Originally discovered in 1922 by REGAN, the Acei was originally classified as Pseudotropheus, but was later changed to Gephyrochromis and then back again. It prefers the sandy and rock filled shoreline where sunken logs are easily accessed. This species has developed the advantage of being able to harvest algae from submerged logs and roots. They are equipped with typical Gephyrochromid cuspid-like teeth that are flat for removing epixlyic or epilithic algae from wood. In the lake, schools of 30-50 individuals surrounding a large log are not uncommon, however in the rocky areas; schools usually consist of 3-10 individuals.
AThe Acei are a very active and good-natured mbuna; they tend to stay out of full-fledged biting battles, and stick to occasional mock fights. They can be the bullied or the bully in any tank, depending on whom they live with. They get along quite well with L. caeruleus and other moderately aggressive Mbuna. Acei have bright colors, generally blue to deep purples and violets with a usually darker and more electric blue face. The finnage ranges from cream to sunshine yellow and makes them an amazing looking fish in any scenario.
Several varieties of the Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei" exist throughout the lake. The most common form in captivity is the variety from the Nkhata Bay and Bandawe area; these are your typical dark sparkly blue and yellow finned acei. Then there are the Ngara and Karonga area acei, which are sold as “White Tail Acei”. These are paler blue with white finnage. And finally the South Rukuru River, Ruarwe and Senga Bay Acei, these are typically very pale in coloration.
Males and females of this species are very similar in coloration and both possess dummy-eggs on the ventral fin (Although males tend to have more spots that are brighter in color). Males usually attain an adult length of 6” while females remain slightly smaller, ending up at about 4”. But small males will show up. Males and females are most easily differentiated between by their behavior. Males tend to be more standoffish, the first to spread fins at intruders etc. The largest male in my tank is also the fattest. Females tend to be a little calmer, following the school quietly, and usually is the one being “shimmied” at by an interested male. Mating usually takes place on a flat rock, and the pair usually swims close together, shaking and nipping and chasing each other. Eventually the female will lay her eggs, and the male will fertilize them in typical mouth-brooder fashion. Spawns consist of 30-80 fry that the female will hold in her mouth for several weeks. It is best to strip acei or to remove holding females, as males tend to “bump” them, causing them to swallow their young.
Acei are best kept at a pH above 8.0 and a hardness of 10-12* DH. They like temperatures between 26°C and 28°C (78° - 82°). They are fine with plants such as Java fern, hygrophila polysperma or other hygrophila, as well as vallisneria and anubias species. Since acei are prominently vegetarian, spirinula containing flake food should be staple, but treats of brine shrimp are appreciated. □