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Deep-Water Hap Profile, Types, Care & Breeding Guide

Cichlids are undoubtedly one of the major attractions among aquarium trades but what’s the most eye-catching among them? Placidochromis Electra or the Deep-Water Haps could be the straightforward answer.

The blue-green-scaled fish isn’t only adorable but they’d also be a great attraction once you’ve set the aquarium with the fish in your home or office.

Deep Water Haps are the light-blue or white fish native to the sandy habitats on the eastern side of Lake Malawi.

It can grow up to 6” only and can thrive in a 120-gallon aquarium with no special requirements. These are a hardy species that don’t need gravel and complicated maintenance.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
AppearanceThe female is white and the male is blue. Both come with dark scales that go lighter towards the tail and darker towards the head.
Life Expectancy8 years
Size5-7 inches 
FamilyCichlids, endemic
Tank Size120-gallon or larger
Tank EnvironmentIt can survive in a wide range of water parameters with no gravel needed
Tank MatesKeep several females for one male. Use compatible species for tank mates.

Placidochromis Electra or popularly known as Deep Water Haps are light-blue or white fish that has scales with a blue-green sheen throughout their body.

They’re native species to Lake Malawi and have a close relation to the other African cichlids except that Deep Water Haps have more vibrant colors.

These are typically found in the deeper waters and appear as mildly aggressive species.

Males are blue-colored while their body has a dark barring that gets lighter towards the tail but darker towards the head. Males would be more aggressive towards other males, especially when mating but they’re less aggressive than Mbuna, a species with the same origins as Deep Water Haps.

Deep Water Haps can grow up to 6” long and can live well in aquariums with controlled environments. The water should be hard and alkaline. The aquarium must be at least 120 gallons and specific water parameters should be worked on. They are now popular in aquarium trades.

Deep-Water Hap Types

Deep Water Haps refer to Placidochromis Electra species that are the endemic cichlids native to Lake Malawi.

It’s the hardy and aggressive species that are currently found in aquarium trades. The fish can thrive in an aquarium environment with controlled water parameters including a temperature range of 74-82° and a pH range of 7.5 -8.4.

Deep Water Haps are mouthbrooders that can breed up to 50 fries for each brood. While you need to properly manage the water parameters and the tank setup, maintaining them isn’t too difficult.

Other Deep-water haps you may consider for your aquarium:

  • Redfin Haps (Copadichromis Borleyi – Kadango)
  • Roundtooth Haps (Mylochromis Sphaerodon)
  • Giant Haplochromis (Hemitilapia Oxyrhynchus)
  • Electric Blue Haps (Sciaenochromis Fryeri)
  • Malawi Blue Dolphin Cichlids (Cyrtocara Moorii)
Malawi blue dolphin
Malawi Blue Dolphin

Tank Setup

You must set the ideal water temperature of 78° F or somewhere between 75°-80 °F. At this point, you’d need a thermometer and/or thermostat to keep the ideal temperature over time. Consequently, you must invest in a reliable heater to raise the temp when the water gets cooler in colder weather.

As a hardy species, Deep Water Haps require hard alkaline to replicate its native environment. At this point, you need to maintain the water acidity at 7.5 – 8.4 pH. In most cases, you’d not need to treat your water except if your water resources are overly treated with calcium hypochlorite.

Deep Water Haps can adapt to most types of water. You don’t necessarily change the alkalinity or pH of the water. You can employ general aquarium water conditions for them with no problems.

When it comes to aquarium size, Deep Water Haps would need at least a 120-gallon tank that provides more swimming space and other aquarium elements to install. Generally speaking, a bigger aquarium would be better for this fish.

The water level should accommodate the number of Deep Water Haps living in the tank. Each fish would need at least five to ten gallons of water to live. Since they better live with at least 12 other compatible cichlids, you’d need 120 gallons of water for the community aquarium.

You don’t need gravel in the aquarium. While you may apply one, it shouldn’t exceed 1/4” thick or it would contaminate the aquarium water and cause health problems to your Deep Water Haps.

