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Above A male Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi in breeding dress. Photo from the 2006 ACA Convention by Sam Borstein.


Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi is a mouthbrooding, dwarf cichlid native to West Africa. It is found in Zaire, in the eastern central Congo basin, between Lakes Ankoro and Upemba. This fish was first typed by Pellegrin in 1928, so it has been know to the hobby for some time.

Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi is a strikingly colorful fish! Males get will grow to just over 3 inches in length and sport a gold-green face with a red and blue speckled body. Females , which grow to about 2.5 inches, sport some color, but are generally drab in appearance by comparison.

Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi is an aggressive cichlid. Hobbyists will need to take some actions to manage aggression.


Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi is found in water ranging from pH 6 to pH 9 and various levels of hardness. Temperatures range from 71–78F. Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi inhabits small ponds, drainage ditches and creeks, generally hiding along the banks.


Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi is easy to keep and is undemanding. Maintain a temperature of 75–78F and perform regular, partial water changes. I kept this fish at pH 7.4 with no problems.

A bigger challenge with Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi is managing aggression. Despite their small size, this fish is pugnacious, especially to members of the same species. Provide ample cover for females and sub-dominant males. Do not keep this fish with other members of the Pseudocrenilabrus species or similar-looking fish. We have successfully kept this fish with larger Malawian cichlids without problems for a month, so we feel they match well with aggressive mbuna.


Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi is a good eater and easy to feed. In the wild, they eat a variety of zooplankton such as insect larvae, worms, etc. Provide a good quality cichlid pellet or flake. I fed Spectrum, cichlid flakes and frozen mysis shrimp with good results.


Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi is a willing breeder. I obtained two pairs of Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi from Mike and Robin Schadle at GCCA's September 2004 auction. I placed the two pairs in to 20-gallon tank containing a fine gravel substrate and numerous flower pots, rocks and caves.

Five days later, I noticed a female holding! I removed the brooding female to a ready 5-gallon tank containing gravel and a seasoned sponge filter. After thirteen days, I stripped the female of eight nearly free-swimming fry.

The fry were immediately able to eat freshly hatched baby brine shrimp and grew quickly.

With a Breeders Award Program (BAP) in hand, I gave all four fish to my 13-year-old son Sam. He put the fish in a heavily populated 55-gallon tank containing various aggressive mbuna such as Labidochromis caeruleus. The other female spawned for him a week later!

Retail Price

You will occasionally find this fish in pet stores. Expect to pay about $7–9 for juvenile fish. Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi is predominantly a cichlid hobbyist's fish, and it is currently circulating in our club among members. This beautiful little fish deserves a place in your fishroom.

Report November 2004 by Rick Borstein.