1. Home
  2. Fun Animal Facts
  3. Bumblebee Cichlid: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!


Bumblebee Cichlid: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Bumblebee cichlid facts about this mouthbrooder species are interesting.

The bumblebee cichlid (Pseudotropheus crabro) is a part of the mbuna family found in Lake Malawi, South Africa. The cichlid family has the largest number of species within its group. They have been a source of fascination for a lot of scientists because of the diversity in their phenotype expression. They are being studied to understand the underlying evolutionary consequences.

Bumblebee cichlids are bottom dwellers, specialized in cleaning parasites. Often found cohabiting with kampango catfish, it eats their eggs and fry. It exhibits aggressive behavior by changing its color to jet black. The male and female are distinguishable by the size of their anal fin. This is a mouthbrooder species, which means the female carries her fry in her mouth during the length of the incubation period. It is also quite famous for its aesthetic nature and is kept as a pet in a tank.

Read on to know more about its tank care such as food preference, water conditions, and other interesting facts. If you liked learning about this freshwater species, consider reading articles on tarpon facts and seahorse facts.

Bumblebee Cichlid Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Bumblebee Cichlid?

Bumblebee Cichlid, Pseudotropheus crabro, or maylandia crabro, is a cichlid species of fish.  

What class of animal does a Bumblebee Cichlid belong to?

The bumblebee cichlid belongs to the class Actinopterygii. Fish of this class also known as ray fin fish, based on their bony fins.

How many Bumblebee Cichlids are there in the world?

While an exact estimate of the population is not available, the International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN Red List Assessment shows its population to be stable.

Where does a Bumblebee Cichlid live?

Bumblebee cichlids are endemic to Lake Malawi, in East Africa. Other areas where it can be found are West Reed, Chiyamwezi, Chinyankwazi, Maleri, Nkata Bay, and the Likoma and Chusumulu Islands. While it covers a wide range, its distribution is not uniform. Its geographical region is within the bounds of Mara rocks in the northeast and Hongi Island in the north.

The bumblebee cichlid has become a popular choice for a tank or an aquarium. Therefore, it can be found in homes as well.

What is a Bumblebee Cichlid's habitat?

The bumblebee cichlid (Pseudotropheus crabro) occurs in freshwater systems. It occurs in wetlands. These mbuna fish are known to be found in caves and in the vicinity of large boulders. The presence of the catfish (Bafrus meridionalis), also known as the kampong, is an indicator of the presence of the bumblebee cichlid. It lives in dark caves and spawns in that area.

Since these fish also live in aquariums, here are some of its ideal conditions. It needs enough space to develop fully and roam around freely. It requires a minimum tank size of 50 gallons. If several fish are to kept together as tank mates, then a larger aquarium of about 100 gallons would be better. Fill this tank with brackish water for the best outcome for your fish.

The aquarium should be designed in a way that resembles its natural habitat; it can be decorated with small caves, crevices, and cracks.  Water quality should be maintained with a robust filtration system and frequent water changes should be done. Each cycle should cater to 20-40 % water change. These fish prefer some movement in the water. The pH level should be on the higher end of the spectrum but not excessively high which may result in poor water quality.

The substrate can be made up of coral sand or aragonite. This keeps the water quality brackish. However, a darker or black substrate allows the fish to be more comfortable in its environment and show off colors.

Who do Bumblebee Cichlids live with?

Bumblebee cichlids can be found cohabiting with the kampong in its natural, fresh-water environment.

In terms of aquarium setting, the following guidelines may help. Suitable tank mates for bumblebee cichlids include other species of the African cichlid family. This precaution is taken because of their aggressive tendencies. Care should be taken to not overpopulate the aquarium. The sex ratio should be tilted in favor of females. For every one male, there should be at least six females.

How long does a Bumblebee Cichlid live?

If kept in a regulated aquarium environment with suitable temperature and water conditions, these fish may live up to 10 years.

How do they reproduce?

Ray fish like the hornet cichlids are oviparous. In the wild, the cichlids are known to engage in various types of pairs- they can be monogamous, polygamous, and even form a harem. The males tend to be dominant during the breeding period and at times its temperament- aggressive. Hornet cichlid is a mouthbrooder, which essentially means that the female fish will carry the eggs and fry in its mouth to protect from predators. Females spawn in dark caves which are not easily observable.

