Tropical Fish for Freshwater Aquariums: Orange Cockatoo Cichlid

A female orange blotch morph cichlid fish swims near Nankoma Island, Malawi.
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The Kenyi Cichlid has the typical elongated, muscular Mbuna cichlid body, though the males seem to be a tad deeper than other Mbunas. In nature they will reach up to about 5" (12.7 cm) in length, and are sometimes larger in the home aquarium. This cichlid can live up to 10 years with proper care.The color differences between the male and female are opposite that found on most Mbuna species. The male Kenyi is a golden yellow with faint vertical bars, and has egg spots on the anal fin along with a lighter colored stomach area. The females are a purple to blue color with the same faint bars and lighter stomach area. Juveniles are similar to females, only smaller. All stages have faded vertical bars that have hints of color where they meet the dorsal fin.All cichlids share a common feature that some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish have. That is a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth that are in the throat, along with their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.Cichlids have one nostril on each side while other fish have 2 sets. To sense "smells" in the water, they suck water in and expel the water right back out after being "sampled" for a short or longer time, depending on how much the cichlid needs to "smell" the water. This feature is shared by saltwater damselfish and cichlids are thought to be closely related.
A female orange blotch morph cichlid fish almost blends with a rock near Ngwazi, Tanzania.
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The streams that flow into Lake Malawi have a high mineral content. This along with evaporation has resulted in alkaline water that is highly mineralized. Lake Malawi is known for its clarity and stability as far as pH and other water chemistries. It is easy to see why it is important to watch tank parameters with all Lake Malawi fish.Rift lake cichlids need hard alkaline water but are not found in brackish waters. Still salt is sometimes used as a buffering agent to increase the water's carbonate hardness. Forturnately this cichlid has some salt tolerance. It can be kept in slightly brackish water conditions, however it not suited to a full brackish water tank. It can tolerate a low salinity that is about 10% of a normal saltwater tank, which means a specific gravity of less than 1.0002.A 55 gallon aquarium is okay a single fish, but 100 gallons is suggested when keeping more than one. They do fine in either freshwater or slightly brackish freshwater but need good water movement along with very strong and efficient filtration. Gravel makes a good substate and the addition of crushed coral can help keep the pH up. Crushed coral or aragonite sands do tend to dissolves easier than salts. Keeping a higher pH however, means that ammonia is more lethal, so regular water changes are a must for these fish.Some rock decor is good to create hiding places and areas of retreat, just be sure to leave open spaces along the bottom of the tank as well. These fish need plenty of swimming room on the bottom and in the mid portions of the tank. A nice thing about these guys is they do not damage plants as much as other cichlids, so you can add some to your decor if desired. They prefer subdued lighting. Orange cichlid fish - buy this stock photo on Shutterstock & find other images.
Photo provided by FlickrDownload this stock image: Nice orange cichlid fish from genus Apistogramma
Photo provided by FlickrCarotenoid-based coloration in cichlid fishes - NCBI - NIH
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The Zebra Cichlid originated in deep rocky waters of Lake Malawi in Africa. It is also known as the Red Mbuna, the Cherry Zebra, the Pearl Zebra, theCobalt Blue Zebra, the Red or Orange Blotch Zebra (OB). The word “Mbuna” means “rock fish”, which refers to its habitat. It is sometimes referred to by the scientific name Pseudotropheus Zebra, but subsequently has transitioned through the name Maylandia to end up being calledMetriclima. The authority on Metriaclima estherae is Ad Konings and thename estherae refers his friend Stuart Grant's wife, Esther.Animal colors play important roles in communication, ecological interactions and speciation. Carotenoid pigments are responsible for many yellow, orange and red hues in animals. Whereas extensive knowledge on the proximate mechanisms underlying carotenoid coloration in birds has led to testable hypotheses on avian color evolution and signaling, much less is known about the expression of carotenoid coloration in fishes. Here, we promote cichlid fishes (Perciformes: Cichlidae) as a system in which to study the physiological and evolutionary significance of carotenoids. Cichlids include some of the best examples of adaptive radiation and color pattern diversification in vertebrates. In this paper, we examine fitness correlates of carotenoid pigmentation in cichlids and review hypotheses regarding the signal content of carotenoid-based ornaments. Carotenoid-based coloration is influenced by diet and body condition and is positively related to mating success and social dominance. Gaps in our knowledge are discussed in the last part of this review, particularly in the understanding of carotenoid metabolism pathways and the genetics of carotenoid coloration. We suggest that carotenoid metabolism and transport are important proximate mechanisms responsible for individual and population-differences in cichlid coloration that may ultimately contribute to diversification and speciation.