Sam Borstein's Cichlid Page

Metriaclima sp. "flameback"

Flameback Pseudotropheus
Synonyms: Metriaclima sp. "Flameback", Pseudotropheus sp. "Flameback"

Metriaclima sp. "flameback" Kanjindo
Above: A Metriaclima sp. "flameback" from Kanjindo. Photo by Sam Borstein.


Genus- Metri= average (Latin), clima= slope (Latin).
Species- "flameback"= in referrence to the orange back of males.


Metriaclima sp. "flameback" is rather new to the hobby, first being imported in 2003. This undescribed mbuna is striking in color and a relatively hot item right now for fish farmers.

This fish is very closely related to Metriaclima aurora (Konings, 2007). Metriaclima sp. "flameback" was for a time called Metriaclima sp. "aurora blue" with populations at Kanjindo Rocks and Cobue, which are fairly distinguishable from each other. In 2011, Stauffer and Konings describedthe species Metriaclima glaucos. This fish is endemic to Cobue and corresponds to the Metriaclima sp. "aurora blue" from there, and therefore the fish from Kanjindo rocks, commonly exported as Metriaclima or Pseudotropheus sp. "flameback" remains undescribed. I've decided to use the name Metriaclima sp. "flameback" to avoid confusion between this species and the now described Metriaclima glaucos that was also known as Metriaclima sp."aurora blue" before it was described.


Metriaclima sp. "flameback" is found in Lake Malawi around the Kanjindo Rocks.

Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism:

Size: Males- 4 inches, Females- 3 inches
Maturity: 2 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger than females and will have more yellow and attain the blue belly. Females are an orange to brown color.


Metriaclima sp. "flameback" is easy to care for. You should have a group of 5-6 minimum because this fish is aggressive. A group the same size could be placed in a 75 gallon tank with little issue. It is important to decorate te tanks with lots of rock for cover.

Males will beat on any other fish in the tank, so choose good tank mates. I recommend larger hap types and robust mbuna.


This fish is an herbivore. Feed few meaty foods and lots foods with veggies. I liked feeding Dianiichi veggie FX and HBH graze. These foods kept the fish in good condition.


This species was not very hard to spawn. Like many mbuna, the male displayed and the fish spawned over a hard substrate. The females are poor holders, so you should strip them. I never had a female hold for more than 5 days. The fry were easy to artificially hatch, via a empty 2 gallon tub and a sponge filter.

Fry were good sized and readily ate. This fish grows at a relatively good pace and soon attain an orangy color like the adults.


Metriaclima sp. "flameback" is a very beautiful fish to keep. It is not that hard to obtain, since it is a hot item. It is easily found on-line, and don't be surprised to see a local pet shop have them.  This is a beautiful fish, although somewhat aggressive, and not very demanding.