Acei Cichlid


Common Name: Acei Cichlid
Scientific Name: Pseudotropheus acei
Adult Size: 4-6 inches
Life Expectancy: 7-10 years
Tank Size: 55 gallons minimum

The Acei Cichlid, originating from Lake Malawi in East Africa, is cherished by aquarists for its elongated body and striking yellow or purple coloration. Known for their more peaceful demeanor compared to other Mbuna cichlids, Acei Cichlids are a suitable choice for those looking to add a splash of color to their community tanks.

A 55-gallon tank is the recommended starting point for housing Acei Cichlids to provide ample swimming space and to accommodate their social nature. The aquarium should include rock formations and hiding spaces to allow the fish to exhibit natural behaviors and manage their hierarchical social structure.

Their diet should consist of foods high in vegetable content to mimic their natural herbivorous tendencies. A combination of high-quality cichlid pellets, spirulina-based foods, and the occasional treat of fresh vegetables or frozen foods can help maintain their health and vibrant colors. While Acei Cichlids are generally peaceful, it’s important to house them with other non-aggressive cichlids of similar size to ensure a harmonious tank environment.

Origins and Natural Habitat

The Acei Cichlid, known scientifically as Pseudotropheus acei, is a vibrant freshwater fish native to Lake Malawi in Africa. Your exploration of these cichlids takes you to the northwestern shores of this expansive lake, primarily from Bandawe Point to Ngara in Zambia. This specific region is part of the Great Rift Valley, characterized by alkaline waters rich in minerals, which create an ideal environment for these fish.

In their natural setting, Acei Cichlids typically inhabit the rocky shorelines of Lake Malawi. You’ll find them in areas with ample rocks and submerged logs, where they can take refuge and establish territories. These fish are particularly well-adapted to their environment, thriving in the stable, clear, and oxygen-rich waters of the lake.

Feeding mainly on algae, these herbivorous inhabitants graze on rocks and submerged wood. They prefer clear and slightly alkaline water, a condition that can be replicated in home aquariums for aquarists interested in keeping these colorful fish. When setting up your own tank, it’s essential to mimic these water conditions, as well as the rocky habitat, to provide your Acei Cichlids with a familiar and comfortable home.

Aquarium Setup

Creating an optimal environment for your Acei Cichlid is paramount to their health and well-being. This section covers the specifics of tank size and the desired water conditions to ensure a habitat that closely resembles their natural ecosystem.

Tank Size and Environment

Your Acei Cichlid thrives in a spacious tank, and it’s recommended that you provide at least 55 gallons. This species displays active swimming behavior, and adequate space is necessary to accommodate this. To recreate their natural habitat from Lake Malawi, the aquarium layout should include:

  • Rocks: A variety of rocks forming caves and hiding places.
  • Substrate: Fine sand to emulate the lakebed.
  • Plants: While not a focus in their natural setting, hardy plants can be added for aesthetic purposes but ensure they don’t impede swimming space.

Water Conditions and Parameters

The water quality should emulate Lake Malawi’s conditions. For Acei Cichlids, you should maintain:

  • Temperature: Between 78°F to 82°F.
  • pH Level: A slightly alkaline pH between 7.5 to 8.5 is ideal.
  • Water Hardness: Aim for moderate to high hardness, specifically 10-20 dGH.

Regular water testing is crucial to maintain these parameters, and it’s essential to perform weekly water changes of about 20% to preserve water quality and prevent the buildup of harmful substances.

Behavior and Social Dynamics

When you decide to keep Acei Cichlids, you’ll observe that they typically exhibit peaceful and sociable behavior. This temperament makes them a suitable addition to many community aquariums. As active swimmers, your Acei Cichlids will often be seen exploring their surroundings or foraging for food at the bottom of the tank.

Territoriality can emerge, particularly during breeding periods, as it is common with many cichlid species. To mitigate aggressive behavior, you should provide ample space within your aquarium. Incorporating hiding spots, such as rocks and caves, offers refuge and helps maintain a harmonious environment.

