Tropheus duboisi Maswa
Origin and locale/variety: Throughout northern Lake Tanganyika, but concentrated more off the coast of Tanzania.
Size: Adults are usually 2.5 to 4.0 inches in aquarium environment.
Sex differences: Males and females have an identical appearance. Males attain a somewhat larger size, but visual identification of sexes in the aquarium is virtually unachievable. These fish can only be reliably sexed by venting of mature specimens. The popular Maswa is known for the yellow band on the black flank of both sexes.
Aquarium behavior: Tropheus are among the most active of all aquarium cichlids, perhaps even moreso than the Mbuna group of Lake Malawi. In behavior, they are unlike all other Lake Tanganyika cichlids with the exceptions of the related genera--Petrochromis, Pseudosimochromis and Simochromis. They can be highly aggressive, especially toward conspecifics, but this is not a given. Aggressiveness can be an individual trait among these fish, and it definitely is influenced greatly in the aquarium by factors such as size, structure, and mix of species. The individualism of the fish is so pronounced that occassionally a female will totally dominate a large group of these fish. Aquarium groups of Tropheus are very impressive to even the casual observer because of their usually gorgeous appearance and their hyperactivity in a quest to attract attention and, perhaps, more food. T. duboisi, in our experience, seems overall to be the least aggressive of the Tropheus species.
Aquarium diet: Tropheus readily accept most foods. In the wild, they feed predominantly on algae and the microorganisms found amid the rocky structure where they live. In the aquarium, they are voracious feeders which will let little food reach tankmates if they can help it. A problem in feeding is that, in attempting to supply enough food to reach other species, an aquarist can easily overfeed his Tropheus colony. There are differing opinions on what to feed Tropheus. We can only supply the information that, here, we feed Tropheus a flake mix containing a high percent of spirulina flakes (about 40 per cent of total). At times Tropheus are housed in aquariums where fellow residents need some feedings of frozen foods such as plankton or brine shrimp. We have noticed no ill affects from these frozen food feedings to Tropheus.
You Need to Know: Tropheus are
considered by many to be a challenge even to "advanced"
aquarists. There seems to be no surefire system to keep these
fish alive and healthy all the time. Numerous proficient fishkeepers
have suffered mightily as they watched a prized colony of Tropheus
perish one-by-one over a rather short period of time until the
entire group was decimated. Invariably, these victims have tested
their water, fed a diet of only spirulina as is commonly recommended,
kept their fish in established tanks, performed regular water
changes, and done all the other things that keeps their other
species alive and healthy. Nothing seems to help. This affliction,
commonly called or attributable to the malady "bloat",
has no timetable. It can start within a day or two of setting
up the colony of Tropheus....or two months later....or two years
Compatability: Many aquarists and most breeders keep Tropheus in species tanks because of their mannerisms. While these species tanks tend to work very well, they are not appealing to every aquarist. We have found that Tropheus can be kept with a broad spectrum of rock-dwelling Tanganyikans, numerous Malawi and Victorian species, open-water types such as Cyprichromis, and Synodontis catfishes. We do not suggest that they be kept with quiet or slow-moving cichlid species of any type. They especially do not do well with fish such as Altolamprologus because of problems in meeting feeding requirements of both groups.
Observed spawning habits: Males will display for female's attention. A male will become quite excited and demand the attention of a gravid female. Courting rituals are spontaneous and exciting. Tropheus are maternal mouthbrooders. Broods are not large, but the fry are big once the female releases them. In a species tank, Tropheus fry usually will not be bothered by the adults and can be raised with the parental group.
Other information: T. duboisi fry and young subadults are patterned much differently than mature adults. The white-on-black speckled pattern of these youngsters in a sizable school is one of the most endearing sights that a cichlid-keeping aquarist can hope to acheive.
Trivia: As a test of our theories regarding Tropheus and protein-laced diets, we once kept a single small individual with a tank full of adult Altolamprologus. We fed the tank frozen foods every two to three days and our mixed flake daily. The little fellow grew from one to three inches over an extended period of time and finally was introduced back to an adult colony of his kind.