Most aquariums that host Deep Water Haps typically don’t have live plants. Even though live plants can improve the water quality and decorate the tank beautifully, these would likely dig the plants up and ruin the setup.

Having Deep Water Haps in the aquarium means using more filters. A 120-gallon aquarium barely keeps up with the minimum requirements for this fish. You better use a larger aquarium that can cater to more filters. Only use high-quality filters to maintain the water quality throughout time.

Besides good feeding, you must maintain the best water condition for Deep Water Haps growing and breeding. It’s also recommended to keep the nitrates in the ideal range by using Lava Rock in your tank. With proper tank setup, maintenance, and feeding, these can live for years.

If you insist on having some plant setups in your tank, your options are limited including the java ferns and Anubias. These plants have higher chances of surviving the cichlid aquarium. Deep Water Haps don’t hesitate to uproot plants they don’t feel comfortable with.

Deep Water Haps share similar preferences with other African Cichlids. You can use finer sand or pH augmenting substrate or big rocks that can be easily cleaned. These could be favorite breeding environments for them.

Tank Mates

Deep Water Haps have some compatible tank mates that you can add to the community tank. Peaceful Malawi species like Malawi Peacocks are strongly recommended along with Blue Dolphin Haps, Copadichromis, Aulonocara, or more peaceful Mbuna like Lemon Yellow Mbuna.

Other compatible species include Victorian Haps, Synodontis, Madoka White Lip, Red Empress, Lethrinops sp., Malawi Haps and Star Sapphires. Avoid adding aggressive Mbunas into the community aquarium with Deep Water Haps.

Deep Water Haps are quite gentle and peaceful species that can live well with their kind in the community aquarium. However, it’s very important to keep several females for each male in the aquarium. They’d become a little bit territorial only when breeding.

There are chances of hybridization when you keep several haps of different species in the same tank. At this point, you need to keep many specimens of the same species in the aquarium to reduce the chances of hybridization. In general, hybrids shouldn’t be traded in the aquarium industry.

Deep water hap macro shot

Food & Diet

Deep Water Haps can accept all meaty foods as well as high-quality small pellets depending on the size of the fish. Larger specimens can be fed with prawns, lancetfish, krill, whitebait, and so forth. Smaller fish can eat Mysis shrimp, enhanced brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and so forth.

In general, these aren’t picky on foods but you must pay attention to the nutrients intake so they can thrive in an aquarium environment. Frozen foods, live foods, flakes, and pellets can be supplied to your tank. It’s crucial to use high-quality foods only to prevent health issues on your fish.

You can use small pellets to feed small Deep Water Haps and incrementally increase the food size as they’ve grown up. In general, these have the same diet as other Cichlid species. Keep adequate portions for the entire population in your aquarium.

Breeding Guidelines

Female Deep Water Haps are the maternal mouthbrooders. The male would get their color more intense when they’re ready to spawn.

The changes in behaviors are also noticeable when the spawn time is coming. Males would choose and prepare a spawning site in the aquarium including a substrate’s small depression or a flat rock. They’d display what they’ve prepared to the females until they’re accepted.

There’s a ritual of circling the spawning spot for a while until eggs are deposited by the female fish. They’d gradually deposit the eggs and once completed, the female fish would pick them with their mouth. The male then releases his milt by shaking and extending their anal fin near the females.

Females would collect the spots of the milt along with the deposited eggs with their mouth until they’re spent. The collected eggs would enter the incubation period of up to 25 days until they hatch and females give birth to them into free-swimming fry.

There are typically 50 fries for each brood and they can be seen swimming around the hatching area. You can feed them with brine shrimp (artemia nauplii) right after the release and allow them to obtain the nutrients they need for quick growth. From there, you can adjust the diets to follow their growth progress.

You don’t necessarily need a breeding tank since Deep Water Haps are mouthbrooders and give birth to free-swimming fry. What you need to do is ensure the best suitable water parameters to provide a conducive environment for them to breed.