วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 1 พฤศจิกายน พ.ศ. 2555

Fish Data : Frontosa Cichlid

Distribution:    The Frontosa Cichlid or Humphead Cichlid was described by Boulenger in 1906, originally as Paratilapia frontosa. They are endemic to Lake Tanganyika, Africa. They live on the sloping lake bottom off shore at depths of 65 - 100 feet (20 - 30 meters).  They dwell among the rocks feeding on snails and mussels.

Status:    This species is listed on the IUCN Red List with the status of 'LC', meaning 'Least Concern'.

General Body Form:
    Typical cichlid in appearance, they develop a large hump in the forehead area. The hump is larger in the males. Fins are elongated and pointed at the ends.
    A beautiful fish, the base color is a bright white. The body is crossed with five or six broad black bands. The fins are a translucent blue to aqua and contrast with the rest of the body. There are variations on the number of bands and fin color depending on the morph and even the individual

General Information :

     Often regarded as a "showpiece" species the Frontosa Cichlid of Lake Tanganyika is a truly impressive specimen that has both great coloration and impressive body size & shape with elaborate fins. Frontosa Cichlids were originally introduced into the hobby because of their attractive appearance. However, they have become even more popular as hobbyists have learned that they have great personalities, with an almost "dog" like quality that has helped to endear them to hobbyists even more. While this species is originally from the deeper areas of Lake Tanganyika, specimens found within the aquarium hobby these days are mostly from captive breeding programs that have been successfully breeding the Frontosa Cichlid for some time. Successful captive breeding programs are important to this and many other species as pressure from aquarium hobbyist collectors and local fisherman catching them for the food supply puts far too great a strain on their native populations.

Frontosa Cichlids generally have a white or light blue body with either 6 or 7 black vertical bars along each side. As adults, they develop a large cephalic hump on the front of their head which is typically more pronounced on the male than the female. This hump is actually a large fat deposit that rests atop a dorsal muscle that tends to extend forward. The hump develops and increases in size with age and is usually a sign of sexual fecundity. Their fins also become more elaborate with age, which makes a mature Frontosa a very impressive sight as the combination of their large size, attractive coloration and elaborate fins make them a truly impressive sight to behold.

    Frontosa Cichlids live relatively long (25 plus years) sedentary lifestyles in nature as they do not expend much energy while slowly swimming about or hunting. Frontosa utilize a unique trait that allows them to see well in darkness, which allows them to prey on smaller fish species while they sleep near the lake bottom. Frontosa simply swim along slowly and feast on the smaller fish as they sleep. Frontosa Cichlids are not overly aggressive within the aquarium environment, but can be a little territorial. They can be kept with most any species of African Cichlid that is not small enough to be considered as food. They will appreciate a sandy or partially sandy substrate along with some rocky formations in order to simulate their natural surroundings. While some rocks are much appreciated by the Frontosa Cichlid to give them a sense of security, too many rocky structures can be a problem as Frontosa are somewhat clumsy swimmers that need plenty of open space to move about. In nature Frontosa Cichlids live in large groups and prefer to live in groups in the aquarium as well. While one specimen can be kept singularly, it is more ideal to keep them in groups of 4 or more individuals. The best group makeup would be to have 3 females per male and between 4 to 8 specimens for the average larger aquarium.

Aquarium Conditions for Frontosa

    To replicate the habitat of Lake Tanganyika, the bottom of the aquarium should have rocks and secure caves for hiding places. They also like to have open swimming areas in the tank. Unlike many cichlid species, Frontosa will not eat or disturb plants.
    The water must be constantly moving and well-oxygenated so a power head or air stones are essential. Weekly water changes of 10 to 20% should be done. Frontosa are very sensitive to fluctuations in water conditions so only small changes should be done.
    The Ph should range from 8.0 to 8.5 and water hardness should be 12 to 15 dGH. The ideal water temperature should range from 74 to 79 degrees F.


    The true Cyphotilapia frontosa, the only one of these species with seven stripes, comes from one specific region along Lake Tanganyika, which is Kigoma. What used to be classified as C. frontosa from the regions Mpimbwe, Zaire and Zambia, are now classified under a different name: Cyphotilapia gibberosa. There are subtle, yet very technical differences that set the frontosa apart from the gibberosa like the size and shape of the hump, number of scales and slight fin variations. With the frontosa and gibberosa species so clearly defined the only thing left to do is to rename the variations that come from Burundi, Kavala and Karilani. It is only a matter of time before experts come up with those new names. However, in the retail aquarium industry I believe the popular name “frontosa” will generically still be used by the common hobbyist for all the different variations of this species.

    Despite the very common appearance of all the different varieties of frontosa, these fish come from varying depths all over Lake Tanganyika from as shallow as 15 feet to as deep as 180 feet. Much like humans, these fish have to go through the same decompression phases when coming up from the extreme depths. Bringing up these fish too quickly enlarges their swim bladder until their intestines are literally forced out of their body.

