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Elongate Mbuna (Pseudotropheus Elongatus) Care Guide

If you are wondering about adding more colorful tank mates to your colorful community tank, especially in the bottom part of the aquarium, then the elongate mbuna could be a great option for you.

These fish are colorful, beautiful, and peaceful. Although it is not for beginners, taking care of this fish does not require complex procedures or approaches.

They are highly territorial fish. Although they are peaceful, they can be very aggressive when other fish are bothering them in their territories. If things get wrong, the brawl might be unavoidable.

But these fish are worth trying since they will give your aquascape great companionship.

Species Overview

Level of CareModerate to difficult
AppearanceOrange, yellow, and bright blue are common
Life ExpectancyUp to 10 years
Size2-8 inches
Tank Size180 l/40 gal minimum
Tank EnvironmentLots of rocks to offer territories and hiding places
Tank MatesPeaceful bottom-dwellers and other fish

Before going further, you will want to know first about what you are going to deal with.

The elongate mbuna fish’s natural habitat is in Lake Malawi in the Great Rift Valley, Africa. Malawi is a massive crevice over a 3700-mile-long trench. Such an environment is rich in minerals and nutrients so many creatures dwell in a particular location.

Malawi is one of the largest lakes in the world. It is the second deepest lake in the world. There are around 1000 species over there.

Amongst these amazing creatures, the mbuna fish is also one of the strongest contributors to the clear blue, sunlit waters and live on rocky outcrops.

The coloration of the fish is different based on their genders. The females are all yellow. Meanwhile, the males tend to have a blueish coloration.

Elongate Mbuna Tank Setup

For most experienced aquarists, caring for the elongate mbuna is easy. But it can be challenging for beginners because there are a few aspects that only intermediate owners can handle.

Tank Size

30 gallons is the bare minimum for small-sized mbuna in your aquascape. If you have larger fish flocks in the bottom-dwelling, you will want to prepare at least 40 gallons of water. If you have a larger tank, it would be better.

If you are adding your mbuna with the other tank mates, you will want to add more gallons of water so that your tank can cater to all of these fish.

If you have more groups of friendly tank mates, 55-gallon tanks will be the ideal choice since you need to provide more space for them to swim and explore around.

Water Parameters

The best way to make your mbuna healthy and happy is to focus on mimicking your tank to be as close as possible to its natural habitat. Therefore, the water parameters will play an important role in making it happen.

The temperature recommended for your elongated mbuna is around 77 to 84° Fahrenheit. But they can also tolerate the temperature of 73° Fahrenheit.

Alkaline water is important with a pH of 7.5 to 8.5. The easiest way to reach this pH level is by adding commercial products to the tank.

That will ease you into controlling the alkaline water. The other way to do it is by adding crushed coral and baking soda.

Consider using the water parameters reader tools to help you monitor the parameters and maintain the quality of the water as well.


Your mbuna buddies are fond of digging, scavenging, and burrowing beneath the substrate.

They spend most of the time in the bottom-dwelling. Therefore, you will want to avoid any coarse rocks or gravel since these will injure themselves.

Avoid any sharp objects in your bottom-dwelling. They can live with the gravel, but they might get distressed if they can not dig all the time. Consider adding softer sand to the substrate.

You can also purchase the kind of substrate easily from the pet store.


The plants are important to add since they will give enough shade and make the light dimmer inside the aquarium. Not all fish like bright lighting, including your mbuna buddies.

Consider focusing on the plants that can be attached to the driftwood or rock. The reason is simple. Your fish is a real bottom scavenger. When they dig, you don’t want your plants to be ruined by them.

To prevent them from being uprooted, you could instead attach your plants to those particular objects. In that way, your plants will be much stronger against the uprooting attempt.

There are many plants that you can use in the community tank. Some of the most popular are the mosses, Java fern, Cabomba, Vallisneria, Anubias, and so on.

It is also a great idea to add floating plants to make sure everything is great. However, you will also want to estimate the alkaline level of the water since not all plants can survive under certain conditions.

You could also choose Hornwort, a versatile plant that you can plant or float.


The elongated mbuna will be used well for the day or night cycle. You don’t need to prepare any special lighting for them. However, you will want to help them to stay in the normal day and night cycle to preserve their overall wellness.


Of course, you will need to pay attention to your filtration system when having these fish at your home. If you are planning to add this fish to a community tank, you must also consider the necessity of their tank mates.

In an overstocked tank, it is imperative to get heavy filtration since you need to filter the water more often to make it cleaner and fresher for your mbuna and its tank mates.

You could consider getting the right filter to cater to your tank community’s needs. In this case, the canister filters could be a great option.

This fish is easy to care for as long as you stick to the recommended parameters mentioned above.

Number of Specimens

The next thing to consider is determining the number of specimens that you will want to add to the aquarium.

A large tank of 50 can tag along around 30 small to mid-sized specimens. You wouldn’t be able to take dozens of species at the same time if they required different care and specifications. But if the treatment is similar, it will be much easier for you.

Tank Mates

Although the elongated mbuna are peaceful, they can be territorial, especially in their strategic bottom dwellings.

Therefore, the introduction of the tank mates and the community tank can be a bit tricky if it is the first time the specimens have joined the community.

If you have already filled the community tank with the other fish, you will want to rearrange the rocks and other objects completely.

It is to restart all of the territorial marks that were done by the predecessors, making your tank environment completely new for all of the fish. That way, it won’t be hard to add your mbuna buddies to the existing community tank.

You could successfully tag along with friendly mates like Plecostomus and Flying Fox.

I won’t recommend you to pair your mbuna with the other Mbuna cichlid species. It can lead to territory disputes. In some worse cases, the blood bath is unavoidable.

Food & Diet

The mbuna fish eat plant-based foods. They can eat most of the plants that you give them and they won’t protest.

The series of plants that you can give them are biofilm, algae, and other plants. You can give them veggies that you can easily find in your kitchen, such as cucumbers, carrots, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, and so on.

Although they can eat the raw veggies, they will hardly tear some bigger chunks. You might want to blanch the veggies first before feeding them to your fish.

Also, chop them off into smaller bite sizes so that they can easily take the food.

If you are short of fresh plants, you could also get commercial products from the nearby department. Sometimes, getting through the department store can be more expensive. You could browse around the internet to find the best sellers online.

You must also remove the uneaten foods to prevent water contamination.

Breeding Guidelines

The maternal mouthbrooder is the core spawning method of the fish. The fish should be in good condition to spawn. Make sure to maintain enough food, the tank environment, and water parameters.

The female will carry the eggs for around a month before releasing them to swim. The fry that are large enough could take the brine shrimp to eat. You might want to separate them in the breeding tank since the females usually become very protective and territorial.