Sam Borstein's Cichlid Page

Metriaclima estherae
(Konings, 1995)

Red Zebra
Synonyms: Maylandia estherae, Pseudotropheus estherae

Metriaclima estherae orange
Above: A male Metriaclima estherae "Red". Photo by Rick Borstein.


Genus- Metri= average (Latin), clima= slope (Latin).
Species- estherae= Named after Esther Grant.


Metriaclima estherae is a mainstay in the cichlid hobby. Because of this fishes overall good looks, care requirements, and availability, this is often a beginning mbuna.

There are a few color morphs of this fish:

Metriaclima esthea "Blue"
Above: A male Metriaclima estherae "Blue". Photo by Sam Borstein.


Metriaclima estherae is found in Lake Malawi around rocks. Many of the popular location variants are from Minos Reef.

Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism:

Size: Males- 7 inches, Females- 5.5 inches
Maturity: 2 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger than females and have either a different color, or depending on location points a much more intense color than females.


Since Metriaclima estherae is easy to care for, it is a popular fish. While these fish are aggressive, they will not harm each other to the point of death. A young trio could be put in a 40 breeder, but as they get to the large 4-6 inch stage you should move them to a 55-75 gallon tank, as aggression intensifies. This fish is good for an mbuna show tank.


Red Zebra are herbivores and in the wild rake algae off rocks. In aquaria they aren't picky about food. It is important to feed these fish a diet with a lot of fiber in it, but meatier items can also be fed.


This fish was not very hard to spawn. The males display in typical mbuna fashion and the fish spawn. The females are excellent holders, but because the male will harass them, I recommend moving holding females into a 5 or 10 gallon tank.

The fish held for about 25 days. Usually a Red Zebra spawn will contain 30-35 eggs, but my pair was pretty large, the female was nearing 6 inches, and I got over 60 out of her. Fry were good sized, and easy to raise this fish grows at a relatively good pace.

What is cool about the fry of the Metriaclima estherae "Blue" is that you can sex them at birth. Males are blue, females orange.


Red Zebras are very beautiful fish to keep. They are readily around, and in hot demand. You can usually find this fish in local pet shops. So if you are just getting into keeping cichlids or have yet to keep this species, I recommend it.