Lake Tanganyika, Africa. Cyphotilapia frontosa are found between 5-50 meters in depth. Older individuals inhabit deeper water. Large schools are found 30-50 meters deep with isolated individuals being found shallower, however it is very uncommon to find individuals in shallow waters (Brichard 1989; Axelrod 1993).
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Cyphotilapia frontosa can grow up to 35cm long. Their body shape is deep and rather compressed with a hump on the head which increases with age. The body has broad deep blue and white alternating bands and two lateral lines with an overall light blue flourescent glow. Cyphotilapia frontosa also have two large pectoral fins, long white filamentous ventral fins, and round caudal fins. The mouth is protrusive and large but not especially powerful. The teeth are all very fine and compressed (Brichard 1989; Axelrod 1993)
Other Physical Features: bilateral symmetry
Cyphotilapia frontosa is found in coastal waters. They are most commonly found along rocks in water 30-50 meters deep (Brichard 1989; Axelrod 1993).
Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds
Habitat and Ecology
The diet of Cyphotilapia frontosa is mainly composed of shellfish and smaller fish. However, when kept in an aquarium they will eat almost anything, from vegetable flakes to other fish and insects (Brichard 1989; Axelrod 1993).
Diseases and Parasites
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Cyphotilapia frontosa is a mouthbrooding fish. It continues to stay in deep waters while releasing its fry, which is unusual for most mouthbrooding fish. Most mouthbrooding fish rise to shallow waters for incubation or to release their fry in order for the fish to receive better oxygenation. However, C. frontosa release their fry about twenty meters deep. This leads to the belief that fry and adults require less oxygen than other mouthbrooders. This is an advantage for the fish, because water twenty meters deep is much less populated than is shallow water. Thus, there are fewer predators to prey upon the fry. Females lay 22 to 25 eggs and incubate their fry until they are close to 25mm long. After release, the fry mix in with the adult schools and breed when they are 20-22 cm long (Brichard 1989; Axelrod 1993).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cyphotilapia frontosa
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Cyphotilapia frontosa is positive for human economy. These fish are caught very frequently and in large amounts to supply local markets. They are eaten regularly by local populations. If caught alive and kept alive, they may be sold to fish enthusiasts (Brichard 1989; Axelrod 1993).
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Cyphotilapia frontosa,the Frontosa is a fish from the cichlid family native to Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. C. frontosa is endemic to Lake Tanganyika and is widespread in the northern half of the lake, whereas the closely related Cyphotilapia gibberosa inhabits the southern half of the lake. Unlike many cichlid species C. frontosa is a pelagic fish and rarely ventures close to the shoreline. The species generally resides at greater depths (30–50 metres sub-surface) than most other cichlids and rises to shallow waters in the early morning to feed on shoaling fish such as Cyprichromis species. C. frontosa can grow to a significant size with even captive specimens potentially growing to 35 cm in length. The fish can live for over 25 years.
C. frontosa has distinct markings with 5-7 black vertical bars adorning a white or blue body and head and trailing fins with a distinct blue hue. The species also develops a nuchal hump that is more pronounced in older specimens. C. frontosa is a sexually monomorphic species, although the hump is occasionally more pronounced in males. As is the case with many of the cichlid species found in Lake Tanganyika, parallel evolution between distinct breeding colonies has resulted in several different colour variants developing.
In the aquarium
C. frontosa is popular aquarium fish and several naturally occurring colour morphs are frequently available for sale to hobbyists. Due to its size C. frontosa needs a relatively large aquarium, however, it behaves relatively sedately and is tolerant of both con- and heterospecifics. Frontosa need a cave or similar rocky structure to live in; this is to ensure the frontosa feels secure. If these are not present to satisfy the frontosa's need for security it will begin to attack the other fish in the tank. This is especially true with male frontosa. Female frontosa are more likely to be satisfied with ground territory. They are best kept with other cichlids or semi-aggressive fish. They do not like being alone and should be kept in groups of 3 or more. Keeping more than one adult male requires a large tank though. Frontosa are best kept in at least 150 gallon tanks (550 L). A 150 gallon tank can house 6-8 frontosa. Water chemistry and temperature should mirror those found naturally in Lake Tanganyika. The PH should be between 7.8 to 9.0 and the temperature of the water should be between 79-82 F (26-27 C). The addition of rocks, or other ornaments such as pipes, allow the fish to hide and reduce stress. When spooked, frontosa have been known to break thermometers, filters, and even crack tanks. Frontosa do not grow to the size of the tank, they will grow to about 10-14 inches(25–35 cm).
C. frontosa is an opportunistic feeder in the wild and its diet in aquaria should consist of good quality prepared foods, frozen foods like krill and earthworms occasionally. Since they originate from deeper water, care should be taken to avoid feeding them at the surface of the tank. Doing so could cause them to ingest air along with their meal leading to a condition known as 'Float'. For this reason sinking pellets are a common staple food.
- Bigirimana (2005). Cyphotilapia frontosa. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes a range map and a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
- "Cyphotilapia frontosa". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 18 April 2006.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Cyphotilapia frontosa" in FishBase. November 2005 version.
- Maréchal, C. and M. Poll, 1991. Boulengerochromis.. p. 27-28. In: J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse, G.G. Teugels and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ISNB, Brussels; MRAC, Tervuren; and ORSTOM, Paris. Vol. 4.