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Nimbochromis venustus
by Marc Elieson

N. venustus is quite common in the hobby, due primarily to its popularity. The venustus belongs to the Haplochromine flock from Lake Malawi. It is a piscovore and in the wild, has developed a specialized hunting technique, which is discussed below.

In the wild, N. venustus prefers the deeper regions of Lake Malawi, (i.e., below 15 m) in rocky habitats, where schools of Nimbochromis venustus malesmall juvenile cichlids can be found. It is an ambush predator like its near relative, the popular and commonly seen Nimbochromis livingstonii. After spotting small fishes, it will plough slightly into the sand and remain there motionless for up to several minutes, waiting for prey to come within reach. Once the prey swims within reach, it quickly darts out of the sand to snatch it up. Some have hypothesisized that its yellow color serves as an attractant for juvenile Cichlids (i.e., prey).

This Hap grows to be quite large, and at 8 or 10-inches this fish can be quite an eye-catcher. N. venustus needs to be kept with other large Haps once it starts to get some size, otherwise, smaller tankmates may be considered as food. Sexually active males can be quite aggressive; therefore, several females should ideally be housed with just one male of the species. Nimbochromis venustus maleThe recommended tank size for an adult is at least 125 gallons. They can be fed a combination of pellets, flakes, and live or frozen food, although once they reach 3 or four inches, flakes are too messy and should be discontinued.

Females and juveniles have a yellow body with large brown spots. Males of this species develop an attractive blue face. The male pictured here is a particularly older specimen. He is a monster at nearly 11 inches long and an inch thick!


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