Bumblebee cichlid breeding is easy within tanks. It is advisable to keep the minimum tank size to be 50-75 gallons while breeding. Larger space will ensure space or marked territory for each female. A higher female-to-make ratio is also recommended. The eggs are incubated for 17-21 days which results in fry. The young have a better chance of survival if there is a lot of undergrowth or plants at the bottom of the tank. Once they grow, they can be given crushed flakes as feed. It is imperative to remove the young males once they are grown. Otherwise, the fight for dominance will most definitely render them hurt, or even killed. Frequent water changes tend to increase breeding frequency. Lowering the temperature to mimic springtime weather can induce breeding.

What is their conservation status?

According to the 2018 International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN Red List assessment, bumblebee cichlids are categorized as of Least Concern. Its population trends seem to be stable. However, concerns about overindulgence in trade and marketing have been raised.

Bumblebee Cichlid Fun Facts

What does Bumblebee Cichlid look like?

Bumblebee cichlid requires frequent water changes.

Bumblebee cichlids, or hornet cichlids, are very intriguing freshwater fish. It is widely known for its ability to change colors. Let us review the different shades it takes on according to its mood. The young have a pattern of yellow and black stripes along their body length. The adult or the dominant male can take on shades from pale yellow to dark black. Bumblebee cichlids are bottom dwellers, i.e. they feed on parasites. They often share their habitat with large catfish, kampango. When they want to appear as submissive fish, they take on the pale yellow pattern so as to not appear harmful or attract attention. However, when they wish to attack its eggs, it takes on a dark color to blend with the surface.

In the aquarium, the male fish would change color if it is in an aggressive mood. This would be in instances wherein they want to pick a fight with other males or breed with females.

It is 5.9 in (15.01 cm) in length and is considered to be medium in size. Males tend to have a longer length of the anal fin and have four egg spots that distinguish them.

How cute are they?

Baby bumblebee cichlids are really cute.

How do they communicate?

Cichlids express their varying behavioral states using body color. Jet black when aggressive, pale yellow for placid moods, and normally yellow with black stripes. Some experts have tried to link the results of the Malawi mbuna study to cichlids. Studies have suggested that the auditory channel may play an important in communication within this species.

How big is a Bumblebee Cichlid?

The bumblebee cichlid is 5.9 in (15.01 cm). This mbuna fish is approximately seven times smaller than the kampango catfish it cohabits with.

How fast can a Bumblebee Cichlid swim?

Its fins are formed in a manner that allows comfortable rather than fast swimming. Bumblebee cichlid or hornet prefer some amount of water movement if kept in a tank.

How much does a Bumblebee Cichlid weigh?

Bumblebee cichlid (Pseudotropheus crabro) weight 5.1-9.2 oz (145-261 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Separate names for the male and female mbuna fish are not used. They are distinguished by fin size and egg spots.

What would you call a baby Bumblebee Cichlid?

A young bumblebee cichlid is called fry.

What do they eat?

These mbuna fish are bottom dwellers. They have an omnivorous diet. They feed on parasites, fish eggs, larvae, and fry of other fish at the bottom of the sea. They also eat small plants. If kept in an aquarium, they should be provided with a balanced diet including vegetables, some meat, tablet or pallets, flake food, and certain live food like spirulina, brine shrimp, and worms.

The frequency of feeding should be several times a day, this ensures a healthy diet.

Are they poisonous?

No, bumblebee cichlids are not known to be poisonous.

Do humans eat them?

No, humans do not eat this fish.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, the bumblebee African cichlid is a popular choice amongst aquarium keepers. This choice is good for intermediate or experienced individuals because bumblebee cichlid care is relatively easy. Certain things need to be kept in mind to ensure its longevity and easy cohabitation.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

First of all, the minimum tank size fit for these mbuna fish is 50-70 gallons of water. The ideal temperature is 76-82° F. If you wish for your fish to breed, the temperature can be brought down to mimic the natural environment of the spring season. Water conditions should be brackish with a pH level between 7.6-8.6. The substrate can be made out of fine gravel and rocks.

Did you know...

These fish are sometimes referred to as chameleon cichlids on account of their ability to change color.

Why do bumblebee cichlids turn black?

This unique feature exhibited by these fish has boggled scientists for a long time. Biologists believe this mechanism has evolutionary consequences.

How to tell the difference between an African cichlid male and female bumblebee cichlid?

The male cichlid is longer with blue markings, whereas the females have yellow markings. The males of the species have a large anal fin and four egg spots as compared to the female who has small fins and only two egg spots. The males tend to exhibit aggressive behavior by changing their color to black.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including barramundi facts and bonito fish facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bumblebee cichild coloring pages.

Get The Kidadl Newsletter
1,000's of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

By joining Kidadl you agree to Kidadl’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receiving marketing communications from Kidadl.

In need of more inspiration?