African Bumblebee Cichlid (Metriaclima crabro)

african bumblebee cichlid

The African bumblebee cichlid, also known as Pseudotropheus crabro or Hornet Cichlid, belongs to the cichlid family of freshwater fish. It shares a close relationship with angelfish and convict cichlids, which are also common aquarium fish.

More commonly known as the bumblebee cichlid or crabro, the metriaclima crabro is one of many colorful freshwater fish commonly found in Lake Malawi and its surrounding areas.

The unique appearance of bumblebee cichlids makes them very popular. Because of their unique yellow and black stripes running down their bodies, they’re called bumblebee cichlids because they’re attractive, display interesting color combinations, and display interesting color combinations.

Aggressive temperaments are common among bumblebee cichlids. Beginner aquarists often struggle to manage them in community aquariums because they are territorial and fight other fish.

Origin and description

The bumblebee cichlid is a freshwater species that originates from Malawi region in Africa. A member of the Metriaclima genus, this fish belongs to a family of fishes that are referred to as cichlids.

The bumblebee cichlid gets its name from its ornate red and yellow-gold coloration, with black stripes that radiate from the head and tail on either side. It also has an ocellated patterning with dark spots, which give it its striking appearance.

It inhabits rivers and lakes at low elevations where they feed primarily on snails, worms, crustaceans, and insects that they find on or near the lake floor. When they are not feeding or mating they spend most of their time guarding their territory against other males.

Species profile

african bumblebee cichlid


Bumblebee cichlids are one of the most popular species of African cichlids. They are mouth-brooder, which means that the female will carry the eggs in her mouth until they hatch.

They can be kept with other African cichlids, as well as live food and certain plants. Bumblebee cichlids are freshwater cichlid species. A yellow and black stripe makes them easily recognizable.

Labeotropheus fuelleborni (Fuelleborni Cichlid)

Scientific name

The scientific name of the Bumblebee cichlid is Metriaclima crabro.

African bumblebee cichlid habitat

Lake Malawi in Africa is the only place on earth where bumblebee cichlids are found. The lake is situated between Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique, and is one of the largest in Africa.

Cichlids (mbuna) found in the lake have evolved rapidly through rapid speciation, making it an important center for biodiversity studies.

Its habitat is the deep, rocky subsurface of the Lakes. Aquariums for them should include caves and shelters to ensure that they have plenty of access to these things.

Territories are established in caves. Each fish claims caves and return there regularly. It is common for bumblebee cichlids to defend their cave from strange fish.

Bumblebee cichlid size and weight

Bumblebee cichlid size is around 6.3 inches (16 cm) and weighs around 145 to 261 g (5.1 to 9.2 oz).

Tank size

The bumblebee cichlid is a large fish and requires a minimum of 50 gallons of water (189 liters). This fish prefers a tank that is taller than it is wide, as they like to swim in open spaces. It also requires lots of rocks or other decorations for hiding places and places to dig into the substrate.

African bumblebee cichlid tank mates

Cichlids from Lake Malawi make ideal tank mates for bumblebees. Pseudotropheus cyaneorhabdos, Melanochromis chipokae, and Golden Mbuna are also suitable options, as they share similar care needs and levels of aggression. Cichlids with similar color patterns to bumblebees should be avoided at all costs.

Bumblebee cichlid breeding

african bumblebee cichlid

Breeding responses are induced by large water changes. A deep dark color will develop on the bumblebee cichlid male during breeding. Males circle female bumblebee cichlid to get them to a flat rock once breeding starts. Here, bumblebee cichlid female lay their eggs, pick them up in their mouths, and then follow males until they fertilize their eggs with their sperm.

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Females follow males due to the egg spot on their anal fins. They think there are more eggs to collect. Eggs hatch in 10 to 15 days, but females keep the fry in their mouths for another 15 days. The fry will be released after 3 weeks, and they can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, daphnia, or crushed flake food, till they become full grown bumblebee cichlid.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Bumblebee cichlids are territorial and aggressive, so they make poor tank mates. You may also want to avoid keeping them in community tanks because they also feed on fish eggs.

African bumblebee cichlid care information

african bumblebee cichlid

The care for this species is very simple, but there are some things to keep in mind. Pseudotropheus crabro is a schooling fish that needs to be kept in groups of at least four or five. They do well with other peaceful cichlids and can live in a community tank with similar-sized fish. This species does not tolerate any brackish water and should not be kept in a saltwater aquarium.

African bumblebee cichlid diet

The bumblebee cichlid is an omnivore meaning it will eat both plants and animals. These fish will eat algae and small invertebrates in the wild. In captivity, they should be fed quality flake food supplemented with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, or tubifex worms. They should also have occasional servings of plant matter like blanched vegetables and spirulina.

Tank requirements

The Bumblebee cichlid is a freshwater fish that is relatively easy to care for. They require an aquarium of at least 50 gallons and a variety of substrates. If you are not sure what kind of substrate to use, consider sand, gravel, or rocks. The substrate should be large enough so that it can stay on the bottom of the tank without being disturbed by the cichlids swimming around it.

Ice Blue Zebra Cichlid (Metriaclima greshakei)

The aquarium should have plenty of live plants, like Java ferns, java moss, or Anubias barteri var nana. It also needs hiding spots like caves and plants with low leaves. One thing to remember about this species is that they enjoy living in groups with other bumblebee cichlids, so try keeping them in groups of five or more if possible!

They will require a lot of space, so make sure your tank is big enough to accommodate these requirements. Another important part of their habitat is the temperature. Keep it between 22 to 24 degrees Celsius for best results.


The Bumblebee cichlid has a lifespan of 10 years or more.

Parasites and diseases

The pseudotropheus crabro is not very susceptible to parasites. However, some common protozoans that may affect this fish are Ichthyophthirius multifiliis and Cryptocaryon irritans, which can infect it through the aquarium’s water. Ichthyobodoiosis can also be a potential threat for this fish as it can be transmitted via food or in the water.

Predators (What animals prey on them)

Some natural predators of the pseudotropheus crabro are stingrays, barracudas, sharks, and jellyfish. They can also be preyed upon by fish such as the lionfish, piranha, snakehead, and bluegill. These fish prey on them by catching them in their mouths or scooping them up with their fins.

Do they make good pets?

Yes. The bumblebee cichlid is a very attractive fish and is relatively hardy for a freshwater fish. They are often seen as one of the most popular choices for beginners to the aquarium hobby, but that does not make them a good choice for beginners.

A lot of responsibility comes with caring for this species, as they need large tanks, high-quality food, and frequent water changes in order to thrive. Other factors such as compatibility with other fish species in their environment and behavioral characteristics also come into play when considering if this type of fish is the right pet for you.

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