One of the most popular, because most colorful cichlids of Lake Malawi is the O-form of Maylandia estherae (synonym: Metriaclima e.). “O” stands for “orange.” As with many other species of Lake Malawi, several color forms occur within the same population of M. estherae in the wild. In the “normal” color form of M. estherae, the males are bright light blue with delicate vertical stripes, and the females are brownish. In the O-form, the fish are bright orange over the entire surface. In nature, it is mainly females that exhibit the O-form, but there are also – although extremely rare – O-males. Finally, there are OB forms (“orange blotch”) and Marmalade Cats (this is the name given to particularly attractive tricolored pied males). These are pied fish with an individual coloration. This means that there are no two individuals with exactly the same coloration.
Unlike in nature, where O-males are, as mentioned, very rare, a breeder who has mastered the Mendelian rules of inheritance can breed O-males relatively easily and thus the Red-Red forms are extremely popular and common in aquaristics, where mainly captive bred specimens are traded. O-males have egg spots in the anal fin, so they can be recognized even at a young age.
Maylandia esterae grows to 12-14 cm in the aquarium and can be quite aggressive, like many mbuna. Therefore they should be kept in large aquariums and in large groups, then you will have a lot of fun with these magnificent animals. In order to keep the wonderful orange-red color, the food in the aquarium must be similar to the natural diet, i.e. a high proportion of algae (spirulina) and small crustaceans (cyclops), if possible no worm food and altogether a diet rich in fiber.
For our customers: the fish have code 568422 on our stock list. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer