditions, they are endemic to Lake Malawi (Nyasa). They belong to the Mbuna group, which literally means “fish living in stones.” This name was not given to the fish by accident. They live along rocky shores, where they find refuge and the main food – algae, which they scrape off with the help of special teeth.

Pseudotrophies are medium-sized fish with varied coloration and moderate aggressiveness, making them one of the favorite cichlids among aquarists.

The taxonomy of the genus is repeatedly revised, and changes are made to it in accordance with the latest data, which only proves the little knowledge of the ichthyofauna of Lake Malawi.

It should be noted that many species of pseudotrophies are capable of interbreeding with each other, so the problem of maintaining a “clean line” in aquaristics remains relevant.


Pseudotrophies have a torpedo-shaped body and grow up to 9-12 cm. The head has large and fleshy lips, teeth are located in the oral cavity for scraping algae. The dorsal fin extends from head to tail and is often edged. The anal fin is pointed, with several bright oval spots. The tail is single-lobed.

As for the color, all the colors of the rainbow can be found in the representatives of this group: red, blue, yellow, etc. Many species have various geographical races, which also differ in the color of their scales. On the body, there are necessarily transverse stripes of varying severity.


Pseudotrophies are endemic to Lake Malawi (Africa). This tectonic reservoir gave rise to many species of fish. They live near rocky shores, where they feed mainly on algae growing on stones, larvae of small insects, and mollusks.

Males occupy a certain territory and guard it jealously. Females and juveniles huddle in small flocks outside the breeding season.

Care and maintenance

Keeping pseudotrophies in home aquariums requires some preparation. The fish themselves are quite hardy, but you should not neglect the volume of the aquarium, the number of decorations, and the right neighbors.

An excellent option for keeping pseudotrophies will be a harem of 1 male and 3-4 females. For such a flock, you need an aquarium of 100-150 liters. It should be equipped with a lid, and it is best to design it in a style that is as close to natural as possible: quartz sand at the bottom, a large number of stones, and fragments of rock. Many shelters need to be organized, and a variety of grottoes and pipes can help. Plants are usually impractical to plant, rare species will withstand the onslaught of vegetarian fish. You can pay attention to anubias, whose hard leaves are not so easy to damage.

High water quality is important for pseudotrophies. The aquarium must be provided with a powerful external filter, aeration compressor, and a thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature. Changes of up to 20% of the volume of the aquarium are required once a week.


Pseudotrophies, like other inhabitants of Lake Malawi, are territorial fish and extremely dislike invasions of their borders. Therefore, if possible, it is better to keep them in a species aquarium. In large containers, you can settle with other representatives of Mbuna: labidochromis, melanochromis, labeotropheus, etc.

When keeping multiple species, be sure to provide the fish with adequate shelter and always maintain the correct gender ratio.

Feeding pseudotrophies

When keeping pseudotrophies at home, special attention must be paid to proper nutrition. We must not forget that more than 60% of the diet of these cichlids is plant food. Long-term feeding with high-protein live or frozen food (bloodworm, tubule, etc.) can lead to problems with the gastrointestinal tract and even death of fish. And such food itself can become a source of infections.

Therefore, it is best to opt for high-quality dry food with a high content of algae:

  1. Tetra Malawi is specially formulated for the Mbuna group of Malawian cichlids. It is produced in the form of flakes and granules, 40% consists of algae (spirulina, nori, chlorella). Fully satisfies the nutritional needs of herbivorous cichlids.
  2. Tetra Cichlid Algae Mini is a pellet food containing spirulina. It is highly edible and completely provides pseudotrophies with all nutrients.
  3. TetraPro Algae – chips prepared using modern low-temperature technology, which allows you to preserve even more useful vitamins. The green center of the feed is a concentrate of spirulina algae.

Reproduction and breeding

Breeding pseudotrophies is not difficult. They can easily reproduce even in a shared aquarium. The fecundity of females averages 50 eggs. The female picks up the laid eggs in her mouth. Rounded bright spots on the anal fin of males very much resemble eggs, so the females try to grab them, at this moment the male releases his milk and fertilizes the eggs.

The incubation is quite long – 2-4 weeks. All this time, the female does not feed, and the fry fully develops. At first, they also hide in the mother’s mouth at the first sign of danger. However, then it is better to plant the kids, sometimes adults can eat the fry.

Puberty occurs at the age of 9-12 months.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *