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A generally peaceful species, even by Copadichromis standards. It won’t do well when kept alongside rowdy or belligerent tankmates and certainly should not be combined with Mbuna. Also avoid similarly-coloured fish, as these may provoke an aggressive response. Other Copadichromis should not be included either, as they can hybridise with one another. Better tankmates include most Aulonocara species and peaceful Haps such as Cyrtocara moorii.

It’s a shoaling species by nature, although rival males need space to develop their individual territories. In most setups it’s best to keep a single male alongside a group of 3 or more females, so that no particular female is singled out for excessive male attention. In bigger tanks several males (with a correspondingly larger group of females) can be kept.

Together with the recently erected genus Mchenga, Copadichromis species form an exclusive group of Malawian cichlids commonly referred to as “Utaka” (prounounced “ooh-taw-kuh”). They’re specialised to a pelagic lifestyle, and can be found living in huge numbers throughout much of Lake Malawi. Some tend to remain in the proximity of underwater reefs or rocky shorelines, while others occur mainly in more featureless, sandy habitats. Here they face the oncoming current, using their large eyes to spot planktonic organisms drifting by. The upper jaw is highly protrusible and is rapidly extended when the fish spots an item of food. Simultaneously the gill covers are clamped shut. This creates a split second of negative pressure, causing the prey to be sucked in to the tube formed by the extended mouth.

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