Burtoni Cichlid Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

The Burtoni Cichlid is a vibrant fish species originating from the African continent. It’s renowned for its unique colors and aggressive nature, especially during breeding periods. Kept predominantly in aquariums, they provide both a challenge and a visual delight for hobbyist fish keepers.

burtoni cichlid astatotilapia burtoni

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Burtoni Cichlid Species Profile and Identification

Burtoni Cichlids, scientifically identified as Astatotilapia Burtoni, are fascinating aquatic creatures hailing from the alkaline waters of Lake Tanganyika. Meticulously noticed, a matured Burtoni measures up to 15 cm (6 inches), making it an appealing medium-sized fish.

In appearance, these fishes boast a vibrant palette of colors dominated by blue and yellow and stand out with their unique dorsal fin. It plays an integral role in their ritual courtship display.

It is worth noting that this species is semi-aggressive; however, it is their mouthbrooding reproductive behavior that stands out as particularly noteworthy. In this unique process, the female incubates eggs in her mouth to ensure a safe birthing environment.

Though males and females engage in synchronized spawn rituals, it is the female that exhibits maternal nurturing by sheltering the spawn in her mouth. She sustains this mouthbrooding behavior up to two weeks, even at the cost of her nourishment. Recuperation and readiness for a further spawn cycle occur over several subsequent weeks.

Known for their lifespan of 7-8 years, the Burtoni diet is primarily omnivorous — suggesting they thrive on varied nutrient sources. The species generally adapts well to captive care, however, being a Tanganyikan species, it prefers a specific water pH range maintained between 7.5 and 8.5.

Key Features Specifics
Species Astatotilapia Burtoni
Origin Lake Tanganyika
Size 15 cm (6 inches)
Lifespan 7-8 years
Diet Omnivore
PH Range Alkaline (7.5 – 8.5)
Water Type Hard
Breeding Behavior Mouth brooder
Temperature Tolerance 23 – 27 °C (73.4 – 80.6 °F)
Behavior Moderately aggressive

Once you’ve learned to identify a Burtoni Cichlid, it’ll pave your way to appreciate this species’ remarkable traits and unique care requirements.

Burtoni Cichlid Supplies

When preparing to host a Burtoni Cichlid, specific supplies are paramount to their survival and growth. Your shopping list should have the following items:

  • A large tank – you’ll need a minimum of 80 gallons (300 liters) considering this species grows up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length.
  • The appropriate water tester kits for pH, temperature and hardness. Remember, Burtoni Cichlids prefer an alkaline pH of 7.5 – 8.5, a temperature of 23 – 27 °C (73.4-80.6°F), and hardness between 15 – 25 GH.
  • Cichlid-specific foods. An omnivore, the Burtoni Cichlid thrives on a diet that includes both plant matter and protein source such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, or quality flake food.

Let’s delve deeper into the equipment:

  1. Tank: Burtoni Cichlids need a lot of swimming space thus necessitating a large tank with 80 gallons (300 liters) as a minimum.
  2. Substrate: A mix of sand and gravel will replicate their natural habitat.
  3. Filters: Adequate filtration is necessary due to their size and diet diversity.
  4. Heater: Maintaining a consistent water temperature is vital. A good quality heater will make work easier.
  5. Air Pump: To facilitate water movement and aeration.

In addition to these, you may need tank decorations like caves and rocks to provide hiding spots and mimic their natural surroundings. Be sure to ensure the items you pick don’t have sharp edges to prevent injuries. Proper care should be taken while choosing each of these supplies as each plays a certain role in providing a conducive environment for your Burtoni Cichlid.

Burtoni Cichlid Tank Setup

The habitat you create for your Burtoni cichlid will play a crucial role in its health and happiness. Tank size is the first thing to consider.

Your tank should be no less than 300 liters (79 gallons) since cichlids are active swimmers and need ample space. Enrich the environment by incorporating features of the cichlid’s natural habitat.

