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Cyphotilapia frontosa

Picture of young Cyphotilapia frontosa Picture of Cyphotilapia frontosa, adult female

Left: Young Frontosa, Right: Adult female

Photos taken at Wharf Aquatics © Sean Evans

Common name:Frontosa, Humphead cichlid, 'Fronts'
Scientific name:Cyphotilapia frontosa
Size:Up to approx 14" (35cm) for males and 10" (25cm) for females.
Origin:Found in several areas of Lake Tanganyika, giving rise to a number of regional variants.
Tank setup:A large tank (suggest 100 gallons/450 litres plus for a group), with plenty of open space. Large smooth rocks can be used to make caves (make sure they are secure!), or alternatively, large ceramic or PVC pipes could be used.
Compatibility:May eat smaller fish. Best kept with other large fishes which can hold their own but are not overly aggressive. The open-water 'Haplochromines' from Lake Malawi are a good choice.
Temperature:24-27oC (75-81oF)
Water chemistry:Hard and alkaline: pH 7.8-9.0, GH 12-20, KH 14-20 ideally, but at least 6.
Feeding:In the wild, these fish are primarily piscivores (fish eaters). In the aquarium, this can be provided for with baitfish such as whitebait, lance fish, silversides etc, and mussel, prawn/shrimp, etc. There is also a range of suitable cichlid sticks and pellets available.
Sexing:Although there are several indicators of gender in Frontosa, they are not clear-cut. Males tend to have a larger nuchal hump on the forehead, but older females will also possess a hump. Males will tend to be larger and provide other clues via their behaviour. However, this will not be much help in initially selecting juveniles. An experienced breeder/dealer may be able/willing to 'vent' the fish, but do not expect reliable results from smaller juvenile fish!
Breeding:Ideally, a breeding colony should be established with one male per 3-4 females. Other sub-dominant males will usually be tolerated in groups occupying a large tank. These fish mature slowly, so patience is required to establish a breeding colony - do not buy juvenile 'fronts' if you want a breeding project with quick results! Spawning is not as dramatic or aggressive as many other cichlid species. The female mouthbroods the young for a relatively long time period, about five weeks. Fry should be removed and raised separately.
Comments: Adult Frontosa are a very impressive sight in a large aquarium. A number of the regional variants are highly desirable to enthusiasts, such as the 'Zaire blue' and 'Mpimbwe blue'.


Malawi Cichlids Tanganyika Cichlids Dwarf Cichlids American Cichlids




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