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The Malawi Eyebiter Dimidiochromis compressiceps is a fabulous looking, predatory cichlid from Africa. This fish makes a truly an impressive show piece with its dynamic blue metallic coloring and very unique shape. It it is extremely compressed laterally, making it possibly the most flattened cichlid in Lake Malawi. It reaches up to 10 inches (25 cm) in length and has a forward projecting, toothed lower jaw. This thin body shape allowing it to move with great bursts of speed, coupled with its strong jaws, make it a lethal predator of small fish.
This is a very interesting fish to keep and definitely adds diversity to the appropriately stocked Malawi cichlid tank. The unique physical aspects of the Malawi Eyebiter makes it a favorite to some cichlid admirers. Some of its common names are derived from its shape, such as the Compressiceps and Haplochromis Compressiceps.
It is also called the Eyebiter. It is said to have earned this name due to an infrequent behavior of plucking the eyes out if tankmates. It is said to have been observed by native fishermen to bite the eyes out of other fish. However being an “eyebiter” is an action that will probably not be seen in captivity as long as they are well fed. This action is generally used toward smaller Mbunas it they end up in the same aquarium, but most often it is not a common habit.
In nature they don’t occupy the same types of habitats as the smaller rock-dwelling Mbunas. Rather these fish dwell in shallow waters that have both open areas and lots of vegetation.They feed mostly on juveniles of other open water swimmers like the Utaka cichlids and other shoaling youths, but sometimes the smaller Mbunas get snacked on as well. They are natural hunters so be careful with tank mates.
These fish are best kept by intermediate and experienced cichlid keepers. They are moderately difficult to keep due to the fact they need very large systems and very clean water. They also need a lot of hideouts. Bright tanks without plants will cause them to stress, leading to illness. Using denser bunches of real or fake plants in several areas of the tank will help to keep stress levels to a minimum.
These cichlids are highly predatory and will kill any fish smaller than themselves. Yet although they are predatory, they are only moderately aggressive. They do fine with other fish as long as the tankmates are the same size or larger and not overly aggressive. They should not be kept with any Mbunas or other smaller cichlids. They will generally attack and kill the smaller Mbunas, but they can be kept with larger plain colored Peacock cichlids without incident.
The Eyebiter is best kept in groups of one male and several females. They will attack and kill any other males of the same species unless the tank has hundreds of gallons. They will eat well and are only a threat to fish smaller than themselves. No fry from any other species will make it to adulthood with a Malawi Eyebiter in the tank.
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Video of Malawi Eyebiter Cichlid (Dimidiochromis compressiceps)
Infographic of Malawi Eyebiter Cichlid (Dimidiochromis compressiceps)
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