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Malawi African Cichlids

Malawi Blue Dolphin

Lake Malawi Haplochromis African Cichlid

Malawi Blue Dolphin - Nuchal Hump

Malawi Blue Dolphin Cyrtocara moorii
Malawi Blue Dolphin

The Malawi Blue Dolphin is also known as the Moori and is a hap cichlid originating in shallow waters and sandy substrate of Lake Malawi in African. Its scientific name is cyrtocara moori, but it was previously known as Haplochromis moorii. The reference to ‘dolphin’ in its name is related to the nuchal hump on its head and the shape of its mouth. Although fairly rare in Lake Malawi, it has become fairly common in the aquarium trade and is popular for its appearance and its less aggressive nature as a Malawi cichlid. The nuchal hump becomes larger as the fish grows and is found in both males and females. Malawi Blue Dolphin’s will bury themselves in the sand to avoid danger.

Malawi Blue Dolphin - Aquarium Setup

Due to the Malawi Blue Dolphin’s large size, a tank of 125 gallons is recommended. As this is a timid fish, it should have a few rocks and hiding places. It should also have large open areas with sandy substrate to mimic its natural environment. Spiral val may be a good live plant choice however it may be uprooted quite often. In the wild, the Malawi Blue Dolphin follows behind other cichlids that disturb the substrate and it then feeds on the organisms that are released. In an aquarium, feed the Malawi Blue Dolphin cichlid pellets, cichlid flakes, spirulina and frozen brine shrimp. Although it burrows in substrate, it will not eat plants.

Malawi Blue Dolphin - Compatibility

A single blue dolphin with several females is a good combination. Other tank mates should be mild mannered haps and peacocks. Mbunas should not be included in the tank.

The Malawi Blue Dolphin is compatible with other Haplochromis Cichlids such as the Electric Blue Ahli, Malawi Eye Biter, Red Finned Borleyi. The Malawi Blue Dolphin will also get along with Peacock Cichlids and synodontis catfish.

Malawi Blue Dolphin - Breeding

Males are slightly larger than females and may show enhanced color during mating. The silver colored juveniles grow slowly and take nearly three years to reach half their size and mature sexually. Malawi Blue Dolphins will then breed quite regularly after that. They tend to breed when no other species are present in the tank. The Malawi Blue Dolphin is a typical mouthbrooder. The female places eggs in a nest or against a flat stone. The eggs are fertilized by the male and the female quickly scoops them into her mouth. Young females will hatch 15 – 25 young, while older females may hatch as many as 80.

Eggs will hatch in about 3 weeks. Unfortunately the trick of removing a female with eggs in her mouth to a separate tank doesn’t work well with Malawi Blue Dolphins. The female tends to drop the eggs when frightened. She may pick them up again in the new tank, though. The fry should be started on brine shrimp.

Malawi Blue Dolphin - Dither Fish

Danios, barbs and rainbowfish are sometimes suggested as dither fish to draw cichlids from hiding. These fish also become targets of aggressive cichlids which can reduce aggression among cichlids. We don’t recommend that these species be subjected to the aggression of cichlids, because it's a terrible life for the dither fish.

Malawi Blue Dolphin - Profile

  • Scientific Name: Cyrtocara moorii

  • Family: Cichlid

  • Temperature: 24 - 26 C; 74 - 82 F

  • pH: 7.5 - 8.5

  • Size: 20 cm; 8 inches

  • Life Span: 10 years

  • Breeding: Normal, Egg Layer, Mouthbrooder