Native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa, the Calvus Cichlid is a slow-growing and mostly docile Cichlid species. This fish is best kept in species-specific tanks or with other fish native to Lake Tanganyika. Keeping a pair or a group of up to 6 individuals is common; this isn’t the type of Cichlid that can be happy on its own. Their natural environment includes rocky elements, and this fish’s narrow body is perfect for wedging into crevices in search of prey.
While this fish is a predator, they are mostly docile around larger fish that can’t fit in their mouths. They won’t usually display aggression against larger tank mates, but smaller fish and invertebrates are at risk of being eaten. Calvus Cichlids have specific care needs, making them a poor choice for beginning Cichlid hobbyists.
If you’re planning on adding Calvus Cichlids to your collection, you’ll need some information first. We’ve put together this guide to properly show you how to care for this unique African Cichlid variety!
Calvus Cichlid Care
Calvus Cichlids need excellent water quality, the proper diet of live and frozen meaty foods, and a rocky tank environment that mimics their natural habitat. This can be a challenging species to care for successfully and is best suited to experienced hobbyists.
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Are Calvus Cichlids easy to care for?
Calvus Cichlids can be a challenge to care for. This isn’t the best beginner fish, but experienced hobbyists should be able to raise this species successfully.
Calvus Cichlid does best in tanks with temperatures between 76° and 81° F.
Like many African Cichlid species, Calvus Cichlid likes alkaline water between 7.5 and 9.0 pH.
Calvus Cichlid Size
Calvus Cichlid males grow up to 6 inches, while females only reach 4 inches. This is a slow-growing species and can take 5 years or more to reach maximum length.
Food & Diet
Calvus Cichlids are carnivores and need a diet based on frozen and live meaty foods. Good frozen food choices include black and white mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, and krill. Prepared pellet and flake foods shouldn’t be the primary diet of this fish. Without meaty foods, their health will suffer, and they’ll be more difficult to breed. This heavily carnivorous diet presents a problem: iodine content.
Commercial-prepared Cichlid pellets and flakes contain iodine, which is necessary for their metabolism. Live and frozen meaty foods may lack this important element. Depending on your feed source, it might be necessary to supplement with iodine. Iodine supplements are common in marine aquariums but are an unusual addition to freshwater tanks. Read all iodine supplement instructions to make sure you properly dose your tank.
Calvus Cichlid Lifespan
Calvus Cichlid can live up to 10 years will proper care.
Calvus Cichlids need a tank that’s at least 55 gallons. That’s large enough to support a group of 4 to 6 members. When selecting a tank, choose one that is long and wide, as this species likes room to swim.
The best tank environment for Calvus Cichlids will include rocky hiding spaces with a substrate that can buffer alkalinity. Plants aren’t common in their natural habitat, so keeping a planted tank isn’t necessary. Ideal substrate choices will include crushed coral or aragonite sand. Coral will slowly dissolve and increase water alkalinity. Most hobbyists choose darker-colored substrates as these provide better contrast with this fish’s coloration. Rocks are a big part of Calvus Cichlid’s natural habitat.
Be sure to include enough to provide hiding spaces while allowing plenty of open areas for swimming. This species’ narrow body makes it perfect for exploring narrow crevices, so select rocks that can be piled, so many gaps and crevices are formed. Pay attention to stability: rocks should be added before the substrate and shouldn’t be easy to rearrange. Unstable rocks might shift, which can trap and injure fish.
Water quality and currents will need extra attention. Calvus Cichlids do best in well-maintained water; regular water changes and excellent filtration are needed. You’ll need a filtration system that can turn over at least five times the volume of your tank in one hour. For instance, a 55-gallon tank needs a filter that runs at 300 GPH (gallons per hour). Another reason to have excellent filtration is water currents: this species is happiest in tanks with lots of water flow.
A powerful filter can provide water movement along with filtration. Some large tanks may need additional water currents to keep Calvus Cichlids happy. Wavemakers and powerheads can add additional water flow to your tank. These devices are popular in marine aquariums and are essentially small underwater electric fans. Many include controls allowing flow rate adjustment to get the right water current.
