Bumblebee Cichlid Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Learn how to care for Bumblebee Cichlids (Pseudotropheus crabro) from this guide for beginners. These beautiful, lively fish are native to Lake Malawi in Africa and are popular among aquarium enthusiasts.

bumblebee cichlid

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In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to provide the best care for your Bumblebee Cichlids, ensuring they thrive in your home aquarium.

Bumblebee Cichlid Species Profile and Identification

The Bumblebee Cichlid, scientifically known as Pseudotropheus crabro, is a species of fish belonging to the Cichlidae family. Native to Lake Malawi in Africa, these freshwater fish are known for their striking black and yellow striped pattern, reminiscent of a bumblebee, hence the name.

  • Adult size: Males can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm), while females usually grow up to 4 inches (10 cm).
  • Lifespan: On average, Bumblebee Cichlids have a lifespan of 5-8 years when kept in appropriate conditions.
  • Temperament: They are semi-aggressive fish, notably territorial and can show aggression towards tank mates, especially when breeding.
  • Suitable tank size: A minimum of 50 gallons (190 liters) is recommended for a single fish or a pair, while a larger tank of 75 gallons (280 liters) or more is needed for a group of 5 or more.

The Bumblebee Cichlid’s overall body shape is elongated, with a somewhat flattened forehead and a snout-like mouth. The distinct black and yellow stripes usually consist of 6-7 broad, vertical bands that may fade or darken, depending on the fish’s mood or environment.

Males often exhibit more vibrant colors, especially during the breeding period. Additionally, their anal and dorsal fins are elongated, while females and juveniles exhibit shorter fins.

To properly identify a Bumblebee Cichlid, look for the characteristic striped pattern, size, and the elongated fins (in males). Pay close attention to the behavior and tank requirements to ensure a thriving environment for these beautiful fish.

Bumblebee Cichlid Supplies

Before you get started with setting up your Bumblebee Cichlid tank, it’s important to gather all the necessary supplies. This will ensure that you are well-prepared and ready to create the perfect environment for your new pet. Below is a list of essential Bumblebee Cichlid supplies:

  • Aquarium: You’ll need a tank with a capacity of at least 40 gallons, as Bumblebee Cichlids can grow up to 6 inches long. Larger tanks are ideal if you plan on housing multiple fish.
  • Filtration system: A high-quality, powerful filter is necessary to maintain clean and healthy water conditions. Bumblebee Cichlids create a lot of waste, so you’ll want a filter with a flow rate of at least 3 times the tank’s volume per hour.
  • Heater: Bumblebee Cichlids thrive in warmer water, so a reliable heater is essential. Aim for a consistent temperature of 78-82°F.
  • Thermometer: Invest in an accurate thermometer to monitor the water temperature regularly.
  • Substrate: These fish prefer a sandy substrate, as they enjoy digging and burrowing.
  • Decorations: Bumblebee Cichlids need plenty of hiding spaces and territories. Use rocks, caves, or ceramic decorations to create a natural habitat.
  • Plants: Select hardy, durable plants like Anubias that can tolerate Bumblebee Cichlids’ digging behavior.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is best for these fish. Include a timer to establish a consistent day/night cycle.
  • Water test kit: To monitor water conditions, get a test kit that checks ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels.
  • Fish food: Choose a high-quality pellet or flake food formulated for Bumblebee Cichlids, along with occasional live or frozen foods for a varied diet.

Once you have gathered all these supplies, you’ll be ready to start setting up your Bumblebee Cichlid tank and ensure their ongoing health and happiness.

Bumblebee Cichlid Tank Setup

When setting up your bumblebee cichlid tank, it’s important to provide a suitable environment for these beautiful African cichlids. A tank size of at least 50 gallons is recommended to give them enough space to swim and establish their territory.

For substrate, use a mixture of sand and crushed coral, which helps maintain the desired pH level of 7.5-8.5. As these cichlids are rock dwellers, it’s essential to include plenty of rocks in the tank setup. Arrange the rocks to create hiding spots, caves, and crevices for your fish to feel secure and establish territories.

  • Use driftwood to create additional hiding spaces and add visual appeal to the tank.
  • Adding live or artificial plants can also benefit your fish by providing extra cover and reducing stress.
  • Make sure there is enough open swimming space for your bumblebee cichlids to move around.

Install the necessary equipment:

  • heater to maintain a stable temperature between 74-82°F (23.3-27.8°C)
  • powerful filter that can handle the bioload of these messy fish, with a recommended flow rate of 8-10 times the tank volume per hour.
  • An air pump to promote water circulation and oxygenation.

Don’t forget:

  • To perform regular water changes (20% weekly) to maintain water quality
  • Monitor the tank’s water parameters frequently

By taking the time to set up your tank correctly, you’ll create a comfortable, safe environment for your bumblebee cichlids to thrive. With the proper tank setup, you will not only delight yourself but also ensure the well-being of your new aquatic friends.

