Duboisi Cichlid: Care, Tank Mates, Habitat & Full Details!

Duboisi Cichlid, also scientifically referred to as Tropheus duboisi, showcases a lively temperament, inherent in its robust nature. It thrives in temperatures between 72-82° F, in water with a PH range of 7.8-9.0.

The maximum growth of this omnivorous species extends to 5 inches, and they require a minimum tank size of 50 gallons. They are amicable with fellow Tanganyikan Cichlids and Malawian Cichlids.

Its introduction into the aquatic hobbyist community in the 1970s paved the way for its popularity, making it one of the most sought-after Cichlids today. For the first time, these fish were presented at an exhibition in Germany, where they made a splash and became a bestseller.

However, its inherent aggressive disposition and intricate breeding conditions necessitate meticulous care and maintenance.

Lets dive deep into the world of Duboisi Cichlid.


Quick Stats About Duboisi Cichlid

Common Name Duboisi Cichlid
Scientific Name Tropheus duboisi
Water Temperature 72-82° F
Water PH 7.8-9.0
Maximum Size 5 inches
Diet Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size 50 gallons
Tank Mates Tanganyikan Cichlids, Malawian Cichlids
Temperament Aggressive

Duboisi Cichlid Appearance

The Duboisi Cichlid (Tropheus duboisi), also known as the White Spotted Cichlid, is undeniably a captivating and visually impressive species of the Cichlid family. One can’t help but marvel at the intriguing transformation they undergo throughout their lifespan.

As juveniles, these fish parade an intense jet black body adorned with a multitude of white dots – an aesthetic evocative of a starry night sky.

As they mature, these spots gradually fade. Meanwhile, their heads bloom with a fascinating blueish hue. It’s not just their colors that change; their body form alters too.

Their most distinctive feature, a strikingly thick yellow band, appears just behind the pectoral fin in their adult stage. In terms of size, the Duboisi Cichlid is reasonably substantial, reaching up to five inches in length.

This metamorphic display from adolescence to adulthood creates an ever-changing, living artwork within your aquarium.

Natural Habitat of Duboisi Cichlid

The Duboisi Cichlid hails from the diverse ecosystem of Lake Tanganyika in Africa, the world’s second oldest freshwater lake. This majestic habitat, enriched by the millennia-old ecosystem, has fostered a unique adaptive behavior in these fish.

They inhabit the rocky coastal waters of the lake where they have access to aufwuchs – an algae diet that has shaped their survival tactics and eating habits.

Their environment has a sandy or aragonite substrate, with water hardness levels between 10-15 dGH, and the pH levels remain between 7.8 and 9.0.

In captivity, they thrive best in an environment that closely replicates these conditions. A 50-gallon tank is the bare minimum for their comfort, but an expanded space of a 75-gallon tank is more conducive to their well-being.

By simulating their native habitat, you allow the Duboisi Cichlid to express their most vibrant colors and natural behaviors.

Origin and Distribution

The Duboisi Cichlid is indigenous to Lake Tanganyika, Africa. The distribution of these enigmatic creatures, sadly, is restricted to just four northern regions of the lake, leading to their “vulnerable” status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Despite the geographical constraints, the appeal of Duboisi Cichlid transcended its native borders during the 1970s when they first caught the eyes of fish keepers.

Their intriguing behavior, striking transformation, and their bold yet beautiful appearance made them a cherished specimen. Today, they are among the most popular Cichlids in the global aquarium trade.

Growth, Size & Lifespan of Duboisi Cichlid

The life cycle of the Duboisi Cichlid is a compelling journey. They are slow growers, and it can take several years for them to reach their full potential.

This growth period lends a sense of progression and evolution to their presence in an aquarium.

When it comes to size, Duboisi Cichlids are fairly robust, reaching up to 5 inches in length upon full maturity. This makes them a substantial, eye-catching addition to a diverse aquarium setup.

Their lifespan is equally remarkable. In captivity, they can live for 5 to 8 years, but with excellent care and optimal tank conditions, it’s not uncommon for them to live even longer.

Their extended lifespan, coupled with their dynamic changes in appearance, provide a long-term engagement that continues to delight aquarium owners over the years.

Duboisi Cichlid Behavior and Temperament

The Duboisi Cichlid (Tropheus duboisi) is not just an impressive sight; its behavior is a spectacle to behold as well. Known for their vibrant energy, these fish are always on the move, foraging for food or marking territory.