Size - Weight:    These fish get up to 14.0 inches (35 cm).

Care and feeding:    

    Since they are carnivorous the Frontosa Cichlid will generally eat all kinds of live foods. In the wild they feed on shellfish such as snails and molluscs. In the aquarium it is a slow feeder and will eat pellets as well as a variety of meaty foods such as feeder fish, worms and crustaceans; ie. mysis, shrimp, and krill. Frozen foods such as brine shrimp is also considered as a good protein source.
   A minimum 30 gallon tank can house a single specimen, but they do best kept in groups of at least 5 and ideally 8 - 12. A minimum 125 gallon tank will be needed, with larger (200 gallons plus) being better. They need good water movement along with very strong and efficient filtration. The males are quite shy and need rocks and cave formations for retreat. Make sure all rocks are firm on the bottom as these fish are quite quick but clumsy if startled. They also need plenty of open swimming areas. Plants are not essential though they do not harm them, nor do they burrow.
    Do normal water changes of only 10% to 20% a week, or more frequent depending on the nitrite/ammonia levels and stocking numbers. The Lake Tanganyikan cichlids cannot handle large water changes very well unless the new water chemistry closely matches the water they are in. This inability to tolerate large water changes is due to Lake Tanganyika being very deep and the water tends to stay stable.

 Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom:    These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium.

Acceptable Water Conditions:    Hardness: 12-15° dGH
   Ph: 8.0 - 8.5, wild caught specimens prefer the higher Ph.
  Temp: 74-79° F (24-26° C)
Several things all Lake Tanganyikan cichlids need are:
  1. Stable temperatures kept within acceptable limits. Anything under 72° F and over 86° F for too long is not tolerated by many of these fish (for ich, a few days at 86° F is acceptable according to one author)..
  2. Lots of oxygen to survive. Lake Tanganyika is a very oxygen rich lake. Bubblers need to be going day and night, even if there are plants.
  3. Avoid overfeeding and overstocking.
  4. Do a 10-20% water change weekly.
  5. Regularly check nitrates (no more than 25 ppm), Ph (less than 7 is not tolerated), total hardness and carbonate hardness.
Social Behaviors:    They are fairly non-aggressive community fish although they can be territorial. They don't burrow or disturb plants A group of one male with three or more females can be kept together or they can be kept in a group of 8 - 12 individuals. They can also be kept in a larger aquarium with other durable fish. If kept in a community type environment, the tank mates need to be pretty good size in relation to the Frontosa Cichlid as this fish is a predator and will eat smaller fishes. Any fish smaller than about 3" may be at risk of being eaten by an adult.

Sexual Differences:    Although it is hard to tell, the male is larger, and often has a more pronounced cranial hump than the female.

Breeding :

    Mouthbrooders generally are not very particular about spawning sites, but C. frontosa clearly like flat sandy areas best where they can dig small pits. However, they will spawn on a gravelly bottom and on flagstone. It is a good idea to locate such spawning sites in the protective vicinity of rock structures or plants. After much inquisitive circling of each other the two fish will suddenly face each other, and in a typical cichlid manner, "lock jaws," that is, they will meet lip to lip and then close their mouths upon each others lips. As soon as a strong grip is made they will twist and turn each other for as long as a minute, testing each others strength. Some observers say that if they are able to maintain the grip for a substantial period of time, the pair will immediately proceed with their spawning process, but this has not been ascertained. The locking of jaws may continue for a week or so until the next step is taken.

     Once the fish have accepted each other as suitable mates (and there is usually not too much trouble if both are about the same size), the next step is the selection of the spawning site. If perchance there is a smooth rock lying about the bottom of the aquarium, or even if there is a bit of slate showing through the sand, the pair will begin to clear away as much sand as possible from the selected site and gradually excavate a neat spawning pit or shelf upon which to place their spawn.

     The actual spawning is interesting: the female will first deposit a few eggs in the depression, then the male will follow and fertilize them. After a number of deposits of this sort the female will pick up the eggs in her mouth and thus the oral incubation starts. (There have been some instances where the male has picked up the eggs in his mouth, but this is the exception rather than the rule.)

     The female need not be taken out of the tank, and neither shall the male. Once the fry have reached the free-swimming stage the female will release the fry to feed on newly-hatched Artemia or brine shrimp. They will also eat large infusoria and protozoans. After a few weeks they are able to take fine dry foods and larger crustaceans like Daphnia and rotifers.

     The fry grow rapidly. As soon as the fry are abandoned by their parents, they should be sorted according to size, to give them more tank room and keep the larger fry from being too competitive for food.
Although some C. frontosa raise their fry until they have reached a size at which they can easily fend for themselves, others abandon their spawn under week after they have lost their yolk-sacs and reached the free-swimming stage.


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