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Sunflower Cichlid

sunflower cichlid

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Scientific NameNeolamprologus helianthus     
Min. Tank Size:   30 gallons      
Personality:   Aggressive      
Temperature:   73-80°F      
pH:   8.0-9.0/10-25°dGH     
Size:   3.5"     
Diet:   Omnivore      
Breeding:   Egglayer      


Best kept in a species tank; can be kept in very large tanks with other small or medium-sized Lake Tanganyika Cichlids.

Sunflower Cichlid

The Sunflower Cichlid is relatively new to the aquarium hobby, having only been described in 1997. These fish are endemic to Lake Tanganyika and can typically be found along the rocky parts of the western shore near the south end of the lake. Sunflower Cichlids have an overall tan or yellowish coloration accented with reddish orange markings. Many specimens also exhibit bright blue edging on the fins along with gold speckling. The distinguishing characteristic of this species is the dark V-shaped marking that appears behind the eye over the gill plate.

Tank Set-up

Sunflower Cichlids are a very aggressive species that are best kept in species tanks or in very large tanks with other small to medium-sized Lake Tanganyika Cichlids. Because this species can be very aggressive toward conspecifics, it is best to keep only a single pair unless the tank is very large. These fish prefer sandy substrate and the tank should be decorated with plenty of rockwork to create caves and crevices.


These Cichlids are largely carnivorous, feeding on meat-based foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms. Though meat-based foods should comprise the majority of of the diet for these fish but some specimens may also accept Cichlid flakes and pellets. You may also supplement the diet of these fish with spirulina flakes or blanched vegetables.


Sunflower Cichlids are cave spawners and tend to breed more readily in colonies than pairs. To encourage breeding, purchase a group of juvenile fishes and wait for them to pair off naturally. A breeding tank for Sunflower Cichlids should be kept at a pH between 8.2 and 9.0 and at a temperature around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Spawning will typically occur in secret and the female will lay her eggs along the walls or roof of a cave. After spawning, the female will tend to the eggs, fanning them with her fins while the male keeps watch over the area. Many Sunflower Cichlids will continue to exhibit parental care after the fry have hatched, even after they have spawned again.

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