Red Empress Cichlids have an elongated and slightly laterally compressed body shape. They can grow up to 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in length, with males being slightly larger and more colorful than females. As their name suggests, the males display a stunning reddish-orange coloration, especially on their dorsal and anal fins, while females have a more subdued coloration.
In terms of tank setup, it is recommended to provide Red Empress Cichlids with a spacious aquarium that mimics their natural habitat. Decorate the tank with plenty of rocks, caves, and hiding spots to create territories and provide a sense of security. These fish prefer a sandy substrate and appreciate the presence of live plants, although they may uproot them at times.
Maintaining water parameters within the ideal range is crucial for the well-being of Red Empress Cichlids. They thrive in water temperatures between 75-82°F (24-28°C) and a pH level of around 7.8-8.6. Additionally, regular water changes and good filtration are essential to ensure optimal water quality.
Red Empress Cichlids are generally peaceful and can be kept with other non-aggressive fish species. However, it's important to avoid housing them with overly aggressive or territorial fish, as they may become stressed or intimidated. A compatible community could include other Lake Malawi cichlids, such as Mbunas or Haplochromis species.
When it comes to feeding, Red Empress Cichlids are omnivorous. They will readily accept a varied diet that consists of high-quality cichlid pellets, flakes, and frozen or live foods. It's recommended to offer a mix of both vegetable-based and protein-rich foods to ensure a balanced diet and vibrant coloration.
Breeding Red Empress Cichlids can be achieved in the aquarium setting. Males will display vibrant colors and actively court the females. Provide them with suitable spawning sites, such as flat rocks or caves, where the females can lay their eggs. After spawning, it's best to remove the female to prevent aggression from the male towards her and the eggs. The male will guard and fan the eggs until they hatch, and then he will continue to protect the fry for some time.
Overall, the Red Empress Cichlid is a striking and peaceful fish that can make a wonderful addition to a well-maintained aquarium. With proper care, a suitable tank setup, and compatible tankmates, they can thrive and become a captivating focal point of your aquatic environment.