Spawning Pseudotropheus greshakei

By Dave Gauthier


I started with ten of these Lake Malawi fish at 2 inches in size purchased from a friend.  At first, they didn’t show much color, but once they got a little bigger they really started to show.  I also noticed it appeared that I only had one male and the rest females!  The male shows a powder/metallic blue with a gold dorsal and tail fin.  The females were almost pink in color with a hint of the same blue on their sides.  The females also show an extremely apparent OB pattern in a light brown.


The tank setup is a 55-gallon with an undergravel filter run with dual powerheads, and of course a heater.  The substrate is a combination of regular gravel and crushed coral.  The pH is 8.2.  I keep the temperature at 76 F.  I also placed a good-sized rock pile in the tank.  They adapted to the tank very quickly and within a year have easily doubled in size.  A 25% water change is done weekly. These fish are not picky eaters and are fed a variety of foods.


The male showed dominance and started claiming territory almost immediately.  The females all blended together with little problem.  The male then proceeded to dig out an area right down to the undergravel filter plate, making his spawning pit over the course of a week. He then started to chase the females around extending all his fins, shaking and pushing as much color as he can.  The breeding male does tend to get aggressive when ready to spawn, but because of the amount of females in the tank, no one female gets singled out or roughed up at all. He does not single out any one female to spawn with either, but will continue this practice until a female becomes oviparous, at which time she will follow him into the pit.  They will circle each other head to tail a number of times until the female deposits her eggs one or two at a time then turns around and picks them up while the male will lay almost on his side, shaking and extending his anal fin.  The female sees the egg spots on the male’s fin and will then try to pick up those “eggs” while picking up the ones she deposited, thus fertilizing the eggs.  This practice goes on for hours, sometimes even longer if interrupted by tankmates or me not seeing them and feeding the tank.


I will typically strip the female about a week after I notice she is holding.  I place the eggs in an egg tumbler and wait until the eggs develop. I will release the fry from the tumbler once the yolk sac becomes absorbed (about three weeks from the initial spawn).  Once they are released from the tumbler I will start them on a fry food developed by Mike Reed out of California. I will then wean them onto crushed flake food when they hit about a quarter inch in size.


As you can tell, these are not very difficult fish to take care of or spawn. As long as the water is clean and they get a good variety of foods they should be content enough to spawn.