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Malawi Blue Dolphin
(Cyrtocara moorii)

malawi blue dolphin, cyrtocara moorii

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The Malawi blue dolphin or Cyrtocara moorii is a member of the family Cichlidae. Cichlidae are commonly referred to as cichlids.

Malawi blue dolphins are one on many species of cichlids native to Lake Malawi in Africa. Cichlids from Lake Malawi are collectively referred to as African cichlids.

Blue dolphins are quite popular among freshwater aquarium keepers because of their brilliant blue hue. They, of course, are not related to dolphins. They were dubbed dolphins because of a nuchal hump on their head and their elongated snouts which gives their heads a vague resemblance to that of a dophin’s. This hump is present on both the males and the females and continues to grow as the fish does.

The blue dolphin is a docile fish. They do not posses the aggressive instinct prevalent in many Africa cichlids. They make great additions to a community tank provided they are not mixed with more aggressive tank-mates. There are, however, a few considerations to take into account before deciding whether they are the right choice for your tank.

Although the blue dolphin is classified as a medium sized cichlid, they will reach up to 8 inches in length. Experts recommend a medium tank size of 100 gallons for raising blue dolphins. Cichlids are shoaling fish. They travel in groups. It is not advisable to add just a single cichlid to a fish tank. In nature, the blue dolphin is found in shallow waters and sandy substrate. They instinctively burrow in the sand looking for food, although they don’t generally dig up plants. Sand is the substrate of choice when keeping blue dolphins. Last but not least, they are a timid creature. They need plenty of plants and rocks to hide in.

Their native waters are slightly alkaline with a pH level of 7.5-8.0. Water temperature ranges between 72-78°F. Any species native to Lake Malawi will thrive under these conditions. Keep your aquarium with in these ranges and you can expect your blue dolphins to live for up to 10 years.

In their natural habitat they eat small crustaceans that live in the sandy lake bottom. In fact, they often follow behind other fish species that dig in the sand and eat any invertebrates that are dug up. In captivity they can be fed cichlid pellets, flakes, and frozen foods.
Malawi Blue Dolphin  Breeding

The male blue dolphin is slightly larger than the female. There color is often enhanced in the breeding cycle.

The male Blue dolphin is territorial toward other members of its species. They have polygamist instincts and travel in harems. A male will mark out his territory and entertain the company of several females. It is recommended to keep at least three female to every male when raising blue dolphins.

Blue dolphins are mouth brooders. The female will keep her eggs safely tucked away in her mouth to protect them after spawning. She will continue this practice after they hatch until they are large enough to better survive on their own. The fry will have yellowish-orange anal fin when hatched. This will disappear in a few months. Once the fry are released they can fed newly hatched brine shrimp or dry fry food.

It will take roughly two years for the fry to reach sexual maturity and begin to spawn. At this point they will be 4-5 inches long. Juveniles are silver in color and don’t take on color until they start to mature.

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Fish Care & Breeding Guide
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