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 Profiles Victoria Basin Cichlids Oreochromis variabilis
Oreochromis variabilis
Scientific Name: Oreochromis variabilis
Pronunciation: r---kr-ms
Geo. Origin: Lakes Victoria, Kyoga, Sailsbury, and Kwania and Victoria Nile
Habitat: Over muddy bottoms near rocky shores
Diet: Herbivore
Gender Differences: Dimorphic
Breeding: Maternal Mouthbrooder
Temperament: Peaceful
Conspecific Temperament: Mildly Aggressive
Maximum Size: 12"
Temperature: 74-78°F
pH: 7.2-8.6
Water Hardness: Hard
Difficulty: 3
Photo Credit: Kevin Bauman
Oreochromis variabilis is now extinct from much of its former range. It is now a rare find in Lake Victoria, once the predominant tilapiine species along rocky shores. In the wild, adults feed on loose algae along the bottom (diatoms and rarely phytoplankton). Juveniles feed on the algae growth on the rocks in shallow water. Males create shallow saucer-shaped nests in shallow, sandy areas during the spawning season. This nest is quite unique. The saucer is 5-11" in diamtere, with rim of raised sand (about 1" tall). The saucer is then surrounded by a larger circle of small pits, which forms the center of an even larger shallow pit approximately 3 feet in diameter. During spawning, the female will take the male's genital tassel into her mouth to collect the sperm to fertilize her eggs. She then broods the eggs in her mouth for 3 weeks before releasing them in the shallow water. Brooding females will congregate in small groups. The Adults have characteristic orange to red dorsal fin lappets. Unique among Tilappines, O. variabilis has a beautiful OB morph (in addition to the normal greenish-gray to blue color). It also has a piebald form (which is quite rare) and an O-form (even more rare). This polychromatism gave rise to its name: variabilis.
 Profiles Victoria Basin Cichlids Oreochromis variabilis
 Key To Species Profile Terms
 Pronunciation: Refer to our Pronunciation Key for an explanation of the phonetic symbols.
 Habitat: This is the primary location where the cichlid is found and is a generalization. This does not
  mean a fish cannot be found in other habitats.
 Diet: Many cichlids specialize in eating one type of food; notwithstanding, some of these specialized
  feeders are flexible and can be opportunistic feeders.
 Temperament: This describes the overall demeanor of a cichlid toward other tankmates that
  are of a different species. Consider that there is variability in temperament due to various factors,
  including aquarium size, tankmates of similar appearance, stocking levels, and order of introduction.
  There may even be some variability among individual specimens.
 Conspecific Temperament: This describes the overall demeanor of a cichlid toward other tank-
  mates of the same species. Consider that there is variability in temperament due to such factors as
  aquarium size, stocking levels and order of introduction. There may even be some variability among
  individual specimens.
 Maximum Size: This is in regards to total length (including the tail) of typical aquarium specimens.
  Wild specimens may not attain this size, or may in fact grow larger than aquarium raised individuals
  due to various factors. Also consider that this is the typical maximum size and there are exceptional
  individuals that will exceed it.
 Difficulty: This measure is a relative value, comparing a single species against all other cichlids.
  This only accounts for maintanence in the aquarium and not breeding considerations.
  1 = easy and forgiving, 5 = extremely challenging.
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