Sam Borstein's Cichlid Page

Petrotilapia microgalana
Ruffing, Lambert & Stauffer, 2006

Small Blue, Nkhata Orange
Synonyms: Petrotilapia sp. "nkhata orange", Petrotilapia sp. "small blue"

Petrotilapia microgalana
Above: A young male Petrotilapia microgalana transitioning into adult male coloration. Photo by Sam Borstein.


Genus- Petra= stone (Greek), tilapia= African for fish (Bechuana).
Species-micro= small (Greek), galana= blue (Greek).


Petrotilapia microgalana is a recently described large mbuna from Lake Malawi. This large, pretty mouthbrooder was first typed by Ruffing, Lambert, and Stauffer in 2006 and is known in the hobby under a few names. In my opinion, this is the most attainable and popular member of the Genus Petrotilapia, which get a bad reputation due to their large size and tendency to be aggressive.


This fish can be found around rocks at Nkhata Bay in Lake Malawi.

Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism:

Size: Males- 7 inches, Females- 6 inches
Maturity: 3 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger than females and are blue instead of yellow. Males do take some time to reach full color and will breed even when there is almost no blue on them.


The only two issues with keeping the Small Blue is that they are messy and can be aggressive. I've heard horror stories about this fish and how aggressive they can be. This was not my experience, but to manage aggression a 4-6 foot tank for a trio should be used with other Malawi cichlids. Decorate the tank with plenty of rocks and caves. The fish mixes well with oth mbuna and even Tropheus and Petrochromis species.

Like said above, the fish are messy. Weekly water changes need to be done and adequate filtration is a must.


Petrotilapia microgalana is an herbivore, but will gladly take most prepared foods in aquaria. These fish are tanks and have quite the appetite In the wild it uses its mouth to take algae off rocks.


These fish are relatively easy to breed. The hardest part of breeding this fish is managing aggression to make sure females can get in proper condition to spawn. Once that is achieved, spawning is not difficult.

The fish spawn in typical mbuna fashion. The females make fine parents and hold for about three weeks. The fry are large, at least half an inch in length and in few numbers. The largest spawn I got from 6 inch breeders was 12.

Raising the fry is not problematic. The fry do fine on baby brine shrimp and then on crushed flake. The fry grow fast and after 2 months are about an inch and a half.


I like this fish, but it is really a hobbyist fish. A large and aggressive mbuna is not something many "one tank" individuals want. I recommend this for Malawi fanatics only. The fish can be hard to obtain, but is bred by Florida fish farms. Once found, the fish are generally cheap. It is a nice and hardy fish.