Breeding Pseudotropheus Zebra

If you are interested in breeding African cichlids, I recommend P. Zebra because they are one of the easiest to breed. Due to their long tenure in the hobby, these fish are quite inexpensive, and also quite hybridized, at least among the various color morphs. There are also albino strains of these fish!


Decades before the explosion of Rift lake cichlid popularity, this fish made a tremendous splash in the hobby with its unusual habits, multiple color morphs, and exotic origin. It seemed that every shipment of this Nyassa cichlid brought another color morph, and it was hard to believe that these bright blue, orange, striped, and mottled fishes could all be the same species. With most fish species, the female has the duller colors but with P. Zebra, the females can be as brightly colored as the males.

Of about average aggression (for Mbuna there is plenty), these fish are extremely easy to care for and breed. Most species are in the five-inch range. They are quite omnivorous, and always hungry. They will hybridize freely among their own species and even with some other cichlids.

  1. Zebra are mouthbrooders, which means the mother carries the eggs in her mouth until they hatch and the fry are old enough to come out on their own. The mother will let the fry out at night when there are no other fish around, then she takes them back in. This continues on for 18 days.

Within a few days, the fry will be swimming all over the tank and at every level, it is best to feed them three to four times a day crushed up flake, and only a bit at every feeding as to not foul up the tank. Water changes of 20% should be done every two days. This will help the fry to grow up faster and healthier.

If you are serious about breeding these fish, you should maintain only one P. Zebra morph per tank. It is best to only have one male and several females per tank as well. I find that I do quite well with keeping a large tank with about forty fish in it with only one male of the different species and many females per male.

How can you tell if your fish is pregnant? Look under the mouth and you will see a bulge that forms and this will get bigger as the fry develop. The bulge will actually look like black and blue markings. Once you notice the bulge, count 18 days and put the mother in a birthing tank so she can let out her fry.