Blue johanni cichlid Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The blue johanni cichlid (Pseudotropheus johannii) is a beautiful and popular freshwater fish that’s perfect for beginner aquarists.

Despite their reputation as being “easy to care for,” there’s still a lot of confusion out there about their diet, size, tank mates, and more.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about blue johanni cichlid care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

The blue johanni cichlid (scientific name: Pseudotropheus johannii) is a freshwater fish that’s native to the East African Rift Valley.

They are most commonly found in the southern part of Lake Malawi, specifically around the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.

This cichlid prefers to live in areas with a lot of rocks and caves. They use these rocks to create little homes and territories for themselves.

The blue johanni cichlid is a peaceful fish, but it can be quite aggressive toward other cichlids of the same species. In the wild, they tend to live in small groups with a strict hierarchy.

The main appeal of this fish is its bright blue color. This, combined with its peaceful nature, makes it a popular choice for many freshwater aquariums.


Blue johanni cichlid

The blue johanni cichlid is a beautiful freshwater fish that is easily recognizable. These fish are a powdery blue color that gets lighter towards their belly. They have a few darker spots on their body, but nothing too dramatic.

The fins on a blue johanni cichlid are where things get really interesting. The dorsal fin is tall and starts about two-thirds of the way back on the body. It has a very slight curve to it and comes to a point at the end.

The anal fin is similar to the dorsal fin in both shape and size. It also starts two-thirds of the way back and has a slight curve.

The pectoral fins are a bit shorter than the other fins and start closer to the head of the fish.

The caudal fin is forked and tall, almost as tall as the dorsal fin.

All of the fins on a blue johanni cichlid have a very noticeable black border.

These fish have a long and thin body that is laterally compressed. This gives them a very sleek appearance.


The lifespan of a blue johanni cichlid is 10 to 12 years. This is a pretty long lifespan for a fish and is a testament to their hardiness. Of course, there are a number of factors that can impact their lifespan.

The quality of water they’re kept in is probably the most important factor. If the water is too polluted or of poor quality, their lifespan will be shortened significantly.

Another factor that can impact their lifespan is their diet. If they’re not getting enough food or the right types of food, they won’t live as long as they could.


The Blue johanni cichlid can grow to be around 6-8 inches long. Females are typically smaller than males.


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for a single blue johanni cichlid is 50 gallons. If you want to keep more than one fish, you should add at least another 50 gallons for each fish.

These fish are known to be aggressive so you need to make sure they have enough space to claim their own territory. If you don’t provide enough space, they will become stressed which can lead to health problems.

Water Parameters

The blue johanni cichlid does best in water that is neutral to slightly alkaline with a temperature range of 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit.

They are not as sensitive as some other cichlids to changes in water parameters, but it is still best to maintain stability as much as possible.

To keep the water quality high, be sure to do a 25% water change every week and vacuum the gravel to remove any uneaten food or waste.

  • Water temperature: 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 7.0-8.5
  • Water hardness: 8-20 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up your tank, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind. The first is that these fish are big. They can grow to be up to a foot long, so you need to make sure you have a tank that can accommodate them (a 125-gallon tank is a good size for one of these fish).

The second thing to keep in mind is that these fish are cichlids. This means they can be aggressive, so you need to provide them with plenty of hiding spots. Driftwood, rocks, and caves are all great options.

You also need to be careful about the substrate you use. These fish like to dig, so anything that’s too sharp can end up hurting them. A soft, sandy substrate is a good choice.

As for plants, you can include some if you want, but be prepared for them to be uprooted. Java moss is a good option since it’s not too expensive and can bounce back easily from being disturbed.

Common Diseases

The blue johanni cichlid is a hardy fish that doesn’t often fall ill. However, when they do get sick it’s usually because of something that could have been easily prevented.

The most common disease that affects this species is hole-in-the-head disease. This is caused by a lack of clean water and the presence of activated carbon in the tank.

Hole-in-the-head disease will present itself as one or two pits/holes in the skin of your fish’s head. While it’s almost always curable (fixing your water quality and removing activated carbon is usually all you need to do), it will usually leave some scarring on your poor fish!

The other disease you need to be aware of is ich. This is a very common parasitic infection that can affect any fish, no matter the species.

Ich will show itself as white spots on the body, fish, and gills of your fish. We won’t do a full ich treatment guide here (there are plenty of those online) but it’s something you need to take very seriously if it affects your blue johanni.

Behavior & Temperament

The blue johanni cichlid is a peaceful fish that doesn’t bother other tank mates. They are content to stay near the bottom of the tank, where they scavenge for food.

The blue johanni cichlid is a shy fish that doesn’t like to be in the spotlight. They prefer to stay hidden among the plants and rocks in their environment. This is why it’s important to provide them with plenty of hiding places.

These fish are relatively active and you’ll often see them swimming around the tank. They are most active at dawn and dusk. When they’re not swimming, they’re usually resting on the bottom of the tank.

Tank Mates

The blue johanni cichlid is a peaceful fish that can get along with most other tank mates. They’re not aggressive and tend to leave other fish alone.

This is good news for aquarists who want to keep a mixed-species tank. You can add blue johanni cichlids to a community tank with little worry.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some fish are simply too aggressive or territorial to get along with blue johanni cichlids. These fish are best avoided:

  • Other cichlids
  • Large plecos
  • Large catfish
  • Oscar fish
  • Common plecos
  • Jack Dempsey cichlids
  • Green terror cichlids
  • Red devil cichlids
  • Convict cichlids


The Blue johanni cichlid is a beautiful fish that’s not too difficult to breed in captivity. These fish are known for their bright blue coloration and their aggressiveness.

The first step is to sex your fish. Males are usually larger and have more color than females. Once you’ve determined the sex of your fish, you can set up a breeding tank.

The breeding tank should be at least 30 gallons and should have a sandy bottom. Add some rocks and caves for the fish to hide in. The water should be between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

When you’re ready to breed, add one male and two females to the tank. The male will usually start to build a nest out of rocks and sand. Once the nest is built, the female will lay her eggs in it.

The male will then fertilize the eggs and guard them until they hatch. Once the fry have hatched, you can remove the adults from the tank.

The fry will feed on algae and small insects. You can also give them baby brine shrimp. As they grow, you can gradually start to introduce them to flake food.


The Blue Johanni cichlid is a beautiful fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are relatively easy to care for and are very peaceful, making them a great addition to any community tank.

While they are not the most active fish, they are still very beautiful to look at and are sure to add some color to your tank.

We hope you enjoyed this guide and that you now have a better understanding of how to care for your Blue Johanni cichlid.