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Protomelas taeniolatus
by Marc Elieson

Protomelas taeniolatus is commonly called the "Red Empress." There are a few variants of this species, Protomelas taeniolatus maleincluding a blue morph from Makanjila Point called "Blue Fire." Of the Red Empress variety, there are two classes. One morph has been "line-bred" in Europe for substantially more red color and consequently has been dubbed the "Super Red Empress." The other Red Empress morph is the American strain and has more blue color than the Super Red Empress. Adult P. taeniolatus generally attain sizes of 13-15 cm (5-6 inches), although in captivity they can certainly get much larger than this (see photo above).

Due to the size of this Hap, it is not recommended that you keep it in anything smaller than 75 gallons, with 100+ gallons being the preferred minimum. This Hap needs lots of room to swim about. Due to its strong temperment, it is not a good idea to keep more than one male in the same tank unless your tank is over 200 gallons. This species is a polygamous mouthbrooder and each male should be accompanied by at least three females. Females should be given lots of potential hiding places to avoid being abused.

Protomelas taeniolatus femaleProtomelas taeniolatus doesn't seem to be picky about mate selection and will spawn readily if given enough space in the aquarium. Males of this beautiful species claim only a relatively smal area that is only defended prior to and during spawning. After spawning, a male P. taeniolatus will quickly forget about his territory and will take to the open water. This is a rather tough Protomelas species, although compared with other African Cichlids, it rarely chases or instigates fights with other tankmates.

P. taeniolatus is also a greedy Cichlid, which will quickly fatten-up if fed too much or if it is housed with less-aggressive companions. Spirulina-based flake food and the European Shrimp Mix are recommended foods for this species. □

 

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