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C. Frontosa


  1. photo by Erik Olson
    by (Kaufman M.E.) (22 Mar 1994)
  3. Breading Frontosa questions
    by (cis productions) (Sat, 30 Jul 1994)
  4. Lettuce for Chiclids
    by (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) (Thu, 24 Aug 1995)
  5. cyphotiliapia frontosa
    by jerry mayer <jerrold_h._mayer/> (Fri, 02 May 1997)
  6. frontosas
    by Cliff Edwards <mbuna/> (Thu, 4 Apr 1996)


by (Kaufman M.E.)
Date: 22 Mar 1994

Mark Roxberry ( wrote:
: I just wanted to find out if anyone has ever heard of a FRONTOSA--It is of

Perhaps I'm spoiled living in NJ, but you often see them in better
pet shops. Big, blue, black stripes, humped heads.
Supposedly vegetarian. Always available, never cheap. Not 'rare'
by any means. A couple folks in the local club used to turn that fish out
in quantity; takes *big* tanks and a spawning group of 6-8. Kinda touchy
about water chemistry (likes it clean and well oxygenated.)  Odd that
it would be 'rare' in Pa, heck, I think I saw some very unhealthy
looking ones at Martin's in Jenkintown a couple weekends ago. By the
way, this was one of the worst pet shops it's been my experience
to ever visit. I wouldn't be suprised if the paltry few fish that were
alive 2 saturdays back were dead by the following monday, not like the
owner's would care. I hadn't seen a store with sick *mammals* before, either,
unhealthy dogs and cats. Almost as bad as that Aqua-Tropics place that
advertises in FAMA sometimes, but not quite as disgusting. So, don't
go to Martins to find tropheus, the point was made for comparison.

Steve Somermeyer, an ACA board member (at least at one time) and big-time
cichlid hobbyist dude breeds them as well. His secret is feeding huge
adult fish baby brine shrimp and lots of veggies. He gives an excellent
presentation on tanganyikans in general and mouthbrooding tanganyikans
in specific like Tropheus and Frontosa.
He also strips the fry and eggs from mouthbrooding females. Apparently, fry
with eggs sacs will also consume some baby brine shrimp. Kinda cool to see.

As with all cichlids, best to start out with a group of youngsters and
wait for a pair to form. I believe they're harem polygamists - a male
will spawn with several females. The biggest tank you can
fit and afford, the better. 8' tanks work well, from what I've been told.

You know, Mother     |copyright 1994, All rights
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Breading Frontosa questions

by (cis productions)
Date: Sat, 30 Jul 1994
Newsgroup: alt.aquaria

well, first of all, i'd bread them with flour and breadcrumbs. heat oil
to 350 degrees, etc.

>  - 130 gal. cylinder tank 3' diameter 3' deep with lots 
>    of lace lava rock and a gravel bottom. 
>  - Lots of plastic plants and hiding places.
>  - Temp. set at 78 degrees. 
>  - Water is Slightly alkaline.
>  - 3 Frontosis which are 4 to 5 years old and 7-9 inches long.

hmmm, have you established for a fact that out of the three frontosas,
that there is at least one male and one female?
i think this is the most important issue here.

>The list of questions I have are..
>  1. How do they lay there eggs (ie. vertical surface, 
>      horzontal surface, mouth broders)

they will breed in a small open area usually in the gravel. the male
will "mark" the territory and it should be fairly obvious when they
are in breeding mode. i first spawned a 6" pair in a 26 gallon tank.

>  2. Should I move some of these other fish out of the tank
>     or will the change in the social order and keep the
>     parents from breeding.

i doubt if any of the other fish are stopping the frontosa from

>  3. Is gravel all right or should I change to sand.

IMHO, sand is preferable, but i've spawned them in gravel and in sand.

>  4. Are they good parents or do the eggs need to be removed
>     from the tank.

generally, they hold pretty well.

good luck,


[invisible sig.....just add water.]

Lettuce for Chiclids

by (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995
Newsgroup: alt.aquaria

stuff deleted
>This depends on the cichlid(s) you are talking about. If you are refering
>to algae eating cichlids from L. Malawi or Tanganyika, this will help
>supplement the diet. Of course if you have something like a C. Frontosa, it
>will not eat the lettuce it will shred the hell out of it and not eat a
>A good book is The Cichlid Aquarium by Paul Loiselle (TFH)  
>     Mike McLaughlin.         -                  - 
>             really. 

respectfully disagree. I have six fronts who do tear it to shreds, but
big pieces disappear down their throats, not to reappear. I have a 90
gallon with tang cichlids and they all seem to like the greens. I've
used frozen husked green peas, endive, red leaf and romaine. They
don't seem to care for spinach. The piece I put in is usally about 2x3
inches and it's gone in about 20-30 minutes. I always wash well, but
don't use organic.

cyphotiliapia frontosa

by jerry mayer <jerrold_h._mayer/>
Date: Fri, 02 May 1997
To: eriko/

re: the articles posted on c. frontosa

1-the frontosa is not a vegitarian-per fryer and iles, cichlids of the 
great rift lakes of africa,  the dentition of the species is not that of 
a algea eating rock scraper-in fact they consume shrimp, mollusks and 
small fish.

