Tim's Tropical Fish



Fish Care

Our Site


Malawi African Cichlids

Blue Johanni

Lake Malawi Mbuna African Cichlid

Johanni - Identification

Electric Blue Johanni Melanochromis johannii
Male Blue Johanni? Let us know.

Johanni are African Cichlids originating in Lake Malawi. They are classified as Pseudotropheus Johannii, formerly Melanochromis Johannii. They are very similar to but a distinct species from Pseudotropheus cyaneorhabdos (formerly Melanochromis maingano). The Johanni males have light blue on a black background, while the Johanni females are orange. For Mainganos, both males and females are black/blue and they have more of a striped appearance. The Maingano tends to be a bit smaller than johannis too. Johannis should not be kept with Mainganos, as they produce hybrids. The is an mbuna, which is a smaller, more aggressive cichlid. The juveniles are a bright yellow/orange regardless of their sex.

Electric Blue Johanni Female Melanochromis johanni
Female Johanni

Johanni - Aquarium Setup

Although one of the less aggressive mbunas, Johanni are very territorial, aggressive fish, even more so than Haplochromis Cichlids like the Blue Ahli. Johanni need large swimming spaces, so a 75 gallon tank is recommended. Although some recommend using underground filters, external filters and bio-wheels simultaneously to maintain quality, my experience is that underground filters are not suitable for mbunas. They build nests by picking up rocks in their mouth and moving them, so underground filters are quickly exposed in an mbuna tank. Rocks and other hiding areas should be provided and there should be little or no gravel. They enjoy plants, but will destroy them. A grouping including more than 10 mbunas is recommended, as it tends to reduce aggressive tendencies in a larger grouping.

Johanni - Feeding

Johanni will eat flake foods, algae based flake foods and cichlid pellets. Do not feed live worms or live brine shrimp, as these can bloat and kill the fish.

Johanni - Compatibility

The Johanni is compatible with other Mbuna Cichlids such as the Auratus, Cobalt Blue, Lemon Yellow, Pindani, Tropheops, Red Zebra and Kenyi. The Johanni can also be combined with synodontis catfish. Johanni are too aggressive for Haplochromis and Peacock Cichlids.

Electric Blue Johanni Melanochromis johannii
Male Blue Johanni? Let us know.

Johanni - Breeding

Your single male Johanni should share its aquarium tank with several Johanni females. The male will attract the female for breeding. Up to 50 eggs are fertilized externally before the female picks them up to brood in her mouth for a period of approximately two weeks. This protection makes it easy to breed them in a community tank. Move the female Johanni to a separate tank just before she releases the brood.

Johanni - Profile

  • Scientific Name: Pseudotropheus johannii

  • Family: Cichlid

  • Temperature: 22 - 28 C; 72 - 83 F

  • pH: 7.5 - 8.5

  • Size: 10 cm; 4 inches

  • Life Span: 10 years

  • Breeding: Normal, Egg Layer, Mouthbrooder