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Pseudotropheus crabro
by Tristan

Common Names: Hornet cichlid, Bumblebee cichlid

Maylandia crabro maleThis large mbuna type cichlid, named after Vespa crabro the European hornet, has a fascinating lifestyle. In itís native waters of Malawi, it serves as a cleaner fish to a large species of catfish, the Kampango (Bagrus meridionalis). In the wild it has evolved the distinct yellow/brown markings to advertise itís cleaning abilities to the Kampango and presumably avoid ending up on the menu! There is a darker side to this relationship, the Hornet cichlid is an egg thief, it changes colour to a dark brown and sneaks past the Kampango to feast on the eggs in the cave nest, if itís seen, it returns to itís striped colour and resumes cleaning duties, waiting for itís next chanceÖ

In the Aquarium:

Hornets grow large (I kept a male to 14cms) and belligerent. Whilst not at the top of the aggression league like the Melanochromis family, Maylandia crabro femaleMetriaclima lombardoi etc., it is unlikely to be the runt of a mbuna tank and as with most mbuna it should be kept Ďharem styleí with several females to each male. The fish I kept did well in a 75 US gall tank with an assortment of medium aggressive mbuna and bred frequently, producing approx 25 fry per spawn. I believe this fish may benefit from a slightly more protein based diet than the true algae grazers due to itís diet of fish lice, insect larvae etc. in the wild. As the fish mature, the dominant male will grow increasingly dark, my adult male ended up a very dark slate colour but with some attractive iridescent blue markings around the gill cover and flanks.

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