Tropheus sp. Canary Cheek

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Matt Clarke looks at a new Tropheus that's recently become available in the UK.

Scientific name: Tropheus sp. 'Canary Cheek'

Origin: Lake Tanganyika: Muzimbo river to Kabimba bay, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Water: Hard, alkaline water with a pH of 8.0-9.0, and low levels of nitrate.

Diet: Avoid high protein foods and anything meaty as the digestive system of Tropheus isn't equipped to break these foods down. Digestive problems are common. Spirulina flake is a good choice.

Aquarium: Tropheus aren't really a beginner's cichlid as they are sensitive to inappropriate water conditions and incorrect diet. They are also aggressive. They do best when kept in a huge single-species colony in a massive tank - which will obviously cost a few quid to set up. Go for a dozen fish in a 120cm/4' tank, or keep a smaller number in a typical Tanganyikan biotope. Always be ready to remove fish that are being harassed by conspecifics.

Breeding: Tropheus are maternal mouthbrooders and produce small numbers of offspring. Unlike many other mouthbrooders, the mother may eat some food during the brooding period. Brood care is protracted, so fry are large.

Similar species: There are six species in the genus: moorii, annectens, duboisi, polli, kasabae and brichardi. However, there are also dozens of undescribed species, subspecies, such as this one, awaiting formal description. DNA studies have helped resolve a phylogeny for the group which shows a number of lineages.

Notes: These fish are being bred commercially in Singapore.

Availability: Since these are being commercially produced for the global market, most larger stores should be able to obtain them. These were on sale at the Aquatic Design Centre, London.

Price: Tropheus aren't prolific breeders so tend to be expensive. These were on sale for 22.50.

This article was first published in the June 2004 issue of Practical Fishkeeping.