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Auratus Cichlid Care Guide for Beginners

Are you thinking of sprinkling some golden hue to your fish tank?

Auratus cichlid can be your best tank mate. Auratus cichlids or Golden Mbunas are very captivating in their look and offer excellent tank compatibility, which makes them great to have.

Auratus cichlids are usually the inhabitants of rocky areas. They are pretty aggressive by nature. The females are mouthbrooders and become more aggressive before breeding. A 50-gallon tank is great for one cichlid. Regular water changes are needed to give them the best care.

Species Overview

Level of CareRelatively easy
TemperamentVery aggressive
AppearanceComes with a golden and black color combination
Life Expectancy5 years
Size4.3 inches or 11 cm
Tank Size50-gallon minimum for one Auratus cichlid
Tank RequirementBrackish freshwater with rock decorations and gravel substrate
Tank MatesAggressive

Auratus cichlids, also known as Golden Mbuna, are the inhabitants of rocky areas. With their group of one dominant male in several females’ harem, they are easy to keep in a large tank.

These species of cichlids are pretty distinctive in their appearance. They are effortless to identify along with their rounded snout, narrow mouth, and continuous dorsal fin.

Their incisor-like teeth maintain a close space, which is created explicitly for feeding on aufwuchs from nature.



When it comes to coloring, the males are a bit different from the females. The males usually come with a black-colored body with a combination of golden yellow and faded yellow tinge on their back. A narrow, yellow-colored line with a neon blue hue is present across their body’s middle section.

However, the females possess a golden-colored body with white and black stripes on their upper portion. The blue-white horizontal lines running across the mid-portion of their body make them look more stunning.

The female counterparts come with black dorsal fins with golden edges. On the contrary, the male cichlid’s dorsal fin is almost transparent yellow with black specks that form a horizontal lining at the top of their body.

The tail fin of the male Auratus is black with a yellow hue near the outer edge. But in the females’ case, their tail fin is segregated into two portions; the lower part has yellow color while the upper section has a white color with some black spots.

The anal and pelvic fins of the males are black with a neon blue touch. In contrast, the females’ pelvic and anal fins come in a golden background.


Usually, this species of cichlids grow up to 4.3 inches or 11 cm. However, sometimes they can get bigger in the fish tank. The male Auratus are usually larger than their female counterparts.

Behavior & Temperament

When it comes to behavior or temperament, Auratus cichlids are considered very aggressive. So, these cichlids will do best when you keep them in a species-specific tank.

If you are thinking of keeping them in a community tank with other peaceful fish, then it is a big NO! These cichlid species are much aggressive and will hurt peaceful tank mates. So, consider keeping them with other aggressive Mbunas.

Also, make sure the tank mates are not similar in shape or color; otherwise, they might face an attack from Auratus cichlids. The male counterparts of these fish are too aggressive towards similar-looking males from other species.

Some Mbuna species will not even spawn if you have not removed these Golden Mbunas from the tank.

So, it will be best to keep these cichlids in a group of one male and a few females. In case the tank is small, a dominant female will find a subordinate man and kill it. Aggressiveness is quite common in females during the development of eggs and before releasing them into the water.

Auratus cichlid front view


Auratus cichlids do not live for too long, but undoubtedly, they are the prettiest ones to embellish your fish tank. This cichlid species can live up to 5 years or more if they receive a proper amount of care.

Tank Requirements

The tank setup is quite easier to create. These cichlids need a bit more space for living freely. Thus, you can opt for a minimum of 50 gallons of tank capacity for a single fish.

For maintaining a group of these cichlids, a minimum of 120 gallons will be perfect. For offering the best of care, freshwater or brackish freshwater will be ideal.

The tank needs to have proper water movement with powerful filtration. To meet the substrate requirement, you can add crushed coral to keep the water pH level up. Also, the regular gravel for freshwater fish will be pretty good for them.

They prefer a natural habitat with crushed coral, sand, and aragonite sand, which increases the carbonate hardness of the tank water. Also, these substances dissolve more quickly than salt.

However, maintaining a higher pH of aquarium water refers to the generation of more lethal ammonia. Hence, you should make sure to change the water regularly.

Offering many passageways and caves made of rock piles are recommended for the tank setup. Also, it is better not to keep many plants as these species of cichlids will eat them up.

Similar to other Mbunas, they are also going to dig. Hence, make sure that you place the rocks at the aquarium’s bottom and not on the substrate.

For a large tank, arrange the rocks to maintain separate territories for different fish species to keep them away from aggression.

Tank Setup

Auratus cichlids prefer a perfect ambiance for their tanks. Hence, make sure you are offering them the proper tank setup while meeting all the tank requirements. So, here is how to provide the best setup for your dazzling aqua pets.

The minimum tank size for keeping Auratus should be 50 gallons or 189L. You must opt for an aquarium of 125 gallons or more capacity for a mixed group or variety of species.

