Though they are a riverine fish, it is not necessary to recreate their natural environment with excessive water movement. They have developed their body shape to stay out of the rapids. They do need well-oxygenated water. The method that works best for me is to have a slightly oversized filter for the tank. I will place a tall rock below the output of the filter. The flow of water will hit the rock and disperse the energy of the water throughout the tank without overpowering the fish or blasting substrate everywhere.
sp. "red eye"
Feeding these fish is very easy. I mix a combination of spirulina and kelp, brine, and garlic flake into a container and feed this to them. I also feed NLS flake to them as well. I would not recommend feeding them pellets myself. I lost several specimens when I was in a phase of feeding only pellet. They appeared to struggle with processing the pellets. Occasionally I will feed live mosquito larvae as well. They attack these with much enthusiasm.
Despite their appearance I have found them to be excellent community inhabitants. I will usually keep them with another West African cichlid. They have been kept successfully with Anomalochromis thomasi, Benitochromis nigrodorsalis, Orthochromis stormsi, and Pungu maclereni. I almost always try to keep a West African barb or tetra in the tanks as well as dithers. In addition, I think they are beautiful fish as well.
sp. "square head"
If you are interested in West African cichlids then the members of Steatocranus are an excellent choice to add to your tanks. It always one of the more fun tanks that my family and I enjoy observing. They are charming whether they are propped up on their fins staring at you or darting and scooting around the tank. They are not a shy cichlid and seem to be as interested in us as we are them.
Lamboj, A. 2004. "The Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa." Bergit Schmettkamp Verlag, Bornheim.
Originally published in The Lateral Line, the official
publication of the Hill Country Cichlid Club.