Tropheops Red Cheek Cichlid (Pseudotropheus tropheops)

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The Tropheops Sp. “Red Cheek” Tropheops tropheops (previously Pseudotropheus tropheops tropheops) is small and spunky, and a very pretty African cichlid. It has a great color combination with yellow cheeks on a blue body making it a fine addition to the cichlid aquarium. The females of this species are colorful too. They are all yellow instead of a drab brown or gray color found in a lot of the Mbunas, giving a nice eye-pleasing variety.

This cichlid is know by common names such as Pseudotropheus Big eye, Big Eye, and Golden Tropheops. But their most distinguishing feature is related to the yellow to red color in the area of their cheeks and chin. This has inspired several more names that are used to describe them including Pseudotropheus Tropheops Red Head, Pseudotropheus Tropheops Red Cheek, Tropheops Red Cheek, and Macropthalmus Red cheek. But the most interesting description we’ve found for them is ‘M’kokafodya’, from Nick Andreola’s article, “Tropheops sp. “red cheek”. This is interpreted in the Mbuna language as ‘Glowing Fire’ or ‘Live Coal’.

This is a zebra-type cichlid that belongs to a group called Mbunas. There are 13 genera full of very active and aggressive personalities of Mbuna cichlids. 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 cichlid and several similar species were originally part of a large group of cichlids lumped in the Pseudotropheus genus, but it is now recognized in its own genus,Tropheops.

This species is moderate in size, reaching up to about 5 1/2 inches (14 cm) in length, and it has a distinctly blunt, down curved snout. It is also very active, so needs plenty of room. A 40 gallon tank is the minimum for a single specimen, but to keep more will require at least 50 gallons or more.

Keeping a group of these fish makes for a very lively, colorful show aquarium. It will do well in a Mbuna tank, but is not a community specimen that can be housed with fish other than cichlids. They are not demanding and are pretty hardy if their water is kept clean. They are also easy to breed if they are happy. However the males are very aggressive toward the females, especially when breeding. A male needs to be kept with five or more females to help dampen the aggression.

Provide lots of rocks piled up to make caves and crevices for them to explore and to hide in, especially when the male is abusing the females. Arranging the rocks in a manner to make “territories” will help ease aggression, as will keeping them in a large aquarium with other Mbuna species. Success is dependent on the aquarists willingness to do frequent water changes, have sufficient hiding places, and provide appropriate tank mates.

The Mbuna’s have been bred in captivity and with all the different hybrids that have been formed, there is no way to tell exactly what you are getting unless it is from a reputable dealer. Try and keep the different species blood lines pure.


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

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Video of Tropheops Red Cheek Cichlid (Pseudotropheus tropheops)


Infographic of Tropheops Red Cheek Cichlid (Pseudotropheus tropheops)


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

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