Bumblebee Cichlid Water Requirements

Bumblebee Cichlids thrive in well-maintained water conditions that resemble their natural habitat. Mimicking their native Lake Malawi environment is key for their overall well-being and health.

  • Temperature: Bumblebee Cichlids prefer warmer water, with a temperature range of 75-82°F (24-28°C). It’s essential to maintain a stable temperature within this range, as fluctuations can lead to stress and potential health issues.
  • pH Level: The ideal pH level for Bumblebee Cichlids falls between 7.8 and 8.6. This slightly alkaline water is suitable for promoting their growth and overall health.
  • Hardness: Lake Malawi is known for its hard water, so replicate these conditions in your tank by maintaining a water hardness of 10-20 dGH. You can achieve this using crushed coral or limestone substrates.
  • Water Filtration: A high-quality filtration system is required to keep the water clean and free from harmful toxins. Your filter should be capable of turning the tank’s water volume 3-4 times per hour to ensure the water remains pristine.

To ensure your Bumblebee Cichlids are living in optimal conditions, it’s essential to monitor and maintain water parameters regularly. Check pH, temperature, and hardness at least once a week using a reliable test kit.

Conduct 25% water changes every two weeks to replenish essential minerals and maintain water quality. By carefully attending to these water requirements, you are setting the foundation for your Bumblebee Cichlid’s overall health and happiness.

Bumblebee Cichlid Diet and Feeding

Your Bumblebee Cichlid’s diet and feeding habits are crucial to ensuring their overall health and well-being. Bumblebee Cichlids are omnivorous, meaning they require a mix of protein, vegetable, and plant-based food sources in their diet. Here is some specific and helpful information you need to know about your Bumblebee Cichlid’s diet and feeding.

  • Quality Pellets or Flakes: Choose a high-quality brand of pellets or flake food for your Bumblebee Cichlid, with a balanced mix of protein, vegetables, and plant-based nutrients. Feed your Bumblebee Cichlids 2-3 times per day, offering just enough food that they can consume within 2-3 minutes.
  • Live and Frozen Food: For added variety and to offer the best nutrient-rich diet for optimum health, include live or frozen foods in their diet. These can include brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms. Feed live or frozen food to your Bumblebee Cichlids 1-2 times per week to supplement their pellet or flake food.
  • Vegetable Matter: Bumblebee Cichlids appreciate a varied diet that includes leafy greens like spinach and kale, as well as cucumber and zucchini disks. Be sure to blanch leafy greens to soften them before adding them to the tank.
  • Feeding Precautions: Overfeeding your Bumblebee Cichlids can lead to obesity, constipation, and poor water quality. Consistently monitor the amount of food you provide, ensuring they consume everything within 3 minutes. Remove any uneaten food immediately after each feeding.

Providing a well-rounded, nutritionally balanced diet is essential for your Bumblebee Cichlid’s health and well-being. By offering a mix of high-quality pellets or flakes, live or frozen food, and fresh vegetables, you’ll ensure that your Bumblebee Cichlids thrive in their aquarium environment.

Bumblebee Cichlid Care Schedule

A proper care schedule is essential when providing a harmonious life for your Bumblebee Cichlid. Establish a routine and stick to it, as consistency is key for maintaining a healthy aquatic environment. To help you set up a solid Bumblebee Cichlid care schedule, here are some crucial steps to follow:

  1. Daily tasks: Monitor water temperature and quality daily to ensure your Bumblebee Cichlid feels comfortable in its environment. Keep an eye on the temperature (78-82°F) and make sure it remains consistent.
  2. Feeding: Bumblebee Cichlids need a varied diet to thrive. They can eat flakes, pellets, and live or frozen food. Feed them 2-3 times per day with an adequate amount to finish within 3-5 minutes.
  3. Weekly tasks: Test your tank’s water parameters, at least once a week, to measure the levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. Keep ammonia and nitrite levels at zero, while maintaining nitrates below 40 ppm. Maintain a stable pH between 7.7 and 8.6.
  4. Monthly tasks: Perform a 25-30% water change every 3-4 weeks, replenishing with conditioned water to remove harmful elements and maintain a clean environment. Do not change all of the water at once, as this can harm your fish by causing drastic changes in water chemistry.
  5. Tank maintenance: Regularly clean the filter, substrate, and decorations as needed, but pay attention not to disrupt the beneficial bacteria present in the aquarium.

By maintaining a consistent care schedule for your Bumblebee Cichlid, you are creating a stable and healthy environment for your fish to thrive in. Remember that their health and happiness are largely dependent on the quality of care and attention you provide.

