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 Frontosa Cichlid

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PostSubject: Frontosa Cichlid   Wed May 26, 2010 10:54 pm

Frontosa (Cyphotilapia frontosa)
source: aqua-fish.net

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The Cyphotilapia frontosa is named Cypho- meaning “hump” in Greek, -tilapia meaning “fish” in Tswana (the language spoken around lake Ngami), and frontosa based on the Latin word Frontis meaning “with big forehead.” Nicknamed frontosa, this very distinguishable fish is a highly prized and highly priced cichlid in the aquarium industry.

Other variations can be considerably more expensive because of their vibrant blue coloration and the fact that they are not as easy to breed.Despite the high price, these fish are definitely worth the investment because they are an attractive and hardy species that can live up to 25 years.

Frontosas are hunters who like to work smart, not hard. They hunt for food at dusk, just when their prey would be falling asleep thus making themselves easy targets. In an aquarium setting this fish will eat a variety of frozen and live foods in addition to prepared flakes and pellets. These carnivorous predators are best kept in large groups much like the colonies they are found in naturally but they require an abundance of space because of their potential size. Multiple males can be kept together for this particular species as long as you provide them with adequate hiding places that are large enough for them to dart in and out of. Be sure to secure rocks and caves so that injuries do not occur when they do retreat clumsily. I say they are clumsy because they are not conditioned to moving quickly unless there is a need to do so, for this reason, they are much more graceful at a slower pace.

It is very important for frontosas to feel safe and secure. Keep them in a tank no smaller than 85 gallons with plenty of rocky caves for the males. The females should have the option for a hiding place as well but they do not require them as the males do. This type of fish likes subdued lighting because it mimics the lighting of their natural habitat in the deeper regions of the lake. Bright light makes them feel more anxious and exposed. Frontosas are sensitive to chemicals and pollutants so be sure to do frequent partial water changes. Keep your aquarium between 75º- 79ºF with moderate to hard water and an alkaline pH ranging from 7.8 to 9.5. Frontosas like to dig in sandy substrates but if you have gravel they will dig in that too. They are known to dig up plants even if they are securely rooted, but they are not likely to shred them as many other cichlids would.

Sexing for this species is commonly determined by the hump on the head which tends to be larger on males and smaller on females. However this is not a reliable way for sexing juveniles because the hump comes about with maturity in both sexes. As frontosas start to mature, the male will grow quite a bit larger and faster that the female. It takes years for this species to reach sexual maturity and the number of years depends on the different variations. Some can take up to 3 years to become sexually mature.

Frontosas are mouth-brooders that do not perform the usual courting rituals. There is no display of fins and no showy dance performed by the male for the female. It’s a fairly straight forward procedure when the male excavates his cave in order to make it presentable for the female to want to enter. Upon entering his cave, the female lays her eggs on a spot that he has cleared for her. The male then fertilizes the eggs followed by the female scooping them up into her mouth. The female will produce about 50 of these large eggs and keep them in her mouth as mouth-brooders do. This is when you will want to remove the male so that he will not have the chance to devour the brood. The mother will keep the fry in her mouth for as long as two months. The fry are relatively large and grow relatively quickly; they will eat a variety of foods once they are released.

When breeding frontosas, be sure to keep the different variations separate because mixing them can result in deformed or sterile offspring.


The true Cyphotilapia frontosa, the only one of these species with seven stripes, comes from one specific region along Lake Tanganyika, which is Kigoma. What used to be classified as C. frontosa from the regions Mpimbwe, Zaire and Zambia, are now classified under a different name: Cyphotilapia gibberosa. There are subtle, yet very technical differences that set the frontosa apart from the gibberosa like the size and shape of the hump, number of scales and slight fin variations. With the frontosa and gibberosa species so clearly defined the only thing left to do is to rename the variations that come from Burundi, Kavala and Karilani. It is only a matter of time before experts come up with those new names. However, in the retail aquarium industry I believe the popular name “frontosa” will generically still be used by the common hobbyist for all the different variations of this species.

Despite the very common appearance of all the different varieties of frontosa, these fish come from varying depths all over Lake Tanganyika from as shallow as 15 feet to as deep as 180 feet. Much like humans, these fish have to go through the same decompression phases when coming up from the extreme depths. Bringing up these fish too quickly enlarges their swim bladder until their intestines are literally forced out of their body.

