Fuelleborn’s cichlid Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

Fuelleborn’s cichlid is a stunning freshwater fish that is native to Lake Malawi in Africa.

This species is not as well known as some of the other cichlids from the same area, but they are just as beautiful and interesting.

If you’re thinking about getting one (or a few) of these fish, you’ll need to know how to care for them properly. That’s what this guide is for!

Below, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Fuelleborn’s cichlid care. Tank size, diet, lifespan, and more.

Species overview

Fuelleborn’s cichlid (scientific name: Ptychochromis insolitus) is a species of cichlid that is native to the Congo Basin in Central Africa. It is found in both the Congo River and its tributaries.

This fish prefers slower-moving waters with a lot of vegetation. This is typical of many cichlid species, which tend to come from Africa and South America where the rivers are slow and full of plants.

Fuelleborn’s cichlid is a relatively peaceful fish, but it can be aggressive toward other cichlids of the same species. This is something to keep in mind if you are considering keeping more than one of these fish in the same tank.

These fish are not currently very popular in the aquarium trade, but that could change in the future as more people learn about them.


Fuelleborn's cichlid

Fuelleborn’s cichlid is a beautiful fish that is perfect for the freshwater aquarium. The body of this fish is elongated and compressed, with a slightly pointed nose. The eyes are large and protrude slightly from the head.

The coloration of this fish is very striking, with males being more colorful than females. The body is a light blue, with dark vertical stripes running the length of the fish. The fins are yellow, with the exception of the anal fin, which is orange. The tail is forked and slightly transparent.

Fuelleborn’s cichlid is a peaceful fish that gets along well with other tank mates. This fish is not aggressive and is suitable for community tanks.


Fuelleborn’s cichlids have an average lifespan of 5 to 10 years. These fish are relatively long-lived as far as fish go.

As with any other animal, there are a number of factors that impact how long Fuelleborn’s cichlids live. Things like water quality, diet, and stress levels all play a role in their lifespan.

Generally speaking, these fish do best in an environment that closely resembles their natural habitat. This gives them the best chance to live a long and healthy life.


Males of this species can grow to be about 10 inches long, while females max out at about 8 inches.


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for a single Fuelleborn’s cichlid is 40 gallons. If you want to keep more than one fish, you should add an additional 20 gallons of water per each extra fish.

It’s important to remember that these fish can grow to be quite large, so you’ll need to provide them with an appropriately sized tank from the start.

Water Parameters

Fuelleborn’s cichlids are a bit more particular about their water parameters than some other freshwater fish. They come from Lake Malawi in Africa, which is known for having very stable water conditions.

To recreate this environment in your aquarium, you’ll need to maintain a few key things. Water temperature is critical for these fish. They prefer it on the cooler side, around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pH level is also important. In the wild, Fuelleborn’s cichlids live in water with a pH of 7.8 to 8.6. You’ll need to maintain a similar level in your aquarium.

Finally, water hardness is something you’ll need to pay attention to. The hardness of the water in Lake Malawi is around 10 dGH.

  • Water Temperature: 75°F
  • pH Levels: 7.8-8.6
  • Water Hardness: 10 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

Fuelleborn’s cichlids come from Africa, and in the wild, they would inhabit slower-moving rivers with a sandy substrate.

When setting up an aquarium for Fuelleborn’s cichlids, it’s important to replicate their natural habitat as much as possible.

The substrate should be a fine, sandy material. We recommend using a product like Fluval Stratum because it’s specifically designed for cichlid tanks.

As for plants, Fuelleborn’s cichlids are not particularly fussy. They will eat most types of soft-leaved plants, so it’s best to stick with hardier species like Anubias or Java Fern.

When it comes to decor, Fuelleborn’s cichlids prefer a tank that is well-aquascaped with plenty of hiding places. Rocks, driftwood, and caves are all suitable options.

Just be sure to avoid anything that is too small, as Fuelleborn’s cichlids are known to excavate the substrate in search of food.

Common Diseases

Fuelleborn’s cichlids are actually pretty hardy fish and don’t get sick often. However, there are a few diseases that you should be aware of.

The most common disease that these fish get is Hole in the Head disease. This disease is caused by poor water quality and the presence of activated carbon in the tank.

This disease presents 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 fish.

The other disease you need to be aware of is Ich. This is a very common disease that affects freshwater fish. It’s caused by a parasite and presents itself as white spots on the body, fins, and gills of your fish.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your fish, it’s important to act fast. Consult your vet and begin treatment immediately. The sooner you act, the higher the chance is that your fish will recover.

Of course, the best way to keep your fish from getting sick is to maintain a clean and stable tank. This will create a healthy environment for your fish and reduce the chance of disease.

Behavior & Temperament

Fuelleborn’s cichlids are typically peaceful fish, but they can be aggressive when it comes to defending their territory. These fish are known to be good parents and will fiercely protect their young. They are also known to be good community fish when kept with other peaceful species.

Fuelleborn’s cichlid in an aquarium

Fuelleborn’s cichlids are relatively active fish and will often be seen swimming near the bottom of the tank. They are also known to be good jumpers, so it’s important to have a tight-fitting lid on your aquarium.

These fish are known to be good eaters and will often accept most types of food. They are especially fond of live and frozen foods, but will also consume pellets and flakes.

Tank Mates

There are a few things to consider when choosing tank mates for Fuelleborn’s cichlids.

First, these fish come from Africa. The majority of the fish in the trade come from South America. As a result, there’s not as much compatibility in terms of water conditions.

Secondly, Fuelleborn’s cichlids are semi-aggressive. They can get along with most species, but might nip at fins if given the chance.

Finally, these fish occupy the middle to top of the water column. Because they don’t stick to the bottom, you need to be careful about adding tank mates that are too small.

Other semi-aggressive fish species are best for creating a community tank. Some good Fuelleborn’s cichlid tank mates include:


Fuelleborn’s cichlids are mouthbrooders, which means that the female will carry the eggs in her mouth until they hatch. This is a typical cichlid breeding behavior and it’s actually not as difficult as it may sound.

To start, you’ll need to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 30 gallons and filled with soft, slightly acidic water. You can add some live plants to the tank for decoration, but make sure that they’re well-anchored. Cichlids are known for uprooting plants!

When ready, add a single male and two females to the tank. The male will start to court the females and, hopefully, one of them will be receptive. If everything goes according to plan, the female will lay her eggs in a pre-cleaned spot.

Once the eggs have been laid, the male will fertilize them and the female will scoop them up into her mouth. She’ll carry them around for about three weeks until they hatch. During that time, you must be very careful not to stress her out.

That means no sudden changes in water quality or temperature. Also, don’t move the tank around or add any new fish to the tank. The female cichlid needs to be able to focus on her eggs and nothing else.

Once the fry have hatched, the female will spit them out into the tank. At this point, you can start to feed them baby brine shrimp or other small live foods.


Fuelleborn’s cichlids are a great option for those looking for a unique fish with great personality.

They are also relatively easy to care for, which is always a bonus.

The biggest downside to these fish is that they can be aggressive, so be sure to do your research before adding them to your tank.

Other than that, we think they make a great addition to any freshwater setup!