Bumblebee Cichlid Health Problems

Bumblebee Cichlids, like any other aquarium fish, are susceptible to various health problems. However, with proper care and a well-maintained environment, the risk of disease can be significantly reduced.

  • Ich (White Spot Disease): Ich is a common parasitic disease in fish, caused by the protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. It manifests as small white spots on the fish’s body, and can be treated with medication, increased water temperature, and improved water quality.
  • Skin Flukes: These are small, flatworm parasites that can cause irritation and damage to the fish’s skin and gills. In most cases, treatment involves the use of anti-parasitic medications.
  • Fin Rot: Fin rot is a bacterial infection that can cause the fish’s fins to become frayed and discolored. To treat this condition, improve water quality and administer appropriate antibiotics.
  • Bloat: Bloat is a common issue in Bumblebee Cichlids, often caused by improper diet, overfeeding, or internal parasites. Prevention includes a balanced diet, not overfeeding, and periodic deworming of the fish population.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: This condition affects a fish’s ability to swim and maintain buoyancy. Treatment may involve adjusting the diet, adding Epsom salts to the tank, or seeking veterinary assistance if necessary.
  • Malawi Bloat: Specific to African cichlids, this disorder is caused by excess protein consumption or improper diet. Treatment includes specialized food, Epsom salt baths, and sometimes antibiotics.

To ensure your Bumblebee Cichlid’s health, maintain proper water quality, minimize stress factors, and provide a balanced and varied diet. In case of illness, seek assistance from knowledgeable sources such as aquarium forums or ask for professional advice. Regular observation of your fish will help you identify any potential issues early on, allowing for prompt intervention.

Bumblebee Cichlid Tank Mates

Bumblebee Cichlids are territorial and aggressive fish, which makes choosing the right tank mates crucial for a peaceful and harmonious aquarium. These cichlids can get along with other similar-sized cichlids, like African cichlids. Some good tank mates for your Bumblebee Cichlid include:

  • Other Mbuna cichlids: These include species such as Yellow Lab Cichlids (Labidochromis caeruleus), Electric Blue Johannii (Melanochromis johannii), and Red Zebra Cichlids (Pseudotropheus zebra).
  • Peacock Cichlids (Aulonocara sp.): These fish are generally less aggressive and can coexist with Bumblebee Cichlids as long as they share territorial borders.
  • Haplochromine Cichlids: Species like the Electric Yellow Cichlid (Labidochromis Electrica) and Blue Dolphin Cichlid (Cyrtocara moori) can be suitable companions for Bumblebee Cichlids.

Some essential tips for maintaining a harmonious tank with Bumblebee Cichlids and their tank mates are:

  • Introduce the fish at the same time to avoid territorial disputes.
  • Provide enough hiding spaces and cave-like structures for fish to establish their territories.
  • Keep a large enough aquarium (at least 50 gallons) to maintain suitable spaces for each fish species.

Always avoid keeping Bumblebee Cichlids with small, peaceful fish like tetras, guppies, or angelfish. These fish could easily become victims of aggression or even prey for the Bumblebee Cichlids.

Considering the territorial nature of Bumblebee Cichlids, choosing appropriate tank mates and providing enough space and hiding spots will help maintain a more peaceful environment in your aquarium. This will ultimately ensure the well-being of your Bumblebee Cichlids and their tank mates.

Bumblebee Cichlid Breeding

Breeding Bumblebee Cichlids can be a rewarding and fascinating process, but it could also be quite challenging for beginners. To encourage breeding, it is essential to provide an ideal environment, a balanced diet, and the right tank conditions.

  • First, make sure you have both males and females in your tank, ideally at a ratio of one male to three or four females. This helps in reducing aggression among males and ensures a better chance of successful breeding.
  • To stimulate the breeding process, gradually raise the water temperature to 79-82°F (26-28°C). Warmer water mimics the natural breeding season and encourages spawning.
  • When choosing tank decorations, add multiple hiding spots like caves, rocks, and plants for females to lay their eggs. Males will protect these territories and females will choose the most suitable male to breed with.

When a female Bumblebee Cichlid is ready to spawn, she will lay her eggs in a hidden spot and then carefully pick them up with her mouth. This species is a “mouthbrooder,” which means that she carries the eggs in her mouth to protect them.

During this time, avoid disturbing the female and refrain from feeding her to minimize stress. After approximately 3 weeks, the female will release her baby fry into the tank. For the safety and growth of the fry, you can consider separating them into a separate tank to grow until they are large enough to be reintroduced with the adult Bumblebee Cichlids.

With proper care and attention to the living conditions and diet, you can successfully breed Bumblebee Cichlids and enjoy the fascinating process.


Bumblebee Cichlids are fascinating fish that can make a delightful addition to your aquarium. Follow this complete guide, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving environment for them. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any further tips or questions about Bumblebee Cichlid care.

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