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Relatively peaceful but territorial when spawning. It should be the dominant species in the tank or it will become withdrawn and male fish will lose colour. It should therefore be housed only with peaceful species. Do not keep it with mbuna or the like. Cyprichromis species and rockdwellers such as Altolamprologus and Julidochromis make good tankmates. It can even be maintyained successfully with shelldwellers. Male fish are aggressive towards other males and unless the tank is very large only a single male should be kept. The males should always be provided with a harem of several females.

The aquarium should contain scattered piles of rocks, arranged to form caves for with large areas of open water as O. ventralis requires a lot of space for its size. A sandy substrate and good biological filtration are essential. This species does not damage vegetation, so plants can be used but are not essential, likewise driftwood pieces. If plants are to be used, select hard water-tolerant species such as Anubias or Vallisneria.