Rusty Cichlid Care Guide: Tank Setup and much more – 2021

Rusty Cichlid


Have you ever imagined how colorful and bright your fish tank would appear by keeping rusty orange cichlids having a light purplish hue? Rusty cichlids are the best buddies for your tank if you want to add more fun to your fish parenting.

Rusty cichlids are usually found in the islands of Lake Malawi, Africa. This type of African Cichlids are omnivores by nature and extend up to 10 cm. However, they are peaceful yet partially aggressive within their genus. However, these fishes need minimal care for their growth.


Category Rating
Level of care Very easy
Temperament Relatively peaceful
Appearance Rusty orange with a violet tinge
Life expectancy 8 years
Size 10 cm
Diet Vegetables and live foods
Family Cichlidae
Tank Size 55 gallons
Tank Environment Hard water with rocks and cave
Tank Mates Very peaceful fish

About Rusty Cichlid


The small rusty cichlids are usually found in the Boadzulu and Chinyankwazi islands in the Lake Malawi of Africa. Being originated and grown up in this sandy and rocky lake, you need to make sure to mimic a similar water condition in these cichlids’ tanks.

However, these rusty African cichlids are not much territorial and relatively peaceful as compared to other cichlid species. So, are you thinking of keeping them in your tank? Then, you are indeed making the right choice!

However, their aggression exists between male and female counterparts more than with other fishes. The rusty peacock cichlids are best to keep in a harem of a single male and a group of 3-4 females. It is necessary to make them stay away from spreading much aggression.


Rusty Cichlid Temperament


Rusty cichlids are much peaceful when they are compared to the other fishes inhabiting Lake Malawi of Africa. But are you wondering, are cichlids aggressive?

Well, they can show a bit of aggression towards the fishes, which belong to the same genus. Well, this Lake Malawi fish loves to live with other Mbuna fishes.

But do you know an interesting fact about rusty cichlids? They are not at all pairing fishes. Hence, it would be best if you kept the male cichlids in a harem, along with a few females, to control their aggression towards one particular female fish during their spawning season.

Also, while keeping these tiny cichlids, make sure you are not placing them with Lake Malawi Peacocks as it is going to stress them much.


Rusty Cichlid Tank Requirements


Rusty cichlids are known for their origin in sediment-free rocky habitats near the Boadzulu and Chinyamwezu islands. Thus, for taking proper care of these cichlids, make sure to offer them optimal tank requirements.

A 4 ft. long aquarium is going to be useful for them. An aquascaped tank with a rocky reef effect will be ideal for your pretty little rusties.

You can opt for decorating the aquarium with ocean rocks to build a very sturdy and concrete structure that stretches from the tank’s base area towards the water’s surface.

For preparing the substrate, it is recommended to use coral sand or aragonite to keep the water hard and alkaline. In a darker surface area, Mbuna feels much safe and offers better bright colors.

The ideal pH of tank water should be between 7.8-8.6. Also, make sure the water temperature lies within 76-82℉.

Too much plantation in the tank is not at all recommended. If you are keeping rusty cichlids with plants, keep in mind that they will eat a lot of foliage. Hence, look for hardy plants and aquascape them in the tank accordingly to complement well with your vibrant fishes.

Rusty Cichlid Tank Setup


While keeping rusty cichlids in your home, make sure the tank meets all the essential requirements for the setup. To keep these species of cichlids, you need to follow the below-mentioned guidelines to offer proper care. Here are the factors that you need to ensure for a proper tank setup.

  • The tank must be a minimum of 4 ft. with a 55-gallon capacity. A too-large tank is not needed. Also, make sure the tank has enough room and is not much small to let cichlids breathe.
  • Ensure that the water is slightly acidic and hard by nature.
  • Keep the water pH somewhere between 7.8-8.6
  • Maintain the temperature of tank water within 76-82℉. You can also consider a water heater to maintain a warm temperature suitable for your rusties.
  • Add more rocks to the fish tank. Keep several stones at the bottom of the aquarium, along with driftwood pieces. Also, provide something to munch while feeding them.
  • Keep hard plants like java fern, java moss, or Anubis to ensure that they are not eating away your foliage.
  • These African cichlids are quite messy. Thus, it is better to add a filtration system to keep them healthy and fit.


Rusty Cichlid Tank Mates


Do you have this thought on your mind – are cichlids aggressive? Well, then let us tell you, this particular species of cichlids are undoubtedly very peaceful. So, while picking tank mates for them, make sure that you are getting the right ones.

The other tank buddies must not be much aggressive or large enough to harm your peaceful rusties. So, always opt for calm fishes, which can easily live with rusty cichlids without territorial violence.

Now, do you want to know the compatible tank mates for your rusty orange cichlids? Well, then check out the list of compatible aqua buddies below.

  • Alunocara
  • Haps
  • Capadichromis
  • Labidochromis Caeruleus
  • Lavender Cichlid


What Do Rusty Cichlids Eat?


Well, feeding rusty cichlids is not at all a challenging task. Since they are omnivorous by nature, you can easily provide them any good quality flake food, which is easy to offer in appropriate sizes.

