The Venustus Nimbochromis venustus (previously Haplochromis venustus) is a popular aquarium cichlid. This is a big fish that can grow close to 10 inches in the aquarium. The impressive size along with its interesting behaviour and handsome colour pattern make it a favourite among cichlid lovers. This cichlid makes a fabulous display specimen for a large show tank.
They will do best in a species specific tank or with other cichlids. Try and keep the different species blood lines pure. Do not mix with these fish with the overactive and aggressive Mbunas. A minimum of 125 gallons is need for one male and several females since spawning males are aggressive. During spawning their colour display rivals saltwater fish in its intensity and beauty. If another male from the Nimbochromis genus is also kept in the aquarium, the Venustus will still keep its bright spawning colour.
The male can range from a solid gold with a blue face or be all blue. But all will have the "giraffe" patterning faded in the background and a yellow to tan stripe starting at the nose and running along the top of the dorsal.
The Venustus are omnivorous, but in the wild they habitually feed on fish so can be considered a piscivore. In the aquarium they do best with a high protein diet. They can be fed live or frozen food, freeze dried krill, pellets, and other high quality foods for piscivores. Occasionally feed mysis and feeder fish, though feeder fish can initiate hunting instincts and cause more aggression.
Open space is a must for the Venustus. There can be some rock work and wood that is placed towards the back of the aquarium to provide a lot of holes for hiding places. Most importantly there needs to be a lot of swimming areas along the middle and bottom of the tank. They like to dig so make sure the rocks sit on the bottom of the aquarium not on the substrate. They will spawn using a pit close to a rock. Plants can be added as well because even though these fish will burrow, they don't disturb them. They will eat the leaves of some freshwater plants, but will not eat the more sturdy plants. They also tend to dig, so the plants need to be anchored.
What We Like About This Fish:
- Beautiful coloration in both males and females
- Very hardy with plenty of personality
- Easy to breed in the aquarium
- Excellent species for larger tanks
- Potential to be a "centre piece" fish
RECOMMENDED TANK PARAMETERS:
Temperature: 68° - 77° F (20° - 25° C)
pH: 6.5 - 8.0
KH: 5 - 25 dKH
Minimum tank size: 75 gallons for a single adult, 90+ gallons for a pair
Diet: Omnivorous. A variety of high-quality dry, frozen, and live meaty foods is necessary for optimal health and coloration. Vegetable matter is also regularly required.
Social behaviour: Congregates loosely in groups as juveniles. Territorial during spawning