Fun Blue Dolphin Cichlid Facts For Kids

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
May 01, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma
Blue dolphin cichlid facts, about the fish known by the scientific name, Cyrtocara moorii.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

Are you in search of a colorful, unique, and eye-catching fish to add to your large fish tank? A Blue dolphin cichlid can be a beautiful addition to your aquarium if you can afford the space. You may be wondering about keeping a dolphin in an aquarium! It is not an actual dolphin but a medium-sized fish, which got its name due to its snout that is shaped like that of a dolphin.

Cichlids have several other names for their appearance, origin, and color. They are commonly called hump-head mouth brooders about their lump on the forehead. They are also known as Malawi dolphins as they are widespread in Lake Malawi in East Africa. Their scientific name Cyrtocara moorii is given in honor of the English cytologist and biologist, John Edmund Sharrock Moore. They are formerly known as Haplochromis moorii.

As you go through our article, you can learn the care and instructions to raise these cichlids in your aquarium. If you are curious about other kinds of fish, check our articles on yellowfin tuna facts and tetra facts.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a blue dolphin cichlid?

A Cyrtocara moorii, also known as hump head, is a medium-sized cichlid fish of the family Cichlidae.

What class of animal does a blue dolphin cichlid belong to?

A Cyrtocara moorii belongs to the class of Actinopterygii.

How many blue dolphin cichlids are there in the world?

The exact number of these fish species in the world is unknown, but they are prevalent in Lake Malawi in Africa.

Where does a blue dolphin cichlid live?

A Cyrtocara moorii lives in areas with sandy substrates of Lake Malawi in East Africa.

What is a blue dolphin cichlid's habitat?

The blue dolphin cichlid's preferred habitat is a place with sandy substrates across the coastal areas, with depths ranging from 10-49 ft (3-14 m).

Who does the Blue dolphin cichlid live with?

A Malawi blue dolphin can cohabitate with large species of the same cichlid tribe, such as Fossorochromis rostratus and Taeniolethrinops laticeps. This medium-sized African cichlid fish takes advantage of sharing space with large cichlids by snacking on the morsels rooted out by the larger ones.

How long does a blue dolphin cichlid live?

A Malawi dolphin lives for nearly ten years.

How do they reproduce?

Malawi blue dolphins are sexually mature at three, and hereafter they breed regularly. Like most fish species, cichlids reproduce by spawning. Male cichlids, which are usually brighter blue than females, display deep, brighter colors to attract females. Males decide the breeding place, usually a flat rock or stone, or sometimes dig a pit in which the females lay their eggs. Then, the male fertilizes the eggs.

Female Malawi blue dolphins, being mouth breeders, scoop up the eggs into their mouths for incubation. The brood remains in their mouths for another one to three weeks, even after hatching. Young females can breed 15-25 fries while the older ones can produce up to 80 fries. After hatching, the fry enjoys free swimming, and they feed on brine shrimp.

What is their conservation status?

As per IUCN red list, the conservation status of blue dolphin African cichlid is Vulnerable.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Fun Facts

What does a blue dolphin cichlid look like?

A Blue dolphin cichlid is sexually mature at age three.

A Malawi blue dolphin is moderate-size fish with a sturdy, wide-body, and tapered snout. Their snout looks similar to a dolphin, so Malawi blue dolphins and blue dolphin cichlid are the other names given to them. Cichlids are full blue color, and depending on their origin, they have a different amount of black marks on their back and fins. Male cichlids are brighter in color than females. The deep color of males is the only feature to differentiate from females, but it may not be accurate in all cases.

Males and females, as they grow, develop a lump on their forehead, which is also called a cranial or nuchal hump. About this nuchal hump, cichlids are commonly called hump-heads. Like some saltwater fish, they also have a set of pharyngeal teeth in their throat along with their regular ones. To help with the predators, they have spiny rays behind their pelvic, pectoral, dorsal, and anal fins. These fins have soft front parts perfect for effortless swimming. They have a set of nostrils, one on each side, using which it smells the water by sucking water inside and expelling after some time. Some other freshwater fish also share the same feature.

How cute are they?

They are good-sized and good-looking fishes to add to your aquarium, the bright blue color adds beauty to the space. In addition, their dolphin-like snout and cranial hump make them exceptionally unique.

How do they communicate?

