Frontosa Cichlid (Cyphotilapia Frontosa): Care Guide

Common Name(s)Frontosa Cichlid, Burundi Frontosa
Scientific NameCyphotilapia Frontosa
OriginLake Tanganyika
Temperature79-82°F (26-28°C)
SizeMale: 12 inches (30 cm)
Female: 10 inches (25 cm)
Minimum Tank Size75 gallons
Food & DietCarnivorous diet
Lifespan15 years (up to 20 years)
Water pH8.0-9.0
Tank MatesOther calm African cichlids from Lake Tanganyika
BreedingMouth brooding cave spawner
DiseaseMay be susceptible to Ich, skin flukes, and bacterial diseases
Frontosa Cichlid
Frontosa Cichlid (Cyphotilapia Frontosa)

Frontosa Cichlids (Cyphotilapia Frontosa) are one of the most well-known Cichlid from Africa. They are also known as Burundi Frontosa. Many fishkeepers are drawn to this fish due to its serene demeanor and appearance.

They have a captivating appearance, with a striped black body and a bright blue reflection on the fins. They can appear in various other colorations as well, depending on where they originate. For example, they can exhibit hues of black, blue, and yellow. In addition, when they are anxious, their color darkens. When they feel safe and content, their brilliant coloration emerges.

Frontosa Cichlids originate from Lake Tanganyika. Like many other cichlid species, they do show signs of aggression towards their tank mates. However, Frontosa Cichlid is considered relatively peaceful in comparison to many other cichlid species.

Frontosa Cichlid Care

Frotosa Cichlids are generally hardy fish, and they aren’t too difficult to take care of. However, there are a few things to consider if you do decide to keep them.

First, they are large fish so they have needs associated with that, such as a large tank. A full-grown specimen will require a lot more food than an average-sized aquarium fish as well.

Next, stable water conditions are necessary. These fish originate from Lake Tanganyika, one of the three African Great Lakes. This means that they originate from large bodies of water with extremely stable water conditions. Unlike small rivers and ponds that have constantly changing water parameters, Lake Tanganyika is estimated to be millions of years old. Understanding and monitoring the water parameters of your aquarium is very important if you wish to keep these fish. While aquarium-raised fish tend to be more resilient to fluctuations, wild-caught specimens may not survive if there is a sudden change in the water parameters.

If you intend to care for these fish properly, is important to fully understand their needs.

Frontosa Cichlid Temperature

These fish require a constant temperature and a high concentration of oxygen dissolved in the water. The optimum temperature for maintaining frontosa fish is between 79-82°F (26-28°C).

Frontosa Cichlid Water pH

Frontosa Cichlid should be kept in water with high pH of 8.0-9.0. Keeping this fish in low pH water is not recommended. While it can handle water pH that is slightly lower than this range, anything below a pH of 6.0 should be avoided.

Frontosa Cichlid Size

The body of the Frontosa Cichlid is tall and elongated, with flat sides. The male Frontosa Burundi Cichlid may grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) in length in a tank, whereas the female is only around 10 inches (25 cm) long. At a max size of approximately 12 inches, these fish are large fish. In local fish stores, they are sold in sizes ranging from approximately 2-3 inches.

How fast do Frontosa Cichlids grow?

Frontosa is a slow-growing species that can take up to three years to achieve sexual maturity. They tend to develop quickly in the first year, reaching a height of 4 to 5 inches, and then slow down to an inch or two inches in subsequent years.

Frontosa Cichlid Tank Size

The Frontosa Cichlid is a big, slow-moving fish that swims around all of the tanks and requires a very large aquarium. The minimum tank size for a Frontosa Cichlid should not be less than 75 gallons. Anything lower than this is unsuitable for the environment since it will be too narrow. As they develop, it’s a good idea to expand the tank’s size so they have adequate room.

Frontosa Cichlid Food & Diet

This fish lives in the tank’s base, and most Frontosa will only consume food that sinks. They’re carnivores, therefore they need a high-protein diet. However, they may be given pellets and flakes as well, so keep that in mind while selecting the finest Cichlid food.

