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Tropheops Red Cheeks Overview, Care & Breeding Guide

If you are a beginner and want to add something beautiful without having to conduct such complex methods, the tropheops can make a great choice for you.

The tropheops are the freshwater fish that originated from Lake Malawi, Africa. The other name of this species is tropheops red cheek.

It is an astonishing choice for the aquarists who want to have beautiful fish mates. Some folks are fond of cichlid aquariums. And the tropheops can be the focal point of it. The moment you enter your room, you will be fascinated with the beauty of these fish in your small to a mid-sized aquarium.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
TemperamentCan be aggressive, territorial
AppearanceVibrant blues, yellows, and reds. Dark strip patterns
Life ExpectancyUp to 10 years
Size10.16 – 20.32 cm
DietPlant-based foods
Tank Size50 gallons
Tank MatesCommunity cichlid aquariums

Tropheops is a distinctive species because of its zebra-type colorations. This type is in the Mbunas group.

Mbunas itself is a nickname from Tonga folks that means rockfish or rock-dwelling.

As said by those folks, the fish are usually living in rocky areas which are surrounded by sands.

In their original location, you will mostly find them in the caverns or small caves. There is a good reason why they love to live there.

They will use these areas for praying and eating. Algae usually grow on the rocks. As they stay there, they can also feed on these algae.

Since the algae also attract small insects, crustaceans, and other smaller creatures, they are often becoming the prey of this buddy. The tropheops will use their strong jaws to devour their prey.

There are many species of cichlids in Lake Malawi. But these fish are different from the other cichlids. In my personal opinion, they have more beautiful hues than the other types of cichlids.

When rooted by the great conditions all of them can change their coloration into vibrant yellows, blues, and reds with the striped patterns zebra-type. It is rare to see in the other cichlids.

The scientists called this color swaps ability as polychromatism.

Since it has been domesticated well in many locations, you can easily see this in your favorite fish stores. Just make sure you purchase the breeding stocks from the suppliers that will help you to check on their fertility.

It is a low-maintenance fish that you can keep well in the community aquariums.

Tank Setup

This fish is a schooling type. So, you will want to provide at least a 50-gallon aquarium. But if you are planning to build a community tank, you will need more than that. Some aquarists even took 250 gallons to provide more spaces for the fish and their tank mates.

A good bed of gravel with lots of bigger boulders or tilted flower pots arranged to make caves will help them feel at home.

If you want to maintain more than one Tropheops, set the rocks and caves to reduce eye contact and aggressiveness. The more barriers you have, the more peaceful the community tank will be.

Planning caves or flipping flower pots that can house fish that are huge on their side can make it easier to maintain your aquarium without abrupt adjustments.

This will also save you from a lot of hassles by mitigating the risks of abusive behaviors between them. Building a few distinct territories also helps keep your Trophos red cheek out of each other’s zones.

If you add more fish to the tank, consider getting a larger size tank. It will help you a lot in maintaining and caring for your troops.

Plants are bad for cichlid aquariums, although Tropheops prefer them for cover and a nibble. If you have a cichlid or Lake Malawi community tank, plant them sparsely to avoid rooting.

A cichlid tank of Lake Malawi should have a pH of 7.5-8.5. The level of pH is the key to the maximum size and wellness of the fish.

Think of adding broken coral to the gravel. The pH of water can be dramatically reduced by tannins in driftwood or logs.

For long-term upkeep, tropheops demand clean, stable waters. This implies double the typical filtration needed for the size of your tank. Checking the filtration regularly will keep the environment stable and ideal for their living hood.

This also contributes to the movement of water and oxygenation, maintaining them to be sober all the time.

Tropheops Red Cheeks Tank Mates

Tropheops may be aggressive against other species and thrive in big aquariums with characteristics that they can use to find their way around and establish their territory.

Choose tank mates who are compatible with Tropheops if you wish to establish a communal tank. There are other circumstances where you can add more tank mates such as the larger tanks, and the good aquascape that can de-stress all the fish.

It is typically not recommended to mix different species or sizes of cichlids in a tank.

Compared to other fish, the Mbuna, a cichlid that prefers rocks, is better at reducing confrontation.

There is a possibility that Tropheops and other aggressive colorful cichlids can cohabit.

The challenge here is where they might fight over food. But if you add more objects in your aquarium, these fish can smartly feed on foods without interrupting each other.

Tropheops Sp. closeup

Food & Diet

The tropheops fish are herbivores. They usually feed on plant-based foods. Indeed, they are not picky eaters. But you need to pay attention to it. Since they are herbivores, you should only give them plant-based foods.

If you give them only a little live animal food, or frozen meat and protein, they will bloat. In even worse cases, they can die because of severe bloating.

Feed them with pellets or other kinds of foods that are sinking to the bottom of the tank. There are also commercial products that are purposely created for the herbivore cichlids. Focus on the top brands and high-quality foods so that your fish will thrive and stay happy all the time.

With a combination of good diets and care, you can expect to see your tropheops for 10 years or more.

Breeding Guidelines

To differentiate the gender, you could take a look at the size of the fish. Males can be larger, have more vibrant colors, and are more active.

Meanwhile, females are usually muted in colors and have a rounder shape.

When kept in captivity, Tropheops multiply fast. One of the women usually has eggs more often year-round. It is relatively easy to breed them as long as you have a good environment in your tank aquascape.

But it can be challenging to breed this fish if you can’t confirm that the fish are fertile.

Because so many farmers and businesses create hybrid species, many of the fish you buy may not be suitable for reproduction purposes.

Make sure Tropheops come from a supplier that ensures the fertility of fish. You could take a look at the review sites in your area.

Take the information from good sources and references. Your chance will be much better if you get the fish from trustworthy and reputable stores.

Tropheops can reproduce all year round. If you have more than one male in the tank, you will see that those are fighting over their females.

Jaw locking, trade bitting, and chasing each other are the normal views, especially between the males and females. This is the sign of the males who court their females to make love.

The obvious signs of the courting are when the males are dancing and moving actively. That could be a great sign that they are attracting attention.

The egg-bearing females who are bought will approach the males to make the next movements. The male fish will try to get the females to lay eggs in their territory so that they can fertilize them.

A tropheop breeds by raising her eggs in her mouth. When the lady drops eggs, the male picks them up. Egg batches typically range from 10 to 30 eggs.

To fertilize the eggs held in her mouth, the male pushes her to follow egg-shaped and colorful patches near his anal fin. You will want to monitor these behaviors from day to day. Not all the tank mates are happy to see this kind of adultery.

After spawning, the male chases the woman away. She’ll swim freely for 10-15 days until the eggs hatch and she releases the fry in her mouth. Their babies are so tiny that they make perfect sizes for other tank mates to feed on.

If feasible, move females into a breeder tank to avoid other fish from devouring the fry. Once the babies hatch, you could put the mothers back in the main aquarium.

When you see their babies grow up months later, you could put them into the main aquarium after they reach similar sizes as their parents.