Likoma Blue Frost
Synonyms: Cynotilapia pulpican, Pseudotropheus sp. "kingsizei"
Above: A male Metriaclima pulpican "Likoma". Photo by Sam Borstein.
Genus- Metri= average (Latin), clima= slope (Latin).
Metriaclima pulpican has become a fairly hot item in the cichlid hobby. This beautiful fish is extemely active and becoming more readily available in the trade. Females of this species also develop a little color adding to its popularity.
Originally described as Cynotilapia pulpican back in 2002 by Tawil, it has since been moved to the genus Metriaclima. Tawil believed that Cynotilapia could house Zebra type species. Konings argues that the mouth morphology and mainly the method of feeding are very similar to that of other Metriaclima and it should be moved into that genus (Konings, 2007)
Metriaclima pulpican is found at Maingano Island and Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. The fish are associated with rocks.
Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism:
Size: Males- 4 inches, Females- 3 inches
Maturity: 2 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger than females and have far more color than the females. Females lack the strong black markings and the blaze on the head.
Above: A female Metriaclima pulpican. Photo by Sam Borstein.
Although Metriaclima pulpican is active and territorial, its aggression can be easily managed. I did find it to be the dominant fish in the tank even though it was kept with fish double its size. I've found it best to mix a group of this species in a community tank with other mbuna, Malawi haplochromines, and Vics that are fairly aggressive as well. This allows the aggression to be dispersed more evenly throughout the tank. A large tank should be used, minimum of 4 feet in length. The tank should be decorated with plenty of rock and other territories for the fish to hide in.
Above: A male Metriaclima pulpican. Photo by Sam Borstein
Metriaclima pulpican feeds on algae in the wild. In aquaria it does well on a balanced diet of flakes and pellets, but a vegetable pellet or flake is a must in the meal plan.
I found Metriaclima pulpican easy to breed. Males construct a depression at the base of a rock or piece of slate in which they court females from and spawn in. Females are excellent holders and will hold for about three weeks. The fry are small but eagerly take baby brine shrimp or finely crushed flake foods. A typical spawn is around 30 fry.
Above: A female Metriaclima pulpican "Likoma" holding eggs. Photo by Sam Borstein.
Konings describes the interesting behavior of this species in the wild. Males dig depresions under rocks from which they court. What is interesting is they defend the rock above the depression and don't forage from it, using it to attract females. If a female is foraging from the rock, but won't spawn, the male chases her out of the territory.
Metriaclima pulpican is a beautiful and popular species. Although it can be a tad aggressive, it is an excellent aquarium fish. This fish seems to be around quite a few clubs at the moment and is rather easy to obtain. It also is commercially bred and periodically pops up in pet shops.
- Konings, A. (2007) Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat. 4th ed., Cichlid Press, El Paso, Texas, 424 pp.