Poor man’s tropheus Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 7, 2022

The poor man’s tropheus is a freshwater fish that is native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. They are a peaceful fish that does well in a community tank. They are not demanding and are easy to care for. The poor man’s tropheus gets its name from its similarity to the more expensive tropheus species. It is a hardy fish that can adapt to a wide range of water conditions.

Species overview

The poor man’s tropheus (scientific name: Tropheus moorii) is a type of cichlid that’s native to the waters of Lake Tanganyika in Africa.

They are one of the more popular cichlids due to their unique coloration and patterns. They are also relatively easy to care for, which is always a plus.

Poor man’s tropheus are peaceful fish but can be aggressive toward their own species. They should be kept in a tank with other fish that are similar in size and temperament.

Since they are a bit larger, poor man’s tropheus need a tank that’s at least 50 gallons. They also need a lot of hiding places and places to explore, so a well-decorated tank is a must.


Poor man's tropheus

The Poor man’s tropheus is a very unique looking fish that is sure to stand out in any tank. They have a round body shape that is covered in thick scales.

The majority of their body is a deep green color, but they also have a few other colors mixed in. There is a thin yellow line that runs from their mouth all the way back to their tail.

They also have a few orange spots on their body and fins. The fins on this fish are also quite unique. The dorsal fin is very tall and starts about halfway back on their body.

The anal fin is also tall, but it starts closer to the tail of the fish. The caudal fin is forked and relatively large.

The pectoral fins are also quite large and start close to the head of the fish. Poor man’s tropheus also have a very large mouth that is filled with sharp teeth.


The average lifespan of Poor man’s tropheus is 5 to 8 years. These fish are relatively long-lived compared to other freshwater fish.

As with any animal, the lifespan of Poor man’s tropheus can be impacted by a number of factors. Things like diet, water quality, and stress can all shorten their lifespan.


Poor man’s tropheus only gets to be about 4 to 5 inches long.


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for Poor Man’s Tropheus is 125 gallons. This is a very active fish that needs a lot of space to swim. They are also known to be jumpers so a tight-fitting lid is a must.

Water Parameters

The water parameters you need to maintain for Poor Man’s Tropheus are very generous. This makes them a great freshwater fish for a beginner since there’s a lot of room for error.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to their water parameters is consistency. Even though these are very hardy fish, they can be sensitive to sudden changes just like any other freshwater species.

Even though they’re still a bit more durable in this regard, you should use this as practice. Challenge yourself to see how consistent you can keep the water parameters and how easily you can make an adjustment if needed. These skills will come in handy with other species you keep in the future!

  • Water Temperature: 75°F to 80°F
  • pH Levels: 7.5 to 8.5
  • Water Hardness: Hard
  • Alkalinity Levels: 3-12 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up the inside of an aquarium for Poor man’s tropheus you can be as creative as you want. There aren’t any specific things that this species NEEDS to have, which gives you plenty of options.

We recommend some of the standard decorations that you find in a lot of freshwater tanks. There are a ton of great plants you can include (like hornwort or water wisteria). You can even throw in some floating aquarium plants too!

Rocks, driftwood, and caves are all suitable as well. It’s important to avoid going overboard with this since these fish like some room to swim.

Also, if you’re keeping your Poor man’s tropheus in a smaller tank then it’s going to be difficult to include a lot of this stuff anyway.

A classic gravel substrate is always a good choice, but you can do with something soft and sandy if needed too (use other species you keep as a guide with this).

Common Diseases

As we mentioned before, Poor Man’s Tropheus are a hardy fish species. They’re not as fragile as some other freshwater fish, and they can withstand a lot of different water conditions.

That being said, they’re not immune to disease. If the water quality in their tank is poor, they can fall ill just like any other fish.

The most common disease that Poor Man’s Tropheus will experience is ich. This is a very common freshwater parasite that can quickly become serious if it’s not treated.

The most obvious symptom of ich is the presence of white spots on the body, fins, and gills of your fish. If you notice this, it’s important to take action immediately.

There are a number of other potential diseases that could affect these fish, but they’re not as common. Some other things to look out for are infections, parasites, and fin rot.

As always, the best way to prevent these fish from getting sick is to maintain the quality of the water in their tank. A tank with clean and stable water conditions always leads to healthier fish who are more resistant to disease.

Behavior & Temperament

The poor man’s tropheus is a semi-aggressive fish that is best kept with other semi-aggressive fish. They are not recommended for community tanks.

They are known to be fin nippers and may even kill smaller fish. They are also known to be aggressive eaters and will compete for food.

When keeping poor man’s tropheus, it is best to keep them in a group of at least 5 fish. This will help to spread out the aggression and allow each fish to have its own territory.

It is also important to provide plenty of hiding places and to have a well-oxygenated tank.

Tank Mates

Poor man’s tropheus are relatively peaceful fish. They will, however, become more aggressive as they mature. For this reason, it’s best to keep them with tank mates of a similar size.

Some good poor man’s tropheus tank mates include:

  • Frontosa
  • Synodontis
  • Mbuna
  • Aulonocara
  • Tetras
  • Rainbowfish


The poor man’s tropheus is a mouth-brooding cichlid, which means the female will carry the eggs and fry in her mouth until they are ready to be released.

Before breeding can occur, you need to set up a proper habitat. This fish is native to Lake Tanganyika, so the water needs to be hard and alkaline. The temperature should be between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

You’ll also need to provide plenty of hiding places. These fish are timid and need a lot of cover. Driftwood, rocks, and plants all work well.

When everything is in place, you can add a group of six to eight fish. It’s best to have two females for every male.

Once the fish have acclimated to their new home, they should start to breed. The female will lay her eggs in a hidden spot, and the male will fertilize them.

Once the eggs are fertilized, the female will pick them up in her mouth and carry them around until they hatch. This process takes about three weeks.

After the fry have hatched, the female will continue to carry them around for another week or so. Then, she will release them into the tank.

At this point, you can start feeding them baby brine shrimp or other small live foods.


The Poor man’s tropheus is a great fish for those who are looking for a challenge. They are not the easiest fish to care for, but they are definitely worth the effort.

They are beautiful fish that will add a lot of color and interest to your tank. They are also very active, so they will keep your tank lively.

If you are up for the challenge, we say go for it! But if you are looking for an easier fish to care for, there are plenty of other options out there.