Haps

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Haps are some of the larger cichlids available in the hobby and will require plenty of space in order to be successful in the aquarium. A minimum tank size of 250L should be considered for the smaller species and even bigger for the larger more aggressive haps. These fish prefer the open water compared to other Lake Malawi cichlids and in the wild inhabit the deeper waters of the lake. Their best tank mates would be Peacock cichlids and other Haps given they both require open swimming space and can tolerate the same diet. Aggressive Mbuna should not be kept with these fish but some of the more peaceful species can.

Below is a list of some of the popular Haplochromis found in the trade.

 Placidochromis Electra / Deep Water Hap – Juveniles are drab in colour (white-greyish) but the adults develop a deep blue haze on the fins and vertical shades of a beautiful electric blue along the length of the body. Males of the species (20cm/8inches) are larger than the females (15cm/6inches). This is a relatively peaceful species of Hap but can become somewhat aggressive during breeding so a large enough tank is important to give other fish the chance to break line of site and/or hide behind objects. Consider aquariums 250L or above due to the large size of the adult fish.

11468043036_b8546781b2_o Copyrights @ Marcel Sigg

Size: 20cm/8inches (Males) 15cm/6inches (Females) // Temperature: 23C’-27C’

PH: 7.7-8.7 -// Aquarium size: 55Gallons (250L)

Water Hardness: 1-25dGH // Difficulty: Beginner

 Placidochromis Milomo / Super VC 10 Hap – These fish undergo a dramatic change in appearance as they grow! Juveniles are plain white/greyish with a few black spots on the body, as they grow the body develops a faint army green and the black spots grow bigger. Only adult males will develop the deep blue colouring which will cover the head and mid section of the body and the black spots will fade somewhat as they fish grows. Maximum size for these fish is around 25cm/10inches, a solitary fish in nature they are best kept at 1 specimen per tank, unless you have a massive tank! This Hap is relatively peaceful but avoid keeping small fish with them as they maybe intimidated by the size of an adult one of these. A minimum of 250L should be considered if you want to keep one of these.

11467989494_f619f69320_o Copyrights @ Marcel Sigg

Size: 25cm/10inches  // Temperature: 23C’-27C’

PH: 7.7-8.7 -// Aquarium size: 55Gallons (250L) for 1 fish

Water Hardness: 10-25dGH // Difficulty: Beginner

– Nimbochromis venustus / Giraffe Hap / Venustus Cichlid – Another of the popular Haps so called because of the brownish blotches found along the body of the fish similar to those on a Giraffe, the adult male will actually develop a striking blue face and body while both sexes will have their blotches faded somewhat as they mature. The main colour of the body is greenish with blotches and sometime a yellow blaze visible on the face for females and juveniles.

A female Venustus Cichlid visible to the right of the picture.

This is a large predatory fish and proper care and space must be provided so you can enjoy the fish in it’s most natural element and watch them thrive. In the wild these fish have an interesting way of hunting, they will actually half bury themselves in the sand and wait in ambush for any nearby small fish. They also prefer open swimming space and are fast swimmers. Due to their predatory behaviour any fish that can fit in their mouth is likely to become food. Due to it’s large size and the care needed to house one of these it’s only suitable for the more experienced cichlid keeper. This is a species that requires a little patience from the hobbyists as they can take a long time to mature specially in the case of males.

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Size: 25cm/10inches  // Temperature: 23C’-28C’

PH: 7.7-8.6 -// Aquarium size: 55Gallons (250L)

Water Hardness: 6-10dGH // Difficulty: Intermediate

– Nimbochromis livingstonii / Livingston’s Cichlid / Livingstoni – This is a close relative of the Venustus and they share many of the same characteristics as well as appearance. Livingston’s Cichlids also have brown blotches but more of them and they lack the blue colouring of the Venustus. They too are a predatory species and need proper care to be successfully kept in aquaria for example a good size tank of no less than 250Liters and plenty of open space for swimming. This is also an ambush predator but will go one step further than the Venustus and lay flat on it’s side “playing dead” to entice smaller fish to investigate and then eat them. Any fish small enough to fit in their mouth will become food, care must also be taken when choosing tank mates as they should not be kept with aggressive Mbuna, ideal tank mates will be other Haps and semi-aggressive cichlids.

Size: 25cm/10inches  // Temperature: 23C’-28C’

PH: 7.7-8.6 -// Aquarium size: 55Gallons (250L)

Water Hardness: 6-10dGH // Difficulty: Intermediate

 Sciaenochromis Fryeri / White Blaze Hap / Electric Blue Hap – One of the smaller of the Haps growing up to 18cm/7inches but usually smaller, the adult fish will have an electric blue body with a white blaze on the dorsal fin. This is an extremely attractive species and some variants have a red anal fin and others even red pectoral fins. Juvenile males will be a faded blue colour which changes as they age and females are typically grey and black in colour. This fish is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and should be easy to source from your LFS. Although smaller than other Malawian Haps they are surprisingly intolerant of other males and have been known to attack male Peacock cichlids, to best avoid this don’t keep female Peacocks in the same tank. White Blaze Haps can also be kept at a ratio of 1Male with multiple Females.

The Electric Blue Hap is among the most attractive of all the African Cichlids and it looks at it’s best if the individual is the dominant fish in the aquarium with the blue becoming more intense. If breeding this species it spawns best when not overcrowded so keeping a group of 1Male to multiple Females in a tank of their own is a great way to breed them.

11467981354_38a80fda75_o Copyright @ Marcel Sigg

Size: 15.5cm/6inches // Temperature: 23C’-27C’

PH: 7.7-8.7 -// Aquarium size: 55Gallons (250L)

Water Hardness: 5-10dGH // Difficulty: Intermediate