Calvus Cichlid Breeding
Calvus Cichlids are substrate spawners and will breed in a home aquarium. Make sure you have a breeding pair: males are longer and have longer fins, while females are shorter. To prepare your fish for spawning, feed them a varied diet of live foods. It may also be necessary to supplement tank water with iodine if they have been feed iodine deficient foods. The female will select a crevice or cave which is small enough to keep the male out.
She will lay up to 200 eggs before the male releases milt at the cave entrance; both fish will fan the water to direct this milt over the eggs. The female guards her eggs inside the cave while the male guards the entrance. Eggs hatch in around 48 hours, and fry are free swimming in 7 to 10 days. Male Calvus Cichlids are known to eat fry, so remove the male to another tank before fry are free swimming. This can be challenging, as it’s hard to know when these fish have spawned.
Often, the first hint that these fish have bred is seeing free swimming fry in the aquarium. Feed the fry with baby brine shrimp and other small live food. It may be necessary to separate fry by size as larger fry can sometimes eat the smaller fry.
Calvus Cichlid Disease
Calvus Cichlids can suffer from Malawi Bloat, other common freshwater diseases, and infections such as Ich and parasites. Malawi Bloat is visible as a swelling in the abdomen with a lack of appetite and swimming or floating at odd angles. This condition can affect all freshwater fish but is most common in African Cichlids.
Malawi Bloat is closely related to constipation and linked to poor diet and overfeeding. The best way to avoid this condition is by feeding a varied diet of quality foods without feeding too much. Underfeeding is preferable to overfeeding.
Ich is a parasitic infection that is seen as white spots along the body, fins, gills, and face. The most common treatments are copper-based medications. When treating Calvus Cichlids with medicines containing copper, make sure this can be tolerated by any tank mates.
The best way to avoid Ich and other common diseases is by keeping a quarantine tank (QT). A QT lets you check the health of new fish for 6 to 8 weeks before adding them to your main aquarium. It’s always best to allow a quarantine period for all new fish or other tank additions.
Calvus Cichlid Tank Mates
While Calvus Cichlids aren’t aggressive, they are predatory carnivores that eat smaller fish. Larger fish aren’t usually harassed or attacked. An exception is during spawning: Calvus Cichlids are territorial, and this trait is especially strong when mating. Bad tank mates are any smaller fish or invertebrates that this species can fit in their mouths. Avoid aggressive fish or Cichlids such as Mbunas.
Calvus Cichlids aren’t aggressive and are more likely to be targets of violence by other fish. The best choices for tank mates are other species from Lake Tanganyika, such as Cyprichromis, Julidochromis, and Neolamprologus.
Where can I find Calvus Cichlid for sale?
Calvus Cichlids aren’t common in local fish stores but can be bought online. Depending on size, expect to pay between $16 USD and $70 USD.
Calvus Cichlid Types
Calvus Cichlids can vary in coloration depending on where they were collected. Here are some of the top Calvus Cichlid variations available:
Black Calvus Cichlid
Black Calvus Cichlids have deep black coloration instead of the more common dark gray. This appealing color pattern has especially good contrast against darker substrates.
White Calvus Cichlid
The White Calvus Cichlid is a variety with lighter coloration, which makes the usually dark stripes light gray, and the already light body color nearly white.
Yellow Calvus Cichlid / Gold Calvus Cichlid
Yellow Calvus Cichlid and Gold Calvus Cichlid likely refer to the same variety with a pronounced yellowish cast. This is an uncommon variety and may be more difficult to find.
Inkfin Calvus Cichlid
Inkfin Calvus Cichlids have darker-colored fins and a more irregular striping pattern. They often have a slightly yellowish cast, mostly visible in areas of lighter color.
Calvus Cichlid vs Compressiceps Cichlid
Calvus Cichlid (Altolamprologus calvus) and Compressiceps Cichlid (Altolamprologus compressiceps) look similar with a couple of notable differences: Compressiceps, despite the name, have a thicker and wider body than Calvus. Compressiceps also features an indentation between their eyes, giving their face the appearance of having a “snout.”