Auratus Cichlid

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Melanochromis auratus - (Boulenger, 1897)
Auratus Cichlid

Brightly colored female of the species.


A classic African cichlid, extremely aggressive and territorial. Females are golden or yellow with three horizontal stripes, while males are dark brown, black or midnight blue. They must be housed with other African cichlids or in a tank of their own. (A dominant male will often kill other males and even female partners if too crowded.)

Family: Cichlidae

Other common name(s):

  • Golden Mbuna
  • Malawi Golden Cichlid

Native range:

Habitat: These fishes live in rocky habitats in nature, and they need similar irregular topography in the aquarium. They also need hard, alkaline water, so a coral-based or dolomite substrate is needed.

Maximum length: 11 cm (4 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 258 L (68 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Bottom to midwater.


Primarily an herbivore. Feed Spirulina and herbivore rations heavily. Occasionally offer meaty foods, such as enriched brine shrimp, mysid shrimp, dried mosquito larvae, black worms, and similar items.

Aquarium Compatibility

Choose tankmates with extreme care. Synodontis catfishes are recommended, smaller barbs and tetras may be harassed to death. Some aquarists use a school of Australian rainbows as fast dither fish.

Special Care

Aim for a pH of 7.5—8.5—hard or alkaline water.


Mouthbrooders. They are very protective parents, with the female holding the fry for weeks. They are able to raise a brood of young even in an African cichlid community tank.


Start with a small group and let them pair up.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: JJ
Text credit: KW