To let them thrive well in the tank, a moderate amount of normal lighting will be appropriate.

The hardness range of the tank water needs to be 6-10 dGH.

Ensure the pH level of water is between 7.7-8.6.

Consider the tank water to be slightly brackish. Keep the salinity level below 10%, i.e., a specific gravity of less than 1.0002.

A moderate water movement is recommended throughout the entire tank.

Maintain the water temperature of the fish tank within 73-82 ℉.

In the case of the substrate, it is better to add sand or gravel.

Lay piles of rocks to form caves in the tank so that they can hide and play all around.

Tank Mates

While keeping tank mates for your Auratus cichlid, make sure you are not choosing peaceful fish. Since these cichlids are very aggressive, they need to be kept with other aggressive mates only.

These cichlids are con-specific; hence, they must be compatible with the same species of fish. If you keep them with semi-aggressive fish in the tank, you need to monitor them thoroughly.

You must not keep them with large aggressive and predatory fish or slow swimmers and eaters. Also, it is better not to keep them along with shrimps, crabs, and snails in the tank.

Following are some of the fish that you can pet with Auratus:

Group of auratus

Food & Diet

Do you know what is the essential factor for the well-being of Auratus cichlids? Well, offering them proper food and regular feeding is very important to sustain their top-notch health conditions.

So, are you wondering what do cichlids eat? Well, the this species of cichlid are omnivorous by nature. But they usually prefer a herbivorous diet in nature. Hence, they will eat away some of the live plants in your aquarium.

Thus, you need to feed them with small and dry meals. Make sure the meals you are giving to them are fresh and include frozen foods. Nevertheless, vegetable-rich food will be great for their tummies several times a day.

If you are thinking of offering a staple food, you can give them Spirulina. This excellent food will offer them the best of colors.

However, make sure you are not offering food like the heart of beef, as it can lead to digestive problems.

Also, it is better to feed them in minimal amounts several times a day. And do you know when you offer them such small feedings, they quickly gobble them within 3 minutes or even less? Sounds interesting, right!

Besides, there is no need to give them large feeding, as smaller feedings will help maintain good tank water quality for a long time.

Also, you can feed them flake foods, tablets, or pellets. But do you know other than these what do cichlids eat? They love to feast on delicious live foods like tiny fish, worms, and shrimps.

Though vegetable diets need to be prioritized, you can offer them meat foods at times to bring a bit of change in their diet.

Auratus Cichlid Care

Are you thinking of keeping some Auratus cichlid in your aquarium? Then, you should know how to offer them an adequate amount of care for their proper growth and development.

You need to keep in mind that these Malawi cichlid species’ health deteriorates under poor tank water conditions.

Similar to any other Malawi cichlids, these are also prone to Malawi bloat. It is quite a typical disease that happens if they are not served with proper quality food.

Besides, this particular species of cichlids is very messy. They require 20-50% of tank water changes every week based on the bioload.

If you opt for overstocking for aggression reduction in your cichlids, you must offer proper care with several partial water changes in a week.

Breeding Guide

Are you thinking of offering the best tank environment to make your Auratus cichlids breed? Well, then it is better to know for you that these cichlids are polygamous. One male usually attends many females.

A male fish usually establishes a mating territory by digging a nest in the sand. Thus, it is better to offer a proper depth of sand in the tank. And females usually spawn in this territory of the male.

During spawning, the male cichlid changes its colors. The intense show-off of their color from its original color version denotes that it is the time for breeding. The male fish attracts the females in this way, and then both circle together.

A female usually lays about 40 eggs and then instantaneously takes them in its mouth before the eggs get fertilized.

After that, a female cichlid stimulates a male for discharging sperms (a cloud of milt) by mouthing his vent. Then, the female inhales the milt, and the eggs get fertilized inside its mouth.

For proper fertilization of the eggs, it takes about 82 ℉ of temperature. So, you can consider installing a heater to maintain this exact temperature of the tank.

Fry Care

Auratus cichlids are easy breeders when given proper tank conditions. Female cichlids usually hold the eggs for three weeks in their mouth without eating them up. During this time, you can consider keeping them in a separate nursery tank.

After 21 days, the eggs will get fertilized, and the released fries will survive without any food for the next 6-7 days.

But what do cichlids eat after this tenure?

Well, you can keep the fries on a brine diet with shrimp nauplii and dry food. Also, you should offer the fries enough space for hiding and playing, which, in turn, will boost their growth.

Where to Buy?

Auratus cichlids or golden Mbuna are relatively easy to find in any aquarist shop. You can also find them from a hobbyist or any online store. The price for these golden Mbunas depends on their gender and age.

Final thoughts

As Auratus cichlids are great colorful partners for your tank, you should offer them the proper level of care.

It is better to provide them with smaller amounts of food from time to time and give them enough space to play freely in the tank without indulging in any aggressive fights. Hence, keep them with suitable mates to enjoy peace and fun in your aquarium.