Here’s a quick overview of their social behavior:

  • Peaceful Nature: Generally good-natured, suitable for community tanks.
  • Active: Love to swim and explore, keeping your tank lively.
  • Territorial During Breeding: May need extra space and hiding spots during this time.
  • Foraging Behavior: Expect them to sift through the substrate, looking for food.

Compatibility and Community

When setting up a community tank, Acei Cichlids (Pseudotropheus Acei), with their striking yellow tails and blue bodies, can be a compatible species. You’ll appreciate these fish for their more peaceful demeanor compared to other Mbuna Cichlids. They typically show less aggression, making them suitable for a mixed species tank.

To ensure harmony in your aquarium, choose tank mates that are not overly aggressive and can thrive in the same water conditions. Other Mbunas or similar sized Malawi Cichlids can often be appropriate companions. However, avoid pairing them with territorial or particularly aggressive Cichlid species like the Flowerhorn Cichlid.

Here are some general guidelines for housing Acei Cichlids in a community setup:

  • Aquarium Size: A minimum of a 55-gallon tank is recommended to allocate ample swimming space.
  • Water Parameters: Maintain a pH level between 7.5 to 8.5, and a temperature range from 76 to 82°F (24 to 28°C).

Keep in mind that while Acei Cichlids are more peaceful, establishing a hierarchy is natural. Monitor your tank for any signs of bullying or stress among inhabitants. Proper tank size, hiding spots, and a well-considered selection of tank mates are key to maintaining balance in your community aquarium.

Health and Maintenance

Proper health and maintenance of your Acei Cichlid are essential for ensuring a vibrant and long-lived aquarium community. By adhering to regular cleaning routines and understanding disease prevention, you create a thriving environment for your fish.

Cleaning and Maintenance Routines

To keep your Acei Cichlid healthy, perform weekly water changes of 10-20%. Ensure the temperature and pH levels remain consistent with Lake Malawi’s conditions; ideally, a pH level between 7.7 and 8.6 is suitable. For filtration, use a robust system that turns over the tank water several times an hour, and include both mechanical and biological media. Regularly check and clean your filter to prevent clogging and ensure it operates efficiently.

Disease Prevention and Management

Your Acei Cichlid is susceptible to common freshwater diseases, such as Ich and Malawi Bloat. To prevent diseases, quarantine new fish for at least 2 weeks before introducing them to your main tank. Offer a diversified diet that mimics their natural herbivorous feeding habits, including high-quality cichlid pellets and blanched vegetables. Signs of illness include changes in behavior, appearance, or appetite, in which case you’ll need to isolate the sick fish and consult a veterinarian or experienced aquarist for the appropriate treatment.

Diet and Feeding

The Acei Cichlid, primarily herbivorous, should be sustained with a diet that reflects their natural intake. Your primary focus should be on spirulina-based flake foods or pellets that are formulated for herbivorous fish. These provide the necessary nutrients and mimic the algae-based diet they would consume in the wild.

In addition to commercial foods, it’s beneficial to offer a variety of fresh vegetables. Options such as shredded zucchinicucumbers, and peas can be great supplements. It’s essential, though, to ensure these items are thoroughly cleaned and devoid of any pesticides before you introduce them to the tank.

While their diet is mostly plant-based, Acei Cichlids also appreciate the occasional inclusion of live or frozen foods. Foods such as brine shrimp or daphnia can be integrated sparingly into their diet for added protein. Remember, these should be considered treats rather than dietary staples.

To promote optimal health, adhere to a regular feeding schedule, offering food in amounts that they can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues, which is detrimental to the health of your Acei Cichlids and other tank inhabitants. Consistency and moderation are key to maintaining their vibrant colors and active behaviors.

Breeding and Reproduction

Breeding Acei Cichlids (Pseudotropheus acei) is a rewarding venture with a unique aspect: they are mouthbrooders. This means females carry fertilized eggs in their mouths until the fry are ready to swim freely. Understanding the breeding behavior and ensuring optimal conditions are essential for successful reproduction.

