Pundamilia nyererei is a haplochromine type cichlid native to areas in the Mwanza Gulf region of Lake Victoria. This region consists of many islands. Each island region has it's own color variant of nyererei. Maximum size of these colorful fish seem to be around three inches with the exception of Makobe Island. Pundamilia nyererei from the Makobe Island region grow larger than most of other variants with males reaching five inches. According to Yves Fermon, noted ichthyologist, nyererei grow larger in the aquarium than in their native waters. Another interesting note on these fish is the misnomer we associate with various regions containing these fish. We commonly associate a variant of nyererei with it's locale; for example, the Ruti Island variant is readily available in the hobby as one distinct population whereas in the wild, Ruti Island has multiple nyererei populations each with distinct coloration. We are associating our nyererei variants with what was imported before sanctions were placed on Victorian cichlid imports.
The Python Island variant of Pundamilia nyererei is typical of all nyererei species. This is a boisterous species. Males typically become hyper dominant sometimes killing other males which threaten his harem. A high female to male ratio should also be employed when dealing with this species. Males will harass lone females as well as other cichlids it may consider a threat. That said, once an group is established, a group of Pundamilia nyererei is a stunning sight. The Python island male will display a rainbow of colors dominated by bright red. Many caves and obstacles should be implemented into tank decor to ensure hiding places out of sight for other fish to evade the aggression of males. Water parameters are not difficult so long as good filtration is provided and pH is maintained above seven. All food is readily accepted. High quality flake supplemented with occasional feedings of live or frozen ammonals such as brine shrimp or daphnia is perfect for these omnivores.
I have found the best way to build a breeding colony is to begin with a group of fry. I raise these fish together. They will reach breeding size at about eight months. When males start to show color, these fish are sexually mature. There is no problem inducing these fish to spawn. Females will produce clutches of fry every three months. First spawns may result in around ten fry but as the fish gets larger, so increases the number of eggs. A full sized female may have clutches of 50 fry or more. Pundamilia nyererei is far more prolific when young. Adult fish can be tougher to get a spawning from. Although as with most fish, the bigger the tank the better, we house our nyererei breeding groups in 20 gallon tanks. They seem perfectly happy with this.
Raising the fry is also quite easy. We raise our fry in ten gallon bare tanks powered by a mature sponge filter. We offer the fry crushed flake and Cyclop-eeze. Growth is rapid. Baby nyererei will reach an inch in size in less than two months. Pundamilia nyererei is compatible with most Malawian mbuna. They are certainly a welcomed addition to any African cichlid collection.
Originally published in The Lateral Line, the official publication of the Hill Country Cichlid Club.