A beautiful and relatively peaceful species of Malawi cichlid, the Blue Dolphin is so-named because the nuchal hump on the forehead and bill-like mouth that cause it to resemble a dolphin. In the wild, these fish follow behind larger cichlids which dig into the substrate for food (such as Fossorochromis rostratus), and then feeds on the smaller morsels that spread behind them as they feed. The aquarium itself should measure at least 6ft x 2ft x 2ft as these fish do reach a large size and require a decent amount of swimming space. The best choices of substrate would be either coral sand or aragonite which will help to keep the water hard and alkaline. Small outcrops of rocks can be assembled here and there (ensure they are very stable) to provide areas for the fish to retreat to should they feel the need, but remember to leave enough open swimming space in the centre. It is not unknown for Blue Dolphins to immerse themselves in the sand if they are particularly frightened. Best results are achieved when one male is housed with at least 4 or 5 females. This species may also be kept alongside other more peaceable Malawi cichlids such as other Haplochromis species, Labidochromis caeruleus, Aulonocara species and so on, plus appropriately sized Synodontis catfish. Blue Dolphin Haps are unlikely to eat plants, but they are capable of uprooting them. It is also wise to research information on other tankmates before adding anything green and leafy.
Feed a varied diet including flake, green flake, slow-sinking pellets/granules, frozen foods such as brineshrimp, Mysis shrimp, chopped krill, mosquito larvae, ‘cichlid mix’ etc.
These fish are known as polygamous spawners, which means that one male will breed with a number of females. The male will start to show off to the chosen female prior to spawning, and will take on a spectacular deep color. He will then begin to either search for a flat surface to clean or else dig a small pit in the substrate. The larger the female, the more eggs she will be able to mouthbrood, and these generally hatch after 21 days. She will release the brood about a week later. Females are very easily startled, which can be problematic when mouthbrooding, as they may spit the eggs out early. They have been known to pick the eggs up again, but this is not always the case.