Make sure the granular foods are specially made for Mbuna fishes. You can also change their diet with Mysis shrimps to maintain a variation in their foods.

Also, it is better to offer vitamin-enriched brine shrimps to your rusties to provide them with the right nutrients.

These cichlids also survive well on mosquito larvae. So, why offer the same bland food to them when you can add variety to their diet?

Keep it much nutritious with veggies like cucumbers or other blanched vegetables like spinach or romaine lettuce. You can even feed them this vegetable-rich diet regularly to facilitate their proper growth and development.

Any of the fishes belonging to Malawi Lake are much prone to Malawi Bloat. In this health issue, they tend to be hungry always, even when they are not.

So, you need to limit your feeding to only 1-2 times a day, and it would be enough for a fish to eat within 30 seconds to a minute.

Rusty cichlids are quite hardy. Thus, they can be offered to starve a few days occasionally. It is completely fine if you skip or forget to feed them for a full day or a couple of days. It will not at all produce adverse effects on their gorgeous body color.

Caring for Rusty Cichlids


Have you decided on keeping rusty cichlids in your tank? So, do you know how to take proper care of these peaceful creatures in your fish tank? Well, it is easier with these timid buddies.

Rusty cichlids or Iodotrophenus sprengerae look great with their colorful look and charm. They tend to stay at the top, middle, or near the bottom of the tank.

Now, do you know what the perfect living place for these species of cichlids is? Well, it’s a tank decorated with many rocks and caves, along with driftwood. Such a tank setup usually gives them more place to play and hide, which is crucial for their fast growth.

Moreover, ensure that your tank has hardy plants, as these fishes can damage the plants with their rapid hide and seek activities or even eat them away.


Rusty Cichlid Breeding Guidelines


So, are you thinking of keeping rusty cichlids in your fish tank? Or are you already having them? Well, then you need to know everything about their breeding.

The breeding habit of rusty cichlids is quite similar to any other mouthbrooder of the African lake. A breeding pit is dug on the substrate, and females tend to swim in small circles just above the pit. During every pass, they drop some eggs into the pit.

The male cichlids then swim in small circles right above the pit area. As the female cichlids form eggs, the males will release their sperm to fertilize those eggs.

Once the eggs got fertilized, during the next pass, female cichlids pick up these inseminated eggs in their mouths and release another egg to undergo the same fertilization process.

The process continues until the female fishes release 15-20 eggs and then pick them up in their mouths. During mouthbrooding, the females store the eggs within their mouths for 18 days near their throats.

As the fries hatch, the female fishes still store them in their mouth for as long as they become big enough to come out. During this whole process, the female fishes do not eat anything.

To offer proper care during the breeding period, you can keep these rusties together in some other breeding or nursery tank. It will help you to keep away any aggressive fishes from the rusties during their breeding period.

After hatching the eggs, it’s essential to keep the females in another tank to give them two weeks of a break so that they can regain their strength and start breeding again.

However, remember that constant breeding is not at all good for rusty female cichlids as it can risk their lives.


Rusty Cichlid

How to Care for Rusty Cichlid Fries?


Well, you don’t have to worry much about caring for the fries as the mommy rusties already offer some initial care for them.

Nevertheless, to take better care of rusty cichlid fries, you can take them to a new nursery tank, which is small enough.

After one or two weeks of their hatching, start performing a routine water change. Changing 10-20% of the water in the tank and adding fresh dechlorinated water will be perfect for their growth.

Well, do you know, a protein-rich diet is much recommended for your fries’ proper development? You can begin feeding the fries two or three times a day with a mixture of protein-rich fry foods. Give them live foods like infusoria and newly hatched brine shrimps too. Besides, do feed them with some veggies as well.

Finally, move them to the original tank after 4-6 weeks as they grow slightly bigger.

Where to Buy Rusty Cichlids?


Rusty cichlids are easy to find anywhere in the nearby stores. They are not at all rare, and you can easily buy them from any aquarist shop.

However, if you do not find it nearby, you can undoubtedly opt for a hobbyist or buy it from any online shop.


How Big Do Rusty Cichlids Get?


Rusty cichlids usually reach up to 10 cm in size. Typically, the males achieve 4-inches or 10 cm in length. On the other hand, the females are slightly smaller.

You can distinguish male cichlids with additional egg spots near their anal fin area. Also, they tend to grow quicker than their female counterparts.

Well, these species of cichlids are dimorphic, which means both the male and female counterparts look almost the same.


How Long Do Rusty Cichlids Live?


Rusty cichlids can be a perfect tank mate for you owing to their long lifespan.

These African cichlids usually live up to 8 years, making themselves a good buddy for you in the long run.


Final Thoughts


So now that you have reached the end of the article, you must have realized how rusty cichlids can be a great tank partner for your calm and small tank buddies.

Also, taking care of these cichlids is relatively easier as they are very easy to feed and grow.

So, if you have bought one or deciding to purchase one, make sure you are giving them the best of care and a safe aquatic environment so that they can enjoy living every bit and dazzle brightly in your tank.