Blue Dolphin Cichlid

Malawi Dolphin cichlid


Common Name/Origin: Malawi Blue Dolphin Cichlid, cytocara moorii blue dolphin, Haplochromis moori, hump head cichlid. originates from Lake Malawi, Africa.

Size: The cyrtocara moori averages 8-10 inches in length.

Temperament: The Malawi Blue Dolphin cichlid is peaceful when compared to most cichlids. Although they are territorial especially during spawning, they pretty much swim throughout the tank searching for food. The cyrtocara moori can be kept with similar sized African cichlids and can hold it’s own in the tank. Do not keep with smaller peaceful fish. Although it is considered somewhat peaceful, it may still eat or pick on small peaceful fish.

Sexing: At a young age, the haplochromis moori is very hard to sex. As they mature and grow, males will always grow larger than females when conditions are right. I noticed with my Blue dolphin cichlids that the males have a more pointed and longer anal fin. This may not be the case with every specimen, but in my collection this is true. After about 2 years I have no problem sexing my cyrtocara moori. Both sexes develop the hump on their head but the males will develop a somewhat larger hump.

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Tank: Since the cyrtocara moorii blue dolphin grows between 8-10 inches, a large tank is needed. I suggest a 75-100 gallon tank as a minimum. I prefer to keep these fish in 6 foot aquarium tanks. The Blue dolphin cichlid is a African Cichlid that prefers to swim throughout the tank searching for food and needs plenty of swimming space to remain happy.

The cytocara moori prefers sand as a substrate due to it’s sand sifting characteristics. These cichlids will also appreciate some rocks in the aquarium tank for shelter.

malawi dolphin cichlidWater:pH: 7.5-8.5

Hard Water

Temperature 76-82 °F

Feeding: The cyrtocara moori is a natural carnivore. The Malawi blue dolphin is known for it’s feeding patterns in the wild. This African cichlid will follow sand-sifting and digging cichlids eating microorganisms that are stirred up in the process. This freshwater aquarium fish should be fed a high quality pellet/flake diet as it’s staple diet. Mixing in live, frozen or freeze dried foods on a regular basis. The haplochromis moori cichlid will enjoy brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, small krill, or bloodworms. Like any other freshwater tropical fish, please mix up their diet on a regular basis.

Behavior:As mentioned above, the cyrtocara moorii is a relatively peaceful cichlid. They love to cruise the tank mid-level and then dive to the bottom sifting sand for food. It is fun to watch these cichlids going about the bottom of the tank sifting sand looking for food.

Tankmates:I have kept the Blue Dolphin Cichlid with Frontosa, Phenochilus Tanzania, Labidochromis caeruleus (Yellow Labs), Clown loaches, Aulonocara Peacocks and much more.

Do Not Keep this species with very small, more peaceful species.

Key Features: The haplochromis moorii has a very unique feature in the hump that forms on the heads of both the male and the female. Males usually grow a larger hump, and as they age the larger it grows. The Malawi Blue Dolphin Cichlid gets this name because of the resemblance to that of a Bottlenose Dolphin. This species has a beautiful blue coloration that will grasp your attention every time you look into your aquarium tank. This is one of the most beautiful fresh water tropical fish in my opinion.

Breeding: The blue dolphin cichlid is rather easy to breed in the home aquarium tank. The only problem is that most take nearly 2 years to become sexually mature. These fish grow rather slow and this often prevents a lot of freshwater tropical fish keepers from breeding these fish. I have had great luck breeding these fish. My stock is 3 years old at the time of writing this article. They breed exceptionally well now that I have separated them into their own tanks. I currently have 2 breeding pairs. The cytocara moorii blue dolphin will actually take multiple females to one male. If you have a large tank, a 100-gallon aquarium or larger, you can have multiple females with one dominant male. I have not had success breeding these fish with more than one male in the tank. To much fighting to be successful.

Males will clear a pit out usually near a large rock or the corner of your aquarium tank. The female will circle around in the cleared pit and deposit her eggs. The male blue dolphin will then fertilize the eggs as the female scoops them up in her mouth.

The blue dolphin cichlid is a mouthbrooding cichlid and will carry their eggs 21-28 days on average. If you want to guarantee that you get fry from a spawn, I suggest you strip the female. Be careful attempting to catch a holding female cytocara moorii because they spit their eggs when frightened. I have had one of my females spit numerous times immediately when I catch her in the aquarium net. I have another female that I must strip every time. She holds very well.

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