Additional meal alternatives include:

  • Fish, such as tilapia, can be eaten fresh or frozen. Fish that has been treated should be avoided.
  • Bloodworms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Krill
  • Mosquito larvae

Frontosa Cichlid Lifespan

A Frontosa Cichlid’s typical lifetime is 15 years. However, in the appropriate aquarium with enough room to develop, wonderful water, and well-balanced food, some gorgeous specimens would survive up to 20 years.

Frontosa Cichlid Tank Mates

Frontosas get along well with other calm African cichlids from Lake Tanganyika. This is mostly because these species prefer similar water conditions. Other fish, such as Malawi cichlids, can, nevertheless, make excellent tank mates but with monitored attention.

These are piscivorous fish (they feed on smaller fish species in nature). Even if you feed them high-quality commercial fish food, they will not turn down the chance to eat small fish or invertebrates, so be cautious about introducing fish of different sizes.

Is Frontosa Cichlid Aggressive?

By cichlid standards, the Frontosa Cichlid is a rather calm fish. Unless housed in an extremely tiny aquarium or in groups of less than six individuals, they are typically not hostile.

Frontosa Cichlid and Angelfish

The Frontosa is a Tanganyika cichlid, while the Angelfish are South American. The overall assurance of their compatibility isn’t certain. It may be extremely unlikely. They like various water parameters, therefore a neutral pH would be ideal.

Frontosa Cichlid and Oscar Fish

The Frontosa Cichlid and the Oscar fish are comparable in size but develop at varying rates. Oscars are known for their rapid growth, whereas frontosas are known for their slow growth.

While it may be difficult, it has been done before and is doable. If it’s your “hill to die on,” as it were, you can do it.

Ensure to do these:

  • Get captive-bred fish rather than wild ones
  • Ensure that your Oscars do not outgrow your Frontosas
  • Keep an eye on your fish’s aggression.
  • Provide them with an appropriate diet

Frontosa Cichlid and Peacock Cichlids

The cohabitation of Frontosa Cichlids and Peacock Cichlids is a friendly one. The identical similarities they’ve among each other can be seen.

The following are some examples of their similarities:

  • They aren’t particularly aggressive.
  • They both like to dwell near the aquarium’s bottom.

As a result, their compatibility ratio has been estimated to be between 78 and 85 percent.

Frontosa Cichlid With Severum Cichlids

Both fish have a low compatibility ratio, but they are both calm, except for Severum Cichlids, who can become aggressive during spawning. Several cichlids have a temperature range of 75°F to 84°F, while Frontosa cichlids have a temperature range of 72°F to 80°F. If they are well supervised, they can be a better mate.

Frontosa Cichlid with Mbuna Cichlids

Other African Rift Valley Cichlids, including Mbuna, are usually compatible with Frontosa Cichlids (Cyphotilapia frontosa). Frontosa and mbuna cichlids are popular choices. When completely developed, they are about the same size. Frontosa and mbuna cichlids may be given the same diet and thrive in the same ph of water. Their compatibility percentage ranges from 85 to 95 percent.

Frontosa Cichlid with Malawi Cichlids

Frontosa are a type of fish that lives in groups. For you to witness their natural behavior, they should be maintained in groups of five or more. Although many aquarists have had success with tiny amounts of Frontosa mixed in with a “party pack” of African cichlids, Malawi Cichlids should not be included in your list of Frontosa tanks. It may work, but it isn’t optimal for the fish.

Malawi cichlids and frontosa cichlids will have a compatibility ratio of 40% owing to the aggression of Malawi cichlids, who are omnivorous creatures with an insatiable need for food. Their water pH levels also differ from one another.

10 facts and tips about frontosa

Frontosa Cichlid Tank Setup

For a small group of Frontosa, a Frontosa cichlid tank should be at least 75 gallons. Changes in the water should not be too severe, since this might harm the fish. 1 tablespoon of salt per 11 liters is also an excellent idea. The salt is utilized as a buffering agent in this scenario, which will enhance carbonate hardness and assist thyroid function, increasing the Frontosa cichlid growth rate.

For this fish, the substrate is crucial. Sand or tiny gravel would be good, with saltwater sand being the best option for maintaining pH levels. Alternatives include crushed corals. It’s critical to give the fish plenty of room to swim.