  • Substrate: Choose a sand or fine gravel substrate. This mimics their natural Lake Tanganyika bottom.
  • Plants and Decorations: Provide rock formations, driftwood, or caves for shelter. Try robust plants like Anubias or Java Fern, as Burtoni cichlids may nibble on delicate ones.
  • Lighting and Temperature: Prefer moderate lighting to recreate the light conditions of their native waters. Maintain water temperatures between 23 – 27 °C (73.4 – 80.6 °F).
  • Filtration: Use a strong filtration system. Cichlids are messy eaters and produce a lot of waste, a powerful filter ensures clean and healthy water.
  • Water Flow: Moderate to slow water flow is ideal for replicating the peaceful waters of Lake Tanganyika.

Taking care to accurately replicate your Burtoni cichlid’s natural environment will greatly enhance their quality of life. It’s not just about keeping your pet alive – it’s about giving them a home.

Burtoni Cichlid Water Requirements

Providing the right water conditions is fundamental to the health and long life of your Burtoni Cichlid.

Start with the pH level. Maintaining an alkaline pH range between 7.5 and 8.5 is essential for Burtoni health. Their home water in Lake Tanganyika is known for such alkalinity. Use a reliable commercial test kit to achieve this correct balance.

Next, the water hardness. These fish thrive in hard water conditions. Target a GH (General Hardness) value between 15 and 25. You may add crushed coral or commercial water buffer to your tank to reach this.

Then, the temperature. Burtoni Cichlids prefer consistent temperatures between 23 and 27°C (73-81°F). A tank heater and a thermometer are needed to maintain this stable temperature.

Lastly, the water flow. This species prefers a medium to slow flow. Use a water pump with adjustable flow speed to accomplish this.

Remember, consistency is key. Sudden changes in water parameters can cause stress, provoke diseases, reduce appetite, and change coloration.

Maintain these water conditions carefully for a healthy, lively, and colorful Burtoni Cichlid. Stick to these guidelines and your fish will reward you with their spectacular display.

Burtoni Cichlid Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Burtoni Cichlid is a critical aspect of their care routine. These active fish are omnivores, meaning they thrive on both plant-based and meaty foods.

  • They naturally feast on a wide range of foods in their native habitats, including small invertebrates, algae, and plant material. Having a mixed diet in captivity that replicates this diversity is essential for their health and vibrancy.

You can feed your Burtoni Cichlid commercially available fish flakes or pellets. However, include a variety of live and frozen foods in their diet.

  • Foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia not only provide important nutrients, but also give your fish an enriching foraging experience.

It’s essential to note that overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues. Always adhere to a routine feeding schedule and portions.

  • An effective feeding regimen is to offer them small meals two to three times a day. Each meal should be eaten within a few minutes to avoid leftovers that can impact the water quality.

Variety and moderation are the keys to a healthy cichlid diet. Observing your fish’s feeding behavior can also provide valuable insights into their wellbeing. Remember, a satisfied cichlid is often a lively and displaying cichlid.

Burtoni Cichlid Care Schedule

A consistent care routine is vital for the well-being of Burtoni Cichlid. Your care schedule should look something like this:

Daily Care

  • Feeding: Feed your cichlid once or twice a day with a balanced diet. Remember, they are omnivores.
  • Health Monitoring: Keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or physical appearance. It may signify health issues.

Weekly Care

  • Water Testing: Check your tank’s water parameters weekly. Ideal conditions are a pH range of 7.5 – 8.5, temperature around 23 – 27 °C (73.4 – 80.6 °F), and hardness (GH) between 15 – 25.
  • Partial Water Change: A 10 – 20% water change weekly helps to maintain water quality. Good water quality is essential for these fish.

Monthly Care

  • Tank Cleaning: Thoroughly clean the tank at least once a month. This includes vacuuming the substrate and removing any algae.

Yearly Care

  • Fish Annual Checkup: Try to get your fish a yearly check by a certified fish vet for big health issues.

By sticking to this schedule, you’ll surely provide the best environment for your Burtoni Cichlids, enhancing their overall health and lifespan, which can reach up to seven to eight years!

