Zebra Obliquidens (Astatotilapia Latifasciata)

Know Your Fish

Zebra Obliquidens Cichlids are critically endangered fish in the wild, however they thrive in fish keeping hobby. There isn't a lot of information on internet about their natural behavior in the wild; bits & pieces of reliable information & details gathered by aquarist gives us the necessary information which maybe used to mimic their natural habitat & care for these nice looking cichlids. 

Firstly, the common name used in the hobby Zebra Obliquidens is quite confusing, as 'Obliquidens' itself refers to a lot of fish from lakes in this area. Most aquarists refer them as Lake Victorian Cichlids; this maybe incorrect as this fish no longer exists in Lake Victoria and also are believed to be extinct in Lake Kyoga, the only wild population is reduced to Lake Nawampassa in Uganda.

Zebra Obliquidens is also confused with a true Victorian Cichlid like Haplochromis Nyererei; these fish are entirely different species. Astatotilapia Latifasciata has about 6 vertical black lines on their body, one line runs on their eye. They can grow around 4 inches in length, these fish are mouth brooders & the female Zebra Obliquiden is a great mother.

Zebra Obliquidens maybe the most common name which I'm sure most would be able to relate to this fish, if you don't want to confuse or get confused the scientific name is Astatotilapia latifasciata & it definitely refers to this fish universally.

Zebra Obliquidens Lifespan

Zebra Obliquidens can live past 5 years in an aquarium.

Male Zebra Obliquidens Cichlid

Male Zebra Obliquidens develop red belly as they mature; they are little aggressive compared to females. 

Female Zebra Obliquidens Cichlid

Female Zebra Obliquidens & Juveniles stay greenish yellow in color; females are excellent mothers who can be kept with the fry up to 2 months.

Zebra Obliquidens Cichlid Aquarium Care

Zebra Obliquidens are semi-aggressive fish; its relatively easy to keep them in a same species tank or include them in an African Cichlid Community Tank, just few things to keep in mind while setting up a Tank for this fish.

These fish need open area to swim unlike Mbuna they spend quite sometime in the open which is middle & surface area of the aquarium. I witnessed aggression even in Juvenile stage during feeding time, it was usually a dominant fish chasing off smaller fish but never did I see any fin nipping or damage on other fish. Even after fully grown it was Alpha male who was chasing other fish away from his favorite spot without any serious damage. In case you are including these fish in a Mbuna Tank make sure to give the size advantage to this fish.

Tank Size for Zebra Obliquiden Cichlid

75 gallon is ideal for fully grown Zebra Obliquiden fish, its best to keep 1 male and at least 2 to 3 females in the same tank.The colors on the male get brighter in females presence.

Tank Decoration

Like any African Cichlid Tank from the great lakes, sand for tank bottom, lot of rocks and hiding places, this would help other fish to escape from dominant male. There must be lot of open area for this fish to swim around, the swimming pattern is similar to Haps. Aggression is not as much as you see in a Mbuna tank, I experience aggression which is chasing each other only during feeding time, otherwise this fish seem well behaved. I would advice to stock the tank with good number of fish along with very good filtration system, this is one way of keeping the aggression down.

Water Parameters for Zebra Obliquidens

Temperature range - 75–82 °F (24 to 27 °C)


pH range - 7.5 to 8.5


Water hardness - moderately hard to hard, between 61 to 180 ppm.

What to Feed Zebra Obliquidens

These fish are insectivores in their natural habitat, the diet should be more of protein based & less of Spirulina based. Feed quality pellets, flakes, freeze dried worms, live and frozen food.

Tank Mates for Zebra Obliquidens

The fish in video & pictures were raised by me as fry along with Auratus, Kenyi, Socolofi, Peacock Cichlid & Yellow lab as they all share similar water conditions. Best tank mates were Peacock cichlid and Yellow lab as they share similar temperament, I would still advise to monitor for any short of aggression in the aquarium as with African Cichlids things may not always go right. 

Breeding Zebra Obliquidens

The reason Zebra Obliquidens being an endangered species in the wild but thrives in aquarium hobby is due to the reason they are easy to breed. This fish is a mouth-brooder, the male guards a certain spot usually a flat surface or a cave or a dug up nest, during spawning the male intensifies his colors of red & yellow under belly. Females are tolerated around this area, once the female lays her eggs in this area, then she picks it up & carries it in her mouth, the male circles her as if confusing her with his egg spot on his cloacal fin, when the confused female tries to pick the egg, the stimulated male releases sperm which fertilize eggs in females mouth. Eggs are held in females mouth for up to 3 weeks before they are hatched, during this time the female does not eat, to avoid female getting weaker, within a weeks time that female is holding the eggs, most breeders stripe her off the eggs & hatch it in a fish breeding tumbler or incubator. However, if the eggs are held in the females mouth in 3 weeks time you would have a free swimming fry. Female would care for the fry for few days. It's  highly recommended to raise the fry in a separate grow-out tank.

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Zebra Obliquidens Cichlid Gallery

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