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Bumblebee Cichlid (Pseudotropheus crabro): Complete Care Guides, Tank Mates, FAQs

Bumblebee Cichlid
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pseudotropheus_Crabo_Male.JPG">Nicolas COUTHOUIS</a>, <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5">CC BY-SA 2.5</a>, via Wikimedia Commons

Ready to dive into the enchanting world of Bumblebee Cichlids? Native to Lake Malawi in East Africa, these fascinating fish bring a lot of charm and vibrance to your aquarium. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty about what it takes to keep these fish healthy and content.

First off, the Bumblebee Cichlid goes by the scientific name of Pseudotropheus crabro. It belongs to the family Cichlidae and has quite a few cousins like the African Cichlid and the Jack Dempsey Cichlid. These swimmers boast a striking color palette, ranging from yellow and black to dark brown, depending on their age and mood.

So, are Bumblebee Cichlids a rarity? Not really, they’re actually pretty common in the aquarium trade. They’re a popular pick among enthusiasts, owing to their colorful markings and dynamic personality. However, they do have some variants, with the most well-known one being Pseudotropheus crabro “Chameleon”, appreciated for its adaptive color-changing ability.

Speaking of personality, these cichlids are bottom dwellers by nature. They enjoy rummaging through the tank’s lower levels. As for their diet, they are mostly omnivores, leaning towards a meaty preference like shrimp and brine. Temperament-wise, they’re semi-aggressive, which means they may not get along with every aquatic neighbor you have in mind.

Time to dive into statistics! Adult Bumblebee Cichlids can grow up to 6 inches, and they prefer a water temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal pH level for their aquatic environment ranges from 7.5 to 8.5.

Ever heard that Bumblebee Cichlids serve as cleaner fish in the wild? That’s right! They often remove parasites from other fish, although this behavior is less common in a domestic setup. It’s a natural instinct that showcases their intelligence and social skills.

On the lighter side, these cichlids are famous for their ‘bumbling’ movement. Their name isn’t a coincidence! The Bumblebee Cichlid’s way of swimming resembles the random, zigzagging flight of a bumblebee. Now, how fun is that?

Lastly, let’s travel back in time. The Bumblebee Cichlid was first described in 1985 by Ad Konings, a renowned ichthyologist. Since then, it has won over many fish-keeping enthusiasts, thanks to its vibrant colors and captivating behavior.

By knowing your Bumblebee Cichlid well, you’re setting the stage for a thriving tank community. These fish are not just eye-catching but also provide a unique, spirited presence that turns any aquarium into an underwater paradise.

Bumblebee Cichlid
Nicolas COUTHOUIS, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Key Information

Bumblebee Cichlids come in a range of variants that offer unique features and coloring patterns. Whether you’re intrigued by the classic Pseudotropheus crabro or its lesser-known cousins like the “Chameleon,” each variant has distinct traits that can make your aquarium a vibrant underwater world.

FamilyCichlidae, known for its diverse and colorful species
Price$6 to $20 depending on variant and size
Common NamesHornet Cichlid, Bumblebee Mouthbrooder, Chameleon Cichlid
VariantsClassic Pseudotropheus crabro, Pseudotropheus crabro “Chameleon”
Ideal Tank SizeMinimum of 30 gallons
Water ParameterspH 7.5 to 8.5, 75 to 80°F
LifespanUp to 10 years
Full SizeUp to 6 inches
Natural EnvironmentLake Malawi, East Africa
BehaviorSemi-aggressive, territorial but can be social
Habitat PreferenceBottom-dwelling, enjoys caves and rocks
Aquarium DecorationRock formations, driftwood, sandy substrate
Ideal Tank MatesLess aggressive African cichlids, catfish, larger tetras
Fish to AvoidSmaller, more docile fish and species with different water parameters
Best Foods/DietVaried diet including flakes, pellets, shrimp, brine
DiseaseSusceptible to Ich, fin rot
Sex-SwitchPossible under certain conditions, less common in captivity
Gender DifferencesMales larger and more colorful, females smaller and less vibrant
Care LevelModerate
Breeding LevelModerate difficulty

Ideal Tank Mates

Choosing the perfect tank mates for your Bumblebee Cichlid can be a rewarding aspect of fishkeeping. While Bumblebee Cichlids are known for their semi-aggressive nature, it’s possible to house them with other fish that can co-exist peacefully in the same water parameters. However, the trick lies in selecting fish that are neither too passive to be bullied nor too aggressive to create tension. With that in mind, here are 15 ideal tank mates for your Bumblebee Cichlid:

1. Yellow Lab Cichlid

The Yellow Lab Cichlid is an African Cichlid like the Bumblebee, and they generally get along well when given enough space. Both species appreciate similar water conditions, making tank management simpler.

