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Sciaenochromis ahli
by Peter Hofman

S. ahli is named after Dr. Ernst Ahl who descibed this species as Haplochromis serranoides. He used fish captured by Dr. Fuelleborn in 1927. It was renamed Haplochromis ahli by Trewavas in 1935. Eccles & Trewavas descibed a S. ahli in 1989, but recently Konings redescribed the Sciaenochromis family, limiting it to four species (S. psammophilius, S. fryeri, S. ahli, S. benthicola).

Sciaenochromis ahli maleS. ahli is found in lake Malawi in deep water over rocky areas. It will grow to approximately 195mm for males and 150mm for females. It has a pattern of 10 or 11 vertical bars. Males get a very shiny metallic blue color. Females have very little coloration. Males found in the northern part of the lake appear to have more yellow coloration on their body and fins and often have a white bar on their head or in their dorsal fin.

Males will form territories and will defend it fiercely regardless of the size of its opponent. They are very intolerant of other cichlids with metallic blue colors. While showing aggression, the male will display dark vertical bands along the body.

S. ahli will feed on about anything you provide. It will eat a variety of foods from live to veggie to frozen to flake foods and pellets. It is a piscivore. Take that in account while feeding. This will also mean that you have to take care when you have fry in your tank. It is very adept at finding and making a dinner out of small fry. That's one of the reasons I have S. ahli in my tank.

Tank size 200 liters and more with a length of at least 120cm
Water Temp. 25-28 C
Water pH 7.5-8.5

Finally, S. ahli is a mouthbrooder, and will breed willingly if you provide the right conditions for the females. □

 

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