A stunning wild-caught specimen of Hemichromis sp. ‘Moanda’; Image credit: The Wet Spot Tropical Fish

via The Wet Spot

Many aquarists think “African cichlid” equates to either Malawi or Tanganyikan lake cichlids. Cichlids are extremely biodiverse, and in Africa they can be found in both lakes and rivers. Our three-part series focuses on three species found in the Congo Basin, an immense river system in Western Africa stretching across 1.5 million square miles from the East African Rift to the Atlantic Ocean. The Congo is ripe with habitat for nearly 700 described tropical fish, most of which are not found anywhere else in the world.

Hemichromis sp. ‘Moanda’

Found along the Atlantic coast of the West African Congo Basin, Hemichromis sp. ‘Moanda’ is an undescribed Jewel Cichlid popular in the aquarium trade for its bright red coloration. This cichlid reaches a maximum of 4 inches and has 2 dark spots along its cherry red sides, golden cheeks and underbellies, and shimmering blue scales.


More peaceful than other Hemichromis, H. sp. ‘Moanda’ can be kept in large tanks with lots of swimming space in loose single-species aggregations. As pair-bonding cave-spawners, they require lots of cover and cave-like hideouts that may be defended as individual territories, and females may spawn as often as every 2-3 weeks. Mildly territorial and defensive, this species is not suitable for most community aquaria, though they may be kept alongside Alestiid tetras, and large catfish like Synodontis or Loricariids.

Carnivorous by nature, they should be fed mostly meaty foods, like live small invertebrates or high-quality flake food, with a very small portion of vegetable matter like spirulina or algae flake. Sensitive to degradation in water quality, they should receive biweekly 50% water changes, and waters should be well-oxygenated with a temperature between 73 and 79°F, pH of 5.5 to 7.0, and hardness under 90 ppm.

Continue to Part 2