Cobalt Blue Zebra Cichlid (Maylandia callainos)

Cobalt blue zebra cichlid

Cobalt blue zebra cichlid, also known as the Blue Zebra, metriaclima callainos, zebra blue cichlid, Maylandia callainos, blue mbuna cichlids, or just cobalt blue fish, is an African freshwater fish belonging to the Cichlidae family and was first discovered in Lake Malawi in 1995 by Swiss ichthyologist, Bruno Kneubühler and his team.

Since then, they have become highly sought after in both the aquarium trade and home aquariums alike.

Finding the right pet to fit in with your lifestyle and personality can be difficult, but with the right information, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for when you head to your local fish store or breeder. Cobalt blue zebra cichlids are stunningly beautiful fish that would fit in great with your home decor, regardless of whether it matches their natural habitat or not!

If you love the look of tropical fish but don’t have room in your tank for a full-blown aquarium, consider getting yourself a zebra cichlid. The cobalt blue zebra cichlid comes from the rivers of Lake Malawi, and is one of the most striking African fish you can add to your home aquarium.

Origin and description

The Cobalt blue zebra cichlid is endemic to Lake Malawi in Africa. They are mostly found among sandy or rocky bottoms of the lake, where they feed on zooplankton and algae.

Their bodies are a light blue color. This fish is a hardy species, but it’s best to keep them in an aquarium with other non-aggressive fish of similar size.

You will want to make sure there is plenty of vegetation in the tank for hiding places, as these fish spend most of their time swimming at the bottom. Feeding should consist of small live foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and finely chopped vegetables.

Species profile

Cobalt blue zebra cichlid

In the wild, zebra cichlids live in small groups and are usually found in shallow, slow-moving waters. They eat a variety of foods, including plants, shrimp, and other fish. The cobalt blue zebra cichlid is typically less aggressive than most other types of zebra cichlids and can be kept with other members of the same species.

Kenyi Cichlid (Maylandia lombardoi)

It has the ability to change its sex from male to female. It is not possible to tell whether it will become male or female at any given time. These fish prefer water that ranges between 75°F and 84°F degrees Fahrenheit, though they may tolerate temperatures as low as 73°F or as high as 85°F.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the Cobalt blue zebra cichlid is Maylandia callainos, Pseudotropheus callainos, or Metriaclima callainos.


This fish is a tropical freshwater fish that is found in Lake Malawi. They are found in areas of the lake with sand or rock substrates and are often seen around seagrass beds. They will thrive in a community aquarium with large rocks, caves, sand bottoms, and plenty of places to establish territories.

Cobalt blue zebra cichlid female vs male

There are four orange egg spots on the anal fin of males, and there are no egg spots on the anal fin of females. Males have pale blue bodies and females are mostly light blue or white.

The complexion of females is usually duller and they are typically smaller than males. Gray/blue is the predominant color scheme.

From time to time, males engage in physical battles. Their aggressive nature is particularly noticeable during the spawning season. On a regular basis, they return to their home territory, which is at the lower level of the tank, where they hide among the rocks.

Cobalt blue zebra cichlid size and weight

The Cobalt blue zebra cichlid is a relatively small species of freshwater fish. Males can grow up to 5 inches (12.7 cm) in length, while the average length of the female is around 3 inches (7.62 cm), and about 1 ounce (28 g) in weight.

Tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for a single Cobalt blue zebra cichlid zebra is 20 gallons (76 liters), however, in order to spread out its aggressive behavior, it is recommended that groups consist of at least 10 mbunas.

Ice Blue Zebra Cichlid (Metriaclima greshakei)

The tank must have hiding spots and rocks to provide an escape from the aggression of other tankmates. The tank’s capacity should be 80 to 105 gallons (302 to 397 liters). They should be able to pick up and move gravel that has a smooth surface.

Tank mates

There are several options for compatible tank mates, some of which are Pindani Cichlid, Auratus Cichlid, Kenyi Cichlid, Red Zebra, Lemon Yellow, and Synodontis Catfish.


Cobalt blue zebra cichlid

It is recommended that three females be kept in the tank for every one male to increase the chances of breeding. The duller color of female fish can be used to identify them. The eggs of a cobalt blue zebra cichlid female are laid on a rock before being scooped into her during spawning.

The female then swims behind the male as he fertilizes her eggs. Immediately after fertilization, it is best to separate the female from the male. The eggs hatch within three weeks, after fertilization, and the cobalt blue zebra cichlid juvenile can be fed with brine shrimp nauplii.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

The cobalt blue cichlid is one of the more aggressive fish of the family, adapting well to other aggressive fish. Do not place peaceful fish with them.

Cobalt blue zebra cichlid care information

Cobalt blue zebra cichlid

The cobalt blue zebra cichlid is a species of fish that thrives in freshwater lakes, streams, and rivers. It can be found in the countries of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These fish are popular with hobbyists because they are easy to keep and they come in different color variations.

What they eat

The Cobalt blue zebra cichlid is an omnivorous fish. They will eat a variety of live, frozen, and dry food. They are also known to eat algae on the side of the tank. Be sure not to feed them too many red-colored foods as this can lead to health issues such as excessive reddening and bleeding.

Nimbochromis Livingstonii (Livingston's Cichlid)

If your Cobalt blue zebra cichlid starts to look paler than usual it could be from not enough vitamins in their diet, so try adding some crushed pellets or flakes into their diet for a few days until they start looking better.

Tank requirements

A tank with a capacity of at least 105 gallons is needed for this fish. They will also need a sand or gravel substrate, and plenty of space to swim. Keep in mind that the cichlids are territorial, so make sure there is plenty of room for them to swim and lots of hiding places.

One male should be kept per ten females to prevent aggression from happening. Be mindful of these requirements before purchasing one for your tank!


The average lifespan for this species is about five years, although they can live longer than that, up to 10 years, when cared for properly.

Parasites and diseases

In aquariums, the most common parasite of the cobalt blue zebra cichlid is ichthyophthirius multifiliis. This parasite causes white spots on the skin which are commonly mistaken for fungus.

Other diseases include bacterial infections like ulcerative and fin rot and parasitic infections like anchor worms and protozoan infections like Hexamita.

To prevent these from occurring in an aquarium or pond with this fish, provide a healthy environment with good filtration and water quality by performing regular water changes. These fish also need to be fed fresh foods rich in protein and vitamin B-12 since they cannot produce their own vitamin B-12 due to a lack of intestinal bacteria.

Predators (What animals prey on them)

Their predators are African cichlids, tiger fish, and piranhas. A few ways to prevent them from being eaten by these predators is to keep an eye on the tank at all times and make sure that there is no way for other fish to get in.

Pseudotropheus perspicax (Trewavas, 1935)

Do they make good pets?

Yes! Despite their fierce appearance, Cobalt blue zebra cichlids make excellent pets and are relatively easy to care for. When they’re young they are very shy, but as they mature they become more outgoing. They can be kept in a community aquarium with other fish species and if the tank is large enough the Cobalt blue zebra cichlids will form a school.