They have a dominant and somewhat aggressive temperament, especially when it comes to securing their territory or during feeding times.

Their social structure is fascinating – these fish are highly social and live in large groups or colonies in their natural habitats. In an aquarium, they exhibit the same communal behavior and do best when kept in groups.

This social interaction is a part of their survival strategy, and observing them can be an enriching experience.

However, aquarium owners should take care to maintain a balance between males and females in the tank.

Males can be territorial and aggressive, leading to clashes within the group. Ensuring a harmonious blend of genders can help mitigate this issue and foster a peaceful environment.

Tank Setup for Duboisi Cichlid

Creating the perfect habitat for the Duboisi Cichlid in captivity involves a series of steps.

Let’s delve into the details of each aspect of setting up the tank.

Tank Size

Duboisi Cichlids require a spacious environment due to their active nature and social behavior.

A 50-gallon tank is the minimum recommended size. However, for larger groups, a tank of 75 gallons or more is advisable to ensure they have enough room to swim and establish territories.


Replicating the sandy substrates of their natural habitat is crucial. A fine sand or aragonite substrate is recommended for a Duboisi Cichlid tank, as it mimics the conditions of Lake Tanganyika.

The substrate should also be durable and non-toxic to ensure the safety of your fish.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Decorate the tank with a selection of rocks and caves to provide the Duboisi Cichlids with hiding places and areas to claim as territories.

They love to explore, and these decorations not only add aesthetic appeal but also offer the fish a sense of security.

Water Parameters

Duboisi Cichlids are used to the specific water conditions of Lake Tanganyika. The water temperature should be maintained between 72°F and 82°F.

The pH level should be slightly alkaline, between 7.8 and 9.0. The water hardness should range from 10 to 15 dGH. Regular water changes are vital to keep these parameters in check.

Filtration and Aeration

Good filtration is essential for the health of Duboisi Cichlids, as it helps maintain water clarity and prevent the build-up of harmful substances.

Aeration is also crucial, as it ensures a healthy oxygen supply, contributing to the well-being of your fish.


Duboisi Cichlids are not particularly sensitive to lighting. Moderate lighting conditions are suitable, and it is best to follow a regular day-night cycle to mimic their natural environment.

Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for your Duboisi Cichlids, consider their aggressive behavior. It is best to avoid other Cichlid species or fish that are significantly smaller.

Ideal tank mates can include larger, peaceful fish that can tolerate the active behavior of the Duboisi Cichlids.


Duboisi Cichlids are herbivores and have a preference for plant-based foods. A diet rich in algae and vegetable matter is crucial to their health.

High-quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with fresh vegetables and occasional servings of live food, will keep your Duboisi Cichlids in top condition.

Remember, each Duboisi Cichlid has its unique personality and preferences. Observing their behavior and tweaking the tank conditions accordingly can ensure a happy, healthy habitat for these fascinating fish.

Tank Maintenance for Duboisi Cichlids

Creating a comfortable environment for your Duboisi Cichlids doesn’t end at the initial setup.

Regular maintenance is key to the well-being of your fish and ensures the tank stays a vibrant, clean, and healthy habitat.

Regular Water Changes

Changing the tank water is vital for your Duboisi Cichlids’ health. Aim to replace about 20% to 25% of the tank water every two weeks. This helps keep the water clean and the water parameters stable, reducing the risk of diseases.

During water changes, it’s important to treat the new water with a dechlorinator before introducing it to the tank.

This makes the water safe for the fish and protects the beneficial bacteria in your tank.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

Cleaning the tank and decorations helps keep the environment healthy and visually appealing.

Remember to clean algae growth off the sides of the tank and any decorations using a suitable aquarium brush or scraper.

However, don’t scrub too hard or use detergents, as these can harm the fish and upset the tank’s balance.

Filter Maintenance

The filter is a critical component of the tank’s ecosystem. It helps maintain water clarity and remove toxic substances, so keeping it in good working order is essential.

Clean or replace the filter media according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually once a month. But be careful not to over-clean, as this can destroy beneficial bacteria that aid in the nitrogen cycle.

Monitor Fish Health

Keeping a keen eye on your Duboisi Cichlids’ health is a key aspect of tank maintenance. Monitor your fish daily for any signs of illness, such as changes in behavior, loss of appetite, or physical abnormalities.

If you notice anything unusual, it’s important to take action promptly. Consult with a vet or an aquarium professional to diagnose and treat any potential health issues.

