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Pseudotropheus crabro
by Tristan


Common Names: Hornet cichlid, Bumblebee cichlid

Photograph Water Nature Organism Grass


This large mbuna type cichlid, named after Vespa crabro the European hornet, has a fascinating lifestyle. In its 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 its 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 its seen, it returns to its striped colour and resumes cleaning duties, waiting for its next chance

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, Metriaclima lombardoi etc., it is unlikely to be the runt of a mbuna tank and as with most mbuna it should be kept harem style with several females to each male.

Water Green Nature Organism Fish


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 its 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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