Tropical Fish Site

Profiles Reviews Guides for Tropical and Marine

Giant Cichlid – Boulengerochromis Microlepis


Common name: Giant Cichlid, Emperor Cichlid

Scientific name: Boulengerochromis Microlepis

Average Adult Fish Size: Male – 36 inches  /  90 cm, Female – 28 inches / 70 cm

Place of Origin: Lake Tanganyika

Typical Tank setup: Minimal rock work, plenty of open swimming space

Recommended Minimum Aquarium Capacity: 300 gallon  /  1200 litre

Compatibility: Due to it’s huge size it is not suitable for many home aquariums however other very large cichlids could be kept with them or a species only tank

Temperature: 77 – 79 Deg. F  /  25 – 26 Deg. C

Water chemistry: pH 8.6

Feeding: Juvenile specimens are omnivorous but become increasingly piscivorous as they grow. Most captive specimens will accept dried foods but are better offered live or frozen bloodworm, Tubifex, Artemia, chopped prawns, small earthworms and similar. There is no benefit in the use of ‘feeder’ fish such as livebearers or small goldfish which carry with them the risk of parasite or disease introduction and at any rate tend not have a high nutritional value unless properly conditioned beforehand.

Sexing: Males are larger and more colourful than females.

Breeding: During spawning the male stays 20-30 cm above the site while the female deposits the eggs, in almost straight lines. After the female has laid a few rows the male descends to the nest, fertilises them, and resumes his position 20-30 cm above the nest. This is repeated until all the eggs have been laid.

Additional Information: This species is the only member of its genus, the largest African cichlid species and a prized food fish around Lake Tanganyika. As an adult it’s almost entirely piscivorous with an elongate, streamlined body shape and large, almost lunate caudal-fin designed to provide power and speed.

It’s clearly unsuited to the home aquarium in all but the most extreme circumstances, but young, farm-raised specimens have nevertheless been readily-available in the trade since the mid-2000’s.