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Cynotilapia afra
Dogtooth Cichlid

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Dogtooth Cichlid - Cynotilapia afra

Photos & Comments

afra1.jpg (12kb)
Photo Credit: Micha

Name: Cynotilapia afra
Origin: Lake Malawi (Africa)

Size Tank pH Temp
10 cm 100 L 8.2 25C


I had one of these in a 200 L African Cichlid tank. His colors were truly magnificent, and he displayed some very interesting behavior as well. He dug a pit down to the glass under a rock overhang, and brutally attacked anything that crossed near his lair. He even would rush the glass and snap his jaws against the front of the tank if you put your hand up to it. After 2 months of this, I had to give him up, as his battles with the tank's Yellow Labidichromis and Electric Blue Johannis were beginning to result in semi-serious injuries. Now the tank is well balanced with Yellow Labs, Johannis and a Cobalt Blue Cichlid (Zebra?). I do miss the Afra, though, as he was much more a character than any of the remaining fish.

Contributed by Richard Steixner

These fish are more aggressive than any of my other mbuna. I put six young ones, ranging between 3 and 5 cm long, together in a pail while I transferred the water from their old 110 liter tank to their new 200 liter tank. The dominant male chased the secondary male right out of the pail and he died before I realized he had jumped. I had similarly sized Pseudotropheus polit and Labidochromis sp. "Red Top Kimpuma" in identical containers and they did not cause each other any harm. Neither of the other two species will come out to feed if the Cynotilapia afra find the food first, nor will they display their colors in the presence of C. afra. Before I moved the C. afra they had been housed with Labidochromis sp. "Perlmutt" and the striped females and non-dominant males of the latter species were hounded mercilessly by the C. afra. One of them had his dorsal fin chewed down to the spine in two places.

Contributed by Sandra Linkletter

I will itterate, along with everyone on this page, on how aggressive the Afra is. It does make its own lair in one of your caves, and will attack anything that decides to swim by. A beautiful fish, but should only be kept in tanks with plenty of room.

Contributed by James Riggs

I have a Dogtooth in my 200 L tank. It is great. It has built a den under one of the rocks by moving all of the pebbles from underneath it. It is blue and black stripped, with a white top fin and a light blue face. It also has a stunning orange anal fin. It is about 10 cm long. It is slightly aggressve toward other members of the tank, mostly the two Red Zebras - it likes to chase them around, but if they stay out of its way it works quite peacefully. A great addition to the tank.

Contributed by Nick Riley

I have a male and he has shown aggresive behavior towards other fish. He will contantly push a fish out of an area if he is has been resting there for a while

Contributed by Joe Buchheit

I have 2 male and 3 female C. afra white tops in a tank with a breeding group of electric blue haps (1 male and 6 females). The Afras are stunning fish, but their agression must be noted. I find the secret is to keep a good number of fish in with them so they don't single out any one fish and kill it. All of my electric blues breed for me on a regular basis and all three Afra females have now bred. The two male Afra are in a constant power struggle with the dominant male on one side and the submissive, but larger, male on the other. Surprising is that the submissive male still fully colors most of the time (but not all the time). These are truly great fish.

Contributed by Kevin M

I've got a small (112 litre) Malawi Mbuna-Tank. I've had it just 2 months and the largest Cynotilapia is about 6 cm long. I had 5 Cynotilapia Afra's combined with Labidochromis Yellow. In the early days two Cynotilapia males were very territorial and quite aggressive. They had their territory not in a cave, but in the open water. The dominant male started to collect sand in his mouth to build a wall to mark his territory. However later, three of the Cynotilapia's died, I think not because of aggression, but of bad water quality (too high NO3). Now the water is right and I have increased the number of fishes in my tank with new Labidochromis Hongi's. Now the two males are quite friendly, less aggressive than earlier. I think that perhaps the aggression depends strongly on the number of fishes in the tank. I don't know what will happen when the Cynotilapia male reaches it's adult-size (10 cm). Perhaps he will turn much more aggressive at that time and I will need a larger tank. But anyway, the Cynotilapia is a very nice fish when he is not too highly aggressive. He marks his territory with transporting sand and builds caves. Very nice fish :)

Contributed by R. Senden

I agree with Richard. These fish have the tendency of digging the gravel to the glass and would even try to attack the image which it would get on the glass. This little fish is sometimes not compatible with various other fishes. It may cause injuries, sometimes fatal.

Contributed by Adrian Sandler

I have six juvenile afras in my 150 L tank and they are truly a beautiful and interesting fish. I have not found them to be overly aggressive, but they do like to attack the plants. One interesting observation is that all six fish have different colouration. They range from the dominant male, which is purple with dark stripes, to the least dominant fish which is almost white. All the other fish fall in between with varying degrees of colour intensity. Overall a great fish with very interesting behavior.

Contributed by Jay

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