The Frontosa Cichlid originates from Lake Tanganika in East Africa. This pet is easily identified by it’s cranial hump, which begins to develop as adults or when they reach a length of approximately 4 inches. These fish are usually found at depths of 100 feet or deeper in the wild. Even though the males will grow from 14 – 16 inches and the females will grow from 9 – 12 inches as adults, in Lake Tanganika they will sometimes fall prey to larger fish, but in an aquarium, anything under 3 inches in length will often times become a snack for these generally mild predators.
Frontosas are meat eaters in the wild, mostly consuming snails and and other mollusks. In an aquarium, however, their diet must be protein rich in the form of krill, adult brine shrimp, most any type of worm, and silver sides.
The Frontosa is a mouth brooder, meaning the female will carry fertilized eggs in her mouth for approximately 21 days, at which time the fry are released into the water to fend for themselves. The female will allow them back into her mouth a couple of times if she fears harm to the young ones, but will only allow them to seek cover once or twice. The female will eat hardly anything during this time period, and placing her into a separate tank will help keep her stress levels down.
The Frontosa Cichlid makes a very nice pet. It is basically non aggressive, however, it will defend an established territory. 8 – 12 pets in at least a 200 gallon aquarium is recommended, with a sandy bottom and lots of caves. They will generally leave plants alone too. These guys will often live up to 25 years, making them a beautiful, long term pet!
Keeping them to the age of 25 requires stable temperatures between 72 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, lots of oxygen – keep bubblers going day and night, avoid overfeeding and overstocking, 10 – 20% water changes weekly, and a constant checking of nitrate levels. Keep them happy and you’ll have a nice group of pets for a long time.