Blue Dolphin Cichlid Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Caring for Blue Dolphin Cichlids is rewarding for beginners and experienced aquarists alike. Keep a proper tank set-up with clean water and a balanced diet for a healthy environment. By following this complete guide, your Blue Dolphin Cichlid can live a long, healthy life in your aquarium.

blue dolphin cichlid

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Blue Dolphin Cichlid Species Profile and Identification

Blue Dolphin Cichlids, also known as Blue Moorii or Cyrtocara moorii, are a unique and stunning fish species that are endemic to Lake Malawi in Africa. They belong to the Cichlidae family and are a part of the Pseudocrenilabrinae subfamily.

These fish are characterized by their beautiful blue coloration and a distinct nuchal hump on their forehead, especially in males. Males can grow up to 10 inches (25 cm) in size, while females usually reach around 8 inches (20 cm).

With good care, good tank mates, a varied diet, and enough aquarium space, Blue Dolphin Cichlids can live up to 10 years.

Some key identification features of Blue Dolphin Cichlids include:

  • Coloration: A vibrant blue color with occasional darker spots or markings on their body.
  • Nuchal Hump: A distinct forehead hump, more prominent in males, which can become more pronounced as the fish matures.
  • Body Shape: A streamlined, elongated body shape with a rounded forehead.
  • Fins: Long, flowing dorsal and anal fins, often with slightly translucent blue edges.

To properly identify a Blue Dolphin Cichlid, pay close attention to the coloration, body shape, and distinct hump on their forehead. This species is quite striking and stands out in any aquarium, making them a popular choice for beginner and advanced aquarists alike.

Ensure you are fully informed about their specific care requirements and compatibility before committing to keeping these beautiful fish in your aquarium.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Supplies

Before you bring home your Blue Dolphin Cichlid (Cyrtocara moorii), it’s essential to prepare and gather all the necessary supplies to create a comfortable and healthy environment for them to live in. Here’s a list of essential supplies for your Blue Dolphin Cichlid:

  • Aquarium: A tank with a minimum size of 70 gallons (265 liters) capacity is recommended for these large and active fish.
  • Substrate: Use a sand substrate for your Blue Dolphin Cichlid, as they inhabit sandy areas in their natural environment.
  • Filtration: Choose a high-quality aquarium filter that is capable of handling the bioload of these large fish. Popular filters among cichlid owners include canister filters and hang-on-back filters.
  • Heater: An adjustable, reliable heater is essential to maintain a stable water temperature between 77-84°F (25-29°C). Choose a heater designed for your tank size.
  • Rocks: Decorate the tank with some rocks to provide hiding spots and territory for your cichlids. Make sure to leave plenty of open swimming space for them.
  • Water Testing Kit: A crucial component of maintaining a healthy aquarium is testing the water regularly. Ensure you have a complete water testing kit to monitor parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness.
  • Fish Food: A high-quality diet composed of live and frozen foods like bloodworm, brine shrimp, chopped earthworms, and prawns is essential for the health and growth of your Blue Dolphin Cichlid. Supplement with high-quality, dried foods, but do not feed exclusively.

By gathering all the necessary supplies in advance, you can create a thriving environment for your Blue Dolphin Cichlid where they can grow, breed, and display their vibrant colors. Remember, a well-prepared and maintained tank leads to healthy and happy fish.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Tank Setup

The proper tank setup is crucial to ensure the well-being of your Blue Dolphin Cichlids. Start by selecting at least a 70-gallon (265 liters) aquarium.

  • Substrate: Opt for a sand substrate, as these fish are native to shallow water areas with sandy bottoms. You can choose any aquarium-safe sand available in pet stores.
  • Decor: Arrange rocks around the perimeter of the tank, leaving plenty of open swimming space in the middle. Be cautious with the amount of rock work, as Blue Dolphin Cichlids can be flighty and might injure themselves in a densely decorated environment.
  • Filtration: Invest in an efficient, high-quality aquarium filter as recommended by fellow hobbyists in your area. This helps maintain clean water and ideal living conditions.
  • Heater: Aim for a water temperature of 77-84°F (25-29°C) by installing a reliable aquarium heater.

Remember to provide additional tank equipment, such as a thermometer and a water testing kit, to monitor water parameters and ensure a healthy environment for your Blue Dolphin Cichlids.

