Sam Borstein's Cichlid Page

Metriaclima mbenji
Stauffer, Bowers, Kellogg & McKaye, 1997

Mbenji Zebra
Synonyms: Maylandia mbenji, Pseudotropheus mbenji

Metriaclima mbenji
Above: A male Metriaclima mbenji . Photo by Sam Borstein.


Genus- Metri= average (Latin), clima= slope (Latin).
Species- mbenji= Named after the type locality in Lake Malawi.


Metriaclima mbenji is a zebra type cichlid from Lake Malawi. This pretty mouthbrooder, first typed by Stauffer, Bouwers, Kellogg, and McKaye, is very similar to another zebra type, Metriaclima greshakei.

Metriaclima mbenji is known to come in these varieties, all of which are natural:


Metriaclima mbenji is found at rocky locations around Mbenji Island in Lake Malawi.

Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism:

Size: Males- 5 inches, Females- 6 inches
Maturity: 3 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger than females and are light blue with orange fins, while females are a gray-brown. Females may have a little orange in the fins.


Metriaclima mbenji is easy to care for. The fish is relatively aggressive and should be housed in a 75-gallon tank or larger tank with numerous hiding spots. I didn't find aggression towards other species to be that bad, but they are definitely rough on each other and can be real hard on females. This fish mixes well with similarly mannered mbuna and haps.


Feeding Metriaclima mbenji poses no problems. The fish do need some fiber in their diet, so the only thing I stress for feeding them is a high quality veggie flake. Add some protein in the form of spectrum or a mixed flake.


Metriaclima mbenji is a maternal mouthbrooder and poses few problems when it comes to spawning. The hardest part about breeding this fish is getting females into breeding condition while keeping aggression to a minimum.

The fish breed in a typical Lake Malawi mbuna fashion. The eggs are kind of small and hatch in about 22 days. Females are good holders. Fry are small, but do great on baby brine shrimp and then crushed flake. The fry grow fast and show a nice color even at a small size.


Metriaclima mbenji is not as popular as the very similar Metriaclima greshakei, but is just as nice of a fish to keep. This is a hobbyist mbuna in the sense that it is difficult to find. This is a pretty fish and I recommend it for any Malawi enthusiast, especially if you like Metriaclima greshakei.