Red Empress Cichlid (Protomelas taeniolatus)

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The Red Empress Protomelas taeniolatus (previously Haplochromis taeniolatus) is very dazzling in its adult male colors. It is an endemic species found only in Lake Malawi, Africa, but there are a number of color variations depending on where in the lake they originate. The females however are not so brilliant. They basically have a silvery colored body with marked with various dark spots, lines or blotches, and sometimes a touch of orange in some fins, also depending on where they come from.

These cichlids are commonly known as the Spindle Hap, as well as Haplochromis Red Empress and Haplochromis Fire Blue for naturally occurring color morphs. A few location specific names include Tangerine Tiger, Chilumba Jetty, and Fire Blue. Some captive bred specimens are very red and have names such as Red Empress, or the ‘Super Red Empress’ which was developed in Europe.

They are different from the Mbuna or rock-dwelling cichlids, as they they prefer open swimming areas where the rock meets the sand. But they still prefer being around rocky areas that offer retreats in caves or cracks. As they are a peaceful fish, do not mix them with aggressive Mbunas. They can be housed with other peaceful Malawi Lake cichlids, as well as Pictus Catfish and Ropefish. Try and keep the different species blood lines pure.

This is an ideal fish for the beginning cichlid keeper who can provide a large enough tank. The minimum suggested tank size is 75 gallons, but being Haplochromine cichlids they need a lot of swimming room. A 100 gallon aquarium is really the optimal size for these fish. It is easy to moderate to care for, depending on the aquarist’s diligence in keeping water quality high. They are easy to breed and the male has beautiful coloring as long as water quality is kept high. Good quality water will result in colorful males willing to spawn almost immediately after they are added to a large tank.

Provide plenty of rock work in the background, forming caves and holes as hiding areas for the females during mating season. They like vertically placed rocks as well, and will use a smooth flat rock or two for spawning. They are not aggressive toward tank mates. Even during mating they only defend a small area, and give it up after the spawn is done. This is a ‘sand sifter’ cichlid that’s great at keeping the top of the substrate clean, but its not a big digger so works well even in a planted aquarium. Just be certain the plants do not get in the way of open swimming areas.


Stocklist of our Cichlids Fish (Click the picture below) :

Cichlids Stocklist

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Video of Red Empress Cichlid (Protomelas taeniolatus)


Infographic of Red Empress Cichlid (Protomelas taeniolatus)


Stocklist of our Tropical Fish / Aquarium Fish / Ornamental Fish (Click the picture below) :

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