With a proper tank setup, your beautiful cichlids will thrive and display their mesmerizing coloration and fascinating behaviors.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Water Requirements

To ensure the health and well-being of your Blue Dolphin Cichlid, it’s crucial to provide optimum water conditions. Native to Lake Malawi, this species thrives in water that closely resembles its natural habitat.

  • Temperature: Maintain a stable temperature between 77-84°F (25-29°C). Make sure to invest in a high-quality aquarium heater and a reliable thermometer to monitor the temperature consistently.
  • pH level: Blue Dolphin Cichlids require alkaline water conditions, so keep the pH level between 7.5-8.8. Use a reliable pH test kit to monitor the pH regularly, and make adjustments as needed.
  • Water hardness: Aim for a water hardness between 10-25°H. You can use a GH (general hardness) test kit to measure the hardness of your tank water and use buffering agents, if needed, to reach the ideal range.

In addition to these parameters, it’s crucial to maintain optimal water quality. Make sure to follow a regular maintenance schedule to keep the water clean and reduce harmful elements:

  • Install a high-performance filtration system specifically designed for your tank size.
  • Change about 20-30% of the tank water bi-weekly, ensuring the new water matches the temperature, pH, and hardness of the existing aquarium water.
  • Vacuum the substrate during water changes to remove any lingering debris and uneaten food.

By providing the right water requirements, you’ll create a healthy environment for your Blue Dolphin Cichlids to grow and flourish. Stay vigilant in monitoring water parameters, and keep up with regular maintenance to help ensure a thriving aquarium for your fish.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Diet and Feeding

Blue Dolphin Cichlids are micro-predators by nature, which means they enjoy feasting on small living organisms. Their diet primarily consists of live and frozen foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, chopped earthworms, and prawns.

While these cichlids will happily consume dried food, it shouldn’t make up the bulk of their diet. Feeding a balanced variety of live, frozen, and high-quality dried foods ensures your fish receive proper nutrition. Here are some suggestions for their diet:

  • Bloodworms: A favorite among Blue Dolphin Cichlids, can be offered live or frozen.
  • Brine shrimp: Provides essential nutrients, can be fed live or frozen.
  • Chopped Earthworms: Supplement Blue Dolphin Cichlids’ diet with essential proteins.
  • Prawns: Occasionally add prawns as a treat for your cichlids.
  • High-quality dried foods: Excellent for occasional feeding, but not as a primary food source.

Feed your Blue Dolphin Cichlids once or twice daily, only offering what they can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and poor water quality, both detrimental to your fish’s health. Regularly vary their diet to ensure they receive a comprehensive range of nutrients and avoid dietary boredom.

Following a proper feeding schedule and providing a diverse range of live, frozen, and dried foods will keep your Blue Dolphin Cichlids healthy, active, and displaying their vibrant colors. Always be mindful of their nutritional needs and avoid overfeeding to maintain a thriving and enjoyable aquarium for both you and your fish.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Care Schedule

A consistent care schedule is crucial for ensuring the health and well-being of your Blue Dolphin Cichlids. Keeping their tank clean, maintaining appropriate water conditions, and offering a proper diet are all essential components of their care.

  • Weekly water changes: Perform a 20-30% water change on a weekly basis to maintain water quality and minimize waste buildup. Make sure to use dechlorinated and treated water closely matching your current tank conditions.
  • Water testing: Check the water parameters (pH, hardness, temperature, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate) weekly to ensure stability. Blue Dolphin Cichlids require a pH of 7.5-8.8, hardness of 10-25°H, and temperature of 77-84°F.
  • Filter maintenance: Clean the aquarium filter monthly or according to the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure efficient filtration and optimal water quality.
  • Tank cleaning: Periodically remove algae and debris from decorations, rocks, and the glass tank walls using appropriate aquarium cleaning tools.
  • Feeding schedule: Feed your Blue Dolphin Cichlids 2-3 times per day with a variety of high-quality live, frozen, and dry foods. Ensure to offer a balanced diet rich in protein, avoid overfeeding, and remove any uneaten food.
  • Health checks: Observe your fish daily to check for any signs of illness, injury, or conflict with tank mates. Early detection of abnormalities allows for timely intervention and prevents further complications.

