Red empress cichlid Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The Red Empress cichlid is a beautiful freshwater fish that is perfect for beginner aquarists. They are hardy, peaceful, and relatively easy to care for.

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

Species overview

The red empress cichlid (scientific name: Pseudotropheus Acei) is a freshwater fish that’s native to the waters of Lake Malawi in Africa.

They are a part of the Mbuna species, which is a group of cichlids that are known for their vibrant colors and patterns.

Red empress cichlids are one of the more popular Mbuna species due to their unique coloration. They are mostly yellow with bright red stripes running down their body.

Like all other cichlids, red empress cichlids are very territorial fish. They are known to be quite aggressive toward both their own species and other tank mates. Because of this, it’s important to do your research before adding them to your aquarium.


Red empress cichlid

The Red empress cichlid is a very beautiful fish that sports a deep red coloration. The red coloration extends from the top of their head all the way down to the bottom of their caudal peduncle.

You’ll notice that there’s a slight gradient to the red color. The shade is lightest on their belly and gets gradually darker as it extends to their back.

There are also some very light blue stripes that run horizontally along their body. These are much more pronounced on juvenile fish and tend to fade as the fish gets older.

The fins on this fish are also red, but they have a much darker shade than the body. The dorsal and anal fins are both tall and pointy.

The caudal fin is forked and symmetrical. Red empress cichlids also have long and thin pectoral fins that help them steer in the water.

All of the fins on this fish have a slight blue outline that’s most noticeable on the juveniles.


The average lifespan for a Red Empress cichlid is about 10 years. Of course, this number can be impacted by a number of different things.

For example, if the fish is kept in subpar water conditions then its lifespan will be significantly shorter. The same goes for if they’re not given a proper diet or if they’re constantly stressed out by their tank mates.

In general, though, if you take good care of your Red Empress cichlid then it will have a pretty long lifespan.


The Red Empress Cichlid can grow to be about 8 inches in length, but is usually closer to 6 inches. Females are typically a bit smaller than males. As with most cichlids, the Red Empress is a robust fish and can live for 10 years or more with proper care.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a red empress cichlid is 60 gallons. This fish can get quite large, up to 18 inches, so you need to make sure you have enough space for them to grow and roam.

If you want to keep more than one red empress cichlid in your tank you will need to add at least another 60 gallons for each fish. These fish are not the most social creatures and can be quite aggressive with each other, so it’s best to give them plenty of space.

Water Parameters

The Red Empress Cichlid is a freshwater fish that is native to the waters of Lake Tanganyika in Africa. They are found in the rocky areas near the shoreline where there is plenty of vegetation.

The Red Empress is a peaceful fish that does well in a community tank as long as the tank mates are of a similar size. They are not aggressive towards other fish but will defend their own territory.

The Red Empress is a carnivore and will eat just about anything that fits in their mouth. In the wild, their diet consists of small invertebrates, crustaceans, and other small fish.

In the aquarium, they should be fed a diet of high-quality cichlid pellets, frozen or live foods.

  • Water temperature: 75-81 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 7.8-8.6
  • Water hardness: 10-20 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

If you’re going to be keeping red empress cichlids then you need to be aware of a few things before adding them to your tank.

Firstly, these fish are known to be very aggressive. They will fight with other fish (even ones that are much larger than them) and are not afraid to kill.

For this reason, it’s important to set up their tank with plenty of hiding spots. This can be anything from plants to caves. The more places there are for your fish to hide, the less likely they are to fight with each other.

These fish also love to dig. They’ll constantly be sifting through the substrate looking for food. This can uproot plants and cause a bit of a mess in your tank.

For this reason, we recommend using a substrate that’s on the softer side. This will minimize the amount of damage they do when they’re looking for food.

You should also include some rocks and driftwood in their tank. These can provide some additional hiding spots for your fish and help to break up the line of sight.

Common Diseases

Red Empress cichlids are a hardy species that doesn’t usually fall ill. However, like any other fish, they can still get sick if the conditions in their tank aren’t ideal.

The most common disease that these fish experience is ich. This is a parasitic infection that will show itself as white spots on the body, fins, and gills of your fish.

If left untreated, ich can be deadly. However, it’s fairly easy to treat if you catch it early. There are plenty of guides online that will show you how to effectively treat ich.

Other potential diseases include hole-in-the-head, bacterial infections, and parasites. These are all fairly rare but can still affect your fish if the conditions in their tank are poor.

As always, the best way to prevent your fish from getting sick is to maintain a clean and stable tank. This will create an environment that is less conducive to disease and will also make your fish more resistant to illness.

Behavior & Temperament

The red empress cichlid is a beautiful fish that’s known for being aggressive. In the wild, these fish are territorial and will attack other fish that come too close to their space.

The same behavior happens in aquariums. If you don’t give your red empress cichlid enough space, it’ll become aggressive and attack other fish in the tank. This is especially true if there are other cichlids in the tank.

The good news is that you can avoid this aggression by giving your red empress cichlid plenty of space. A 55-gallon tank is a good size for these fish. You should also add plenty of hiding places and avoid keeping fish that are similar in size or appearance.

It’s also important to note that the red empress cichlid is a predator. In the wild, these fish eat other smaller fish. If you have small fish in your tank, the red empress cichlid will see them as food.

Tank Mates

The Red Empress cichlid is a beautiful but feisty fish. It’s not recommended for beginners since they can be aggressive toward tank mates.

The good news is that the aggression is directed mostly toward other cichlids. This species is relatively peaceful when kept with other fish.

The Red Empress cichlid is also a large fish. It can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) in length. As a result, you need to be careful when choosing tank mates.

The ideal tank mates are peaceful, calm fish that can hold their own. They should also be fast enough to outswim the Red Empress when necessary.

Here are some compatible species:


Red empress cichlids are beautiful fish that make for great breeding stock. They’re not the easiest fish to breed, but it can be done with some patience and effort.

The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 50 gallons in size with plenty of hiding places. Cichlids are known to be aggressive, so you need to give them plenty of places to hide.

The water temperature should be between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be between 7.0 and 8.0.

Once the tank is set up, you need to add a pair of red empress cichlids. It’s best to add one male and one female, but you can also add two females for every male.

Allow the fish to acclimate to their new environment. Then, begin feeding them a high-quality diet. Live foods are best, but you can also give them frozen or pellets.

When the female is ready to spawn, she will lay her eggs on a flat surface. It could be a rock, a piece of driftwood, or the glass of the tank. The male will then fertilize the eggs.

Once the eggs are fertilized, the male will guard them. He will fan them with his fins to keep them oxygenated and clean them if they get dirty.

The eggs will hatch in about three days. The fry will be free-swimming a few days after that. At this point, you can start feeding them baby brine shrimp or other small live foods.

As they grow, you can gradually start giving them larger foods. When they reach adulthood, you can move them to your main tank or sell them to a pet store.


The Red Empress Cichlid is a beautiful fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are easy to care for and will thrive in most tanks.

We do recommend that you keep them with other cichlids, as they can be aggressive towards fish of other species.

Other than that, these fish are relatively low-maintenance and will bring a lot of enjoyment to your tank.

If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly cichlid, the Red Empress is a great choice!