Anomalochromis thomasi

Boulenger, 1916

Common Name: African Butterfly Cichlid

The name thomasi refers to the discoverer of the species, N. W. Thomas. It is the only representative of its genus.

Family: Cichlidae (Cichlids)

Synonyms: Paratilapia thomasi, Haplochromis thomasi, Pelmatochromis thomasi, Hemichromis thomasi

Distribution: West Africa: Coastal rivers of Guinea (Konkouré River), Sierra Leone and Liberia

Max. size: 8 cm (3") for males; 6.5 cm (2.5") for females.

Colouration: The fish has a base colour of a light greyish brown. There are numerous blue spangles along the fish's body and even into the dorsal, anal and caudal fins. Three blotches are apparent along the body of the fish. They also can show several vertical bands depending on their mood.

Sex differences: Not readily apparent in young fish. Males are larger. Females can have a light underside. There are colour changes in accordance to what area these fish are found. The more southern forms are more colourful.

Breeding: Open spawner

Spawn size: up to 400 eggs. Both parents will care for fry.

Hatch time: Approximately 48 hrs at 26 C (79 F).

Requirements: pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5.0 - 12.0; temperature 23 - 27°C (73-80°F)

A. thomasi is found near the coast in small streams with soft clear water in forested areas. These waters are highly oxygenated. Other fish also found in this habitat are Hemichromis bimaculatus, H. paynei and Pelvicachromis humulis.

I originally got these fish from a friend for whom I am maintaining them so she can have them back after she has the facilities for fish again. I have 7 of them. They have turned out to be 3 breeding pairs and 1 solitary specimen. They already were adult sized when I received them. They are being maintained in a 100 gallon tank. The tank is decorated with a lot of driftwood, clay pots and many large stones along with a medium sized gravel substrate. There is so much driftwood in this tank that the water is permanently tannin coloured. The other inhabitants of this tank consist of: kribs, Ancistrus temminckii, Hoplo cats, many assorted tetras and tiger barbs. I haven't tested the pH of this water lately so I have no idea what it is right now. The temperature in this tank is 79 F. There are 2 Aquaclear 500's on this tank to filter it. The tank gets biweekly water changes of about 30%. There were no plants in the tank at the time the thomasi spawned since I hadn't gotten the light fixture above the tank at that time. I feed this tank a varied diet. They get a basic flake for most of the feedings, but this is supplemented by brine shrimp flakes, pellets and sometimes even frozen foods. With the fish that are in the tank, feeding time is like a feeding frenzy. I had maintained these fish for several months just noting that I was getting pairs that seemed to hang out together, but I had seen no signs of spawning.

One day I went down to feed the fish and noticed one of the females had a spawning tube down. I knew something was going to happen very soon. They spawned inside of a clay pot that was turned on its side. However, the eggs were soon gone. I like letting the fish guard the eggs/fry if possible. I took it as a sign that they were just young. A few weeks later I noticed another pair guarding eggs on the other side of the tank in a different pot. Those eggs too disappeared. Within another few weeks, the third pair spawned on a large slate type rock facing the aquarium glass and were guarding them diligently. I had meant to get the eggs so I could raise some fry but the next morning these too were gone. I started thinking that it must be something else other than just young breeders not being able to properly raise up a batch of young. I figured the next time I saw eggs I'd take them as soon as they were noticed.

It took a bit more time but one of the pairs finally spawned for me again, but being out of space at the time I left the eggs with the parents. The next morning I took a small plastic container and putting in an airstone and a heater I stole the rock with the eggs and finished hatching out the eggs myself. I got a lot of fry from this. I figure there had to be at least 50+ fry in there and that's even with some of the eggs fungusing up. The fry were freeswimming a few days later and I started feeding them baby brine shrimp. When I freed up a 10 gallon tank, the Anomalochromis thomasi fry were put into that. They are taking microworms, baby brine shrimp and crushed up flake foods.

All in all, this is a neat little cichlid that I feel can be done very easily in a smaller tank. They don't seem to be too aggressive. They change their colours according to their mood. I really like this little dwarf cichlid.

© Copyright 2000-2003 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Reading:

The Cichlid Aquarium by Dr. Paul Loiselle

Baensch Aquarium Atlas by Dr. Rüdiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch

An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aquarium Fish by Gina Sandford

Complete Book of Dwarf Cichlids by Hans-Joachim Richter

Dwarf Cichlids by Jorg Vierke

Cichlids from West Africa A Handbook for Their Identification, Care, and Breeding by Horst Linke, Wolfgand Staeck, Wolfgang Staeck

Fishkeepers Guide to African Cichlids by Paul Loiselle

Aquarium Fish Breeding by Ines Scheurmann

To see more references on cichlids:

Cichlid Book List

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