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Duboisi Cichlid (Tropheus duboisi): Complete Care Guide, Tank Mates, FAQs

duboisi cichlid
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tropheus_duboisi_by_Alexander_Langer.jpg">Alexander Langer</a>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Duboisi Cichlid, scientifically known as Tropheus duboisi, is a mesmerizing inhabitant of freshwater aquariums. Belonging to the Cichlidae family, this species is notable for its distinctive color changes and spirited temperament. Originating from the alkaline waters of Lake Tanganyika in Africa, Duboisi Cichlids present a rewarding challenge for aquarists.

Despite not being rare, Duboisi Cichlids are highly sought after for their unique appearance and intriguing behavior. As juveniles, they sport a striking black body adorned with white or blue spots. This dramatically changes as they mature, with the adults displaying a dark blue or black body complemented by a distinctive yellow or white band around their head. The most popular variants of this species are primarily differentiated by subtle variations in their spot patterns and coloration.

In terms of habitat preferences, Duboisi Cichlids are versatile. Although they’re primarily mid-dwellers, they often explore different levels of the aquarium. In their natural environment, these fish graze on algae and small organisms. This diet preference should be mirrored in captivity, emphasizing vegetable matter to ensure their health and well-being.

Behaviorally, Duboisi Cichlids are known for their territorial nature, especially towards other Tropheus species or similar-looking fish. This factor plays a significant role in choosing their tank mates, where selecting robust and similarly sized fish becomes crucial. Creating an environment that mimics their natural habitat, with plenty of rocks and hiding spots, can significantly enhance their quality of life in captivity.

Regarding physical statistics, Duboisi Cichlids can grow up to 5 inches in length and, with proper care, have a lifespan extending up to a decade or more. They thrive in alkaline water conditions with a pH ranging from 8.0 to 9.0 and temperatures between 76-82°F.

The history of Duboisi Cichlids in the aquarium trade is relatively recent, with their scientific description emerging in the mid-20th century. Since then, their popularity has steadily grown, making them a staple in the hobby for their unique appearance and captivating behavior.

One fun fact about these cichlids is their social structure. They have a complex hierarchy and can be quite interactive, which adds an intriguing dynamic to the aquarium setting. Additionally, the dramatic color change from juvenile to adult stage is a fascinating aspect, making them a continual source of interest and wonder for aquarists.

In conclusion, Duboisi Cichlids are a delightful addition to any freshwater aquarium. Their care needs, while specific, offer a fulfilling experience for the dedicated aquarist. Understanding their diet, habitat preferences, and temperament is key to ensuring their wellbeing and maintaining a harmonious tank environment.

duboisi cichlid
Alexander Langer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Key Information

The Duboisi Cichlid is known for its striking appearance and dynamic color changes. While they maintain a consistent species profile, there are subtle differences in spot patterns and coloration among various variants. These variations are primarily seen in the density and size of the spots in juveniles and the intensity of the color band around the adult’s head. Aquarium enthusiasts often seek out these variants for their unique beauty and the distinctive personality each brings to the tank.

PriceVaries, generally mid-range in the cichlid category
Common NamesDuboisi Cichlid, White-spotted Cichlid
VariantsSubtle variations in spot patterns and headband color
Ideal Tank SizeMinimum 50 gallons
Water ParameterspH 8.0-9.0; Temp 76-82°F (24-28°C)
LifespanUp to 10 years with proper care
Full SizeUp to 5 inches (12 cm)
Natural EnvironmentRocky shores of Lake Tanganyika, Africa
BehaviorTerritorial, aggressive towards similar species
Habitat PreferenceRocky, with plenty of hiding spots
Aquarium DecorationRocks, caves, minimal vegetation
Ideal Tank MatesOther robust cichlids, diverse species to minimize aggression
Fish to AvoidSimilar-looking or smaller, more timid fish
Best Foods/DietHigh vegetable content, algae-based foods, occasional protein
DiseaseSusceptible to common cichlid ailments; proper water quality is crucial
Sex-SwitchNo known sex-switching behavior
Gender DifferencesMales often larger and more colorful
Care LevelModerate to high, due to specific dietary and environmental needs
Breeding LevelModerate; typical of mouthbrooding cichlids

Ideal Tank Mates

Duboisi Cichlids, known for their distinct appearance and spirited temperament, thrive best when paired with compatible tank mates. Ideal companions for these fish should be able to hold their own in a tank with territorial behavior, yet not provoke aggression. The chosen tank mates should ideally be of similar size and temperament, and able to thrive in similar water conditions. Here are 15 ideal tank mates for Duboisi Cichlids, each with an explanation of why they are compatible:

Frontosa Cichlid

Frontosa Cichlids are large and peaceful, able to share space with Duboisi Cichlids without triggering aggression. Their size and calm demeanor make them less likely to be bullied.