Male cichlids turn brighter than usual to communicate with females to invite them for mating. These cichlids express their intolerance by being aggressive towards tank mates. The females become aggressive at the time of breeding and spawning.

How big is a blue dolphin cichlid?

A hump-head mouthbrooder is nearly 7.9 in (20 cm) long. The blue dolphin cichlid's size can be 10 in (25 cm). Malawi blue dolphins are three times smaller than Boulengerochromis microlepis, the world's largest cichlids.

How fast can a blue dolphin cichlid swim?

The exact velocity of their swimming is not measured, but they are pretty good swimmers. The soft front part of their fins helps them with easy movement in the water. They swim at the bottom and middle level in an aquarium, and they require more open space for swimming.

How much does a blue dolphin cichlid weigh?

There is no concise information available on the weight of the blue dolphin cichlid. However, the maximum weighing cichlid was recorded at 10 lb (4.5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

This species does not have any particular name for males and females and, in general, is called a female cichlid and a male cichlid.

What would you call a baby blue dolphin cichlid?

A baby of this species has no particular name, but baby fish in general are called fry.

What do they eat?

Cichlids are carnivorous and prey on benthic invertebrates. Therefore, they must be given various foods when kept in aquariums like tablet foods, flake foods, and live or frozen food. High protein food like brine shrimp, blood worms, and pieces of prawns and earthworms can keep them healthy. High-quality pellets can also supplement their regular diet. It is advisable to give three to five small portions than one large meal to maintain its health.

Are they poisonous?

Cichlids are not poisonous and can make good tank mates to similar-sized cichlids. They neither bite nor are dangerous but may sometimes behave in a semi-aggressive way.

Would they make a good pet?

African cichlids are always an excellent addition to improve aquarium beauty and can be made a good pet. This is one of the more peaceful cichlids. However, one needs to take proper care for them to thrive long in our fish tank. Many parameters like lighting, temperature, and hardness of water are needed to be maintained in aquariums.

There are specific care instructions to keep these fish happy and healthy pets. This peaceful fish can be handled by a person who is not much experienced in cichlids. They need a good-sized fish tank appropriate for them, regular water changes, and suitable tank mates.

These fish are native to Lake Malawi, so we have to make sure that tank parameters like temperature, hardness, ph, have to match Lake Malawi's water. The temperature should range from 73-82 F, pH should be between 7.2-8.8, and hardness is 1o -18d GH. Water movement and lighting should be moderate. They need an aquarium with a minimum capacity of 75 gallons, and the tank has to be at least five feet long. They can go well in either freshwater or brackish freshwater but with regular filtration. Bad-quality water can spoil their eyes. A sand substrate would make a perfect base for the aquarium as these fish love digging and hiding in the sand. Sand used for saltwater fish can improve the pH of water, and maintaining pH above neutral is very important. However, higher ph means more ammonia which means more harmful water. So regular water changes in the aquarium are a must for cichlids. Sand used for freshwater fish can also be used. Crushed coral or aragonite sand can also be used as the aquarium base, as they dissolve more quickly than salts and maintain the required hardness and ph.

Did you know...

Among all cichlids, the rarest one is the Cichlasoma beani, which is the most desirable among fish keepers but very difficult to procure.

There is a need to provide some rock or woodwork as caves so they can hide. But, you should not clutter the aquarium with more rock works as open space is very important. As these fish tend to dig the substrate, plants and rock showpieces have to touch the bottom of the aquarium and not on the substrate. Though it is not a community fish, it can be kept along with other similar species like Frontosa and some catfish like Synodontis catfish.

Like other fish species, Cyrtocara moorii is also prone to some diseases, and the itch is one of them. The itch can be healed in the early stages by increasing the temperature to 86F by gradually increasing one degree per hour for three days.

Are blue dolphin cichlids aggressive?

Yes, cichlids are not community fish and are semi-aggressive with their tank buddies, especially during breeding time.

Do humans eat them?

Humans do not eat cichlids, and they are very much sought-after fish in aquarium trading. In addition, many fishkeepers desire to pet them in their aquarium.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these catfish facts and rockfish facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our blue dolphin cichlid coloring pages.

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Invertebrates, small fishes, shrimps, worms

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

Young female: 25 Old female: 80

How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

coastal, rift lake

Where Do They Live?

east africa

How Long Were They?

10 in (25 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Crytocara moorii

What Do They Look Like?

Blue, black

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

large predator fish

What is their Conservation Status?

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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