Demasoni Cichlid


Common Name: Demasoni Cichlid
Scientific Name: Pseudotropheus demasoni
Adult Size: 3 inches
Life Expectancy: 10 years
Tank Size: 55 gallons minimum

The Demasoni Cichlid is a diminutive yet brightly colored African cichlid endemic to Lake Malawi. They are admired for their striking blue and black stripes and are a favorite among cichlid enthusiasts for their vibrant appearance and dynamic behavior.

A minimum of a 55-gallon tank is recommended for Demasoni Cichlids, as they are best kept in larger groups to dilute aggression and encourage natural hierarchy. It’s important to provide plenty of rockwork and hiding spaces to simulate their natural rocky habitat and reduce territorial disputes.

These cichlids have a diet that should consist of high-quality cichlid pellets or flakes designed for herbivorous fish, along with occasional offerings of fresh vegetables or spirulina to keep them in good health and retain their coloration.

In terms of compatibility, Demasoni Cichlids should be housed with other Mbuna species that can match their temperament and size. Avoid keeping them with overly aggressive or much larger fish to prevent bullying and ensure a harmonious aquarium environment.

Origins and Natural Habitat

Your Demasoni Cichlid, Pseudotropheus demasoni, originates from the clear, warm waters of Lake Malawi in Africa. This vibrant fish is a local to the specific areas of Pombo Rocks and Ndumbi Reef, which are situated in the Tanzanian waters of the lake. These sites are characterized by their rocky outcroppings and are the natural habitat where the Demasoni Cichlids thrive.

In their natural habitat, you would find Demasoni Cichlids swimming in an environment rich with crevices and caves. These rocky structures are essential for their survival, providing shelter and breeding grounds. And while these cichlids are not extensive in range, they make a significant impact on the local ecosystem.

Lake Malawi is renowned for its incredible biodiversity, with numerous fish species, many of which are cichlids like your Demasoni. The lake’s alkaline waters and consistent temperatures create an ideal setting for these fish. Understanding the characteristics of their natural environment is essential for replicating such conditions in an aquarium setting, ensuring your fish’s well-being and longevity.

Aquarium Setup

Setting up an appropriate aquarium for Demasoni Cichlids is crucial to ensure they thrive and display their best colors and behaviors. You’ll need to consider tank size and carefully manage water conditions to mimic their natural Lake Malawi habitat.

Tank Size and Environment

For Demasoni Cichlids, a minimum tank size of 55 gallons is recommended, especially if you’re planning to house a larger group. This space allows them to swim freely and establish territories, which is vital for their well-being. Your tank should replicate the rocky environment of Lake Malawi with plenty of hiding spots. You can use:

  • Rocks: Create piles and caves.
  • Substrate: A fine sand substrate mimics their natural habitat.

Water Conditions and Parameters

Demasoni Cichlids require specific water conditions to maintain their health:

  • Temperature: Keep the water between 75°F and 82°F.
  • pH Level: The pH should be maintained between 7.8 and 8.6.
  • Hardness: General hardness (GH) should be in the range of 10GH to 18GH. Regular monitoring of these parameters is essential, and using a reliable heater to maintain the right temperature will help in creating a stable environment for your fish.

Behavior and Social Dynamics

Your Demasoni Cichlid (Pseudotropheus demasoni) showcases active behavior and has unique social dynamics, often making them the centerpiece of your aquarium. Native to Lake Malawi in East Africa, these fish are recognized for their striking blue and black stripes and territorial nature. When you are creating an environment for Demasoni Cichlids, it’s important to replicate their natural habitat to cater to their territorial instincts.

In your tank, each Demasoni Cichlid will establish its territory, often around rocks and caves. To mitigate aggression, provide ample hiding spaces and establish distinct territories within the aquarium. It’s worth noting that despite their small size, they possess an assertive demeanor, especially towards fish of the same species or similar color patterns.

Demasoni Cichlids are known to exhibit hierarchical social structures. Ensure you have a group with a higher female-to-male ratio to balance the social dynamics and reduce male-induced aggression. Monitoring the interactions among your Demasoni Cichlids can be fascinating, as they communicate through body language and color displays which reflect their state, whether it be submission or dominance.

Remember, consistent and stable water conditions are vital to maintaining their well-being and consequently, stable behavior. Your aquarium should mimic the alkaline waters of Lake Malawi, with pH levels between 7.8 to 8.6, and temperatures maintained between 75 to 82°F (about 24 to 28°C). Regular water changes and tests are crucial in providing a healthy environment for your Demasoni Cichlids to express their natural behaviors.

