Care Level: Easy
Live Plant Safe: No
General Description: The Chipokae Cichlid is endemic to only the southwestern part of Lake Malawi around a reef off of the island of Chipoka. One of the most aggressive African cichlids, Chipokae may be referred to as a ‘mbuna’, which is a general term to characterize various Malawian cichlid species that share a similar body shape and belligerent temperament. Males are unmistakable for their dark black coloration coupled with blue horizontal stripes and a pale white dorsal fin while females, or immature males, are a solid golden yellow color with black horizontal stripes. Both male and female Chipokae are extremely similar in appearance to male and female Auratus (Melanchromis auratus). Given the predatory nature of Chipokae however, their mouths are more noticeably pointed vs. the herbivorous algae-grazing mouths of Auratus that are rounder. Some color or patterning differences have been suggested between the species, but the individual level variation seen among both Chipokae and Auratus make these traits less reliable. Chipokae are relatively easy to care for but their territorial nature requires them to be kept in an overcrowded tank with other like-temperamented heterospecific fish to spread out or reduce aggression, especially if you are trying to keep multiple Chipokae together. It is not recommended to keep Chipokae with other Melanochromis species, such as Electric Blue Johanni (M. johannii) or Auratus (M. auratus), because they will readily hybridize. An adult Chipokae can reach a size of approximately 5″.
Diet Requirements: Chipokae are more carnivorous compared to most other Malawi cichlids. Various high quality protein based flake foods and sinking pellet foods are ideal. Frozen foods such as spirulina or standard brine shrimp and bloodworms are also excellent choices. Certain foods may have to be fed in moderation if Chipokae are being kept in the presence of more herbivorous African species. Vegetable based foods should form as a supplementary part of the Chipokae’s diet. Variety is the spice of life in order to maintain color, immune function and longevity of your fish.
Care Requirements: An established minimum 55 gallon aquarium is ideal for a single or pair of Chipokae. Several males will require more space and crowding of other Malawi cichlids. Biweekly water changes are encouraged to keep water parameters up to standard for African cichlid aquariums (Nitrates < 30 ppm). The aquarium should be aquascaped generously with stacked rocks to create many hiding spaces and caves, but some open swimming space should also be provided. A sandy or fine substrate is preferred and the aquarium needs to be well oxygenated. African cichlid specific substrates, or even marine Aragonite substrate, are great choices because they will buffer the pH and alkalinity to levels characteristic of Lake Malawi. Chipokae will do well with other pugnacious Malawian cichlids; avoid more “peaceful” species, such as peacocks. Recommended water conditions, 74-80° F, KH 10-25, pH 7.5-8.5.
Purchase Size: Small: 1-1/4” to 1-1/2”; Medium: 1-3/4” to 2-3/4”; Large 3” to 4”
Note: Your item may not look identical to the image provided due to variation within species. Purchase sizes are approximate.