Frontosa Cichlid (Cyphotilapia Frontosa)
The Frontosa Cichlid, often referred to as Front Cichlid and Humphead Cichlid is a popular choice among aquarists due to its impressive size, elaborate fins, and amiable personality. This species is known for its white or blue body, adorned with either six or seven black vertical bars. As they age, adults develop a large cephalic hump, which is usually more pronounced in males. The hump is a fatty deposit that rests atop a dorsal muscle and tends to extend forward. This hump, along with their increasingly elaborate fins, adds to their majestic appearance. They are a larger cichlid species, reaching just short of 12 inches in length as adults.
Frontosa Cichlids are typically found in the deeper portions of Lake Tanganyika, along the coastline. They are sedentary creatures, which contributes to their unusually long lifespan of over 25 years. This sedentary behavior has led to the development of several geographic variants, each with its unique characteristics.
The Frontosa Cichlid's personality is generally non-aggressive and sedentary, but they can be quite enthusiastic when interacting with their owners. They should be kept in groups of 10 individuals, although they can be kept successfully in groups as small as 4 individuals (1 male:3 females). In the wild, they live in large colonies complete with a hierarchy, and the dominant male will grow the largest hump.
In terms of diet, Frontosa Cichlids are carnivores. They can be fed small feeder fish (live or frozen), mysis, shrimp, krill, and worms. Cichlid and shrimp pellets are also a good staple, but flakes should be avoided after they reach 4 or 5 inches in total length. Chopped peas are useful treats to supplement their diet.
An ideal aquarium setup for Frontosa Cichlids consists of a well-structured environment offering sheltered areas and ample open space. A sandy substrate can be paired with water-worn rocks of various sizes for a natural setup to create cave-like structures. Alternatively, aquarium gravel can serve as a suitable substrate, and terracotta pots can be used as shelters. It is important to ensure that the aquarium décor used does not have sharp edges. These fish move slowly until they get spooked - then they are lightning fast and very clumsy.
Alpha males often choose specific caves or sheltered areas, so it is advisable to provide structures large enough to accommodate the largest males. Including smaller caves can also be beneficial as females may use them to hold eggs during breeding.
Lighting should be subdued since Frontosa Cichlids tend to favor somewhat murky conditions in their natural habitat.
As for water parameters and tank size, Frontosa Cichlid requires a minimum of 80 gallons will work well as a grow-out tank. For a colony of 10 adults, an aquarium of 125 gallons or larger is ideal for a community setup. They prefer a pH range of 8.0-9.0. The hardness should be within the 10-20 dGH range with an ideal temperature range of 73-81°F (23-27°C).
As with all tropical fish, Frontosa Cichlids need consistent water parameters. Sudden or inconsistent swings in pH, temperature, and dGH readings can result in stress and health issues. Frequent partial water changes are a must for these fish, as they can be very sensitive to elevated nitrate and ammonia levels. Introduce them to biologically mature aquariums.
To learn more about this fish, be sure to check out the Additional Information tab.