Copadichromis borleyi (Kadango Cichlid)

Copadichromis borleyi

Last updated on July 20th, 2022 at 02:54 pm

The Copadichromis borleyi (kadango cichlid) is native to the Central African Republic, and its care level can be summed up in two words: intermediate and large. Similar to many African cichlids, these fish require specific water conditions in order to thrive, so it’s important to learn how to care for them properly if you want them to live a long, healthy life.

Copadichromis borleyi, more commonly known as the kadango cichlid, is a unique species of Lake Tanganyika cichlid, from the family Cichlidae, and endemic to Tanzania’s Lake Tanganyika in Africa.

They are beautiful, small African freshwater fish that require specialized care if you want them to live long and healthy lives. Here are tips for copadichromis borleyi care that will help you keep these fish happy and thriving in your home aquarium.

Origin and descriptions

Copadichromis borleyi

The Kadango cichlid is a member of a group known as Lake Malawi Haplochromines, which include some of Lake Malawi’s most colorful and commonly kept aquarium fish. The Kadango cichlid was first identified by Regan in 1923, who described it in one line: A magnificent new species resembling P. marunguensis but even larger.

It was later identified to be distinct and moved into its own genus, Copadichromis by Weeks et al. In their paper, they note that they gave it its name due to its close similarity to another genus but retained borleyi in honor of Dr. William N. Borley, an ichthyologist with an interest in cichlids from Lake Malawi.

Copadichromis borleyi is often confused with two similar cichlids: Copadichromis maculicauda and Copadichromis marunguensis. The easiest way to describe them apart is that Copadichromis borleyi has a dark stripe on its flanks while these stripes are yellow in Copadichromis maculicauda.

In Copadichromis marunguensis, both sexes have a red cap or bonnet while in Copadichromis borleyi, only females have one. Both males and females of Copadichomis maculicauda and Copadichomis borleyi tend to be larger than other Haplochromines, up to 5′′ or more compared to 3′′ in most others.

Species profile

A short profile of one of Africa’s most unusual little fish, Copadichromis borleyi, aka kandanga cichlid. The exact distribution range of Copadichromis borleyi is not entirely known, though it is reported from near Bulungu on Katombora Island in Tanganyika.

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This is interesting because that location would seem to be within the known range of two different species with similar color patterns; Copadichromis labridens and Copadichromis pusillus, but we will have to wait for a more detailed study by a professional zoologist to confirm that supposition.

Luckily for aquarists, Copadichromis borleyi seems to spawn readily in captivity so there are lots of young available. Also, since wild-caught specimens are very rarely available, these must be spawned artificially by hobbyists and commercial breeders alike!

If you’re lucky enough to get some young as fingerlings, you can expect them to grow quickly and reach sexual maturity when around 4 inches long or so [11 cm] approximately 6 months later depending on water conditions and food supply.


The Copadichromis borleyi should be kept in a tank of at least 75 gallons. The ideal water parameters are pH: 6.5-7.5, GH: 4-10, and temp: 75 degrees F–80 degrees F. It’s important to keep their water soft as they can have issues with rough skin if it’s too hard.

Despite being from Lake Tanganyika, they need warmer temperatures than other cichlids from there.

While it is possible to breed them over 68 degrees F., breeding success is much higher between 72 and 80 degrees F. If you plan on keeping them over 75 degrees, make sure you add lots of hiding places to your aquarium or they will become aggressive towards each other or your fish.

Copadichromis borleyi size

This species of fish can grow up to 5-6 inches (13-16 centimeters) in length.

Copadichromis borleyi tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 75 gallons (284 Liters)

Tank set up

Kadango cichlids require a tank of at least 75 gallons. This is to ensure that they will have enough space to grow and thrive without crowding each other or their tank mates out. Set up your kadango cichlid aquarium using sand as a substrate, lots of rockwork, and bogwood. Include decorative plants as well; java ferns, anubias, and java moss are good choices for these fish.

They also appreciate having some floating plants in their homes like duckweed and Amazon frogbit. Make sure to include several hiding places throughout your kadango cichlid aquarium so all of your fish can feel secure and comfortable, particularly if you house them with larger species such as catfish or plecostomus. They may get bullied by some species, so choose tankmates wisely!

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Copadichromis borleyi tank mates

While Copadichromis borleyi is usually kept in species-only tanks, it can also do well in a community tank. It will work best with other mild fish that aren’t too large or active. African cichlids are typically good choices for Copadichromis borleyi tank mates because they tend to live at a similar pace and level of activity as Copadichromis borleyi.

Other common tank mates are members of Copadichromis, Cyprichromis, Labeotropheus, Lake Malawi cichlids such as Julidochromis marlieri, Metriaclima estherae, and Petrochromis species. It is sometimes kept with other Copadichromidae or Pseudotropheus spp. fish-like Neolamprologus or Lamprologus callipterus or Pseudotropheus species.