Remember, the better you care for your cichlid, the stronger the bond you’ll build and the more you’ll get to enjoy their unique behaviour and beautiful colouration.

Burtoni Cichlid Health Problems

Every fish species faces health challenges and Burtoni Cichlids are no different. By observing your fish and providing proper care, you can prevent many issues.

Parasites and fungal infections are common foe in aquarium Burtoni cichlids. You may notice white spots, fuzzy patches or fish rubbing against tank objects. If you see these signs, treat your tank immediately with over-the-counter aquarium treatments.

Nutritional problems can also appear as a result of an improper diet. Feeding your Burtoni a varied diet of pellets, flakes and occasional fresh foods will help ward off deficiencies and disorders.

Lastly, Burtoni cichlids are susceptible to mouthbrooding-related health problems, particularly in females. Maternal mouthbrooding can lead to stress, food deprivation, and hormonal changes.

If a female seems lethargic or disinterested in food, she may be experiencing breeding related stress. Breaks between brooding periods allow females to recover and eat properly.

Regular monitoring of your fish, prompt treatment of ailments and maintaining the ideal conditions for your Burtoni cichlid go a long way in health management. Always consult with a fish specialist if in doubt. Remember, a healthy fish is a happy fish.

Burtoni Cichlid Tank Mates

Careful selection is needed when choosing tank mates for the Burtoni cichlid. Although moderately aggressive, Burtoni Cichlids have a specific list of species they can peacefully coexist with.

  • Consider Peaceful Fishes: These would include other species of Lake Tanganyika cichlids that are peaceful in nature. An example could be types of Cyprichromis species.
  • Avoid Same Sized Fishes: Burtoni cichlids may show aggression to other tank mates that are similar in size. Prevent potential conflicts by not pairing such species together.
  • Look for Larger Tank Mates. Larger, non-aggressive species could also make good tank mates. These include larger Haplochromis and Pelvicachromis species.

In addition to these general guidelines, watching the behavior of your Burtoni cichlid can give you a sense of what kind of fish they might comfortably live with. Always keep a close eye on the tank hierarchy and intervene if any issues arise.

More compatible tank-mates for Burtoni:

Tank-Mate Size Temperament
Cyprichromis 3.5 – 4 inches Peaceful
Pelvicachromis 3 – 5 inches Peaceful
Larger Haplochromis 8 –12 inches Non-aggressive

Remember that the personalities of individual fish can vary, and what works for one Burtoni might not work for another. It’s crucial to take your time and monitor the situation carefully.

Burtoni Cichlid Breeding

Stepping into the breeding of Burtoni Cichlids? Here’s what you need to know.

Burtoni Cichlids, notably, engage in a unique behavior known as “mouthbrooding”. During the breeding process, females perform this remarkable nurturing act.

  • The male courts the female with vibrant displays of his colored dorsal fin.
  • Post-courtship, the female follows the male to a spawning site.
  • If keen to spawn, the female pecks at egg-shaped spots on the male’s anal fin.
  • The female then proceeds to lay and collect her eggs in her mouth— an intriguing part of the mouthbrooding process.

Fertility often gets ensured when the female pecks at the egg spots on the male while he releases sperm. This fertilizes the eggs in the female’s mouth, and the cycle is repeated till she’s done laying.

Now let’s look at some specifics.

  • The female carries the fertilized eggs in her mouth for about two weeks for incubation.
  • Upon completion, she releases the young ones into the world.

But it’s not without risks. Keep your tank surroundings quiet. Too much noise can lead to cannibalization or trigger a premature release of young ones.

Do note that after releasing the brood, the female requires a few more weeks to recover physically. Only then can she spawn again.

Breeding Burtoni Cichlids is truly a sight to behold. But, it’s a process that requires care, observation, and patience. Make sure to keep these points in mind as you embark on this exciting journey.


Burtoni Cichlids are fascinating fish brimming with vibrant colors and unique behaviors. With good care and a supportive environment, they can thrive well under an enthusiast’s care. Feel free to share your experiences or ask questions about caring for Burtoni Cichlids in the comment section below.

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