Name: Nimbochromis venustus
Origin: Lake Malawi (Africa)
Nimbochromis venustus or Giraffe Haplochromis is a gorgeous and relatively peaceful but large malawian cichlid. They use the common hunting practice of most Nimbochromis' which is "sleeping". They will lie on their sides and pretend to be a carcass. Newly born mbunas and other small cichlids will try and get their fair share of the "dead" fish but when the fry swim close enough the venustus either darts around and gobbles them up or simply opens it's mouth and "sucks" them in. This hunting technique based on instinct of course makes the fish obvously not suitable with "bite-sized fishes". Other Nimbochromis' and large piscivores make good tank-mates. They are peaceful fish and do better if placed with other large peaceful fish (eg. Nimbochromis livingstoniis & polystigmas, Placidochromis electras, Protomelas similis & taeniolatus, and Cytrocara mooriis).
These fishes are readily available. They are easily spawned and have VERY large broods. They enjoy feeder neons and guppies but do better if fed on shrimpmix. They like a high protein diet and I usually supplement this with green peas and live food. They also like fish, chicken liver & beaf heart. They are real pigs and are prone to malawi bloat. So feed them good food sparingly but satisfyingly. Looked after properly the males are absolutely gorgeous and are a fine edition to any malawian non-mbuna aquarium. Anyone can keep this fish provided that they have a good knowledge of the water hardness and pH that malawian cichlids thrive on. Keeping the food down and if the right water conditions are achieved this fish is a smart, fun, hardy and easily bred malawian cichlid.
When I released my venustus into the tank, it would not leave the others alone. It spent almost 2 days constantly chasing and nipping at the others, not to mention eating all of the food. I thought it was going to kill the other fish. After a few days, it began to adapt and leave the other fish alone. I suggest that if you purchase a venustus, when you release it into the tank give it some time to get used to its new environment.
I have a Venustus that is approximately 18 cm long and is a wonderful addition to my aquarium. Occassionally, he will get into a bit of a scrape with other large fish but for the most part there are no aggressive problems out of him. Highly recommended to give a different look to your community of fish with the unique pattern on their bodies.
I must disagree with all of the other comments, about the "peaceful" nature of this fish. I've kept and bred several members of the Nimbochromis genus. Once the males reach sexual maturity (about 13-15 cm), they can be quite aggressive, especially with their own kind. But they can be kept with other equally large Haplochromines (Dimidochromis compressiceps, Chilotilapia rhoadesii, etc) in large tanks. And they are quite beautiful, and will breed readily.
I have a male venustus who is peaceful except he has a game he plays with my pleco. It looks like an attack until the pleco does a dance to move the venustus, they do this every day. My venustus has never bothered any of my fry or smaller fish. He also seeks me out more than some of the others.
The sex defferences between males and females are that the males get a blueish colored face when mature and females keep the yellow and white. I believe mine is going to be a female, but I'm never sure. One thing is for sure, they grow extremely fast.