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Duboisi Cichlid Care, Appearance, Lifespan, Diet & More

Tropheus Duboisi, having the common name, Duboisi Cichlid, is one of the best fish for expert aquarium hobbyists.

Many of you might not know about them, but they are the most unique and gorgeous-looking species that can make your tank the center of attraction for your guests.

Duboisi Cichlid has its origin in northern Lake Tanganyika, Africa. They live more than 5 years subject to proper care. But these fish are pretty aggressive towards their relative species. They are not easy to take care of and are best kept with their own species group of 12.

Species Overview

Level of CareMedium
AppearanceBlack, blue, white, and yellow colored species
Life Expectancy5 years
Size2-5 inches
Tank Size55-75 gallon
Tank EnvironmentHard alkaline water with a bit of salt, moderate lighting, and variations of aquarium plants
Tank MatesAggressive and semi-aggressive

Duboisi cichlid is endemic to northern Lake Tanganyika, Africa, and enlisted on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Vulnerable (VU).

Now, this is a stocky fish that has a larger head compared to its body. The length of their body narrows down to form a tail, along with a fan-shaped caudal fin.



Also, these fish are very attractive when it comes to their color and moderate in size as they can grow up to only 5-inches.


The juvenile cichlid looks gorgeous with an entirely black body, covered with bluish or white dots all over, running in vertical rows.

An adult tropheus duboisi cichlid has a blue or blue-gray head, complementing overall dark slate to almost black body and fins. And this is the very reason that Duboisi cichlid has another name, Blue-Faced Duboisi Cichlid.

Along with that, this fish also contains a bold contrasting band surrounding their middle portion.

Besides, with various colors and polka dots all over their body, these fish are also known as white-spotted cichlid. But this fish species is very arrogant by nature, making them difficult to handle for any beginner.


Tropheus duboisi cichlids possess 1 nostril on each side of their face to smell the water, while generally, there are 2 sets found in maximum fish.


Duboisi cichlid is very aggressive by nature and not at all easy-going. Also, this fish doesn’t seem to be making friends and playing with others. And that is why it is better to have a separate tank for them.

They do not nip the fins of their tank mates. This violent behavior is primarily noticed when they do not get enough space to swim in the tank. Sometimes even inappropriate food becomes the reason for their aggression.


These tropheus duboisi cichlid live up to 5-8 years in general. But they can survive up to 10 years or even more if taken proper care of.

Tank Requirements

Tropheus duboisi cichlid is not at all easy to take care of. So, you need to ensure that their tank is eligible enough to keep their mood right.

Keeping these fish’s temperament and activeness in mind, never dare to put them in a small aquarium. Even if you choose to keep a group of the same cichlid fish species, it is better to keep them in an ample space, where they can get enough hiding places and make room for their own selves.

This particular tropheus duboisi cichlid is habituated in a highly oxygen-rich environment. Thus, these cichlids require bubblers, pumping oxygen into the tank night and day, even if plants are around them.

Also, ensure that the pH and nitrate levels in the aquarium water are maintained optimally. Along with that, sustain proper general hardness and carbonate hardness range of water to keep your tropheus duboisi cichlid healthy.

You can make the tank water well-buffered through a chemical filtration method, where the water passes through layers of coral sand or crushed coral.

Since these freshwater fish are highly active swimmers, they prefer a tank with various rocks to mark their territory, sandy substrate, and free-swimming areas. It’s okay if you facilitate normal lighting in the aquarium, but remember, too much lighting can cause a steep algae growth rate in the tank.

Tank Setup

Juvenile duboisi cichlids

If you want to keep your tropheus duboisi cichlid healthy and safe, there are certain things that you need to take care of. Usually, in the case of schooling fish, it becomes easy to set up an aquarium that would match their natural habitat. But in the case of black duboisi cichlid, it is a bit tough to create a tank setup that would withstand their attitude and habit.

Some measures are needed to ensure that you want to give your fish the best care.

  • As these cichlids are of aggressive temperament, a minimum 55-gallon and a maximum 75-gallon tank of 4 ft. length is necessary for keeping a group of adult duboisis.
  • Since tropheus duboisi cichlid are habituated to Lake Tanganyika water, they require good water movement and a highly efficient filtration rate.
  • The water temperature needs to be accurate. Thus, try to keep the temperature at around 73-81 ℉.
  • Another thing to take under consideration is the pH level of the tank water. It needs to be maintained between 8-9.5, along with 25 ppm nitrate.
  • These cichlids prefer neither too hard nor too soft water. Thus, try to maintain the hardness level of water intermediate, between 10-15 dGH.
  • Tropheus duboisi cichlid is quite fond of making their own space where nobody can invade. It might sound challenging to build territory and provide suitable hiding places for each fish in your tank, isn’t it? But you can easily do it by appropriately placing rocks or stones, along with some plants.
  • These tropheus duboisi cichlids need hard alkaline water and not brackish water. But due to their salt tolerance, they can be kept in slightly brackish water conditions for protecting them from minor fungal infections, film formation over eyes, and other wounds.