In conclusion, tank maintenance is an ongoing task that requires attention and dedication.

But with the right approach and regular care, you can create an environment where your Duboisi Cichlids can thrive and exhibit their natural, vibrant behavior.

It’s a rewarding task that enhances not just the life of your fish, but also the overall aquarium experience.

Acclimating Duboisi Cichlid

Introducing Duboisi Cichlids to a new environment must be done with care. Acclimation allows your fish to adjust to their new home, ensuring a smooth transition and reducing stress. The most common method is the “drip” technique.

Start by placing the Duboisi Cichlids, still in their transportation bag, into the aquarium. This helps balance the water temperature.

After 15 minutes, open the bag and add a cup of the tank water. Then, start a siphon using a piece of airline tubing, adjusting the drip rate to about 2-4 drips per second.

Once the bag fills up, remove half of the water and let it fill up again. This gradual process allows the fish to adjust to the water’s pH and other parameters over a span of an hour or two.

Afterwards, gently release the Cichlids into the tank, avoiding any water from the bag, which might contain pollutants.

Duboisi Cichlid Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Duboisi Cichlids the right diet is crucial to their health and vibrancy.

These fish are omnivores, which means they require a mix of both plant-based and meaty foods.

Here is a detailed overview of their dietary needs:

Variety is Key

Avoid feeding them the same food all the time. A varied diet ensures they get all the nutrients they need and keeps them interested in feeding time.

Protein-Rich Foods

Live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms are great sources of protein for Duboisi Cichlids. However, they should be given as treats rather than staples because they can cause obesity and other health issues if overfed.


Algae and vegetable-based foods should make up a significant portion of their diet. Spirulina flakes are a good choice, as well as blanched vegetables like spinach and peas.

Commercial Cichlid Pellets

High-quality cichlid pellets or granules can be the staple of their diet. They are nutritionally balanced and easy to feed.

Feeding Schedule

Duboisi Cichlids should be fed 1-2 times a day, giving only as much food as they can eat in 2-3 minutes. Overfeeding can lead to water pollution and health problems.

In conclusion, a balanced diet and correct feeding practices are as important as tank conditions in keeping your Duboisi Cichlids happy and healthy.

Pay attention to their diet and you will be rewarded with vibrant, active fish that add life and color to your aquarium.

Tank Mates and Tank Mates to Avoid For Duboisi

Creating a harmonious aquarium community is no small feat. Your tank residents must coexist peacefully, respecting each other’s territories.

For Duboisi Cichlids, choosing the right tank mates is crucial.

Here’s a detailed guide to help you.

Compatible Tank Mates

Duboisi Cichlids do best with other cichlids that match their temperament.

Here are some suitable tank mates:

  1. Yellow Lab Cichlid (Labidochromis caeruleus): Known for their bright color and peaceful nature, Yellow Labs can cohabit well with Duboisi Cichlids.

  2. Acei Cichlid (Pseudotropheus acei): These cichlids are peaceful and can comfortably share a tank with Duboisi.

  3. Demasoni Cichlid (Pseudotropheus demasoni): They are similar in size and temperament to the Duboisi, making them good companions.

  4. Blue Dolphin Cichlid (Cyrtocara moorii): Larger but peaceful, they can share space without conflicts.

  5. Rusty Cichlid (Iodotropheus sprengerae): Known for their peaceful nature, they make good tank mates for many cichlids.

Tank Mates to Avoid

Avoid pairing Duboisi Cichlids with fish that are either too aggressive or too peaceful.

Here are a few to steer clear of:

  1. Oscar Fish (Astronotus ocellatus): Oscars can be very aggressive and might bully or even eat smaller fish.

  2. Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus): They are known for their aggressive nature and could harm the Duboisi.

  3. Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis bimaculatus): Their aggressive nature could lead to conflicts in the tank.

  4. Frontosa (Cyphotilapia frontosa): They may be peaceful but can outgrow the Duboisi and may see them as food.

  5. Small peaceful fish: Small fish like guppies, neon tetras, or rasboras can become an unintended meal for the Duboisi.

Breeding Duboisi Cichlids and Fry Care

Breeding Duboisi Cichlids in captivity can be a rewarding experience. They are mouthbrooders, which means the females carry eggs in their mouth until they hatch.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Mating Behavior: The males will begin to show more vibrant colors and become more aggressive during the breeding period. They will chase the female around the tank and perform a mating dance to attract her.

