Elongate Mbuna (Pseudotropheus elongatus)

Elongate Mbuna

Elongate Mbuna, or Pseudotropheus elongatus, are endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa, and other nearby lakes in the Rift Valley Region in southern-central Africa. Their scientific name means elongate cichlid of Lake Malawi, and they are one of the most popular African cichlids kept in aquariums worldwide.

They are generally peaceful and easy to care for and have become very popular in the aquarium trade because of their attractive coloration and relative ease of maintenance.

One of the lesser known and less common Pseudotropheus species, Pseudotropheus elongatus, shares many traits with its relatives, but it’s distinct enough to warrant its own place in your freshwater aquarium.

For instance, like all Pseudotropheus species, elongates are cichlids endemic to Lake Malawi and share many of the same behaviors and requirements that other cichlids in this genus share, making them an excellent choice for any aquarist seeking out new fish to add variety to his or her collection.

You might have seen elongate mbuna on your favorite pet store’s display tank, however, unlike the other mbuna in your local fish shop, this species is rarely available to purchase.

For those that like their fish rare, this may be an attractive point of interest, but it also means that if you want elongate mbuna, you’ll have to breed them yourself.

Origin and description

The elongate mbuna is a species of cichlid that originates from Lake Malawi, Africa. They are known for their slender body and vibrant colors. In the wild, they live in large schools of many different colors, but in captivity they tend to form monogamous pairs with one dominant male and one female. Although they are territorial and get aggressive when breeding, these fish can be very docile otherwise.

When found in the wild, this species lives in large schools where there are many different combinations of color. Due to its territorial nature and aggression during mating season, it is best to keep only one pair per tank if you want them as pets at home. If you choose not to do so, it may not always be possible to determine who the parents are due to their protective habits over their fry.

Labeotropheus fuelleborni (Fuelleborni Cichlid)

Species profile

Elongate Mbuna


The Elongate Mbuna is a small-sized fish that can typically be found in the rocky areas of Lake Malawi. They are typically brown in color, but some can also have an orange or yellow tint. The Elongates are omnivores, so they will eat both plant and animal matter. These species are fairly peaceful and are often seen swimming in groups of 5 to 10 individuals.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the Elongate mbuna is Pseudotropheus elongatus.


Elongate mbunas are found on the east coast of Africa, where it is known from Mbamba Bay and Mkata Bay. The fish live in schools and enjoy a sandy substrate. They are generally found in shallow water near rocks and will burrow under the sand when scared.

Elongate mbuna size

The Pseudotropheus elongatus can grow to an average size of 5.4 inches (13.7 cm). Males will be much bigger in size than females, with females only reaching about 4 inches (10.16 cm) in length.

Tank size

A tank size of at least 40 gallons (151.4 liters) is suggested for the Elongate Mbuna. The length and width of the tank should be at least 4 times the length of the fish. The surface area of the tank should be at least 10 square feet.

Tank mates

Elongate Mbuna are notoriously aggressive and territorial. Despite its patterning, it should not be kept with peacocks or utakas which are peace-loving species; however, it can be kept with other mbuna if their patterning does not resemble its.

In order to reduce aggression and territorial formation, the tank should be overcrowded.

The presence of heterospecifics helps to dissipate its aggression towards other members of the same species. Keeping more than one male, however, will require a very large tank, and even then, it is likely that the subdominant male will be killed. It is recommended that at least four to six females are kept per male to ensure their safety!

Auratus Cichlid Care (Melanochromis auratus)


Elongate Mbuna

It is possible to breed elongate Mbunas, but it is not easy. They are maternal mouthbrooders. Ideally, a harem of at least four to six females and one male should be kept in a species tank.

In addition to flat stones and areas of the open substrate to act as potential spawning sites, a 55-inch aquarium is a suitable size (although larger is preferable).

Females who aren’t ready to spawn should be provided with lots of hiding places because males may kill them. It’s best to keep the pH between 8.2 and 8.5 and the temperature between 77 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to give the fish a wide variety of live and frozen foods.

Male fish display intense color around their chosen spawning sites, showing off their cleanliness, and attempting to entice females to mate with them. Keeping this species in a harem allows us to dissipate its aggressive nature. Females lay their eggs at the spawning site when they are willing, and then pick them up with their mouths.

There are egg-shaped spots on the male fish’s anal that attract females. Her attempt to add them to the brood she’s holding in her mouth actually results in the male fertilizing the eggs with milt.

After three to four weeks of carrying the eggs, the female releases the free-swimming fry. During this period, she won’t eat and her distended mouth will be easy to spot. During times of stress, females may spit out or eat their brood prematurely.

In order to prevent predators from preying on your fry or harassment from the males, you must be careful when moving the fish. The male will usually not leave the females alone, so we recommend removing them. During the first two weeks of their lives, the breeders artificially remove the fry from their mothers’ mouths and raise them independently. There will usually be more fry as a result.

Yellow Tail Acei Cichlid (Pseudotropheus acei)

A brine shrimp nauplii can be consumed by the fry right after they are born. They may stay with their mother for a few days if they are left with her, after which they are allowed to leave the territory.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

They are among the most aggressive and territorial mbunas.

Elongate mbuna care information

Elongate Mbuna

Elongate mbunas are some of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby. They are beautiful and relatively easy to care for, but they do need a lot of attention and can be sensitive to water quality. Elongates come from Lake Malawi in Africa where they live primarily among the rocks and rubble that make up the lake’s substrate.

What they eat

They are omnivores and eat both plant matter, like algae and fish food flakes, as well as animal protein from small invertebrates. The diet of the Elongate mbuna is supplemented with frozen or live foods.

Tank requirements

Elongate Mbuna prefers more alkaline water conditions around pH 7 to 8 and thrives at 77 to 80 degrees Farenheit. They prefer an environment with a sandy substrate and plenty of caves and crevices to hide in. It is sensitive to water quality, so keep the water clean and do 25% weekly water changes.

They will also enjoy a variety of live plants such as Vallisneria, Java moss, and Anubias. Like many other cichlids, they can be aggressive towards others of their own species, so it is best to house them separately. If you are housing more than one male, introduce females slowly and make sure that the tank has enough hiding places for each individual.


The average lifespan for Elongate Mbuna (Pseudotropheus elongatus) is around 5 to 8 years. The longest-living Elongate Mbuna in captivity died at 12 years old.

Parasites and diseases

The Elongate Mbuna is susceptible to a number of parasites and diseases, some of which can cause significant harm to the fish. The most common disease for the Elongate Mbuna is ich, which can prove fatal if left untreated.

Flavescent Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara stuartgranti)

Fish with signs of ich should be isolated and treated by a veterinarian or an experienced fishkeeper. The Red Ich parasite attaches itself to the gills of the fish in large numbers and will cause small white cysts on their body as they grow larger.

Fungal infections are also not uncommon among these fish, but these are often caused by poor water quality and improper tank maintenance. Both ich and fungal infections must be dealt with swiftly to prevent them from spreading throughout the aquarium.

Predators (What animals prey on them)

The most common predator of the Elongate Mbuna is the Emperor Angelfish. Other predators are Leopard Cichlid, Red-tailed Catfish, and Pike Cichlid.

Do they make good pets?

The Elongate Mbuna are not a good choice for beginners due to their aggressive nature and high difficulty level. They are not recommended for beginners but they are a great choice for people who want a challenge.