Aulonocara stuartgranti 'Ngara Mdoka'

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Matt Clarke looks at the form of Aulonocara stuartgranti found at Mdoka, near Ngara, on the north eastern coast of Lake Malawi.

Scientific name: Aulonocara stuartgranti "Ngara/Mdoka"

Origin: Found at Mdoka, near Ngara on the north eastern coast of Lake Malawi.

Size: Around 10-12cm/4-5".

Diet: Flakes and frozen foods are readily accepted.

Water: Hard and alkaline (pH 8.2), temperature 26C/78F.

Aquarium: These aren't particularly aggressive, so you might get away with a small group of females and a single male in a 90cm/36" species tank. Alternatively, keep a larger group alongside some other small to medium-sized Malawian haps in a bigger tank. Avoid keeping these with any mbuna (other than the very placid ones, such as some of the smaller Labidochromis and P. demasoni etc) and try to avoid the temptation to keep them alongside other Aulonocara. They can interbreed and you'll find it tricky to differentiate the females.

Breeding: A maternal mouthbrooder. Most of the stuartgranti group are fairly straightforward to breed and their young are easy to rear on crumbled flakes or frozen cyclops or brineshrimp nauplii.

Adult colouration: Adult males turn metallic blue with a narrow white edge to the dorsal fin and yellow squiggles on the caudal fin. A series of dark bars may be apparent, depending on the mood, and the pelvics can turn quite yellowish with a white leading edge. Females are the usual grey-beige with some faint bars.

Notes: There are dozens of different fish in the stuartgranti-group found all around the coasts of the Lake. Some of these may be geographical forms of stuartgranti, others might represent totally different fish.

Availability: A few of the specialists who import wild fish from Lake Malawi have had this species, but it's certainly not widely seen in the trade as a whole. These were on sale at Maidenhead Aquatics @ Harlestone Heath and were imported by African Cichlid Specialists.

This item was first published in the Christmas 2005 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.