Frontosa cichild Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The frontosa cichlid is a gorgeous fish that is perfect for the intermediate aquarium keeper. They’re not too difficult to care for, but they do require a little more attention than some of the other fish on this list.

But the extra effort is definitely worth it, as these fish are absolutely stunning. They have a beautiful blue coloration with white spots all over their body.

And they can grow to be quite large, so they really make a statement in any tank.

If you’re thinking about getting a frontosa cichlid, be sure to read this guide first. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about their care, diet, and tank mates.

Species overview

Frontosa cichilds (scientific name: Cyphotilapia frontosa) are a type of freshwater fish that’s native to the large lakes of East Africa, specifically Lake Tanganyika.

They are one of the largest cichlid species out there and can grow up to 30 inches (76 cm) in length!

Their diet consists mostly of algae and other plant matter, although they are known to eat the occasional small invertebrate.

Frontosa cichilds are popular aquarium fish due to their size and unique appearance. They have a large, prominent forehead and a long, slender body.

Although they are a peaceful species, they can be quite aggressive toward other fish that invade their territory. This is something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about adding them to your tank.


Frontosa cichild

The Frontosa cichild is one of the most impressive freshwater fish in terms of size. They can grow upwards of 2 feet in length and their bodies are very stocky.

The coloration on these fish is very unique. They have a light blue base color that is covered in black spots. The spots on their dorsal half are much larger than the spots on their ventral half.

There is also a very prominent black stripe that runs from their mouth all the way to the base of their tail fin. This black stripe is bordered on each side by a thinner white stripe.

The fins on the Frontosa cichild are very long and extend outwards quite a bit. The dorsal and anal fins are especially long and have a very pronounced “notch” towards the back.

The caudal fin is forked and very tall. The pectoral fins are also very long and have a “finger-like” appearance.

All of the fins on this fish are translucent with a slight blue tint.


The average lifespan of a Frontosa cichlid is 20 years. However, it’s not uncommon for them to live up to 30 years in captivity!

As with any other animal, their lifespan will be greatly impacted by the level of care they receive. Things like water quality, diet, and stress can all shorten their lifespan.


Frontosa cichlids can grow to be quite large, with some specimens reaching up to two feet in length. However, the average size for these fish is closer to 12-16 inches. They are a relatively slow-growing species, so it may take several years for them to reach their full size.


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for a frontosa cichlid is 500 gallons. If you want to keep more than one fish, you will need to add at least another 500 gallons for each additional fish.

Water Parameters

The Frontosa cichlid is a large fish, so it requires a large tank. A 75-gallon aquarium is the bare minimum, but I recommend going up to 125 gallons if you can. These fish get big and need the extra room.

The Frontosa cichlid is a bit of a unique fish when it comes to water parameters. In the wild, they’re found in lakes with a high mineral content. This results in high hardness and alkalinity levels.

To replicate this in the home aquarium, you’ll need to use a salt mix designed for African cichlids. I recommend using Cichlid Lake Salt. It’s a high-quality product that will help maintain the proper water parameters for your Frontosa.

Here are a few key water parameters to keep in mind.

  • Water temperature: 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 8.0 to 8.5
  • Water hardness: 10 to 20 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 12 to 30 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

If you want to keep Frontosa cichlids then you need to give some thought to the substrate. These fish spend a lot of time at the bottom of the tank and prefer a substrate that’s soft and sandy.

A good rule of thumb is to use a substrate that’s similar to what you’d find in an African Rift Lake. This will help make your fish feel more at home and comfortable.

The plants in their tank are also important. While Frontosa cichlids don’t typically eat plants, they do uproot them when they’re digging around.

We recommend using plants that are anchored down well or that can tolerate being uprooted frequently. Java fern and Anubias are two examples of plants that meet this criteria.

You should also include some pieces of driftwood or rocks in their tank. These provide places for your fish to hide and feel safe. They also help break up the line of sight in the aquarium which can make your fish feel less stressed.

Common Diseases

There are a few diseases that you need to be aware of when keeping frontosa cichlids. These fish are generally quite hardy, but they can still fall ill if the water quality in their tank is poor.

The most common disease that affects frontosa cichlids is ich. This is a parasitic infection that will present itself as white spots on the body, fish, and gills of your fish.

It’s important to act quickly when you see these spots, as ich can be fatal if left untreated. The good news is that ich is relatively easy to treat, and most fish will make a full recovery if you take care of them properly.

Another disease that can affect frontosas is hole-in-the-head disease. This is a condition that is caused by poor water quality and the presence of activated carbon in your tank.

It will present itself as one or two pits/holes in the skin of your fish’s head. While it’s almost always curable, it will usually leave some scarring on your poor fish!

The best way to prevent these diseases is to simply maintain the quality of the water in your tank. A tank with clean and stable water conditions is the best way to keep your fish healthy and disease-free.

Behavior & Temperament

The Frontosa cichlid is afish that is relatively peaceful, but it can be aggressive if it feels threatened. This fish is also known to be a bit nippy, so it’s important to keep an eye on it if you have other fish in the tank.

The Frontosa cichlid is a slow swimmer, so it’s not uncommon for this fish to be outpaced by its tank mates. This is why it’s important to make sure the tank has plenty of hiding places for the Frontosa to retreat to.

The Frontosa cichlid is a fish that is relatively peaceful, but it can be aggressive if it feels threatened.

Tank Mates

The frontosa cichlid is a large, aggressive fish. In the wild, these fish are known to be loners. They’re not social creatures and don’t do well with other fish.

The only time you’ll see them in groups is when they’re spawning. Even then, the groups are temporary and will quickly break apart after the fry have been born.

Because of their aggressive nature, frontosa cichlids are best kept alone. If you must add tank mates, choose species that are too large to be eaten and can hold their own in a fight.

Some good frontosa cichlid tank mates include:

  • Other Large Cichlids
  • Arowana
  • Pacu
  • Oscar
  • Paddlefish
  • Bichir
  • Gar


The Frontosa cichild is a beautiful fish that’s popular in the aquarium trade. They’re not the easiest fish to breed, but it can be done with some patience and preparation.

First, you need to sex your Frontosa cichilds. Males and females have different colorations. Males are typically blue or gray with white spots. Females are brown or tan with darker spots.

Next, you need to set up a breeding tank. It should hold at least 50 gallons of water. The water should be soft with a pH between 7.5 and 8.5. You’ll also need to add some live plants and rocks for hiding places.

When everything is ready, add one male and two females to the breeding tank. The female Frontosa cichilds will lay their eggs on the rocks. The male will then fertilize them.

After about two weeks, the eggs will hatch. You can remove the adults at this point. The fry will feed on microscopic organisms in the water. You can supplement their diet with baby brine shrimp.

As they grow, you can start to add other foods like pellets and flakes. Keep a close eye on the fry. Frontosa cichilds are susceptible to disease, so you want to make sure they are healthy.


If you’re looking for a fish that is both beautiful and a joy to care for, the Frontosa cichlid is a great choice.

While they may be a bit more expensive than some other fish, we think they’re definitely worth the price.

These fish are stunning and will add a real wow factor to your tank. They’re also relatively easy to care for, which is always a bonus.

If you’re thinking about getting a Frontosa cichlid, we say go for it! You won’t be disappointed.