Rusty cichlid

Aquarium fish: Rusty cichlid (Iodotropheus sprengerae)
Size: 8 cm
Origin: Malawi
Water temperature: 25-29 ° C
Aquarium volume: 80 l

Rusty cichlid (Iodotropheus sprengerae) – a species of freshwater aquarium fish from the cichlid family belonging to the group of herbivorous mouthbugs Mbuna.


Africa. Endemic species, inhabiting the rock littoral of the southern part of Lake Malawi near the Boadzulu Islands, Chinaankwazi and Chinaamwezi. Found at depths from 3 to 40 meters.

Characteristics and disposition

It is one of the smallest cichlids of the Mbuna group.

In nature it reaches 10 cm in length in an aquarium, usually less than 8 cm. They are brown, rusty in color with iridescent blue and purple sides.  Male and female look very similar, but adult fish can be distinguished. The male has more dummy eggs, is larger, more colored and has a slightly elongated anal fin. Young fish of this species are indistinguishable. Recommended for beginner Malawists.

It does not dig the ground and does not damage plants. It is considered quite a mild fish for a mouthpiece. Males show moderate territorialism. It is recommended to keep a larger group of 6-10 heads, with the majority of females over males (one male for three – four females).

Nutrition and feeding

Omnivorous fish.

They consume most of the foods, but the main component of the diet should be plant foods, for example in dry form with the addition of spirulina, chopped spinach, vegetables. Supplements should be given live and frozen foods, e.g. artemia, eyelashes, daphnia.


For one male and several females, an aquarium of over 80 l is recommended. If we want more fish, the tank must be appropriately larger.

For 2-3 males and about 12 females, the aquarium should be at least 120 cm long. The substrate is preferably sandy. A large amount of rock decorations creating numerous gaps and caves is required. In the aquarium, you can plant plants that grow in hard water, such as Nurzaniec, Anubias . Mouthbugs are sensitive to high concentrations of nitrogen compounds – they require efficient biological and mechanical filtration and frequent water changes.

The fish are rather resistant to high temperatures, they can withstand summer heat in home aquariums exceeding 30 degrees C. Rusty mouthbroods, due to their small size, can easily be dominated by larger and more aggressive fish, therefore the companionship for a multi-species tank should be selected wisely. They can be kept with mild fish such as Aulonocara , Protomelas or Copadichromis species , and with other gentle Lake Malawi cichlids such as the Yellow Mouthpiece , Red Red Mouthpiece or even some of the Tanganyiki mild fish.


Breeding Mouthbugs is easy . The fish reach sexual maturity when they are about 4 cm long.

It is best to breed them in a species aquarium in a harem consisting of one male and at least 3 females. You will need a 90-100 cm long reservoir with a sandy base and numerous hiding places, crevices and caves. Place a few flat stones in the aquarium on which the fish can spawn. The water should be alkaline, preferably in the range 8.0-8.5 and temperature 27-28 ° C. Before the planned spawning, the fish should be fed generously.

The act usually takes place at night in a secluded place chosen by the male between the rocks, which is why we rarely have the opportunity to observe him. During courtship, the male can be insistent, which is why the mouthbrood is best bred in harems to spread the aggression to more fish. When the female succumbs, she swims to the place prepared by the male and lays the eggs, which she then collects in her mouth. The confused female also tries to collect eggs (dummy) from the male’s anal fin. At this point, the milk is released and the eggs present in the female’s mouth are fertilized.

The hatching takes place in the female’s mouth. The female carries about 5-60 eggs for a period of 3 weeks. She does not eat during this time. Be careful if you want to, for example, transfer the fish to a separate tank, when it is stressed it may spit out or eat the young. We wait as long as possible to separate the fish, unless it is disturbed by other inhabitants.

Sometimes, after about 2 weeks, breeders artificially collect the fry from the female’s mouth, thanks to which they can raise larger numbers of young mouthbrooders. After giving birth, the female recovers quite quickly and is ready for the next spawning after about a month. The fry are large enough to be immediately fed with e.g. artemia or ground dry food with the addition of spirulina. The fish grow very quickly and will be able to reproduce themselves after a few months.


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply
Enable registration in settings - general
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart