The Auratus originates from the rocky depths of Lake Malawi. The term auratus
means yellow or golden, which is also part of the scientific name for Goldfish
(unrelated). The Auratus is an mbuna or rockfish and is also known as the Golden Mbuna
and the Malawi Golden Cichlid.
The scientific name was previously Pseudotropheus auratus. The females have the brighter
coloration, which is a rarity in the fish world.
Females are yellow with three dark parallel stripes fringed in white.
Males are black or
brown and have a yellow/white stripe running
through the mid line of their body. When they are young, the males look like females,
which helps them survive the aggression of adult males.
This fish can apparently change its sex when conditions dictate an imbalance in breeding partners.
Auratus are very aggressive. Not only will a male attack and kill other males, but females
are known to kill each other as well. One male and 3 – 5 females are recommended for a tank.
Auratus should be part of a large tank of 75 gallons or more that has caves, hiding areas and
other species of mbuna.
Live plants will be destroyed. A gravel substrate should be provided, but sharp material
should be avoided, as mbunas will filter substrate through their mouths.
Frequent water changes and multiple types of filtration are suggested.
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. The Auratus lives mainly on algae, so a
quality spirulina flake food should be provided. Vegetable matter, plants, pellets
and freeze dried foods can also be provided.
It is best to avoid live foods as these can induce bloating in mbunas, which can be fatal.
Auratus are mouth brooders. They tend to be more aggressive at the higher
end of their temperature range and this can induce breeding. Increased aggression and
digging in the substrate are both indications of impending spawning.
Upon fertilization, the female takes the eggs in her mouth for hatching.
Auratus are excellent parents and can raise their young in the same tank with other mbunas.
The young can take sanctuary in the female’s mouth for up to a month after hatching.
The female will rarely eat while she is raising young.
Although danios, barbs and rainbowfish are sometimes suggested as dither
fish to draw cichlids from hiding or target fish for reducing aggression among cichlids,
we don’t recommend that these species be subjected to the aggression of cichlids.