Copadichromis borleyi is quite common in the
hobby, perhaps due in part to the several variants that have been
collected and exported. While the pictures featured here are unique to the
"Red Fin" variant from Kadango, C. borleyi "Red Fin" is also
collected from Tawain Reef, Mbenji Island, Nkhungu Reef, and Ntekete. Each
locale has a strain that has slight, yet noticeable characteristics.
Another popular variant of this species is Copadichromis borleyi
"Gold Fin", differing in that the male has a yellow body instead of the
orange. C. borleyi is also distinguished by its long ventral fins.
Some variants have much longer ventral fins than others, with the longer
ones tending to extend the whole length of their body when
Only males are brightly colored,
while females are black-bodied with orangish-red fins. C. borleyi
is one of the largest of the Utaka species. Males attain sizes of six to
seven inches in length, while females are just slightly smaller. Females
of this variant seem to differ the most in appearance from locale to
locale. Some females are very black while others are more
Currently, I have four wild-caught females and one
wild-caught male. When they arrived, they were all very dark, lacking any
color. In fact, other than the shape of their fins, the male could not be
readily distinguished from the females.
Within about a week, however, the
male began to lighten up and his blue and ornage color returned. And after
about three weeks, he spawned three times. These five fish (1m, 4fm) are
usually seen schooling together. The male is very gentle with his females,
and rarely displays any aggression towards them or any other tankmates,
except during breeding when he will defend his territory against
intruders. This aggression is more show than anything else. His claimed
territory at the time of spawning did not appear fixed, but instead, he
chose a new location each time, however he always seems to pick an area
next to a rock.
Incubation lasts a little longer than three weeks.
Fry emerge already colored with a dark gray body and their fins are either
yellow or orange, depending upon their geographic
Copadichromis borleyi belongs to the Utaka group of
Cichlids, meaning they feed on plankton in the open water.
Notwithstanding, this speices lives in and around the rocks at a depth of
5-20 meters. In the wild, they can be spotted in and around rocks, within
just a few meters of the bottom. In the aquarium, it is important that
these fish be fed a good nutritious flake with lots of protein. Spirulina
flakes and brine shrimp flakes are readily accepted. A good pellet for
larger fish is best.
Due to the large size of this fish, it is best
kept in tanks no smaller than 75 gallons. It is also a good idea to keep
it with other similarly mild Cichlids, such as those from the genus.
Aulonocara and many of the peaceful Haps. Avoid mixing
Copadichromis species, as they may hybridize, limiting their
biodiversity. For example, I found my Copadichromis
azureus dancing to one of my borleyi females, but
fortunately no interest was returned.