Venustus Cichlid

Venustus Cichlid (Nimbochromis venustus)

The Venustus Cichlid (Nimbochromis Venustus) Is a favourite amongst cichlid keepers due to it’s stunning colouring and keen intelligence. It’s striking pattern has also lead to this fish being described as the ‘Giraffe Cichlid’.

Be wary with the fish you house with this cichlid. The Venustus Cichlid is an ambush predator that will partially bury itself in the sand. It will then hold very still, for up to several minutes, waiting for an unsuspecting small fish to swim by. Once a small fish inspects what it thinks is a dead fish, the venustus springs into action, snatching the small fish!

  • Care Level:  Easy
  • Temperament:  Aggressive
  • Max Size: 10”
  • Colouring: Blue, Yellow, White
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Origins: Africa – Lake Malawi
  • Family: Cichlidae
  • Minimum Tank Size: 280 Litres
  • Water Conditions: 24 – 28°C / KH 10 – 15 / pH 7.8 – 8.6  / 76-83° F

Venustus Cichlid Appearance

The male Venustus Cichlid has a striking blue face with yellow markings across its head and dorsal fin. The female is less colourful, with a silver background behind a dark blotched pattern. This cichlid can grow up to 1o inches in length and is extremely popular among hobbyists. This cichlids interesting behaviour combined with its eye catching colour pattern make it a favourite among cichlid lovers. They have a lifespan of about 10 years with proper care.

Venustus Cichlid Temperament

The aggressive Venustus Cichlid is recommended for both the intermediate and experienced cichlid keeper. You should not house it in a community set up and you should only house it with other cichlids. It is a ambush predator so do not house with much smaller fish. It is susceptible to Malawi bloat as well as the typical diseases that effect all freshwater fish if the tank is not maintained. In the proper setup it will easily adapt to prepared foods, breed readily, and the juveniles are easy to raise.

“The Venustus Cichlid is an ambush predator that will partially bury itself in the sand. It will then hold very still, for up to several minutes, waiting for an unsuspecting small fish to swim by.”

Venustus Cichlid Environment

The Venustus Cichlid should be kept in a large aquarium, with plenty of caves, hiding spots and places to set up territories. Place pieces of stacked rock into firm structures on top of a Venustus Cichlid (Nimbochromis venustus)sandy aragonite based substrate. This substrate will maintain the necessary high pH and alkalinity the venustus needs to thrive. These cichlids are very sensitive to levels of nitrates and therefore regular water changes will be needed for their optimal health.

Rift lake cichlids need hard alkaline water but they are not found in brackish waters. Some hobbyists have reported that it is beneficial to use salt as a buffering agent to increase the water’s carbonate hardness. This cichlid has some salt tolerance so can be kept in slightly brackish water conditions, in a specific gravity of less than 1.0002. Also, try adding some crushed coral to help keep the pH up. A higher pH means that ammonia can be more lethal so keep a careful eye on levels and keep up the water changes.

Lastly, it is essential that you provide lots of open space for swimming in the middle and bottom of your aquarium. Place rock work and wood towards the back of the aquarium to provide a lot of holes for hiding places. As the Venustus Cichlid likes to dig, ensure that rocks sit on the bottom of the aquarium and not on the substrate. Plants are fine because even though these fish will burrow, they won’t uproot or disturb them. However, they will eat the leaves of some freshwater plants, but will not more sturdier species.

Venustus Cichlid Diet

You should feed the Venustus Cichlid with a diet of meaty foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, small fish, as well as a high quality flake or pellet food containing vegetable matter. In the wild they feed on fish they catch through ambush. Therefore, ensure you provide these cichlids a high protein diet.

Bear in mind that feeder fish can initiate hunting instincts and cause aggression within your aquarium. Offer the Venustus Cichlid high quality herbivorous foods to balance out their diet. Adults will do best when fed frozen foods twice a week. They will eat to the point of their stomach being distended, so be very careful to not overfeed. Malawi bloat is a typical disease especially if over fed and there is a lack of some herbivorous foods that are high quality.

Venustus Cichlid Breeding

It is possible to breed the venustus cichlid within the home aquarium. The female will spawn on a flat rock, and will take the unfertilised eggs into her mouth and follow closely behind the male until he releases the sperm to fertilise the eggs. The female will then incubate the eggs for approximately three weeks before releasing the fry. The fry can then be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, daphnia, or crushed flake food.

Venustus Cichlid Origins

The Venustus Cichlid Inhabit the Africa rift lake area and are endemic to Lake Malawi and Lake Malombe. Malawi Cichlids will deteriorate under poor water conditions. The amount and frequency of water changes required will depend on your bio-load.

The streams that flow into Lake Malawi contain a very high mineral content. This with rapid evaporation has resulted in alkaline water that is highly mineralised. Lake Malawi is renowned for its clarity and stability as far as pH and other water chemistries. It is therefore essential to constantly monitor tank parameters when housing Lake Malawi Cichlids.



For further information, here’s an article on general aquarium maintenance.

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