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The Bumblebee Mouthbrooder Pseudotropheus crabro is an attractive fish has definitely been named for its appearance. As a juvenile it has a striped yellow and black ‘bumblebee’ patterning. So today its commonly called the Bumblebee Mouthbrooder or Bumblebee Cichlid, but it is also known as the Hornet Cichlid.
The name ‘hornet’ as well as its scientific species name ‘crabo’ were derived from the European Hornet Vespa crabro, as both of these species are large sized and have a similar color patterning. Even before these two names though, and before it was scientifically described, it was called Pseudotropheus “chameleo” for its chameleon-like color changing ability.
This cichlid tends to change colors very rapidly, going from an almost totally black fish to a yellowish fish with bold black bars. They use this ability in their “pseudo-symbiotic” relationship with a large cave-dwelling catfish, the Kampango Bagrus meridionalis. In its gold and black barred coloring, the cichlid advertises its cleaning services and is safely allowed to pick parasites from the skin of the catfish. But on a darker note, when these catfish spawn the Bumblebee will turn almost black. Like a thief in the night, they sneakily eat the spawning catfish eggs. If it is seen, it will quickly revert back to the yellow and black color and resume its cleaning duties.
The fish is a member of a group of cichlids called Mbunas. There are 12 genera full of very active and aggressive personalities. The name Mbuna comes from the Tonga people of Malawi and means “rockfish” or “rock-dwelling”. This name aptly describes the environment these fish live in as opposed to being open water swimmers like the Utaka cichlids and other “haps”.
This is a great fish for both the intermediate and experienced cichlid keeper. It is a good sized cichild with the males reaching a length of almost 6 inches (15 cm) and females being a bit smaller at about 5 inches (12 cm). It is also an aggressive cichild so not a community tank specimen. It cannot be housed with fish other than cichlids, but is easy to moderate to care for and will eat whatever is available. It can hold its own in an aggressive tank with other cichlids. A group can also be kept In a species tank and will breed easily. Unlike some cichlids, these females are quite attractive.
Keep this cichlid in a group of one male to six or more females. Make sure to provide rock formations with multiple hiding places to ward off brutal aggression from the male. They can also be kept in a very large aquarium of mixed Mbuna with plenty of hiding places, but this cichlid male will be dominant. Success is dependent on the aquarists willingness to do frequent water changes, have sufficient numbers and hiding places, and provide appropriate tank mates.
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Video of Bumblebee Mouthbrooder Cichlid (Pseudotropheus crabro)
Infographic of Bumblebee Mouthbrooder Cichlid (Pseudotropheus crabro)
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