Some fundamental Frontosa tank setup instructions are as follows:

  • Rinse the tank and other equipment: Before you begin setting up, you must first rinse the tank. Make sure there isn’t any dust or dirt on the floor.
  • Glue the accessories: Carefully place the tank on the side and begin gluing the items.
  • Put the substrate: Fill your tank with sand or gravel.
  • Install the equipment:  Take your time installing the aquarium filters, aquarium heaters, and other equipment.
  • Fill the tank: Half-fill the tank with cold water. Make sure the sand or gravel isn’t disturbed.
  • Put the objects: Now it’s time to set up all of the items that the fish will use to hide, such as driftwood, branches, pots, living rocks, or anything else.
  • Prime the filter: For the filter to work properly, it must first be primed in water.
  • Plug the heater: After 10 minutes of priming the filter, plug in the heater.
  • Put in the Frontosa: You must allow the aquarium to run for at least 48 hours before you begin adding the fish.

Frontosa Cichlid Breeding

The Frontosa Cichlid is a challenging cichlid to breed. It’s preferable to keep 6 to 8 fish to allow them to organically couple up. During the mating season, one male with numerous females would be optimal. They should be kept in a tank of at least 150 gallons, but a tank of 200 gallons or more would be ideal for the long term. It takes 3 to 4 years for a juvenile Frontosa to reach sexual maturity and begin reproducing.

Female Frontosas generally lay their eggs in natural caves. They may deposit up to 100 eggs on the substrate when they mate in captivity. During the breeding season, clay pots and pebbles would be ideal for reducing the female’s stress during mating. The female will deposit the eggs (usually 50) between rocks or other objects, and the male will fertilize them.

Frontosa Cichlid Male or Female

Males of the Frontosa species have the most prominent hump on their heads. Females have a more rounded sex organ and a somewhat rounder physique. The males are more triangular. When it comes to behavior, males are more aggressive and prey on females during the breeding season.

Frontosa Cichlid Disease

The Frontosa Cichlid is susceptible to the same illnesses as other fish. They are the most vulnerable to the dreaded Ich. Protozoa are the most frequent cause of this sickness, which causes twitching, rubbing their bodies against things, and white patches on the body. Healing is simple, and the fish reacts well to medicines.

This fish frequently suffers from skin flukes and other parasites. They can infect it, resulting in fungal and bacterial diseases. It’s better to relocate the ill fish to a separate tank with no plants or substrate in these situations. Use the appropriate drugs and remember to remove the filter pump, which can absorb the medication.

You’ll never know whether a sickness spreads to other fish if one of your fish becomes ill. In this situation, it’s also a good idea to look into and care for other fish. Increase the tank temperature by a few degrees for three days while maintaining high-quality water.

Where to find Frontosa Cichlid for Sale

Frontosa cichlids may be purchased from a variety of sources, including both local fish stores and online retailers. For the healthiest specimen, be sure to purchase from a reputable retailer. Quality fish may be priced at a premium, but it is usually worth it considering the stress of treating a sick fish.

Frontosa Cichlid Price

The price of a Burundi Frontosa Cichlid varies greatly based on the fish’s variation and purchasing size. Another major element in price is whether the specimen was captured in the wild in Lake Tanganyika or bred in a tank. A tiny, tank-bred specimen will generally cost you between $20 and $40. Of course, wild-caught fish is far more expensive and harder to come by.

Frontosa Cichlid vs Blue Frontosa Cichlid

The physical variations between Frontosa Cichlid (Cyphotilapia frontosa) and Blue Frontosa Cichlid (Cyphotilapia gibberosa) are subtle, consisting mostly of changes in the number of scale rows and body and fin proportions.

There are several color options available. Although some have been created in the hobby, most of these various variations are the consequence of populations from isolated parts of the lake acquiring distinct colors and patterns.


The Frontosa Cichlid (Cyphotilapia Frontosa) is an excellent aquarium fish that is quite easy to care for as long as you can provide it with enough room and good water quality. These big and attractive fish are a prominent option among aquarists and any fishkeeper’s wish list should be gracious for having them on board.

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