2. Acei Cichlid

Known for their peaceful disposition, the Acei Cichlid can make a suitable tank mate for a Bumblebee Cichlid as long as your aquarium is large enough to accommodate multiple territories.

3. Zebra Cichlid

Zebra Cichlids are another African species that can usually cohabit peacefully with Bumblebee Cichlids. Just ensure your tank has ample hiding spots to minimize conflict.

4. Red Zebra Cichlid

Slightly more aggressive than the regular Zebra Cichlid, the Red Zebra can hold its own against the Bumblebee Cichlid, making them a compatible pairing in a well-structured aquarium.

5. Blue Dolphin Cichlid

This species enjoys similar water conditions to the Bumblebee and tends to stay out of territorial disputes, making them an ideal choice for community tanks.

6. Electric Yellow Cichlid

Known for their stunning coloration, Electric Yellow Cichlids are peaceful and can live harmoniously with Bumblebee Cichlids.

7. Peacock Cichlid

The Peacock Cichlid is less aggressive and enjoys similar diets and water conditions, making them a suitable companion for your Bumblebee Cichlid.

8. Johanni Cichlid

Johanni Cichlids are another Malawi native that can co-exist with Bumblebee Cichlids. However, their similar coloration may lead to some territorial disputes, so keep an eye out.

9. Kenyi Cichlid

They are compatible in terms of water parameters and diet, but Kenyi Cichlids are more aggressive, so they require a large tank to establish separate territories.

10. Clown Loach

A bottom-dweller like the Bumblebee Cichlid, the Clown Loach can share the lower parts of the tank without much conflict.

11. Synodontis Catfish

This catfish species is robust enough to live peacefully with a Bumblebee Cichlid, adding variety to your tank’s lower levels.

12. Bristlenose Pleco

Known for their algae-eating habits, Bristlenose Plecos can be excellent tank mates as they will help to keep the tank clean.

13. Rainbowfish

These are colorful, fast-swimming fish that can easily evade a slightly aggressive tank mate like the Bumblebee Cichlid.

14. Silver Dollar Fish

Their quick swimming ability and larger size make Silver Dollar Fish less likely to be bothered by Bumblebee Cichlids.

15. Frontosa

Though they are from Lake Tanganyika, another African lake, Frontosas have similar water requirements and can usually live peacefully with Malawi Cichlids like the Bumblebee.

These are just a few options to consider. Always monitor any new introductions carefully to ensure compatibility and reduce stress among your aquatic pets.


What Are Some Tips for Keeping Multiple Bumblebee Cichlids in One Tank?

To successfully keep multiple Bumblebee Cichlids, provide ample hiding spots and territories within the tank. This will help reduce aggression and territorial disputes. A larger tank is highly recommended.

Is it Safe for Plants to be in a Bumblebee Cichlid Tank?

While Bumblebee Cichlids are not notorious plant destroyers, they do like to dig. Therefore, it’s wise to secure any live plants firmly in the substrate or opt for hardy plants that can withstand the cichlid’s digging behavior.

Can Bumblebee Cichlids Be Kept with Invertebrates?

Generally, it’s not advisable. Bumblebee Cichlids tend to view smaller invertebrates like snails and shrimp as food. Larger, more robust invertebrates might stand a better chance, but proceed with caution.

How Often Should I Feed My Bumblebee Cichlid?

Adult Bumblebee Cichlids do well with feedings once or twice a day, while juveniles may require more frequent feedings to support their growth. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues, so be mindful of portions.

Can Bumblebee Cichlids Change Color?

Yes, Bumblebee Cichlids can undergo color changes due to a variety of factors, including stress, mating behaviors, and even their mood. These changes are usually temporary.

How Do Bumblebee Cichlids Reproduce?

Bumblebee Cichlids are mouthbrooders. After fertilization, the female carries the eggs in her mouth until they hatch. The fry continue to take refuge in the mother’s mouth for some time after hatching.

How to Differentiate Between Juvenile and Adult Bumblebee Cichlids?

Juveniles generally have less vibrant colors and smaller sizes compared to adults. As they mature, their colors become more pronounced and they reach their full adult size.

Are There Any Special Requirements for Breeding?

To encourage breeding, provide a conducive environment with plenty of hiding spots and stable water parameters. A diet rich in protein can also stimulate mating behaviors.

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Total posts created: 127
A long-time freshwater fish enthusiast with a passion for sharing knowledge about this fascinating hobby. Over the years, Michelle has dedicated countless hours to studying, learning, and experiencing firsthand the joys and challenges of fish-keeping.

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