The WHITE TOP AFRA cichlid is known only from Likoma Island on the eastern side of the lake.
Here, it is found in the intermediate zone where rocky habitats give way to open expanses of sand. It belongs to the Mbuna group of cichlids. The aquarium should be at least 4ft long and aquascaped to emulate a rocky reef effect with some open expanses of sand. DÃ©cor such as ocean rock can be used to build sturdy structures which stretch from the base of the tank to near the surface of the water.
These structures should be built with the purpose of creating many crevices for the fish to explore but constructed in such a way as to keep the rocks stable if the fish start to dig around and underneath them, something which this species is rather fond of doing. Although a substrate of coral sand or Aragonite is often recommended to help to keep the water hard and alkaline, Mbuna feels safer and shows better colours over a darker substrate.
The Aragonite or coral sand can always be placed into a mesh bag and kept inside the external filter for buffering purposes. It is best to keep one male with several females (keeping a male with just one female will result in continual harassment and possibly death) and these can be kept successfully alongside other outgoing Mbuna. However, avoid housing with fish of similar appearance, as males will respond most aggressively towards look-a-likes. May also be seen on sale as Kingsizei Cichlid or Likoma Blue Frost.
The diet should be primarily vegetarian. Foods rich in animal protein could cause Malawi Bloat, which can be fatal. A good quality Spirulina-based green flake should be mixed with a standard quality flake food, and offered along with appropriately sized granular foods specifically developed for Mbuna. An occasional treat of Mysis shrimp can be given, but this should only be offered very occasionally. Vegetable matter such as cucumber, blanched spinach and romaine lettuce can be fed on a regular basis.
When ready to spawn, the colouration of the male will intensify and his aggression level will heighten. He will choose and clean a spawning site, then display it to the female fish until one accepts him. They will circle each other in a head-to-tail manner a number of times, until the female deposits her eggs. These are deposited just one or two at a time and after doing so, she immediately turns around and picks them up. At the same time, the male will rotate so that he is almost on his side, at the same time shaking and extending his anal fin, releasing his milt. The female sees the egg spots on the male”™s anal fin and attempts to pick up those “œeggs” whilst she is picking up the real ones that she deposited, and at the same time taking in milt. This is the method of fertilisation, and this ritual may go on for some hours. The eggs may be incubated for up to 25 days until they hatch and the resultant fry held for a further few days afterwards.