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Chindongo saulosi "Coral Red"

Ch. saulosi location map

Former name: Pseudotropheus saulosi "Coral Red"
Distribution: "Coral Red" is not found in the lake. It is a human made color variant in the aquarium conditions. An original species Chindongo saulosi is distributed in Africa, Lake Malawi, Taiwan Reef locality, north-east of Chisumulu Island.
Size: 10 cm

Conditions in my tank:
Temperature: 25-26 °C, 29 °C in summer
Temporary hardness: 8 °dKH
Total hardness: 15 °dGH
pH: 7.46
NO2: 0 mg/l
NO3: 40-60 mg/l

P. saulosi - maleColoration
Chindongo saulosi is rather known cichlid which is the former species for the human made color variant „Coral Red“. It is an attractive species because both sexes are colored nicely. The male is beautiful blue, the lower part of the body from the mouth through the pelvic and anal fins are dark blue to blue-black colored. This variant differs from the basic coloration by the vertical bars which are narrower and not so strong. The females are dark orange.

I got 6 fishes in size of about 3 cm. After a few years of similar cichlid keeping I don't recommend to keep them in that small number, even though I had no problem with them. I recommend to buy at least 10 - 12 young fish or more. There are not problems from the beginning, when the fish are young, but after they get mature, the conspecific aggressivity may appear. It also depends on the number of males and higher number of males doesn't need to be problematic, although the fish keepers are worying about the higher male:female ratio. On the contrary, in case of small number of males, some of them may serve as a target for aggression and this can be fatal. The young fishes are orange and males begin to show the blue color in size of about 4-5 cm. First, the orange color looks like dirty and gradually changes to blue color. The male looks very interesting in the transition stage of coloring up when the mix of orange and blue is noticeable. I had two fully colored males which were shaking and displaying each other. In the group, there was one more male and he was still dirty orange colored. His body looked like a female but he doesn’t struggle with the dominant males. Later, he was really male.

P. saulosi - young maleKeeping
As the fishes are relatively small they don’t need a big aquarium. They can be kept in smaller tanks, about 150 litres, but I recommend larger tanks about 200 - 250 litres with 100 cm front glass size. These mbunas can be kept with other smaller malawian cichlids. When the fishes were young I have never observed the aggressive behaviour towards the other species. Also the attacks towards the females were not too dangerous. They were able to „negotiate“ on the tank occupation without the aggressive behaviour. Later, when they mature, the male tried to create their own territories and they started to fight. The fights were harder and harder and the winner was chasing the loser around the tank. He often ended injured in the tank corner. The subdominant males which have orange or pale blue-orange coloration can change their color to blue unexpectedly quickly. These males try to fight with the dominant one. Suddenly, I had three blue males in the tank. The good sex ratio is at least two males and a few females in my experience. The tank should contain the rock piles like with other mbunas. However, it is not needed to make many caves because they don’t search for them and swim around the tank all the day.

P. saulosi - holding femaleBreeding
When the orange colour of males are changing to blue the first spawn appears. They spawn like other mouthbrooders. The male attracts the female to the selected place with a small depression in the sand. Both fishes are then swimming in a circle and releasing the eggs and sperm in T-position. After the spawn, the female stays in a secrecy for a few hours but later is swimming around the tank with other fishes. In the end of the holding period she tries to take the small particles of the food. I left the firts spawn to its own in the community tank and after about 22 days the female released the fry. I was not able to note them so they were eaten by the other fishes. The female was considerably emaciated but despite this fact she held the fry in her mouth obstinately during the whole holding period.

The fishes should be fed with the vegetable diet according to the data from their natural habit. There is not a problem to mix the vegetable diet with the food containing the higher part of the animal proteins. I used to mix the quality flakes like Sera Flora and Sera San (or the other flakes, i.e. Tropical) with a ratio of 50:50 like in other Malawi mbunas I kept. I also added the dried shrimps to this mixture. Except of the flake mixture I used to feed the frozen cyclops few times a week. I feed the fishes 3 times a day. In the end of this article I have one tip for you: if you want to get the intense red-orange coloration of the fishes it will be needed to feed the frozen cyclops or better live cyclops from a safe source after the fry are released.

P. saulosi - femaleP. saulosi - 1 month old P. saulosi - 3 months oldP. saulosi - 5 months old

Chindongo saulosi "Coral Red" is a very nice fish and in the appropriate water quality also not difficult fish which can spawn in the community tank with no problems.

Copyright © 2003 - 2017 Robert Toman

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