Red Zebra Cichlid (Maylandia Estherae)
The Red Zebra Cichlid, also known as Esther Grant's Zebra and Red Zebra Mbuna, are beautiful and captivating African Cichlids that are native to Lake Malawi, specifically the eastern coast. As rock-dwelling species, they are well-adapted to their natural habitat. Despite their common name, Red Zebra Cichlids can display a wide range of colors, not limited to red. They exhibit polymorphic traits, exhibiting beige, brown, blue, orange, yellow, and pink hues. This variability in coloration makes them a visually stunning addition to any aquarium.
Due to the diverse color variations, Red Zebra Cichlids are often labeled broadly as "African Cichlid" or "Assorted African Cichlids" in local fish stores. However, to ensure proper care and meet specific requirements, it is essential to accurately identify the exact species of the fish. Adult Red Zebra Cichlids can reach a size of around 4 to 5 inches.
In terms of temperament, Red Zebra Cichlids are generally aggressive and territorial, especially during breeding periods. They prefer the middle to upper levels of the aquarium and are known for their active swimming patterns.
Red Zebra Cichlids are not shoaling or schooling fish and do well as individuals or in small groups. Keeping a single male with multiple females can help spread out aggression and promote natural breeding behaviors. Males establish territories and defend them, while females tend to school.
When it comes to tank mates, it is important to choose companions that can handle the aggressive nature of the Red Zebra Cichlid. Compatible tank mates include other Lake Malawi cichlids, such as Yellow Lab Cichlids and Acei Cichlids. However, they should not be kept with peace-loving species such as Peacocks or Utaka. It is best to avoid small, timid fish or other species with similar territorial tendencies to prevent conflicts. To minimize aggression and promote a harmonious environment, it is recommended to slightly overcrowd the tank and maintain a ratio of several females per male. This reduces harassment by the male and helps to alleviate the formation of territories. If the tank size permits, keeping only one male is advisable as long as the tank is spacious enough to accommodate multiple individuals.
As for their diet, Red Zebra Cichlids are omnivorous. They have a preference for vegetable matter but also consume small invertebrates and insects in the wild. In the aquarium, their diet should consist of a combination of high-quality cichlid pellets or flakes, supplemented with vegetable-based foods such as spirulina flakes, blanched spinach, and other greens. Live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms can also be offered as occasional treats.
Creating an ideal tank habitat for Red Zebra Cichlids involves replicating their natural rocky environment. The aquarium should have a sandy substrate to mimic their native lakebed. Adding plenty of rocks and caves will provide hiding spots and territories for the fish. Suitable plants for the aquarium include hardy species like Anubias, Java Fern, and Vallisneria. Algae growth should be encouraged as they will graze happily on it. Lighting should be moderate, providing both shaded areas and areas with gentle illumination.
In terms of water parameters and tank size, Red Zebra Cichlids thrive in freshwater conditions. The minimum recommended aquarium size for a single Red Zebra Cichlid is around 60 gallons, but larger tanks are preferred, especially when housing multiple individuals. The water should have a pH range of 7.5-8.5, hardness between 10-20 dGH, and a temperature range of 75-82°F (24-28°C). It is important to maintain good water quality and perform regular water changes to ensure the health and well-being of the fish.
To learn more about this fish, be sure to check out the Additional Information tab.