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Metriaclima pulpican
by Zoltan Imre

Although Metriaclima pulpican (formerly Pseudotropheus sp. "Kingsizei") is a very attractive fish, it is not one of the most popular and well-known species. It's not always easy to identify them, because some say it's a variant of Cynotilapia afra, others claim it's closer to Ps. tropheops. They live close to Likoma Island in Lake Malawi.

4'' male Ps. kingsizeiKingsizei is a dwarf Mbuna. The male is about 3.5 - 4 inches at the most, while the females are slightly smaller (3-3.5). The male is colored light blue with five vertical, dark blue bars, but when he is angry the lower part of its body might turn black. The females are not that beautiful. They maintain the color of the juveniles: silver-grey. Occasionally (when having territorial arguments) even females can intensify their color (bars become visible, lower part of the body turns dark) so much so that they look like "grey males". They look best when you have a large community of females (10 or more) with some males (2-3).

As for feeding, Metriaclima pulpican is a typical of Pseudotropheus species. They accept almost anything, but prefer veggies and enjoy grazing algae from the rocks. I have never had any problem in feeding them.

Though he is not a very big fish, he is brave and active all the time. He requires a cave, but it's not for hiding. He is ready to protect it any time, and would never lend it to anyone. No matter how big (Metriaclima estherae), how fast or how agressive (Melanochromis johannii) the intruder is, he will chase him/her away, showing off in his best "suit". There's always a vicious, suspicious look in his eyes, but he would never start a fight, unless absolutely necessary. (In this second picture the little scar over the mouth of the holding female is the result of a fight between the females.)

Spawning pair of Ps. kingsizeiThe male is always eager to spawn, but never approaches females of other species. Most of the females are good mothers, and the broods consist of 10-20 fry. After spawning, the female is chased away and she'd better not meet the male in the next 3 weeks. Holding females usually find a peaceful place in the tank and they tend to stay there until releasing the fry. If they are harrassed often (unable to find a quiet place), they generally swallow the fry or spit them early. The fry grow quite fast. I feed them with frozen plankton 2-3 times a day in the first 2 months. By the end of the second month they're about an inch.

Kingsizei has only one bad habit: digging. Some of you don't mind if the tank is rearranged by one of your fish. I DO! The male keeps on digging the substrate and sometimes he really seems to enjoy it. He's never satisfied with the construction; he won't stop digging as long as there's something in the tank that can be moved. I have tried several times to make it impossible for him to dig (rearranging the tank, putting flat rocks on the bottom of the tank etc.), but he is more persistent and I had to give up! Believe me, there's nothing you can do to stop them from digging.

In spite of this, Kingsizei is one of my favorite fish and I do recommend this nice and exciting fish to anyone. □

 

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