Compatibility and Community

When considering the introduction of Demasoni Cichlids to your aquarium, it’s essential to understand their compatibility with other fish. As an intermediate aquarist, you should be aware that Demasoni Cichlids exhibit a semi-aggressive temperament. They are a species from Lake Malawi and are best mixed with other Mbuna cichlids, to create a harmonious and visually captivating underwater environment.

Tank Size: Your aquarium should be at least 30 gallons or larger to accommodate a group of these active fish, providing ample space for establishing territories. Overcrowding can help minimize aggression, as it diffuses territorial behaviors across many individuals.

  • Temperature Range: Maintain a water temperature of 72-82°F (22-28°C).
  • pH Range: Aim for a pH between 8.0 and 8.6.
  • Water Hardness: dH range should be between 8 – 14.

It is crucial to match Demasoni Cichlids with tank mates of similar size and temperament to prevent bullying. Other Mbuna species, known for their resilience and compatible demeanor, can be suitable companions. Avoid peaceful or slow-moving fish, as they might be outcompeted for food or become targets of aggression.

Feeding the community should consist of a varied diet including both plant and protein-based foods. This balance is vital to ensure that the Demasoni, and their tank mates, receive the nutrition required for optimal health within the shared space.

Health and Maintenance

Maintaining the health of your Demasoni Cichlid requires consistent cleaning routines and vigilant disease management. Addressing these two central aspects will ensure the longevity and well-being of your fish.

Cleaning and Maintenance Routines

Your Demasoni Cichlid’s tank requires regular cleaning to prevent the buildup of harmful substances and to keep the water parameters stable. Perform weekly water changes of 10-20%, ensuring you siphon the substrate to remove detritus and uneaten food. Check the filter monthly for clogging and efficiency, and replace media or rinse sponges as needed. Always maintain a stable water temperature between 76-82°F (24-28°C) and pH levels around 7.8-8.6 to mimic their natural habitat in Lake Malawi.

Disease Prevention and Management

To preemptively manage diseases, quarantine new tank mates for at least two weeks before introduction to prevent the spread of illness. Be observant for signs of stress or disease such as erratic swimming, loss of appetite, or color dimming. Common ailments include Ich or Malawi Bloat; for Ich, gradually increase the water temperature to 86°F (30°C) and use copper-based medications as prescribed. If Malawi Bloat is suspected, characterized by swelling and buoyancy issues, consult a vet for a proper course of treatment, which may include dietary changes and medication.

Diet and Feeding

Demasoni Cichlids are omnivorous and thrive on a balanced diet that caters to their nutritional needs. To maintain their vibrant colors and health, your Demasoni’s diet should consist of high-quality cichlid pellets as a staple. It’s crucial to provide a variety of foods to ensure a balanced intake of nutrients.

Vegetables: Incorporate vegetables into their diet; options include zucchini, peas, and lettuce. These should be given in moderation and as a part of a diverse diet.

Protein: Offer occasional live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms. These treats should not be the mainstay of their diet but can provide essential protein and variety.

Feeding Schedule: Feed your Demasoni small amounts several times a day. Overfeeding can cause health issues and tank pollution, so it’s essential to monitor their intake and keep a consistent feeding schedule.

Breeding and Reproduction

Demasoni Cichlids are fascinating fish, engaging in unique breeding behaviors and requiring precise conditions for reproduction. To successfully breed these cichlids, you’ll need to differentiate between males and females and provide an optimal environment that mimics their natural habitat.

Gender Identification and Breeding Behavior

Males are often slightly larger and more vividly colored than females, with more pronounced black and blue bands. During the mating season, you may observe males becoming more territorial and exhibiting courtship displays, like flaring fins and quivering movements to attract females.

Females are typically less colorful and have rounded anal and dorsal fins compared to the pointed fins of males. Uniquely, Demasoni Cichlids are maternal mouthbrooders – females will carry fertilized eggs and later, fry, in their mouths for protection until they are ready to fend for themselves.

Creating Optimal Breeding Conditions

To initiate breeding, ensure the water temperature is maintained between 75 to 82°F (24 to 28°C). The tank should have a pH level between 7.7 and 8.6 and a hardness of 6-10 dGH, reflecting their natural Lake Malawi environment.

Rock structures are crucial for these cichlids. Set up the aquarium with numerous caves and passageways using piles of rocks, as they provide necessary hiding spots and breeding territories. This layout helps to reduce aggression and stress among the fish.

