The Calvus Cichlid Resource

Calvus Cichlid

“Calvus Cichlid” is the common name for the Altolamprologus Calvus species.

Congo Blackfin
Calvus Cichlid © 2015 Aqua-Treff

Adult size: 5-6 inches
Minimum tank size: 40 gallon
pH: 8.0-9.0
Temperature: 73-77°F (23-25°C)
Decor: Rocks, Driftwood, and Caves
Substrate: Sand
Lighting: 8-10 hrs/day
Diet: Carnivore

How to Keep Calvus Cichlids


The most important thing to consider when keeping Calvus Cichlids is their diet. Without a proper well balance diet your fish will not thrive. Calvus Cichlids are carnivores, so their diet regimen should consist of a variety of meaty foods.

They should be fed twice per day – for a total of 14 feedings per week. For a majority of the feedings, they should be fed a staple food consisting of either flakes or pellets. For the other feedings, they should be fed special foods.

During each feeding, they should be fed as much food as they can eat in 2 minutes. The exact foods they should be fed varies, depending on their size:

Of course, this is just our feeding method. You are more than welcome to design your own diet regimen for your Calvus Cichlids. In either case though, ensure you:


If you adopt Calvus Cichlids from a contaminated source, your aquarium may become infected. As a result, you need to ensure you only adopt ones that are kept in a healthy environment.

They can be adopted from:

Before adopting them, understand:

  • Calvus Cichlids have an average life expectancy of 6-10 years.
  • There are several different color variations of the Calvus Cichlid which results in many different common names, such as: White Pearly Calvus, Black Calvus, Congo Blackfin, Yellow Calvus, and Tanganyika Blackfin.

Tank Requirements

• Tank Size & Population Density

If your Calvus Cichlids are in an aquarium that is overstocked, they will become stressed – weakening their immune systems – causing them to be more prone to diseases, and they won’t grow to their appropriate size. A good rule to follow is one inch of fish per gallon of water, but keep in mind:

  • Calvus Cichlids must be kept in at least a 40 gallon aquarium.
  • Calvus Cichlids eventually grow to be 3-4 inches long.

How do I setup a fish tank? (Opens new tab)
How do I determine the size of my aquarium? (Opens new tab)

• Canopy & Lighting

The canopy of your aquarium ensures:

  • Your fish don’t jump out of your aquarium.
  • No contaminates enter your aquarium.

As a result, equip your aquarium with a canopy that completely covers it.

As far as lighting goes, if you want your Calvus Cichlids to be most comfortable, the amount of light they get needs to mimic the amount of sunlight they receive in their natural habitat. The amount of time you should leave their aquarium’s lights on to achieve this varies. If it’s in a room that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, you should turn their lights on during sunlight hours. However, if it’s is in a well-lit room, then 2-3 hours per day is all that is necessary.

Decor & Substrate

When keeping Calvus Cichlids, they will thrive if you decorate their aquarium with decor and substrate that mimics their natural habitat.

The natural decor for them consists mainly of rocks, so you should add plenty of them to their aquarium. In addition, you can also add decorative pieces such as driftwood and plants. When arranging these things though, you need to ensure you:

  • Place the decor so that it creates plenty of caves and hiding places.
  • Place the decor in a fashion that allows you to see them – don’t create a barrier for them to hide behind.

The natural substrate for them is sand so, you should fill their aquarium with it. With that being said though, gravel is still a suitable option for them. In either case, you need to ensure you:

  • Clean their substrate beforehand. Otherwise, the residue that is on it will make their aquarium cloudy.
  • Fill their aquarium with at least 2 inches of substrate.

Water Parameters

If the water in your Calvus Cichlids’ aquarium doesn’t reflect that of their natural habitat, they can become stressed – weakening their immune systems – causing them to be more prone to diseases. As a result, you need to ensure their aquarium has a pH level of 8.0-9.0 and a temperature of 73-77°F (23-25°C).

• pH
pH can be measured by using a Freshwater Master Test Kit. If you measure your water’s pH level and it needs to be altered: remove your fish, adjust the pH, then acclimate your fish back into your aquarium – since they are sensitive to drastic changes of pH.

• Temperature
To measure your aquarium’s water temperature, equip your aquarium with an aquarium thermometer.

Ammonia, Nitrites, & Nitrates

The subject of Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates tends to be very dry. In its simplest form, they are all a byproduct of fish waste (fish poop & uneaten food) and are toxic to Calvus Cichlids. As a result, you need to ensure their aquarium has:

  • An Ammonia concentration of 0-0.2 mg/L.
  • A Nitrite concentration of 0-0.2 mg/L.
  • A Nitrate concentration of 0-20 mg/L.

If you need to test these concentrations, use a Freshwater Master Test Kit.

If you need to reduce these concentrations, ensure proper:

Health Issues

Calvus Cichlids are most-commonly affected by Ich or Malawi Bloat.

Tank Mates

Calvus Cichlids are fairly aggressive so they should only be kept with other cichlids that are similar in size. They are competitive eaters so slower moving fish probably won’t last with them.

If you are unsure as to whether or not two fish are compatible, use this Compatibility Chart.


How to Breed Calvus Cichlids

Reproduction Process

Calvus cichlids reach sexual maturity when they are 1-2 years old. They are an egg laying species. Though cases of polygamy have been observed, this species is generally a monogamous one. A male and female will pair off early in life and remain mates all throughout.

The reproduction process begins with the female laying the eggs in the substrate. She does this in a cave or cavern that only she is able to fit in and not the male. Once the eggs are deposited, the male will release his sperm outside of the cave and the pair of cichlids will fan the sperm towards the eggs with their fins.

Spawns can yield anywhere from 50-200 eggs. The eggs hatch after 1-2 days and the fry become free swimming within 8-10 days. During this time the female remains in the cave near the eggs while the male patrols the perimeter. Once the fish are swimming it is not uncommon for the male to eat some of the fry, the female will usually leave the fry alone though.

Our Recommended Breeding Technique

Required Aquariums:

  • 40 gallon (breeder)
  • 10 gallon (grow-out)


  • Begin by purchasing a group of 4-6 juveniles. They need to be purchased young because they pair off with their mates at an early age. Pairs will begin to form when they are 1-2 years old.
  • After the reproduction process occurs, wait 2 days to ensure the eggs are fertilized. Once you are sure they are fertilized, you may want to place a divider in the tank to keep the male from eating the fry.
  • After 8-10 days the fry will be free swimming. Once this happens, remove the fry and place them in a 10 gallon grow out aquarium. This aquarium should not have any decorations or substrate, this makes it easier for the baby fry to eat. It should also have a sponge filter so they don’t get sucked up.
  • In the early stages, it is best to feed the fry New Life Spectrum Small Fry Starter.


Other Information About Calvus Cichlids



The Calvus cichlid is endemic to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. Their body type gives them the ability to swim throughout tight spaces in the rocks, which is where they spend most of their time.

There are several different variants and color morphs that exist. They are commonly mistaken for the Altolamprologus compressiceps due to their very similar body types.

Conservation Status

The Conservation Status of Calvus Cichlids was most recently published in 2006 as near threatened, according to the IUCN.

Taxonomic Status

The Taxonomic Status of Calvus Cichlids was most recently published in 1978 by Max Poll as the following:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae
Sub-Family: Pseudocrenilabrinae
Tribe: Lamprologini
Genus: Altolamprologus
Species: A. Calvus


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