Scientific name:Cyphotilapia frontosa, Cypho means “hump” tilapia means “fish” (African), species: Blue Mpimbwe, Blue Zaire, Burundi, Kasanga, Kigoma, Kipili, Zaire and Zambia.
Origin: Lake Tanganyika (Africa)
Maximum size: male 16” female 10”
Care: Temperature of 72-83F: water parameters should be pH-7.8-9.5 : 10-20dH : prefers hard alkaline water.
Just like in nature frontosa are gentle to other tankmates. Which means they can be kept in a smaller tank than say an oscar even though they reach a similar size. Even if a frontosa can be successfully kept in a 48" long tank (such as a 90 gallon) however a larger tank is definitely going to be more comfortable for them.
Their tank should be decorated with a lot of rocks that form caves. The females usually do not need places to hide, but the male may need and it is recommended for him to have a large cave to hide in when he needs a retreat. The rocks in the aquarium should be well stabilized in your aquarium, frontosa are very powerful and can dig under the rocks causing them to topple….we don’t need a broken tank now do we?!!! Although frontosa do not tear up, or eat plants, but they will definitely dig them up, no matter how well you anchored them, I am constantly having to replace mine!!! In tanks larger than 200 gallons, frontosa can be kept in groups of 10 or more. Such a group can even contain more than one male.
If kept in a smaller tank, smaller groups should also be kept, for example; one male and 3-4 females. Sexing frontosa is known to be quite difficult and confusing….the most obvious is the hump, which is normally larger on males, but also can be quite large on females as well. The most effective way is to study genitals, if you know what you are looking for!!!
Frontosa is and can be peaceful in aquarium, although two males of the same size can often threaten each other, most of the time neither of the two will suffer from any harm. Often the smaller one gives up and swims away instead of fighting. The problem is the defeated frontosa has nowhere to go. In the wild, the battles are usually over territory. When a frontosa loses a battle, he is expected to move on and never be seen again by the victorious one, however, in an aquarium, that is pretty impossible and they will probably fight again and again. You may need to separate them, or take in either one to the lfs for a trade.
Feeding Frontosa like to eat fish, attacking sleeping fish in the night. (sneaky) They need nutritious food; I give them frozen food, such as fish, (sometimes other cichlid fry ) brine shrimp, and blood worms. They will also happily consume packaged foods in great quantities. Hikari is tops in my frontosa’s books!!!
Sexing and breeding: Mouthbrooders generally are not very particular about spawning sites, but frontosa clearly like flat sandy areas best where they can dig small pits. However, they will also spawn on a gravelly bottom. It is a good idea to locate such spawning sites in the protective area of rock structures or plants. After circling each other, the two fish will suddenly face each other, and in a typical cichlid manner, "lock jaws," (aka mouth-fight ). As soon as a strong grip is made they will twist and turn each other for as long as a minute, testing each other's strength. Some people say that if they are able to maintain the grip for a substantial period of time, the pair will immediately proceed with spawning , but this has not been proven. The locking of jaws may continue for a week or so until the next step is taken. The actual spawning is very interesting: the female will deposit a few eggs in a depression in the substrate, then, the male will follow and fertilize them. After a number of deposits of this sort the female will pick up the eggs in her mouth and then the mouthbrooding process begins…..but may not last. Frontosa are sometimes very nervous about the reproduction cycle and may either spit the eggs or eat them if spooked….as I have learned from personal experience. I have had a failed example and need to decide what to do for next time. If all goes well naturally, the female will release the fry and they will more than enjoy having a first meal of newly hatched brine shrimp. They will also eat large infusoria and protozoans. After a few weeks they are able to take fine dry foods and larger crustaceans like Daphnia. The fry grow very quickly and as soon as the fry have been left alone by their parents, they should be given their own tank to grow out in, after a while it is suggested that the fry be sorted by size to give them more tank room and keep the larger fry from being too competitive for food, also to protect them from being eaten by anonymous passer-bys!!! Even though frontosa are supposed to raise their young ones until they are old enough and large enough to fend for themselves, others abandon their spawn under week after they have lost their yolk-sacs and reached the free-swimming stage. This is why stripping the female and artificial incubation is sometimes a must…