Fierce and beautiful – Cyphotilapia Frontosa, also known as Frontosa Cichlids are one of the most desirable predators in the fishkeeping community. Their large size and hunting habits make smaller cichlids perfect animals of prey. Deepwater lovers, Frontosa Cichlids have broad deep blue and white alternating bands and an overall light blue fluorescent glow.
A fish that’s difficult to resist comes with a few challenges though. As majestic as Frontosas are, creating a perfect habitat can be a bit demanding – but after the foolproof setup, the regular maintenance should be painless. Make sure to learn everything you need to know about the species, their natural habitat, how to set up an ideal aquarium environment, and a few tips and tricks for making your new pets feel at home.
The Frontosa Cichlids are endemic to the northern half of Lake Tanganyika, where are populating the rocky habitat, and are plentiful at depths of 30-120m.
The only place in the world where they occur naturally, this lake is over 8 million years old and has one of the most diverse Cichlid collections in the world! It is located in East Africa and stretches over Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Meet the Humphead Cichlids
Frontosas have a long lifespan, and with proper care, your living room companions can live up to 20 years. Furthermore, they are one of the biggest African species in the fish keeping hobby and can grow from 8 – 15 inches (20 – 40cm).
Lining up side-by-side, these cichlids move around slowly in the deep waters. They are one of the few cichlids you can keep together in a tank without a problem since they congregate in schools of up to a thousand fish in the wild.
Their outstanding characteristic is the nuchal hump on their head – an extension of their dorsal muscles. In addition to their stripes, this is why these humphead cichlids are also known for.
If you’re looking for an impressive freshwater fish with the ability to charm whoever sees it in your tank, the Frontosa Cichlid could be the perfect fit.
Since they are typically active at dusk in their natural habitat, they usually hunt surface-dwelling fish and then returning to the depths as the sunlight hits the water surface. The environment is quite bare at the dark depths where they live and it majorly consists of rocky areas. So, what kind of tank environment setting are we discussing?
As we mentioned, Frontosas can grow up to 12 inches, therefore the minimum tank size is 75 gallons, while the group is best kept in 150 gallons aquariums. They are slow-growing fish, so in case you plan on expanding their number in the aquarium, the 75 gallons tank could be a good start – but finding the right fit from the start is highly recommended.
Water Quality and Filtration System
Like all Rift Lake Cichlids, Frontosas are quite undemanding except for water chemistry. Lake Tanganyika is extremely alkaline and keeping in mind that even moderate shocks can be fatal to aquarium-raised cichlids, the following water conditions are required:
- The water chemistry should be between 8-9 phH;
- The water hardness: 10-20 dGH;
- Temperature: 72-80F (22-26C):
- Perfect filtration system set up – creating lower flow rate by aiming the outflow upwards towards the water surface;
- Good oxygen supply – several air stones are favored since plants alone are not sufficient.
In order to simulate Lake Tanganyika’s dark and deep environment, rocky habitat and low light are a must, such as creating plenty of hiding places.
They spend most of their time in deep waters, so large rocks arranged into caves would be a perfect setup for Frontosas to have hiding spots and a few extra rocks since they like to mark their territory.
Keep in mind that the tank has to accommodate the dominant male so that subordinate fish always have a place to hide if necessary.
Massive water ecosystems have their own cleaning mechanism, which is hard to imitate in a fish tank. Real rocks are quite heavy and difficult to move if you opt to change the tank setup in the future. Therefore, placing real natural rocks without any kind of preparation in a tank can do more harm than good for your living room pets.
Functional and high-quality artificial rocks and proper tank backgrounds are more than just a visually pleasant setup. Cichlids are very territorial, they like to lurk and hide in bottom rocks and could be very disoriented without genuine mimic of their natural habitat.
Lightweight, resistant, and environmentally friendly, our selected backgrounds are specially designed for Frontosas. In order to choose the best habitat, you should aim for models with dark rocks, deep cracks, and a lot of hiding spots, A models – classic rock models and C models – massive rocky models.
Following the natural habitat appearance, “A” models with dark and deep rock canals – A2, A6, and A11 could be more than welcome! All backgrounds come in a few pieces which enable easy installation, and for a personal touch up consider adding a few rocks on the bottom of the tank. Creating shadows in the tank allows Frontosa Cichlids to recreate the feeling of swimming in the dark deep waters of Tanganyika lake.
For larger models of tanks (over 150 centimeters long), we developed C background models – C5 and C7 which are perfect for setting up a tank for Frontosas kept in schools. They are designed to offer even more caves and hiding spots, and like A models, they can be upgraded with a few rocks on the sides. But be careful, these humphead cichlids need their swimming space, therefore overcrowding the tank with rocks is not recommended.
After the background is installed and extra bottom rocks are placed, your next task will be cycling the tank and paying special attention to setting water parameters. In case you need extra help with creating the perfect aquarium habitat, you can find all the information here. Keeping the Frontosa Cichlids and enjoying the view on the aquarium is an effortless hobby if you set up the perfect habitat – that’s why now is the perfect time to purchase your A model by choice and use a 15% discount! Assembling and maintaining your tank regularly will provide these Cichlids with a healthy and joyful life!