2-they do not eat lettuce.

3-i have been breeding frontosas for many years.  if you strip the fry 
from a brooding female at the yolk sac stage you will fail to "imprint" 
the fry properly.  although many assume this method may yeald greater 
commercial quantities of fish for sale it will produce fish that do not 
know the correct and natural brooding behaivour for this species.  fry 
produced by stripping will grow up to be egg eaters.

4- frontosas begin with small broods of 4-6 fry and after a year an adult 
female will produce 30-50 fry.  do not confuse small initial broods with 
"lost" fry due to consumption by properly imprinted adults. females 
generally are ready to breed every 60 days.

5-i have had success breeding frontosas in a 125 gal tank with 1 adult 
male and 15 females.  they like clean water kept at 78 degrees.  ph 
should be very alkaline 7.5+ and very hard, and no salt should be added 
to the water.  lake tangankia lacks sodium chloride as part of it's water 
chemestry.  they do well on tetra min, krill or fresh shrimp. a large 
selection of females keeps the male busy and prevents the male from 
focusing on any single female and causing damage to her through sustaned 
agression, this saves wear and tear on the females.

6-the reference to "plants" in the on-line article does not make sense.
the natural habitat of the frontosa is some 35 meters deep. this is a 
rock and sandy substrate species, there are no plants to be found in this 
strata of their lake tanganika habitat, therefor placing plants in the 
tank serves no purpose as far as the frontosas themselves are concerned.
live plants (except for tanganikan valisanria) will wither and die under 
optimum frontosa water conditions in any case and plastic plants look 

7-sexing c. frontosa.  believe it or not a trained eye can sex frontosa 
from as early as 2 month of age.  males are heavier, more aggressive and 
most important like to hover closer to the bottom than females.  this 
bottom hugging behaivour by males is a  typical mating/social interaction
behaivour. a female that comes down in the water colum to the substrate 
nest of a dominant male is signalling her desire to breed.  once you know 
what to look for it is easy to tell at a glance which sex is which from 
their hovering height over the substrate. even in young specimens. they 
do like to hover.  the typical secondary sex charachteristics to look for 
in adults are the pronounced dorsal hump of adult males.  dowager females 
may also exhibit a hump.  longer dorsal, anal and pelvic fin extensions 
on the male. also adult males will outweigh adult females by a large 
margin.  frontosas will live for at least than 15 years and probably 
longer.  i have one that is that old.


by Cliff Edwards <mbuna/>
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids

Cyphotilapia frontosa is showing up as several variants these days, 6 Bar 
from Burundi, Tanzanian 7 Bar, Kavalla, Kigoma, so called "blues", 
most noticeable is the Zaire Blue, then Cape Mpimbwe Blue, also the 
Zambian blue. Some of these are subtle differances, others are strikingly 
recognizable such as Zaire.

Most Frontosa mature at about 4 years of age. This is a major factor most 
people attribute to their challenge in spawning them. They see a large 
fish and asssume it must be mature. I have kept a frontosa to almost 10 
years of age, and heard stories of much longer, like a 14 year old 
breeding pair.

Frontosa are "oportunistic piscavores" that can attain lengths up to 
14-16" for males. I have never persoanally seen a female crest 10". They 
are mosty active at dawn and dusk, awaking before the other inhabitants 
and more than willing to snatch a "groggy" small fish for breakfast 
prior to their waking. In the aquarium they adapt readily to good 
quality prepared foods including flake, pellet and frozen foods. I feed 
alot of homemade frozen "shrimp mix" and Table type Shrimp. They are a 
very docile aquarium inhabitant, and generally never show any signs of 
being a piscavore unless housed with "bite-size" tankmates.