Copadichromis borleyi breeding

Copadichromis borleyi

Copadichromis borleyi are cave spawners, meaning you will need to keep a mated pair in an aquarium with a cave. The female will lay around 200 eggs on algae-covered rocks or other surfaces and can deposit them up to five times over a period of eight days. Eggs hatch in about 72 hours and are easily raised on baby brine shrimp or other fine particulate foods.

Juveniles require a stable environment for best growth rates; frequent water changes are key here. A trio of juveniles should reach maturity in 4–5 months and can grow to over 6 inches long under ideal conditions, though they rarely exceed 4 inches when kept as community fish.

Temperatures between 77–82°F work best for keeping these cichlids healthy; anything below 75°F risks lethal drops in egg-hatching rates. pH levels of 7.2–8.0 and hardness ranging from 12-24 dH work best for keeping adult and juvenile fish happy and breeding at optimal rates.

Ammonia levels should be 0 ppm at all times, while nitrites and nitrates should be maintained at low levels (0 ppm is preferred). Water changes every two weeks help combat the accumulation of toxic organics that often occur in aquaria due to waste buildups.

Are Copadichromis borleyi aggressive or peaceful?

Copadichromis borleyi is typically a peaceful species. In fact, they will often ignore each other even if placed in an aquarium together. They can sometimes be aggressive toward their own kind, so it’s important to keep at least six or more of them together. If you want to keep more than that and/or have fewer females in your aquarium, be prepared for plenty of territorial disputes.

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Copadichromis borleyi care

Copadichromis borleyi

Copadichromis borleyi is a small cichlid that is usually only 5-6 inches long. It has a blue coloration with brown spots and an orange spot on its dorsal fin. This fish needs more than one individual in order to thrive in captivity, so be sure to buy two or more when purchasing it.

They will consume all types of meaty foods such as pellets, brine shrimp, bloodworms, mysis shrimp, worms and even live feeder fish (which should not be their primary food source). If using live feeder fish, make sure they are extremely small due to borleyi’s small size; also ensure there are no sharp spines/bones in their stomachs as these can harm your cichlids’ delicate stomach lining.

Copadichromis borleyi food

Kadango cichlids are not picky eaters and will readily accept flake foods. While they do enjoy meaty foods, such as bloodworms and brine shrimp, they should primarily be fed quality flake food to ensure good health. For young fish, feed 1-2 small meals per day instead of one large feeding to avoid overfeeding.

Adults can be fed 2-3 times per day in smaller amounts. Water changes once a week or every other week with fresh water will keep ammonia levels low; if you have several adult males, however, that may need more frequent water changes due to their aggression. As with most African cichlids, kadangos prefer an alkaline pH with higher hardness and GH than soft freshwater aquariums can provide.

Water parameters

Copadichromis borleyi

Copadichromis borleyi is a hardy species that will tolerate a wide range of water conditions, including water with high nitrate levels and low pH. They are moderately easy to feed, but they are notorious jumpers so you must cover your aquarium. They are one of many Labidochromine cichlids endemic to Lake Tanganyika and they may be kept in a community tank as long as it is with peaceful fish that enjoy similar conditions.

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Copadichromis borleyi prefer a pH range of 7.6-8.2 and a hardness range of 6-10 dH; these fish originate from Lake Tanganyika in Africa, so if you’re keeping them in a freshwater aquarium, it is critical to mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible. If water parameters differ too greatly from those described above, they may develop health problems or become more susceptible to disease.

Bear in mind that tap water may contain chlorine or chloramine – either of which can kill your fish when used untreated in an aquarium.

Copadichromis borleyi lifespan

They typically live for 7 years, but can live up to 10 years with good care.

Parasites and diseases

Copadichromis borleyi is a relatively easy fish to keep in captivity, but it is susceptible to several health issues. For example, like all cichlids from Lake Tanganyika, it can contract Lymphocystis disease. As its name suggests, lymphocystis disease makes white cysts develop around your fish’s skin and fins; if not treated early on, it can kill them.


Copadichromis borleyi are an attractive target for a variety of both freshwater and marine predators. Some of their common predators include larger cichlids, bass, pike, and eels. Avoiding shallow waters in which these predators might lurk is recommended, especially if you have a juvenile fish. Adult fish can usually hold their own against most potential threats with quick escapes and fierce defenses.

Do Copadichromis borleyi make good pets?

Copadichromis borleyi are not always easy to care for. They prefer shallow, rocky areas with lots of caves and overhangs where they can hide from predators. Like most cichlids, they need a large aquarium and at least some rocks or driftwood for cover. They should be kept in groups of six or more; fewer than that won’t provide them with adequate company and will also lower their stress levels.