Pseudotropheus demasoni

Photograph by Magnus Manske
Photograph by Magnus Manske

Pseudotropheus demasoni are one of the most beautiful aquarium fish you will find. They are relatively new to aquarium hobbyists having only been described by the legendary Ad Konings in 1994. Since that time they have become popular amongst hobbyists due to their intense color and entertaining behavior. They are a dwarf species endemic to Lake Malawi.

Pseudotropheus demasoni basics

Size: Dwarf - The biggest male I've seen was under 4 inches (about 9cm), females will be smaller

Water Ph: 7.5 - 8.6 (I keep mine at Ph=8.0)

Aggression: High. What these little guys lack in size they make up for with attitude. I have seen one of my 3 inch males chase off an aggressive 8 inch melanochromis baliodigma (the dominant fish in a community display tank) many times. I have lots of stories of the dominant male Pseudotropheus demasoni chasing others until exhaustion (and subsequent death). I keep mine in a community tank with other African cichlids where the Demasonis are the smallest species and I have never had any major problems. Although its worth noting that its a 6 foot tank with plenty of rocky hiding places.

Male - Female ratio: There are two schools of thought for male-female ration when keeping Demasonis in an aquarium. In the wild they are found in very large schools. It makes sense then to keep a school of 10 or 12 in your tank. With such a large number the male to female ratio will be less important as its unlikely any non-dominant males or females will be individually be singled out and harassed to the point of exhaustion. Instead, the chasing will be spread across the school. On the other hand a smaller school with only one male may also work, whereby there is no non-dominant males being harassed and there is enough females to prevent any one individual being targeted. If you try the latter, be willing to accept the occasional casualty. However, my dominant male is more curious than aggressive and has never been the cause of any problem... hopefully this will be true for you also!

Healthy example of Pseudotropheus Demasoni

Breeding Pseudotropheus Demasoni

Breeding Demasoni cichlids is relatively easy. The male will be constantly trying to court the female. When the female is ready to accept they will do a slow circle dance whereby the female will lay the egg, scoop it up in her mouth. The male will thenĀ fertilizeĀ the egg. The female will hold the eggs in her mouth until the fry develop and become free swimming (usually about 3 weeks). I've attached a video of the spawning process. In this video you can see this whole process occur.

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