Tank Mates

Duboisi cichlid is primarily suitable for experienced aquarists, as handling this tropheus duboisi species is very challenging.

Male duboisis often get aggressive towards their own species. So, it is better to keep them separate or only one of them within a group of a minimum of 12 female specimens.

However, in a larger aquarium, you can keep this tropheus duboisi cichlid with several other herbivore freshwater fish. A few of them are listed below.

  • Rainbow fish
  • Upside-down catfish
  • Cyprichromis leptosome
  • Julidochromis cichlids
  • Tanganyikan goby cichlids

Food & Diet

Most of the cichlids are known to be omnivores. But the diet of tropheus duboisi cichlid mainly consists of herbivorous foods. In the wild habitat, they are popular as aufwuchs feeders. These tropheus duboisi cichlid primarily feed on tough, stringy algae stuck on rocks, along with microorganisms that it upholds.

However, in an aquarium, they can be served with spirulina flakes and pellet foods. They can also have romaine or spinach at least once a day, along with other fiber-rich foods.

Apart from vegetable matter, flake food, moderate protein, and fiber-based diets, you can feed tropheus duboisi cichlidwith some live protein supplements like Mysis and Cyclops.

Nevertheless, it’s preferable to avoid slimy or soft meaty food such as beef heart, Tubifex, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp. Also, never overfeed your tropheus duboisi cichlid, as overeating can harm their health.

Duboisi Cichlid Care

Taking care of tropheus duboisi cichlid is not a piece of cake. One needs to be an expert on fish or a professional hobbyist to become the caretaker of this tiny yet aggressive creature.

These cichlids need assiduous maintenance to provide them with the best water quality. Hence, regular partial water changes are crucial, along with removing uneaten foods.

You will need to change almost 15% of the water twice a week or 30% in 1-week, based on stock numbers.

Make sure to keep the new water chemistry the same as the old one. Since some of these tropheus duboisi cichlids cannot handle significant water changes, keeping the proportion equal helps them stay stable and healthy.

Though these tropheus duboisi cichlids are utterly intolerant of too much salt, 1 heap teaspoon of salt needs to be added per 11 gallons of freshwater to prevent the occurrence of minor infections.

Duboisi cichlid front view

Breeding & Reproduction

If you are someone waiting to make room for white-spotted cichlid in your tank, then you need to be well-aware of their breeding procedure to get a better idea of them.

This tropheus duboisi cichlid can be easily bred in captivity. However, the success of breeding also depends on the tank size.

For instance, you will have to keep a group of 10-12 juvenile fish in a 75-gallon breeding tank. And for a 125-gallon aquarium, you need to get 15-20 juvenile fish and form a harem.

For better breeding, it is advised to keep large numbers of females in a group. It keeps the violence and aggression of the males divided and lesser chances to lose females. Hence, it is better to keep 9 or more females, along with 1-2 males, in a breeding tank.

The male tropheus duboisi cichlid remain ready to spawn during the breeding season and constantly tries to coax the females to spawn; it doesn’t matter if they are ready or not.

On the other hand, it is tough to bring the female specimen into breeding conditions. The females intake fertilized eggs into their mouths and retain them inside until the fries become large enough and ready to eat.

In case the females face harassment by the male species while they carry fries in their mouths, put the female ones in a separate tank.

A successful breeder suggestion is to hang 4-5 PVC pipes through the edge of the tank or aquarium with monofilament to safeguard the brooding females from aggressive males.

Usually, the females keep eating during the entire time when they hold the eggs and fries in their mouths. But they consume food in smaller portions.

Since the baby tropheus duboisi cichlid are pretty big when born, they can be served with crushed spirulina flakes. Within 7 days, they will start to scrap each other.

Interesting Facts

If all these pieces of information about duboisi cichlid have amused you so far, then let us tell you some more interesting facts that are yet to unravel for you. Do you want to learn them as well? Well, then check out below!

  • The males of this cichlid species are pretty aggressive towards their female counterparts or any other relatives.
  • These fish tend to bloat if overfed like humans.
  • Duboisi cichlid tends to get infected in excessive salty water. So, be aware of it!
  • These tropheus duboisi cichlid loves to swim all across the tank.
  • Their unique colorful design renders a vibrant appearance, reflecting well with moderate lighting.

Where to Buy?

Anyone eager to add a duboisi cichlid as their new family member can get them any fish store. An advantageous fact about these fish is that they are not at all rare. Thus, they can be easily spotted in the aquarium fish market.

In case you don’t get them in physical stores, these fish species are readily available online. There are also special-order options available for people who want them fast. However, the price of this tropheus duboisi cichlid fry and male species is generally higher.

Wrapping Up

Well, duboisi cichlid is one of the best fish to adopt if you know how to handle them. Though they might look small and beautiful owing to their bright colors and unique dots, they are not at all sweet by nature.

Nevertheless, these fish are well-suitable for aquariums. The only thing that matters is the size and space of the tank. Also, they are not all easy-going when it comes to breeding. Thus, duboisi cichlids require special care and attention if you want to make them your pet.