By following this care schedule, you’ll help promote a healthy and thriving environment for your Blue Dolphin Cichlids. Stay consistent with your routine and be observant of any potential issues to ensure your fish remain happy and healthy.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Health Problems

Like any other fish, Blue Dolphin Cichlids can encounter various health problems if not properly cared for. Maintaining optimal water conditions and a well-balanced diet is essential to minimize the chances of health issues.

  • Ich (White Spot Disease): Ich is a common parasite in fish that causes small white spots to appear on their bodies. To treat ich, raise the water temperature to 86°F for three days and add over-the-counter ich medication.
  • Bloat: Bloat is another common issue seen in cichlids, characterized by a swollen abdomen and difficulty swimming. Extra care should be taken to provide a variety of live and frozen foods to prevent bloating. Avoid overfeeding, and remember that peas, used as a laxative, can be offered occasionally to prevent constipation.
  • Fin Rot: This issue occurs when the fins get frayed and may eventually decay. Maintain proper water conditions, and provide high-quality food to prevent fin rot. If already affected, use over-the-counter antibiotic remedies.

Good husbandry practices and early detection are crucial for dealing with health problems that may arise. Regularly observe your Blue Dolphin Cichlids for any signs of illness or changes in behavior to address potential issues promptly.

To keep your Blue Dolphin Cichlids healthy and prevent health problems:

  • Maintain optimal water conditions
  • Provide a well-balanced diet with live and frozen foods
  • Do not overfeed
  • Regularly observe your fish for signs of illness
  • Treat with medications when required

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Tank Mates

It’s essential for the well-being of your Blue Dolphin Cichlid to choose the right tank mates. Avoid boisterous species like Mbuna, which may stress your peaceful Cichlids.

That said, ideal tank mates include:

  • Frontosa (Cyphotilapia frontosa): These elegant fish get along with Blue Dolphin Cichlids due to their calm nature and similar water requirements.
  • Large peaceful Haps (e.g., Fossorochromis rostratus): They share the same habitat preferences and, like the Blue Dolphin, require open swimming spaces.
  • Rift Lake Synodontis species: Species like the Synodontis multipunctatus and Synodontis petricola are relatively peaceful and will coexist without issue with the Blue Dolphin Cichlids.

Remember that Blue Dolphin Cichlids are shoaling species, so it’s best to maintain them in a group. Aim for a ratio of 2-3 females per male, if possible, to ensure harmony in their social dynamic.

When you’re considering tank mates, keep in mind the minimum aquarium size of 265 liters (70 gallons) and the need for ample swimming space. Adequate filtration and water quality are crucial for the

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Breeding

Breeding Blue Dolphin Cichlids might be challenging for beginners, but with patience and proper care, you can successfully breed them.

First, make sure you have a mature breeding group that consists of one male and 3-6 females, and provide them with an ideal setup of a 60″ aquarium with sandy substrate, open swimming areas, and flat rocks for spawning sites.

The ideal water conditions for breeding are:

  • Temperature: 77-81°F (25-27°C)
  • pH: 8.0-8.5
  • Hardness: 10-25°H

Here are some quick tips for the breeding process:

  • Spend time observing your fish and identifying their preferred spawning area, which will help minimize stress during this period.
  • Make sure the male and females are healthy and have reached their sexual maturity.
  • Keep the tank peaceful and stress-free as female Blue Dolphin Cichlids are notorious for spitting out the brood early when stressed.

During the breeding process, the male will display intense colors and try to entice females to mate with him. After the eggs are laid by the female and fertilized by the male, the female will carry them in her mouth for up to 3 weeks before releasing the free-swimming fry.

It is essential to provide proper nutrition to the female during this time as she will not eat while she’s carrying the brood.

Once the fry are released, they are large enough to accept foods like brine shrimp nauplii and crushed flake food. If the breeding environment is stress-free, the female may continue to care for the fry by taking them into her mouth at night or when she senses danger for a few weeks.

However, keep in mind that Blue Dolphin Cichlid fry grow very slowly, so patience is crucial during this stage.


Caring for Blue Dolphin Cichlids is a rewarding experience as long as you are thorough in meeting their specific needs. By following the guidelines in this beginners’ guide, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy and happy environment for these stunning fish.

We hope this guide has been helpful, and we encourage you to leave a comment with your thoughts or experiences with Blue Dolphin Cichlids.

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