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Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

 

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

The Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island” known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts simply as the Electric Blue Ahli Cichlid is a popular, stunningly brilliant blue Haplochromis widespread throughout Lake Malawi, and native to the waters around Maleri Island.

Although the Electric Blue Ahli is widely distributed throughout Lake Malawi, it is more concentrated along the rocky parts of the shoreline and intermediate sandy zones beyond them off of Maleri Island within the lake.

Electric Blue Ahli are a carnivorous, highly piscivorous, “hap” species that feed primarily on the young of other species in the lake, such as Copadichromis.

Male Sciaenochromis fryeri develop a brilliant “electric” blue color that covers the face and body down to the tail fin. Their anal and pelvic fins are colored red, and a red blaze runs along the top of their head, dorsal, and caudal fins.

Adult males grow to 7″ in length and acquire a stunning “electric blue” color that can vary in intensity on the mood of the fish. The color becomes more outstanding during breeding.

Females are much more plain in color and are normally slightly smaller than the males.

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island” female

Juvenile Sciaenochromis Fryeri are all the same color which makes them somewhat difficult to sex.

The Electric Blue Ahli is not considered to be an especially aggressive African Cichlid but is quite robust and should not be kept with mbuna.   They do well with Nimbochromis venustus, Cyrtocara moorii, the Intermedius, Protomelas, Copadichromis, and the Blue Dolphin cichlid.   They can also be housed with Aulonocara provided enough space is available.   They should not be housed with any similarly colored species.

Unless you keep Electric Blue Ahli in a very large tank, keep only one male in the tank with several females to reduce harassment.

Take extra care with introducing tank mates because male Sciaenochromis fryeri are known to spawn with females of other genera, particularly Aulonocara.

Electric Blue Ahli are best housed in an aquarium of at least 90 gallon capacity with a sandy or fine gravel substrate and plenty of rockwork piled into a network of caves for them to set up territories and seek protection. Provide them with plenty of swimming space.

Because Sciaenochromis fryeri are native to the hard alkaline waters of Lake Malawi, additives like Cichlid Lake Salt and Malawi/Victoria Buffer is recommended to condition the tank water.   Regular water changes are also recommended.

Electric Blue Ahli are not particularly difficult to breed.  They are maternal mouth brooders and can be spawned in a species tank of at least 55 gallon capacity using one male and a harem of at least three females. Keep the pH in the tank at 8.2 – 8.5 and keep the temperature at 77-80°F.

Furnish the tank with a fine gravel or sandy substrate and provide some flat sloping rocks to act as a potential spawning site.

Some breeders believe that conditioning the fish on a quality diet consisting of mainly vegetable matter aids in spawning, but regardless, spawning in an aquarium environment differs somewhat from their natural spawning activity.

In their natural habitat, Electric Blue Ali construct large conical structures around rocks and spawning occurs in the crater that is formed at the top of the cones.

In an aquarium, the males cordon off territories in the area of sloping rocks, particularly those facing a flow of current in the tank.   The males may or may not build layers of gravel or substrate around them.

Once the site is chosen and prepared, the male will flick around the area and color up in an effort to entice a female to spawn. Males can be very forceful when perusing the females which is why several females should be included in the spawning tank.

Once a female is attracted by the male, she will approach the rock and start laying individual eggs, one at a time, at the top.   The eggs will roll down the rock to the waiting male who uses his anal fin to catch each egg and release his milt to fertilize it.

After the fertilization of each egg occurs, the female takes it into her mouth while the male dances around and displays his colors. The spawning process is repeated until the female is holding anywhere from 50 to 75 eggs.

The female will carry the eggs for about 3 weeks before releasing the free swimming fry. During this period  she will not eat and is easily recognizable by her distended mouth.

If a female becomes overly stressed, she may prematurely spit out the brood or even eat them.   Many breeders remove the female at this stage to avoid predation of the fry but she should be placed back into the tank as soon as the fry are free swimming in order to preserve her status in the “pecking order” of the harem and regain her status in the group.

If the Electric Blue Ahli are breeding in a community tank and you want to raise the fry, you may have no choice but to remove the female.

Some professional breeders achieve good results by artificially stripping the fry from the mother’s mouth at the 2 week stage and raising them from that point in a separate brooding tank.

From birth, the fry are large enough to accept baby brine shrimp, daphnia, microworms, or powdered fry foods.

Electric Blue Ahli cichlids are predatory carnivores in their natural habitat and should be fed a high protein diet that includes a variety of foods.   Larger Ahli will accept cichlid pellets nixed with plankton based flakes.  Juvenile Sciaenochromis Fryeri do well on beef heart flakes.   All should be provided regular feedings of live, frozen, or freeze dried brine shrimp, blood worms, prawn, etc. to ensure that the fish display their brightest electric blue colors.

Remember that Electric Blue Ahli are true piscivores and will eat any fish that they can get into their mouths. Do not feed animal meat of any kind to these cichlids.

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island” is a popular species that was previously imported and classified as Sciaenochromis ahli.   They are available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts from a variety of sources online and from specialty fish shops as juveniles and paired adults at reasonable prices.

Many morphs exist and although males of all these exhibit the characteristic electric blue coloration, they differ only in fin patterning and coloration.    Do not mix morphs with pure strains or they will hybridize.

 

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

Electric Blue Ahli (Sciaenochromis Fryeri) “Maleri Island”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 90 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Semi aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
Water Conditions: 76-82° F, pH 7.6-8.8, 10-25°H
Max. Size: Male 7″, Females 6″
Color Form: Blue
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Best kept in larger species tanks
Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 5-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner to Advanced

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