Orange Chromide (Etroplus maculatus)

Know Your Fish

Orange Chromide or Etroplus maculatus are among the few cichlids found in India & Sri Lanka; these amazing fish live in both Freshwater with high alkalinity & Brackish water's. Hence, you can keep them both in Freshwater & Brackish water aquarium set-ups in home aquarium, this depends on where you brought your fish from.

Natural Habitat of Orange Chromide Cichlid includes, lakes, lagoons, brackish water estuaries of Southern parts of India. In their habitat they act like a cleaning fish of the larger Green Chromide (also called as Karimeen locally), orange chromide cleans the skin of green chromide of parasites & fungi. They mostly feed of algae, aufwuchs & are also known to eat  eggs of green chromide. In home aquarium Orange Chromide can grow around 3 inches, since they can be kept in both brackish water set-up & freshwater set-up, this makes them one of the prime option in case you are thinking of getting dwarf cichlid's. Orange chromide are also well behaved, they are not agressive to other fish & only try to chase any fish which gets too close to their nest when they are breeding. You would also be surprised with the personality these fish have, they are one of the most interesting fish to watch in an aquarium. 


More then 5 years.


Orange Chromide Male has brighter coloration, ones that I kept both in freshwater & brackish water tanks, the male was always larger than female & during breeding they display their orange coloration, otherwise the male looked grayish like the Female.


Female Orange Chromide looked grayish even during breeding like you see in the picture, they look smaller than the Male. In my breeding tank female was not as aggressive as Male Orange Chromide when guarding the nest. Female would rub her body to the side of the male, this indicated she was ready to mate, the black spots darkened & ones eggs were laid she turned a lighter gray color. 

Orange Chromide Aquarium Care

Orange Chromide can be kept in Freshwater Aquarium & Brackish water Aquarium, it depends where you brought your fish from; in freshwater aquarium you must maintain alkaline water condition with stable pH between 8 to 8.5, this helps with the protective slimy coat these fish have & they don't display blotched black patches which in these wild caught fish is a indication of stress. Sand can be used for tank bottom with clay pots or rocks as hiding places. These fish are somewhat social & even school when not breeding, there is a social order maintained when schooling, this is more prominent in Juvenile Orannge Chromide Cichlids where the dominant fish leads. Plants which do well in alkaline water conditions can be added if secured in pots or tied to a piece of driftwood like Java fern or Cryptocoryne wendtii which can withstand alkaline water parameters. These fish dig nest's if not for laying eggs, they will dig when the fry is born, so plants maybe uprooted if not properly secured in pots.

Tank Size

Minimum 20 Gallon (approx 75 liters) for a breeding pair & 40 Gallon or bigger for a group of 6 to 8 in a community tank. Bigger the tank, the better!

Tank Decoration

Orange Chromide Tank Decoration is simple, you can opt for all rock scape or add some plants suitable for alkaline water condition; the problem I faced was during breeding time they started uprooting my plants & I had to secure rooted plants in clay pots with adding some rocks & pebbles to secure the plants. For any fish which digs nest the suitable substrate is fine sand like you see in the video. This white sand helps keep pH levels at 8 or more, I used same sand in Brackish water set-up as well. My ideal choice for a Orange Chromide Tank would be a rock scape since these fish like eating algae which can grow on the rock & few plants like Java fern between these rocks.

Temperature Range

72° to 82°F (22– 28 °C)

pH Range

7.5 to 8.5 is the pH range ( there should never be drastic change's in the pH level)  

Water hardness

10 to 20 dGH


Orange Chromide's are Omnivores, they accept readily available fish food like pellets, flakes, freeze dried worms, spirulina based fish food & live food like daphnia, meal worm, blood worms etc. 

Tank Mates

Tank Mates for Orange Chromide in case its Freshwater set-up would be Sail-fin Molly, Swordtail, Green Chromide, Dwarf Neon Blue Rainbow fish etc. In Brackish set-up juvenile Scats, Mono Angelfish, brackish water mollies. These fish do well in community tanks however they would defend & chase away any fish which gets too close to comfort during breeding, otherwise these are among the most peaceful cichlids I have ever kept.

Breeding Orange Chromide

Its easy to breed Orange Chromide Fish, all you need to do is provide them with the right conditions. Below steps would help Breed Orange Chromides.

Step -1 Get juvenile Orange Cichlids about 5 to 7, in few months you would have a pair.


Step-2 Once Juveniles pair up, male & female would guard a certain cave, nest or a flat surface in the tank & chase away any fish getting close to it, this is an indication that they are ready to breed.


Step-3 Move the orange chromide breeding pair to a separate breeding tank, the breeding tank must be either bare bottom or sand. I include a Clay pot or a cup, depending on the species of Cichlids I'm breeding, I add floating plants or plants in clay pots, as rooted plants do not work with cichlids which build nest by digging sand.


Step-4 Leave the breeding pair in the breeding tank preferably a 20 gallon for a week or so. Then change water & increase the temperature by 2 degrees, this usually triggers spawning.


Step-5 Once the eggs are laid the incubation period is 2 to 5 days at the maximum. My brackish water orange chromide hatched in 4 days; temperature could be a factor here. The male & female would guard their eggs & fan them; at this point they did not tolerate me close to the tank.


Step-6 Raise the Orange Chromide Cichlid fry in a separate grow-out tank after a week or 2, as the fry feeds on the mucus secreted on the parents body for first few days. Orange chromide are good parents as they care for their fry for weeks. 

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Orange Chromide Male guarding his fry
Male & Female Orange Chromide wild caugh
Male & Female Orange Chromide wild caugh

Male & Female wild caught Orange Chromide

Male & Female Orange Chromide
Male & Female Orange Chromide

Male & Female Orange Chromide with new born fry.

Female Orange Chromide _ www.aquakri
Female Orange Chromide _ www.aquakri

Female Orange chromide before breeding.

Male Orange Chromide & Fry
Male Orange Chromide & Fry

Male Orange Chromide with his new born fry, Orange chromide fry feed on mucus produced on the parents body.

Etroplus maculatus Male & Female
Etroplus maculatus Male & Female

Orange chromides scientific name is Etroplus maculatus.

Orange Chromide eggs just hatched www
Orange Chromide eggs just hatched www

This is new born orange chromide fry, just few hours after the eggs were hatched, orange chromide eggs hatch in 2 to 5 days.

Orange Chromide Schooling
Orange Chromide Schooling

As Juveniles Orange chromides school, they need at least a 40 gallon aquarium.

Etroplus maculatus
Etroplus maculatus

Etroplus maculatus pair guarding their fry.

Orange Chromide Tank Mates
Orange Chromide Tank Mates

Orange Chromide Tank mates are Mono Angelfish, Scats, Green Chromide & brackish water mollies.


Orange Chromide Cichlid Gallery