freshwater community4


Malawi Butterfly

malawi butterfly

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Scientific Name:   Aulonocara jacobfreibergi      
Min. Tank Size:   65 gallons      
Personality:   Mildly aggressive      
Temperature:   77-85°F      
pH:   7.5-8.5/5-20°dGH     
Size:   6"      
Diet:   Carnivore      
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.

Malawi Butterfly

The Malawi Butterfly is endemic to Lake Malawi, one of the Great Rift Lakes of East Africa. This species can be found in various locations throughout the lake. These fish tend to inhabit rocky areas over sandy substrate and males of the species often live in or around caves. The Malawi Butterfly is one of the largest species in its genus and it is also known as the Fairy Cichlid and Freiberg's Peacock. These fish are easily distinguished from other Peacock Cichlids by the broad white dorsal fin exhibited by males of the species. Females tend to be grayish brown in color and may also exhibit some dark vertical banding. Males of the species are often blue with dark vertical banding and blue or white fins.

Tank Set-up

The Malawi Butterfly is best kept in a tank decorated with plenty of rockwork and caves for hiding places and territorial establishment. Adequate open space for swimming should also be included in the design. Sandy substrate is recommened for this species because these fish often take in mouthfuls of sand, sifting through it for food particles. These fish are not one of the most aggressive Lake Malawi species, but they can become territorial. Malawi Butterflies are best kept with other Mbuna Cichlids as long as they have different coloring - these fish do not get along well with conspecifics.


Because these fish feed almost exclusively from substrate, their diet should consist largely of sinking foods. Offer these fish high-quality sinking Cichlid pellets along with algae wafers and other vegetable-based foods. The diet of Malawi Butterflies should also be supplemented with live and frozen foods on occasion.


Like most Lake Malawi Cichlids, Malawi Butterflies are maternal mouthbrooders and are best spawned in harems consisting of at least 3 females for every male. The breeding tank should be kept at a water temperature between 77 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and at a pH around 8.3. The average brood size for this species is between 25 and 50 eggs, which the female will gather into her mouth for the male to fertilize. The female will brood the eggs for up to 4 weeks and will release the fry once they become free swimming. While brooding the fry, the female may stop eating and, if she becomes stress, she could spit out or consume the fry.

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