occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: Native to Lake Malawi, Africa. Reported from Rogers Spring in Nevada, but not known to be established there (Fuller et al. 1999).
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Known prey organisms
Based on studies in:
Malawi, Lake Nyasa (Lake or pond)
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
- G. Fryer, The trophic interrelationships and ecology of some littoral communities of Lake Nyasa, Proc. London Zool. Soc. 132:153-281, from p. 217 (1959).
Diseases and Parasites
Life History and Behavior
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The auratus cichlid, Melanochromis auratus, is a freshwater fish of the cichlid family. It is also known as golden mbuna and Malawi golden cichlid. It is endemic to the southern region of Lake Malawi, particularly from Jalo Reef southward along the entire western coast down to Crocodile Rocks.
Auratus cichlids are small, elongate fish that can grow up to 11 centimetres (4.3 in). Juveniles and females are bright yellow with black and white stripes on the upper half of the body. Adult male coloration is drastically different with dark brown or black body and light blue or yellow stripes on the upper half of the body.
In the Aquarium
The auratus cichlid is one of the most popular mbuna cichlids in the aquarium trade. In aquarium stores, there will usually be one dominant male that is colored black, the rest will display the submissive "female" coloration of yellow. If this male is sold, the next dominant male will take on the black color.