The most popular variations of Cyphotilapia are from Burundi, Kavala and Karilani.

* The Burundi is the absolute most common of them all with six stripes and as it matures a large hump on its head. The coloration is not as elaborate and blue as some of the other variations but there is quite a bit of the blue coloration in the fins and a little in the face.

* The Kavala variant is found at shallower depths of 15 to 20 feet and exhibits a pearlescent shade of white in its stripes. There is a slight yellow tint in the coloration of its dorsal fin which causes it to appear more iridescent.

* The Karilani is blue in the fins and face like the Burundi version and additionally has more blue on the body. The dorsal fin of this variation has a gold-ish coloration with a blue stripe on the edge of the fin.
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PostSubject: Re: Frontosa Cichlid   Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:36 pm

from cyphos.com

This is intended to provide a general guideline for identifying the Cyphotilapia variants. Please note that individual coloration varies depending on mood, lighting conditions, and other factors.
Note: These are taken from Heather a site advisor of a dedicated Frontosa site

Kigoma (Collection Points: Kigoma, Bangwe/Boulomboro)
Distinguished by their seven stripes, yellow coloration in the dorsal fin, and a broad eye stripe at the "cheek" (below the eye). Adult males may develop large "humps" on their foreheads. Boulomboros and Bangwe (which are believed to be the same collection point) look extremely similar to Kigomas, occasionally showing more yellow and less blue throughout the body.
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Burundi / "sp. North" (Collection Points:Karilani, Kavala, Burundi, etc.)
Distinguished by their long, thin and well defined vertical eye stripe. Adult males typically develop large "humps" on their forehead.

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Burundi Fry
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Burundi Juvy
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Tanzanian (Collection Points: Mpimbwe, Samazi, Kipili, Ikola, Kasanga, Kantalamba, etc.)
Distinguished by an eye stripe that wraps around the front of their face and extends over their eye to the jaw.
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Tanzanian Fry
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Tanzanian Juvy
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Zaire (Collection Points: Kitumba, Kapampa, Moba, Tembwe, Moliro, etc.)
Distinguished by their "zorro mask" that wraps over the top of the "forehead" and does not extend too far across the eye typically... although Zaire eye stripes do vary. Unique black counter shading is present in their finnage as well.

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Zaire Fry
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Zaire Juvy
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Zambian (Collection Points: Nangu, Sumbu, Chaitika, Isanga etc.)

The following list was compiled to help hobbyists better understand the different Cyphotilapia species, variants and collection points. The list was assembled to show that Cyphos from certain collection points could/should be grouped together as a variant or type do to similarities. This does not mean that fish from different collection points within a geographical variant are identical. Cyphos from different collection points should be kept in separate aquariums to avoid interbreeding. We hope this will be beneficial until we are able to complete and implement a detailed Species / Variant / Collection Point Map. If you have information you would like to contribute please send a message to an Advisor or Admin.
Note: Cyphotilapia Frontosa & Cyphotilapia Gibberosa are currently the only recognized scientific classifications.

[SIZE=3]Cyphotilapia Frontosa

Variant: Burundi (In the future, this variant will possibly be classified into a new species)
Collection Points:
Bulu Point
Zaire North

Variant: Kigoma / 7 Stripe (In the future, this will likely be the only fish classified as Frontosa)
Collection Points:

Cyphotilapia Gibberosa
Variant: Tanzania or Southern Tanzania
Collection Points:
Fulwe Rocks (Fulwe)
Samazi / Bismark

Variant: Zambian
Collection Points:

Variant: Zaire (Congo, DR) or Southern Zaire (Congo, DR)
Collection Points:
Kalumba (Collected at Lupota?)
Moba (Collected at M'Toto)


In 2003 Tetsumi Takahashi and Kazuhiro Nakayaa classified a second species of Cyphotilapia...Gibberosa, which is restricted to the southern half of the lake. It is likely that future species will be classied, beginning with a new northern species. Gibberosa differs from Frontosa in the following ways...
[URL="http://apt.allenpress.com/aptonline/?request=get-abstract&issn=0045-8511&volume=003&issue=04&page=0824"]Tetsumi Takahashi's and Kazuhiro Nakayaa's Abstract[/URL] (Details differences between Gibberosa and Frontosa)
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PostSubject: Re: Frontosa Cichlid   Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:29 am

Very informative mga bosing! thumbs up

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