Spawning Pseudotropheus Zebra “OB Tangerine”

By Dave Gauthier


I purchased four of these Lake Malawi cichlids (4-5”) from friends of mine last summer.  They were put in a 60-gallon aquarium that was shared with three I already had (similar in size) and a variety of other large East African cichlids.  The tank consists of gravel/crushed coral substrate 2-3” deep with two rock piles and some clay pots for cover and filtered by a HOT Magnum.  The temperature is kept at 75 F.


They adapted quickly to the tank, although there were some dominance issues that they worked on their own resulting in two losses. The five fish remaining appear to be two males and three females.  The color of these fish range from a brilliant orange to a whitish pink.  Four of them have a random black blotch pattern.


Once the territories were established, the digging began.  They dug down to the glass on both sides of the tank creating some pits.


They are fed a variety of flake, frozen and pellet foods.  Weekly water changes of 20 gallons are also done. 


One of the males took a shine to one of the overturned clay pots, and it did not take him long to entice a female to him.  Spinning around inside the clay pot, the spawning ritual took place.  The female would deposit 1 or 2 eggs and immediately turn and scoop them up in her mouth while the male fertilized them as she tried to “pick up” the egg spots on the male’s anal fin.  The male aggressively chased away any unwelcome company during the process.


The female was stripped after a week and the eggs were placed in an egg tumbler.  Two weeks later they were free swimming and released from the tumbler into a 10-gallon tank filtered by a sponge filter with the water temperature set at 75 F.   They were fed specialty fry food and finely crushed flake food for about two weeks until they started eating a courser flake.  A three-gallon water change is also done to their tank weekly.


Although they are extremely similar in breeding habits to a majority of mouthbreeders, they are still a unique and interesting fish to spawn.