Sam Borstein's Cichlid Page

Xystichromis phytophagus
(Greenwood, 1965)

Christmas Fulu
Synonyms: Haplochromis phytophagus

Xmas Fulu Male Full Color
Above: A male Xystichromis phytophagus. Photo by Dave Hansen.


Genus- Xyster= scraper (Greek), chromis= a fish, perhaps a perch (Greek).
Species- phyto= plant (Greek), phagus= eater (Greek).


The Xmas Fulu at one point was possibly the most popular Victorian. It is readily available, easy to keep, and has been in the hobby for some time. This fish is easy to care for, breed, and has some stunning color.


The Xmas Fulu is found in Lake Victoria and Lake Kanyaboli. This fish is found around muddy bottoms with a large amount of plant life.

Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism:

Size: Males- 4 inches, Females- 3.5 inches
Maturity: 1.5 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger and have color compared to the silver females.


Xmas Fulus are easy to care for. This fish likes hard water, and is non-aggressive, and will thrive in a tank with some mild mannered Malawians. Make sure rocks are put in, as this fish like to make territories around them, and will feel more comfortable.


As its name suggests, the Xmas Fulu eats plants. It is best to feed a mixed diet with some vegetable flake or pellet as a staple. I had success feeding various spirulina flakes and spectrum.


The Xmas Fulu is easy to breed. The males have an intense red color during spawning, and this is where the fish gets its nickname the Xmas Fulu because the green and red colors of the fish. Breeding is typical for Victorian Haplochromis types. Males will dig a pit in front of a rock or a piece of slate and court females from there.

Females are relatively good holders and hold for 18-20 days. The fry are pretty small and brood is typically 20-35 fry. The fry grow quickly on baby brine shrimp and are easily transitioned to flake foods. The babies grow fast and by an inch are showing color.


The Xmas Fulu is a good beginner Victorian cichlid. It is easy to keep, breed, and peaceful. It also is colorful. You may be able to find this fish at your local pet store and it is easy to get from hobbyists.