Pseudotropheus perspicax (Trewavas, 1935)

Pseudotropheus perspicax

The Pseudotropheus perspicax (Trewavas, 1935), also known as the Perspicax cichlid or Orange Cap Ndumbi, is among the easier African cichlids to care for in an aquarium setting, which makes it a popular fish among aquarists. In the wild, it can be found in Lake Malawi and other African lakes such as Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria.

This fish belongs to the large cichlid family known as haplochromines, which are considered quite aggressive but are easy to control in an aquarium setting when compared with other types of fish.

Pseudotropheus occurs naturally in Lake Malawi and its tributaries in the east of Africa (particularly Malawi and Mozambique)

Perspicax Cichlid gets its common name from the multicolored pattern on its scales that resembles the scales of a peacock feather. This species of cichlid originates in Lake Malawi and can be found at depths of up to 6 meters (19.7 feet). They are mostly peaceful fish, getting along with other fish in the same species but having territorial disputes with other species in the same tank.

Origin and description

Pseudotropheus perspicax


The Pseudotropheus perspicax is a species of cichlid native to Lake Malawi, Africa. Its scientific name means masked fish and it is one of the most common cichlids in the lake.

Males are typically more brightly colored than females. They are popular aquarium fish because they are hardy and easy to care for. They prefer alkaline water with a pH of 8-8.5 and a temperature between 23 to 27 degrees Celsius. These are omnivores that eat all sorts of foods including algae, plant matter, smaller fish, invertebrates, eggs, and snails.

Species profile

The Pseudotropheus perspicax is a freshwater fish endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa. It prefers hard water with a pH of 8-10 and temperatures of about 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

They prefer to be in groups or pairs as they are territorial, so be sure to provide enough room for the group. They eat mostly plankton but will also eat small invertebrates that fall into their territory.

Melanochromis dialeptos (Dialeptos Cichlid)

Pseudotropheus perspicax common name

The common name for Pseudotropheus perspicax is Perspicax cichlid or Orange Cap Ndumbi.


This species is native to Lake Malawi. This species is found in Deep Bay, at the northern end of the lake. Pseudotropheus fuscoides might be conspecific with this species.

Pseudotropheus perspicax size and weight

The fish can grow up to 3.2 inches (8.1 cm) long in total length and can weigh up to 0.1 kg (3.5 oz)

Pseudotropheus perspicax tank size

A 30 gallons (114 liters) tank is a good size for one or two Pseudotropheus perspicax, but it is not recommended to keep more than two in this size tank. If you have the space and want to keep more than two Pseudotropheus perspicax, then you can upgrade to a 55 to 75 gallons (208 to 284 liters tank).

A 208 liters tank can house up to five Pseudotropheus perspicax with the addition of some hiding places, plants, and rocks.

Pseudotropheus perspicax tank mates

The best tank mates for the Perspicax cichlid are other similarly sized and shaped fish. The tank should also have plenty of hiding spots to make them feel safe from other fish in the tank. This is an aggressive cichlid, so live plants are highly recommended for their long-term survival.

Some good tank mates are Pundamilia pundamilia, Cynotilapia afra, and Labeotropheus trewavasae. Live plants are a must as they will help lower stress levels by providing cover from large or aggressive tank mates.

Pseudotropheus perspicax breeding

Pseudotropheus perspicax

A Perspicax Cichlid can be bred very easily. During breeding, male colors will intensify and look spectacular. Their territorial behavior begins at this point. For Pseudotropheus, breeding takes place in a typical manner.

It takes about 20 to 22 days before Perspicax Cichlids hatch from their eggs. Females are excellent term holders. After hatching, the fry can range in size from 15 to 35. As they grow, they reach a length of over an inch by the second month.

Nimbochromis Livingstonii (Livingston's Cichlid)

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Although Pseudotropheus perspicax may be aggressive when breeding, they are usually peaceful. They are territorial and will defend their territory from other fish that intrude on their space. However, these cichlids are not aggressive towards humans or other fish outside of their territory.

Pseudotropheus perspicax care information

Pseudotropheus perspicax

The Pseudotropheus perspicax is one of the most beautiful freshwater fish in the world. These cichlids are peaceful, easy to care for, and their relatively small size makes them perfect for beginners.

They are one of the most popular fish for beginner aquarists due to their bright coloration and ease of maintenance.

Pseudotropheus perspicax diet

The Pseudotropheus perspicax is an omnivore and will eat both plant-based and animal-based food sources. They typically eat algae and invertebrates. For optimal coloration, the fish should be fed a variety of foods. They should not be overfed or underfed as it can create health problems in the future.

Tank requirements

These cichlids are highly social and will do well in a school of at least three to five individuals. They like to dig in the substrate, so it should be kept on the soft side. A sand substrate is ideal, as they also enjoy burrowing through it during the breeding season. The tank can be decorated with rocks or roots for them to hide in.

They need moderate water movement and filtration, which can come from a power filter or an air-driven sponge filter. Rocks, driftwood, and plants can be used to decorate the aquarium along with some hiding spots formed from either rock piles or clay flowerpots turned upside down.


The lifespan of a Pseudotropheus perspicax can be as long as 6 years with proper care.

Parasites and diseases

They are susceptible to a variety of parasites and diseases including ichthyophthirius, flagellates, and the protozoan that causes Chilodonella. They can also suffer from bacterial infections such as fin rot, mouth rot, tail rot, and ulcers on the skin near the base of the spine or on the head near their gills.

Yellow Tail Acei Cichlid (Pseudotropheus acei)

These bacteria can cause mucous or pus discharge from their body openings and have growths on them as well. The best prevention for these illnesses is to keep the water clean by performing regular water changes, maintaining good water quality by adding salt if needed, ensuring a proper diet with high-quality foods, perform weekly partial water changes using an aquarium siphon to remove excess waste material from the substrate.

Predators (What animals prey on them)

Some of the predators are sharks, barracuda, and tuna fish. Other bigger species will also eat small juveniles if given the chance.

Do they make good pets?

Yes. Pseudotropheus perspicaxs make great pets for experienced aquarists. They are very active and not too picky about what they eat, but they are also quite territorial and need to be the only large fish in their tank.