Haplochromis sp. "Flameback" is a very attractive Victorian Hap with a bold red stripe down its back (hence the name). It is very prolific and consequently commonly available at extremely reasonable prices but be sure not to mistake it for Haplochromis sp. “Ruby Green” or Pundamilia nyererei.
Flamebacks prefer the littoral zone in the wild, the intermediate area between the rocks and open, sandy bottom. They feed on phytoplankton (diatoms and blue-green algae) and some insect larvae and zooplankton. Spirulina flake food is recommended as their primary food with supplementary foods consisting of brine shrimp and daphnia.
In the aquarium, they exhibit relatively low levels of aggression, and are only mildly territorial, except when breeding. Most of their aggression is exhibited within their own species. Consequently, it becomes important to keep these fish in large groups in aquariums no smaller than 50-gallons, with a ratio of at least 1 male to 2 females. They should not be mixed with rock-dwelling cichlids because the latter tend to be much too aggressive for them. They reach a maximum size of 4-4.5 inches. They prefer a pH range of 7.6-8.4, with a temperature between 76F and 82F.
It is important to provide these fish with lots of hiding places in the aquarium because their living area has been greatly reduced. Flamebacks exhibit their best color in dark aquariums with strong lighting (i.e., dark gravel and dark background). They are sensitive to nitrite.
Flamebacks are maternal mouthbrooders, with incubation periods ranging from 18-24 days. Broods often have 12-16 fry. When males prepare to spawn, they excavate shallow spawning pits and lure a willing female to it. Sand or smaller sized crushed coral gravel is therefore recommended. □