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Steatocranus Casuarius ( Lionhead Cichlid )

Updated on March 5, 2011
Male (larger) and female (smaller) Steatocranus Casuaris
Male (larger) and female (smaller) Steatocranus Casuaris

Steatocranus Casuaris, commonly know as the Lionhead cichlid or blockhead cichlid is a species of African cichlid endemic to the Congo River, found largely in and near the Malebo Pool. They are one of the most unique and interesting African cichlids to keep in your aquarium. However, there are a few things you will need to know in order for your Steatocranus Casuaris to live a long, happy and healthy life in your African cichlid aquarium.

Juvenile Steatocranus Casuarius

Photograph by Dr. David Midgley
Photograph by Dr. David Midgley

Steotocranus Casuarius Basics

Size: Male maximum size = 6 inches (15cm), females will be smaller.

Water Ph: 6.5 - 8.1 (I usually keep mine at about Ph=8.0 because of the other African cichlids I have in the same tank).

Tank Level: Generally swims around at the Bottom to Mid tank range.

Aggression: Moderate. Unlike some cichlid species, Steatocranus Casuarius will tend to keep to themselves. They will hang around and fervently defend their own cave territory (particularly if they are preparing to spawn or have young fry). However, I have found that none of my Lake Malawi cichlids in the same tank will mess with my male Steotocranus Casuarius. The male Kenyi (maylandia lombardoi) will chase him off if he strays to close to the Kenyi's territory and vice versa (for this reason those two are almost always at opposite ends of the tank). Steotocranus Casuarius can be a handful around spawning time if the tank is crowded because of the way they aggressively defend their eggs and young fry.

Male - Female ratio: Unlike most other cichlids, Lionhead cichlids should be kept with a single pair in a 1:1 ratio. Often they will fail to thrive on their own. For this reason it is best to buy a small juvenile pair when you are starting out. Every effort should be made to save a sick or injured fish of this species, on account that if one dies, often its mate will also die (...of a broken heart!).

That's right Steatocranus Casuaris pair for life!

One of the most interesting things about the Steatocranus Casuaris species is that they pair for life! This is rather unusual among aquarium species, particularly African cichlids. As mentioned above, if one of the pair die (or are separated from the other), the remaining fish will almost always become very depressed. This can lead to them not eating and their immune system failing to protect them from disease!

Steotocranus Casuarius Breeding

Steotocranus Casuarius are substrate spawners. This means that the pair will find a suitable place in their territory (almost always resembling a cave of some sort), the female will lay the eggs on the walls and even the roof of the cave. The male will then fertilize the eggs. The male and female will both then defend the eggs and fry until the fry are large enough to look after themselves (or until its time to spawn again).

Steatocranus Casuaris taking fry out for first swim!


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    • lombardoi profile image

      lombardoi 7 years ago

      Thanks Brooke. If you ever think about setting up an aquarium I would definitely look into an African Cichlid tank. They're colorful, entertaining and pretty easier to look after.

    • Brooke.Crawford profile image

      Brooke.Crawford 7 years ago from Missouri

      what a great hub! i don't have an aquarium, but several of my friends do, and i'm pretty sure they know very little about their fish.