Practical Information About Keeping, Breeding and Buying Dwarf Cichlids

Fish Profiles & Photos
South American  
    sp. "Abacaxis"
    sp. "Putumayo"
    sp. "Steel Blue"

West African 

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Pelvicachromis subocellatus

P. subocellatus female
Click photo to enlarge
    Although this female Pelvicachromis subocellatus is not in very good condition, you can see the brilliant yellow face and cheeks and can get a hint of the red belly that is generally quite swollen in healthy females.
       Pelvicachromis subocellatus is a delightful dwarf cichlid from West Africa. There are two different color forms of this species and each are spectacularly colored. First described by the British ichthyologist Gunter in 1871 this species has been in the hobby since at least the turn of the century. Despite this longevity they are never common and remarkably little is know about their exact distribution and habitats.

        Pelvicachromis subocellatus are likely found in coastal streams ranging roughly from Libreville, the Capital of Gabon, in the north to the Congo river in the south. They have been mentioned as inhabiting the Luali, Lundo and Luculla rivers which all flow into the Atlantic between the Congo and the Ogooue River to the north. The waters in these areas
Pelvicachromis subocellatus pair    A pair of Pelvicachromis subocellatus "Moanda" with the male in front and female in the rear.
are generally very soft with neutral or slightly acid waters.  
       The two forms of P. subocellatus are the Moanda and the Matadi each named for the area in which they are collected. The males of these forms look very similar but there are very obvious color differences between females of these forms. In both cases the females exhibit brilliant red bellies that are banded by iridescent silver which runs into the dorsal fin. The females of each form also have yellow faces and cheeks. In the Matadi form the area behind the gills is banded in jet black, a very distinctive black band running completely around the fish. The black band gives way to the silver highlighted bright red belly which yields to a jet black rear section of the fish. The combination of black, red and black makes a wonderful display of color and a courting female in full dress is a spectacular fish. The Moanda fish also sports the dark front and rear sections. However, they tend to be more of a dark purple color. In the Moanda form the silver surrounding the red is often a much larger patch that might stretch nearly into the head.
P. subocellatus female
    This female P. subocellatus "Moanda" shows the yellow face and red belly that mark the species. You can see the silver that wraps around the red spot and extends into the dorsal but the colors are not as vibrant as normally experienced. The dusky areas in front and back of the red belly will become very dark, almost black, when the female is in good health.

        Breeding P. subocellatus is typical for the genus. They tend to form strong pair bonds and are a fairly long lived dwarf cichlid. For many years I maintained the Moanda form of this fish and always enjoyed keeping them. In the late 1990's I passed on my stock of these beauties and have not kept them until I recently acquired a pair of the Moanda form, which are the fish pictured on this page. Unfortunately, these wild fish never fully acclimated to life in my aquariums and I lost the pair after about a three week struggle to bring them around.
P. subocellatus male

                               Don't let this story of my failure with this pair discourage you from trying this beautiful dwarf cichlid. If you ever have an opportunity to acquire these fish I suggest you take advantage because you won't find them very often.

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