Yellow Lab Cichlid

Yellow Labs are hardy and can coexist well in the same water parameters. They are less aggressive and can avoid conflicts with Duboisi Cichlids.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid

Known for their peaceful nature, Blue Dolphin Cichlids can coexist with Duboisi Cichlids, as they tend to keep to themselves and are not easily intimidated due to their size.

Peacock Cichlid

Peacock Cichlids are another robust species that can hold their own without being overly aggressive, making them suitable tank mates for Duboisi Cichlids.

Red Zebra Cichlid

Their robust nature helps them to coexist with Duboisi Cichlids. They share similar dietary requirements and water parameters.

Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Plecos are great for their algae-eating habits and generally keep to themselves, which reduces the chances of conflict with Duboisi Cichlids.

Clown Loach

Clown Loaches are peaceful and active, and they tend to stay out of the way of more territorial fish like the Duboisi Cichlid.

African Red-Eyed Tetra

These tetras are large enough not to be considered prey and are fast and agile, making them less likely targets for aggression.

Synodontis Catfish

This species is known for its peaceful demeanor and bottom-dwelling nature, which helps minimize territorial disputes with Duboisi Cichlids.

Emperor Tetra

Emperor Tetras are peaceful and can coexist well with Duboisi Cichlids as long as the tank is spacious enough to provide hiding spots.


Rainbowfish are peaceful, active swimmers and are less likely to get into territorial disputes with Duboisi Cichlids.

African Butterfly Cichlid

African Butterfly Cichlids are peaceful and tend to dwell in different tank regions than Duboisi Cichlids, which reduces the likelihood of conflict.

Jewel Cichlid

While slightly aggressive, Jewel Cichlids can hold their own in a tank with Duboisi Cichlids if given enough space and hiding places.

Leopard Bushfish

These fish are generally peaceful and large enough not to be bullied by Duboisi Cichlids, making them a compatible choice.


Kribensis are relatively peaceful and can manage living with Duboisi Cichlids if the tank is well-structured with plenty of hiding spots.

Each of these fish can make a good companion for Duboisi Cichlids, provided the tank is adequately sized and well-decorated to allow for sufficient territory and hiding spaces. It’s important to monitor the tank dynamics regularly to ensure a harmonious environment.


Can Duboisi Cichlids Be Kept in a Community Tank?

While Duboisi Cichlids can be kept in community tanks, it’s crucial to choose tank mates wisely. They should be with other fish that can tolerate their territorial nature and not be seen as competitors or threats.

How Do I Set Up a Breeding Tank for Duboisi Cichlids?

To set up a breeding tank, provide an environment that closely mimics their natural habitat. This includes plenty of rocks and caves for spawning. Water quality and temperature should be maintained consistently, and the fish should be well-fed with a high-quality diet.

Are Duboisi Cichlids Prone to Any Specific Diseases?

Like many cichlids, they can be prone to Malawi bloat, a type of digestive issue, particularly if their diet is not properly managed. Regular tank maintenance and a balanced diet are crucial to prevent this and other common aquatic diseases.

How Can I Tell if My Duboisi Cichlids Are Stressed?

Signs of stress in Duboisi Cichlids include loss of color, erratic swimming, hiding more than usual, and a lack of appetite. Stress can be caused by poor water quality, inappropriate tank mates, or inadequate diet.

What Is the Best Way to Introduce Duboisi Cichlids to a New Tank?

When introducing them to a new tank, it’s important to acclimate them slowly. This can be done by gradually mixing tank water with the water in their transport bag over a period of an hour or more to avoid shock.

How Frequently Should I Feed My Duboisi Cichlids?

Duboisi Cichlids should be fed once or twice a day. It’s crucial to provide a balanced diet and not to overfeed, as this can lead to health issues like obesity and digestive problems.

Can Duboisi Cichlids Coexist with Invertebrates?

In general, it’s not recommended to keep them with invertebrates like snails or shrimp, as they may see them as food or stress them out due to their territorial nature.

How Important Is Lighting for Duboisi Cichlids?

Proper lighting is important for their well-being. It not only showcases their colors but also helps regulate their biological rhythms. However, lighting should mimic natural daylight cycles to avoid stress.

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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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