Frequent water changes and a high-quality diet can help to mimic the clean, nutrient-rich waters of Lake Malawi and encourage spawning behavior. Once conditions are favorable, you can expect the female to lay her eggs in a secure location and promptly take them into her mouth to begin the brooding process.

Growth, Development, and Lifespan

When you start with Demasoni Cichlids, Pseudotropheus demasoni, you’ll observe that they are diminutive compared to other mbuna species. After hatching, these fish grow relatively fast, reaching their maximum size of approximately 2.5 to 3 inches. This size is attained within their first year or so of life, indicative of their rapid juvenile growth rate.

During their development, your Demasoni Cichlids will display robustness, given that you maintain proper water parameters and nutrition. Their compact size contributes to their feisty nature, which is characteristic of the species. Providing a habitat with ample rocks and crevices is crucial for their well-being, as it simulates their natural environment and supports healthy development.

Your Demasoni Cichlids have a life expectancy that can span from about 8 to 10 years. However, achieving such a lifespan is heavily dependent on consistent water quality, diet, and overall tank management. Stress reduction through proper tank mates and environmental enrichment contributes significantly to their longevity.


Where Do Demasoni Cichlids From?

The Demasoni Cichlid (Pseudotropheus demasoni) is a freshwater fish species native to Lake Malawi in East Africa. The lake is located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania, and is the ninth largest lake in the world. The Demasoni Cichlid is endemic to the lake, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world.


What Is the Natural Habitat of a Demasoni Cichlid?

The Demasoni Cichlid is found in rocky areas of the lake, particularly in the Pombo Rocks and Ndumbi Reef regions of Tanzanian waters. These rocky formations and caves serve as a natural playground for the Demasoni Cichlid, providing them with plenty of hiding places and exploration opportunities. The lake is characterized by crystal-clear, alkaline water with a rich mineral content, which is the natural habitat condition for this species.

In the wild, the Demasoni Cichlid feeds on algae, small crustaceans, and plankton. They prefer to live in large groups and are known for their aggressive behavior towards other fish species. Therefore, it is recommended to keep them in a species-only tank or with other African cichlid species with similar aggression levels.


What Do Demasoni Cichlid Eat?

Demasoni Cichlids are omnivorous fish, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. In the wild, they feed on algae, small crustaceans, and insect larvae. In captivity, it is important to provide them with a varied diet that includes commercial cichlid pellets, vegetables, and occasional live or frozen treats like brine shrimp or bloodworms.

You can also supplement their diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, zucchini, and cucumber. These vegetables provide important nutrients and fiber that help keep their digestive system healthy.

In addition to providing a varied diet, it is important to feed your Demasoni Cichlids small amounts several times a day, rather than one large feeding. This will help prevent overfeeding and ensure that they are getting the nutrition they need to stay healthy.


The Demasoni Cichlid is a feisty and energetic fish that can be very territorial. They are known to be aggressive towards other fish of the same species, especially males. It is recommended to keep them in groups of 12 or more to diffuse any combative behaviors among males.

Are Demasoni Cichlids Aggressive?

While they can be aggressive towards other fish of the same species, Demasoni Cichlids can coexist with other non-aggressive fish. However, it is important to choose tank mates carefully. Avoid keeping them with slow-moving or long-finned fish, as they may become targets for the Demasoni’s aggression. Suitable tank mates include other mbuna cichlids of similar size and temperament, such as Yellow Labs and Zebra Maylandia Cichlids.

Tank Size

How Big of a Tank Does a Demasoni Cichlid Need?

When setting up an aquarium for Demasoni Cichlid, it is important to note that they require a minimum tank size of 55 gallons (around 208 liters) or more. However, a larger tank size is preferred for accommodating larger groups, providing them adequate space for free movement.


What Are the Best Tank Mates For Demasoni Cichlids?

When it comes to Demasoni Cichlids, it is important to choose the right tank mates. These fish are known to be territorial and aggressive towards other fish, so it is crucial to select compatible species.

Some of the ideal tank mates for Demasoni Cichlids include Iodotropheus, Electric Yellow Cichlid, smaller Pseudotropheus, Red Zebra, or Cobalt Zebra. These species are known to be able to hold their own against the Demasoni Cichlid’s aggressive nature.

It is important to note that Demasoni Cichlids should not be housed with fish that are too large or too small. Large fish may bully the Demasoni, while small fish may be seen as prey.


How Big Do Demasoni Cichlids Get?

Demasoni Cichlid is a small fish that grows up to 3 inches in length. This makes them a perfect addition to most aquariums. They are small and sturdy, which underlines their popularity and ease of care.