freshwater community4


Malawi Hawk

malawi hawk

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Scientific Name:  Aristochromis christyi      
Min. Tank Size:   100 gallons      
Personality:   Peaceful      
Temperature:   75-82°      
pH:   7.5-8.5/10-25°dGH      
Size:   11"      
Diet:   Carnivore      
Breeding:   Egglayer      


Should not be kept with other fish small enough to be considered prey; best kept singly or in a harem with several females.

Malawi Hawk

The sole member of the genus Aristochromis, the Malawi Hawk is endemic to Lake Malawi in Africa. These fish are widely distributed throughout the lake but tend to inhabit the intermediate zones between the rocky shoreline and the sandy bottom of the lake. The defining characteristic of this species is its sloped nose which gives it an "aristocratic" appearance. These fish are fairly dull in coloration and the fins are often colorless except for the egg spots exhibited on the anal fin in males of the species. Most specimens also exhibit a dark black stripe running horizontally along the body from head to tail.

Tank Set-up

The Malawi Hawk is not a very common species in Lake Malawi, nor is it particularly popular in the aquarium trade. These fish tend to prefer the open waters of Lake Malawi so tanks for Malawi Hawks should provide plenty of open space for swimming. Sandy substrate is preferred and some rockwork can be added for decoration. Because these fish are carnivores, they produce a large amount of waste and thus require high quality filtration to keep the water in the tank clean.


Malawi Hawks are predatory fish and they possess specialized mouthparts which enable them to hunt small fish in the crevices between rocks. Though these fish are primarily carnivorous by nature, they can sometimes be trained to eat dead or prepared foods in captivity. High-protein, meat-based foods like brine shrimp, prawns and mussels should form the basis of the diet for Malawi Hawks but supplementary foods like Cichlid pellets and flake foods may also be offered.


Breeding Malawi Hawks has been achieved in captivity but not with any frequency. These fish are maternal mouthbrooders which means that, following spawning, the female of the species will gather the eggs into her mouth to incubate them until hatching. To encourage spawning, a breeding tank for Malawi Hawks should provide plenty of hiding places for the females and it should be stocked with at least 3 females for every male. The water in the breeding tank should be kept at a pH between 8.2 and 8.5 and at a temperature between 77 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. After gathering the eggs in her mouth, the female will brood them for 3 to 4 weeks, releasing the free swimming fry after this period.

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