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Scientific Name:   Melanochromis auratus     
Min. Tank Size:   65 gallons      
Personality:   Highly aggressive & territorial      
Temperature:   75-82°F      
pH:   7.5-8.5/5-20°dGH      
Size:   5"      
Diet:   Omnivore      
Breeding:   Egglayer      


Best kept in a Lake Malawi biotype tank with other non-conspecific Mbuna Cichlids; best kept in groups with several females for every male in the tank.


This species is endemic to Lake Malawi in East Africa where it is widely distributed along the western coast. Auratus, also known as Golden Mbuna, inhabit the rocky shorelines and reefs of the lake. These fish are named for the golden yellow coloration exhibited by females of the species. Female Auratus are usually yellowish gold with black and white stripes running horizontally along the body. Males, on the other hand, are often dark brown or black with yellow or white blue stripes. When stressed, males of the species may revert to the golden coloration and females often darken as they age.

Tank Set-up

Auratus are not recommended for novice aquarium hobbyists because they are sensitive to changes in water chemistry and are often intolerant of tank mates. These fish are best kept in a Lake Malawi biotype setup, but should not be kept with peaceful species or conspecifics. The tank should be decorated with plenty of rocks to form caves to allow for territorial establishment as well as areas of open water for swimming. Sandy substrate is preferred along with well oxygenated, high quality water. Adequate filtration is essential to keep water quality in the tank high.


These fish feed primarily on algae in the wild but, in captivity, will accept a variety of foods. Offer Auratus a staple diet of vegetable-based foods such as Spirulina flakes and blanched spinach. This diet can be supplemented occasionally with live and frozen foods.


Auratus are maternal mouthbrooders and are best spawned in groups with at least three females for every male. These fish require a fairly large breeding tank outfitted with plenty of flat stones and rock caves. The pH in the breeding tank should be kept between 8.2 and 8.5 and at a temperature between 77 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The male will prepare a spawning site by cleaning the area - then displaying to passing females, enticing them to spawn with him. Once spawning has occurred, the female will take the eggs into her mouth to be fertilized by the male. The female will then brood the eggs for several weeks before releasing the free swimming fry.

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