Pinstripe damba Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The Pinstripe damba is a beautiful freshwater fish that is becoming increasingly popular in the aquarium trade.

This fish is native to Africa and is closely related to the more well-known clown loach.

Pinstripe dambas are relatively easy to care for and make a great addition to any community tank.

In this guide, we will go over everything you need to know about Pinstripe damba care. This includes their diet, tank mates, size, and more!

Species overview

The Pinstripe damba (scientific name: Aulonocara stuartgranti) is a type of cichlid that’s native to the waters of Lake Malawi in East Africa.

They are found primarily in the southern and eastern regions of the lake where the water is a bit deeper and there is more vegetation.

Pinstripe dambas are one of the more popular cichlids in the aquarium scene due to their beautiful coloration. They are mostly orange with blue stripes running down their body.

These fish are relatively peaceful compared to other cichlids and can do well in a community tank as long as they are kept with other fish that are of a similar size.


Pinstripe damba

The Pinstripe Damba is a freshwater fish that is easily recognizable due to its bright colors and patterns.

The body of this fish is long and thin with a tapered tail. The base color of the fish is typically a light blue or green.

On the body of the fish, you will find a series of vertical stripes that are a dark blue or black. These stripes start at the head of the fish and run all the way down to the tail.

The dorsal fin of the fish is tall and starts about two-thirds of the way back on the body. The anal fin is also tall and starts just behind the dorsal fin.

The caudal fin is forked and the pectoral fins are small.

The eyes of the Pinstripe Damba are large and silver in color.


The lifespan of a pinstripe damba in captivity is around 10 years. These fish are hardy and can withstand a wide range of water conditions.

However, their lifespan can be shortened by a number of factors. Poor water quality, stress from bad tank mates, or a suboptimal diet can all lead to a shorter lifespan.


The maximum size that a Pinstripe damba can grow to is about 4 inches. However, most of these fish only grow to be about 3 inches long.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a Pinstripe damba is 30 gallons. If you want to keep more than one of these fish in the same tank, you will need at least an additional 10 gallons for each fish.

Water Parameters

The Pinstripe damba is a freshwater fish that’s native to the rivers of Africa. In the wild, they typically inhabit slow-moving waters with plenty of vegetation.

This is a fish that prefers warm water, so you’ll need to maintain a temperature between 74 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH level should be between 6.5 and 7.5, and the water hardness should be between 5 and 19 dGH.

As for the alkalinity levels, they should be between 3 and 10 dKH.

What To Put In Their Tank

In terms of the inside of the tank, a Pinstripe Damba isn’t too picky. They’ll do fine in most habitats as long as the water quality is good and there’s plenty of hiding places.

We recommend a sandy substrate for this species. They like to sift through the sand looking for food, and a softer substrate is going to be easier on their delicate barbels.

Rocks, driftwood, and caves are all great choices for hiding places. These fish like to have a lot of places to hide, so don’t be afraid to go overboard with this.

Plants are a little more tricky. Pinstripe Dambas are known to nibble on vegetation, so you’ll want to pick something that can handle a little abuse (hornwort or water wisteria are good choices).

You can also go with floating plants to help diffuse the light a bit and give them some additional places to hide.

Common Diseases

As with most other freshwater fish, the Pinstripe damba is susceptible to a number of diseases and illnesses.

The most common of these is ich, which manifests as white spots on the body of the fish. This disease is highly contagious and can quickly spread to other fish in the tank.

If you notice any of your fish displaying these symptoms, it’s important to act fast. Begin treatment immediately and consult your vet if necessary.

Other potential diseases include hole-in-the-head disease, gill flukes, and bacterial infections. These are all relatively rare but can still affect your fish if the conditions are right.

As always, the best way to prevent these diseases is to maintain clean and stable water conditions in your tank. Healthy fish are much more resistant to sickness, so it’s always worth taking the time to do things right.

Behavior & Temperament

The Pinstripe damba is a shy fish that likes to stay hidden. In the wild, they are found in Africa and live in rivers and streams. They are bottom-dwellers and like to hide in the substrates.

They are a peaceful fish but can be territorial with their own kind. They are not aggressive fish and will not bother other tank mates. The Pinstripe damba is a social fish and does best when kept in groups.

They are nocturnal fish and will be more active at night. During the day, they will hide in the plants or substrate.

Tank Mates

The best tank mates for pinstripe damba are other peaceful cichlids. While they are aggressive towards their own species, they generally leave other fish alone.

This gives you a lot of options when it comes to stocking your tank. You can mix and match to create an interesting and diverse community.

That said, not all cichlids get along. There are some that are too aggressive for the pinstripe damba. Avoid these species:

  • Jack Dempsey
  • Oscar
  • Green Terror
  • Firemouth
  • Convict
  • Any other aggressively territorial cichlids


The Pinstripe damba is a beautiful fish that is not too difficult to breed in captivity. The biggest challenge is providing them with the right environment since they are such delicate fish.

Pinstripe dambas are egg-layers. The female will lay her eggs on a leaf or another flat surface. The male will then fertilize them. After that, the female will pick up the eggs in her mouth and carry them around until they hatch.

To increase the chances of spawning, you should keep a ratio of two females for every male. You can keep them in a group of their own or with other peaceful fish.

The tank should be at least 30 gallons and well-filtered. The water should be soft and acidic with a temperature between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Provide plenty of hiding places for the fish with live plants, driftwood, and rocks. Pinstripe dambas are shy fish and need places to hide.

To trigger spawning, you can do a large water change or add peat to the tank. These fish are sensitive to light, so make sure the tank is not in direct sunlight.

Once the female lays her eggs, the male will fertilize them. He will then guard them until they hatch. The eggs will hatch in about 24 hours.

The fry are very small and need to be fed live foods. You can culture your own live foods or buy them from a pet store. After a few weeks, you can start to feed them baby brine shrimp and crushed flake food.


The Pinstripe Damba is a great fish for beginner aquarists. They’re very easy to take care of and are very peaceful, making them a great addition to any community tank.

Their unique coloration is also sure to stand out in your tank and add some visual interest.

Overall, we think the Pinstripe Damba is a great choice for anyone looking for a low-maintenance fish that will add some personality to their tank.