There are several species of cichlid termed „zebra cichlid“ in the aquarium hobby. However, none of the has a black-and-white pattern like the wild horse, but a green or blue basic colour. Examples are „Zebra cichlid“ from Central America (Amatilania nigrofasciata, formerly placed in Cichlasoma) or the „zebras“ from Lake Malawi (genus Maylandia). A real zebra is the beautiful Tilapia buettikoferi. There is, as far as we know, no other species of cichlid in the hobby that has such a contrasting black-and-white pattern.
Tilapia buettikoferi attains a maximum length of 30-40 cm and is one of the largest species of the genus. In real (!) large tanks this species is an absolute eyecatcher and reminds one in the Tanganyika-humphead (Cyphotilapia frontosa) due to the calm temper. However, T. buettikoferi is an openbrooder with biparental care and very productive.
Tilapia buettikoferi originates from western Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone). Our specimens are German bred ones. The species is omnivorous and the diet should contain larger amounts of plant material.
There does exist some chaos in respect of the scientific naming of that species. This is not the right place to discuss these things, but one should know that the specific name is sometimes spelled buttikoferi (in the original description from 1894 it is spelled with Umlaut „ü“, which not allowed according to the international rules of nomenclature). Moreover the species is sometimes placed in the genus Heterotilapia (an invalid genus name) or Herotilapia (a generic name used for Central American cichlids). Both is wrong.
For our customers: the fish have code 576903 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer