The venustus cichlid, also known as the giraffe cichlid, is one of the largest species of freshwater fish in the world. Native to Lake Tanganyika, the venustus cichlid is commonly sold in pet stores under the names like giraffe cichlid, blue cheeked nimbochromis, giraffe hap, venustus hap, or simply as the Nimbochromis venustus.
The giraffe cichlid, is one of the largest species of freshwater fish in the world. Native to Lake Tanganyika, this cichlid can reach up to 12 inches in length (in the wild) and live to be over 10 years old. The fish requires special care and can do well if provided with the right conditions.
Nimbochromis venustus (venustus cichlid) is one of the most colorful members of the cichlid family and also one of the most beautiful freshwater aquarium fish around, but it can be quite challenging to keep in captivity. Unlike some other Lake Malawi fish, venustus cichlids are not particularly easy to breed in the home aquarium. Although they have been bred in captivity in the past, they are currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN due to overfishing and habitat destruction.
This makes caring for this beautiful fish quite an undertaking, so here’s what you need to know about taking care of this magnificent creature.
Origin and descriptions
The venustus cichlid originates from Lake Tanganyika in Africa and belongs to the cichlidae family of fish. This fish is relatively easy to care for if you follow some expert tips and they make interesting additions to any aquarium that houses other large African species such as Oscars, African Butterflyfish, or freshwater barracudas.
In terms of size, giraffe cichlid generally grows up to 12 inches (30.5 cm) long. It should be noted that juvenile giraffe cichlids can be substantially smaller than adult giraffes. In order to promote good health, keep nitrate levels low (<20 ppm). This may require frequent water changes or filtration modification/replacement if high nitrates continue despite these efforts.
Adult giraffe cichlids require an aquarium of at least 125 gallons (473 liters), while juveniles can be kept in a tank of around 70 gallons (265 liters). Make sure there are numerous caves or rocks present as hiding places.
Nimbochromis venustus is one of those colorful and strange fish that you don’t see much. The Giraffe Cichlid, as it is more commonly known, comes from Lake Tanganyika in Africa. While you might not be ready to set off on an African safari just yet, there are plenty of ways to keep these colorful fish happy and healthy.
The key is giving them what they need for a balanced diet and making sure they have enough room to swim! These guys will get big—so a bigger tank ensures that you’ll also have plenty of other stuff available for your new pet—live plants and caves made out of rocks or driftwood are ideal since they provide great hiding places while still looking nice and natural.
The common names of the venustus cichlid are giraffe cichlid, giraffe hap, venustus hap, and it’s also called by its scientific name, Nimbochromis venustus.
Venustus cichlid habitat
They prefer habitats with rocky bottoms and warm temperatures of 77-84 degrees Fahrenheit (25-29 degrees C) with acidic water levels between pH 6.5 to 7.8. It is important not to have too many rocks on the aquarium’s bottom because they can make it difficult for other less aggressive fish to move around them.
Venustus cichlid size
In the wild, a maximum size of 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length has been recorded, while these species don’t grow beyond 10 inches (25 cm) in captivity.
Venustus cichlid tank size
The minimum recommended tank size for an adult venustus cichlid is 125 gallons (473 liters) while juveniles can be kept in a tank as small as 70 gallons (265 liters).
Giraffe cichlids are large and very active. A tank should be at least 10 gallons per inch of fish, up to 125 gallons. The substrate can consist of either fine sand or bare bottom, as long as it is smooth and non-abrasive. If using sand, ensure it is dark to allow proper lighting penetration.
Rocks, driftwood, and live plants can also be added; however, keep in mind that plants will eventually need to be trimmed regularly if they grow too large. Water flow must be consistent, but not overly strong. These fish require frequent water changes—10% weekly is optimal.
Due to their size, these fish are best kept alone or with other large species that demand similar space requirements. Do not house them with African cichlids from Lake Malawi or smaller Central American cichlids like Mayan Cichlids. They are aggressive towards conspecifics, especially during the breeding season.
Venustus cichlids tolerate warm water well, so there is no benefit in trying to cool them down significantly. Their ideal temperature range is 24–28°C (75–82°F). As with all African rift lake cichlids, they are fairly tolerant of pH levels ranging from 7.5 – 8.4 and hardness ranging from 3-25 dH.
Venustus cichlid tank mates
Giraffe cichlids are somewhat territorial and are known to attack other fish. They can be housed with large, aggressive fish such as Jack Dempsey Fish and Oscars.
Some other good tank mates are larger tetras and Barbs, but it’s best to avoid all types of fish that have long trailing fins. This would include Angelfish, Discus, Gouramis, and Plecostomus. These types of fish could easily be injured or killed by a territorial giraffe cichlid. Snails, crabs, and other invertebrates can also be kept with these fish.
Venustus cichlid breeding
Venustus cichlids are one of many species of fish that breed in caves, but unlike some other cave-breeding species, male and female venustus cichlids will often school together and breed in open water. If you have both sexes present in your tank, keep an eye out for spawning activity.
Female venustus cichlids lay eggs on aquatic plants or on aquarium glass; males fertilize these eggs by releasing sperm over them. The resulting fry (baby fish) will typically stay near where they were born until they are able to swim freely, at which point they should be moved to a separate tank as they grow quickly and can be vulnerable to predation by adults.
You may need to transfer fry every day or so during their first week if they aren’t being tended by adults already. At two weeks old, young venustus cichlids will look like miniature versions of adult fish with scales. After approximately 12 weeks in age, juvenile venustus cichlids will reach maturity—at that point, it is safe to reintroduce them into mixed adult tanks without concern for interspecies aggression.
Are Nimbochromis venustus peaceful or aggressive?
Nimbochromis venustus are peaceful and non-aggressive. They will not engage in fights with other fish, nor will they bother other inhabitants of your aquarium. This means that you can keep more than one together without issue.
Venustus cichlid care
A venustus cichlid’s water should be soft and slightly acidic (2.0-7.0), with medium hardness (8–12 dGH). The pH range should be between 6.5 and 7.8. If you want to keep multiple fish, you’ll need even more space than those numbers imply—up to 4 feet of tank per couple is recommended. While males can get on well in smaller tanks, some species (like characins) can outgrow them quickly.
With that said, there are a few species that make great community fish despite their adult size; most commonly seen among these are knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons), but many others could work as well! Be wary of keeping two similarly sized fish together; male may try to court or mate with other similarly sized fishes, and aggressive individuals will hurt themselves by tearing at one another’s skin.
Finally, don’t forget about lighting: though they prefer dim light conditions during much of the day, you shouldn’t leave your lights off while they sleep at night. This species also prefers soft and slightly acidic water with moderate levels of carbonate hardness and minimal nitrate concentration.
Venustus cichlid diet
Cichlids are big eaters, but you can cater to their needs with frozen and freeze-dried foods. Feed these fish live foods such as insects and worms, and supplement their diet with meaty food such as flake, Mysis shrimp, or vitamin-enriched brine shrimp every second day.
Feed very small amounts throughout each day so that they don’t pick out favorites over others, leading to dominance issues between individuals or even within species. Clean up any uneaten food promptly because these fish tend to get finicky when their favorite foods become scarce.
Venustus cichlid lifespan
Most Nimbochromis venustus have been known to live between 5 and 10 years in captivity. However, it’s also said that one individual may have lived up to 12 years in the wild!
Parasites and diseases
Be sure to treat your fish against parasites and diseases if you want them to live long, healthy lives. Good quality water treatments will help prevent both parasites and diseases from killing your fish. Make sure that you are doing regular water changes on your aquarium and avoid over-feeding so that you don’t add more organic matter into your tank than it can process.
Keep an eye out for any changes in behavior in order to detect infections as soon as possible.
Some common diseases are Lethargy, clamped fins, loss of appetite, cloudy eyes, and so on. Cloudy eyes and clamped fins are both often signs of an infection or parasites. Treatment should be started as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage to your fish and increased stress. Keep in mind that just because these symptoms appear in one fish doesn’t mean that they have spread through your entire tank.
Preventing parasites and diseases is your responsibility as an aquarium owner. Good water conditions, healthy foods, and regular cleaning will help ensure that you don’t have to deal with diseases or parasites so often. If you suspect your fish has a disease or parasite, isolate the fish and contact an expert immediately. Some are treatable; others may be fatal.
Should I add salt to my Nimbochromis venustus aquarium
Adding salt to your tank is not necessary, but you may choose to add it in order to make sure your fish can maintain proper electrolyte levels. If you choose to add salt, only do so at 1/4 tsp per gallon of water. Don’t forget that salinity should always be monitored when using salt in an aquarium. The reason why salinity needs to be monitored is that too much salt can kill your fish and too little will result in them having trouble maintaining their electrolyte levels.
Will snails harm my Nimbochromis venustus fish?
While they are not usually fatal, snails can carry parasites that could pose a threat to your fish. Most parasites will typically die off if exposed to direct sunlight, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Use an aquarium net and scoop up any snails that you see in your tank.
Do Nimbochromis venustus make good pets?
This is a very entertaining fish to watch, but it doesn’t make an ideal pet due to its size and dietary requirements. Cichlids are generally predatory in nature, hunting and eating other small fish in their natural habitat; although they will consume pellets in captivity, they need a diet rich in animal protein.
Nimbochromis venustus are not beginner fish; they require time, space, and specialized equipment (like tanks with fine-mesh covers). Not only that, but some types of cichlids can grow extremely large—Nimbochromis venustus is one of them and reaches a size of up to 12 inches!