  2. Spawning: The female lays eggs on a flat rock, and then the male fertilizes them. The female then collects the eggs into her mouth where they will incubate.

  3. Brooding Period: The female will carry the eggs for about 3-4 weeks without eating. She will sometimes release the fry to explore but will scoop them back up at any sign of danger.

  4. Post-Hatching: Once the fry are released, they are usually able to fend for themselves. However, you should provide suitable hiding places to ensure their safety.

  5. Fry Care: Initially, you can feed them finely crushed flake food or specially designed fry food. As they grow, gradually introduce them to the adult diet.

Remember, maintaining a stable, stress-free environment is key for successful breeding.

Similarly, providing balanced nutrition and appropriate care is crucial for the health and growth of the fry.

Signs of Stress in Duboisi Cichlid

Just like any other creature, Duboisi Cichlids can experience stress, which can lead to health issues.

Recognizing these signs is crucial:

  1. Loss of Appetite: If your fish is not eating as much or has stopped altogether, it could be a sign of stress.

  2. Erratic Swimming: Frequent darting or swimming near the surface often indicates stress in your Duboisi Cichlid.

  3. Faded Colors: Stress can cause your Duboisi Cichlid to lose its vibrant color, turning it dull and lackluster.

  4. Lethargy: Less activity or hiding in corners can be a clear sign of stress.

Common Health Issues and Treatments for Duboisi Cichlid

Duboisi Cichlids are fairly hardy, but they can be prone to certain diseases:

  1. Ich: Also known as white spot disease, it can be treated with over-the-counter medications and by raising the tank’s temperature slightly.

  2. Fin Rot: This condition often results from poor water quality and can be treated with antibiotics.

  3. Malawi Bloat: A diet high in protein can cause this. Treatment involves reducing protein intake and using specialized medication.

Remember, the best defense against illness is preventative care—maintain high water quality, provide a balanced diet, and reduce stress.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

  1. Regular Testing: Regularly test the water parameters to ensure they remain within the ideal range.

  2. Don’t Overfeed: Overfeeding can lead to obesity and poor water quality, both harmful to your fish’s health.

  3. Quarantine New Fish: Always quarantine new fish before adding them to your main tank to prevent disease transmission.

  4. Provide Enough Space: Overcrowding can cause stress, territorial disputes, and poor water quality.

Should You Get a Duboisi Cichlid for Your Aquarium?

Deciding to add a Duboisi Cichlid to your aquarium should be a decision made with careful consideration. If you’re ready for a bit of a challenge and are prepared to meet their specific needs, Duboisi Cichlids can be an exciting and rewarding addition.

Their unique behavior, striking appearance, and energetic demeanor can truly bring life and color to your tank. However, they are not the best choice for beginners due to their specific care requirements and somewhat aggressive nature.

Remember, always do your research before bringing a new pet into your home.

Conservation Status

The Duboisi Cichlid, like other Lake Tanganyika species, is subject to potential threats from overfishing, habitat loss, and climate change.

This celebrated cichlid, often referred to as the White Spotted Cichlid, is native to the pristine waters of Lake Tanganyika, Africa.

As per the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Duboisi Cichlid is listed as “vulnerable” having been found in only four distinct northern sectors of the lake.

Availability & Pricing

Duboisi Cichlids are a popular choice among aquarium hobbyists, making them widely available in pet stores and online.

Their pricing can vary, ranging from $10 to $30 per fish, depending on their size and color pattern.

It’s always a good idea to purchase from reputable breeders to ensure the health and quality of your fish.

Frequently Asked Questions About Duboisi Cichlid

1. How long does a Duboisi Cichlid live?

With proper care, a Duboisi Cichlid can live up to 10 years in an aquarium setting.

2. How big does a Duboisi Cichlid get?

They can grow up to 5 inches in length.

3. Are Duboisi Cichlids aggressive?

Yes, they can display territorial behavior, especially during the breeding season.

4. What do Duboisi Cichlids eat?

They have a varied diet, including plant matter and small invertebrates.


In conclusion, Duboisi Cichlids make a captivating addition to any tank due to their unique appearances and behaviors. However, they require careful management to thrive.

If you’re ready to commit to their specific needs, these fish can bring years of joy and intrigue to your aquarium.

Always remember the best care comes from understanding their natural habitat and emulating this as closely as possible in the aquarium. Happy fishkeeping!