Gender Identification and Breeding Behavior

To breed Acei Cichlids, you’ll first need to differentiate between the males and females, which can be challenging due to their similar appearances. Typically, males are slightly larger and more vividly colored than females. During breeding periods, males display increased levels of aggression and exhibit courtship behavior, such as flaring fins and dancing around the female. Once spawning occurs, the female scoops up the eggs in her mouth, where fertilization and incubation happen.

Creating Optimal Breeding Conditions

For successful breeding, your aquarium conditions need to be ideal. Ensure a water temperature between 76-82°F (24-28°C) and a pH level around 7.8-8.6. Provide plenty of hiding spaces and rock structures to mimic their natural habitat, which can help reduce stress and promote natural breeding behaviors. Diet is also crucial; provide a balanced diet of high-quality cichlid pellets, vegetable matter, and occasional live or frozen foods to keep your Acei Cichlids healthy and in breeding condition. Dedicate extra attention to maintaining water quality with regular water changes and proper filtration to create a stable environment for breeding.

Growth, Development, and Lifespan

When you’re raising an Acei Cichlid, it’s essential to understand its growth and developmental stages. Your Acei Cichlid, on average, will reach about 5 inches in length as an adult. Males typically grow larger, up to approximately 5.9 inches, while females tend to be a bit smaller.

Throughout its life, which spans an average of 8 to 10 years, proper care is crucial in ensuring your Acei Cichlid matures healthily. Factors like water quality, nutrition, tank size, and social environment can all influence its growth rate and overall health.

Key Growth and Lifespan Details:

  • Adult Size: 5-5.9 inches (males larger than females)
  • Average Lifespan: 8-10 years

To support your fish’s well-being, make sure your aquarium replicates their natural habitat as closely as possible. This means maintaining a water temperature of 73-82 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH level between 7.7 and 8.6.

Proper tank conditions and care are instrumental in maximizing the lifespan and quality of life for your Acei Cichlid.


Where Do Acei Cichlids From?


What Is the Natural Habitat of a Acei Cichlid?

Understanding the natural habitat of the Acei Cichlid is vital for re-creating a comfortable environment for them in your aquarium. In the wild, these dynamic cichlids inhabit the rocky, sandy substrates of Lake Malawi, often seen near piles of rocks. They thrive in warm, alkaline waters with a temperature range of 78-82°F and a pH between 7.7 and 8.6.


An omnivorous species, the Acei Cichlid enjoys a varied diet. In the wild, their dietary intake includes a nice mix of algae, insects, and crustaceans. In captivity, a balanced diet of high-quality flakes or pellets, alongside regular servings of live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms, will keep them healthy and vibrant.


Acei Cichlids are known for their peaceful and sociable behavior. They are active swimmers, often seen exploring their surroundings or foraging for food. However, like most cichlids, they can sometimes exhibit territorial behavior, especially during breeding. Hence, providing adequate space and hiding spots in the aquarium is essential.

Tank Setup

When setting up your tank, aim to mimic the Acei Cichlid’s natural habitat. A tank capacity of at least 55 gallons is recommended for these active swimmers. Include plenty of rocks for hiding, and use sand as the substrate to replicate their natural environment. Water parameters should be carefully monitored to ensure they match the cichlid’s preferred conditions.


Acei Cichlids can coexist harmoniously with other non-aggressive fish species. However, due to their size and occasional territorial tendencies, it’s advisable to avoid keeping them with small, timid fish species. Species such as Yellow Labs and Rusty Cichlids make excellent tank mates for the Acei Cichlid.


Breeding Acei Cichlids can be a rewarding experience for any aquarist. They are mouthbrooders, meaning the females carry the eggs in their mouths until they hatch. A well-balanced diet, optimal water conditions, and a peaceful environment are key to successful breeding.


With proper care and attention, Acei Cichlids are generally robust and healthy fish. However, they can be susceptible to common freshwater fish diseases like Ich if water conditions deteriorate. Regular water changes, a balanced diet, and routine health checks will go a long way in ensuring your fish stay in peak condition.


What Do Acei Cichlid Eat?


Are Acei Cichlids Aggressive?

Tank Size

How Big of a Tank Does a Acei Cichlid Need?


What Are the Best Tank Mates For Acei Cichlids?


How Big Do Acei Cichlids Get?