I always reccomend for "permanent" tankmates other large slow moving 
Tanganyikans or Malawians especially if the the Frontosa best interest 
is in mind or breeding is the goal. I generally maintain them as a 
species in large groups, this is how I believe they show best. Peacocks 
work well, pairs of med. lamps or lg. juli's are fine. Not much
can rival a 6ft aquarium with 8-10 mature frontosa. I reccomend more 
than one male in a harem of females. The males when kept singly have too 
much time on there hands to burden the ladies. Males when kept 3+ don't 
really fight, they open their mouths wide and spar, they will also size 
each other up by "bowing" their bodys and pushing water towards the 
other. I belive this displacement of water makes the point of who has 
strength and is dominant. I don't reccomend sharp infrastructure for 
these fish like rocks or thin-lipped PVC, they are very deliberate slow 
moving, but are prone to dashing when spooked or at feeding time, when 
injuys may result. I use smooth limestone or Large flower pots for this 
purpose. If pots are used theyre should be several large enough for a 
male and female to get in, for example 10-12 mouth of the pot. I have 
found that flower pots can really maximize the space for females and the 
males will pick one to anchor a territory to.

I maintian a ph 8.5-9.2, about 78-82 degress 80 perfect, wet/dry or 
lg. sponge filtration, 300+ degrees hardness, about 12-16 hrs of light 
in the moderate/medium range to dim. Once frontosa mature they will need 
a substantial amount of food to keep in shape, you can notice a healthy 
front by a nice belly.

With all this said, the main key to breeding these fish is stability and 
patience. I have grown babies to adulthood, 4 years always seems to be 
the key. It is very rewarding and bonding to grow youngsters out. I have 
one group that was grown out going on their seventh year, and I am 
especialy fond of them, they have settled into breeding better than any 
wild, or adult group I have purchased. Theyre seems to be something 
about raising a fish in youre tap water that makes them more comfortable 
in that environment, somewhat analgous to discus raised in hard water. I 
get asked all the time how to get frontosa to spawn, you don't. You set 
them up, keep it stable , and be patient. If they are in good health, 
mature, and they decide it's time they will spawn. You can't do anything 
to encourage this, like raise the temp etc. Just feed them well haouse 
them accordingly, and most of all keep up a steady water exchange regime 
of 35-50% a week water exchange. These fish consume a lot of food and 
produce a respectible amount of waste, the biofilter need to be 
adequete, but you have to remove that stuf by water exchanges. You can 
with good exchanges grow from fry to 4"+ in 12-18 monthes, so large 
quarters are definately in order from the beginning. Pairs or trios can 
be kept in community's and wil spawn theyre, when ready. Not much 
generally gets in the way when ready, but they are just much more at 
home as species or with slow moving tankmates. 

I always reccomend the largest tank possible for theyre long-term care. 
But these are just a few ideas to keep them happy and comfortable. I 
could go on for hours, but this should do for now.

<more below>

    Cliff and Jennifer Edwards        |  E-Mail or W3 for a list
Mbuna Coast Aquatics  |    of Cichlid Fishes          |   Available from Lakes 
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On 3 Apr 1996, MCheng2175 wrote:

> I was wondering if anyone has bred Cyphotilapia Frontosas and can give
> some insights into this achievement.  Little hints and personal
> observations that aren't in magazine articles especially would be nice. 
> I'd also like to know the best way to guess males from females in

Venting is the best way, however if they are the same age and raised 
together size is pretty fair indicator. Females can attain noticeable 
nuchal humps, although can be confusing when young, they never attain 
humps that rival males when mature. They will start off slow like most 
fish and can work up in numbers to almost a 100 per spawn. The fry take 
ALMOST 30 days to hatch, they have very large yolk sacs and when they 
emerge from the mothers mouth they are perfect 5/8" replicas of 
the blue and black barred parents sans nuchal hump. They can be sexed at 
3" visually if same age and grown together fairly reliably, you will 
always have a couple that are marginal in gender recognition at this 
stage though. I can reliably vent them at 4".

> juveniles before the cephalic hump appears.  Do you just go by size?  What
> should the minimum tank requirement be for 4 adult fronts? I'm keeping my
> four 2-3 inch fronts with some 1 inch Electric Yellows right now since

E. yellows are a good choice when young, they keep the front's at ease 
and help encourage vigorous feeding habits. This is a trick that is also 
utililized with the wild caughts to get them onto prepared and frozen 

> they are all juveniles.  I plan to move them all to a 75 gallon tank in a
> few weeks.  Any information or stories about these cichlids would be

I would reccomend a 18" tank as minimum and 4ft in length. A 75 would be 
fine for 4 fronts.

Well other than my opinion being that "Frontosa are The King of the 
Aquarium"... But then I don't want to get any discus folks riled ;)

> appreciated.  Thanks!

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