The sulphur head aulonocara, Aulonocara maylandi, is one of the most peaceful species of Malawi cichlids. The species reaches a maximum length of 12 cm (male) and 10 cm (female). In the wild these fish only live in two reefs of the south-eastern Lake Malawi, namely Chimwalani Reef (formerly Eccles Reef) and Luwala Reef (formerly West Reef). It is feared that the species could be endangered because of its small distribution area and over-collecting. However, there are always offspring available in the trade which can be bought without hesitation.
The 5-7 cm long offsprings, which we have in stock, are just beginning to colour, but are already very pretty. In adult males the pale yellow of the pale blaze is not only pale yellow, but yolk yellow – hence “sulphur head” – and in the large anal fin of the males very numerous egg spots develop.
The aquarium set up for these beauties should represent the border between rock and sand zones, because this biotope is inhabited by the fish in nature. A. maylandi must not be accompanied with aggressive and hectic cichlids, they will perish in such company.
Aulonocara cichlids are carnivorous fish, which specifically look for worms, insect larvae, small crabs etc. They are helped in this task by the large sensory pits on the underside of their heads, which are so sensitive that they perceive the electrical impulses emanating from the muscle movement of a buried worm as if they had an ECG.
The animals are mouth breeders in the female sex. They are most enjoyed when kept in a larger group of 3-4 males with 5-6 females. The aquarium should be rather dark, the pH should always be above 8. Regular and generous partial water changes and water temperatures between 22 and 26° ensure the fish feel well.
For our customers: the animals have code 502653 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer