The Red Empress Cichlid Resource

Red Empress

Red Empress Cichlid“Red Empress Cichlid” is the common name for the Protmelas Taeniolatus species.

Adult size: 5-6 inches
Minimum tank size: 100 gallon
pH: 7.5-8.5
Temperature: 73-82°F (23-28°C)
Decor: Rocks, Driftwood, and Plants
Substrate: Sand
Lighting: 8-10 hrs/day
Diet: Omnivore

How To Keep Red Empress Cichlids
How To Breed Red Empress Cichlids
Other Information About Red Empress Cichlids


How to Keep Red Empress Cichlids


If you adopt Red Empress 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:

  • Red Empress Cichlids have an average life expectancy of 7-10 years.
  • Red Empress Cichlids may be identified under the common names of: Spindle Hap and Super Red Empress

Tank Requirements

• Tank Size & Population Density

If your Red Empress 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. As a result, you need to follow the rule of one inch of fish per gallon of water, but keep in mind:

  • Red Empress Cichlids must be kept in at least a 75 gallon aquarium when they are less than 1 year old.
  • Red Empress Cichlids must be kept in at least a 100 gallon aquarium when they are more than 1 year old.
  • Red Empress Cichlids grow to be 5-6 inches long

How do I setup a fish tank? (Opens new tab)
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• 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 Red Empress 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 Red Empress 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.
  • Make sure there are plenty of open swimming areas.
  • 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 Red Empress 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 7.5-8.5 and a temperature of 73-82°F (23-28°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 Red Empress 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:


Red Empress Cichlids are omnivores, so their diet regimen should consist of meats and vegetables.

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 2-3 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 for your Red Empress Cichlids. In either case though, ensure you:

Health Issues

Red Empress Cichlids are most-commonly infected by Ich, bacterial infections, or parasites.

Tank Mates

If you are keeping them with other Red Empress Cichlids then it is best to to maintain a male to female ratio of 1 male – 3 females. This ensures the males aggression is spread out enough among the females. Keep in mind though, if you have more than 2-3 of them, they require at least a 200 gallon aquarium.

In regards to keeping Red Empress Cichlids with other kinds of fish, they are a relatively peaceful fish, so you should keep them with other peaceful community fish. Examples of good tank mates include:

  • Venustus Haps
  • Livingston’s Cichlids
  • Blood Parrot Cichlids
  • Pictus Catfish
  • Ropefish
  • Lake Malawi cichlids that have a peaceful nature

If you are ever unsure if two species are compatible or not, check this Compatibility Chart.


How to Breed Red Empress Cichlids

Reproduction Process

Red Empress Cichlids are sexually mature enough to breed once they are 8-9 months old. The reproduction process begins with the male digging a pit in the sand or claiming ownership over a flat surface. After this is done, the male will begin chasing females close to him in an effort to get them to follow him to the area he has prepared. As a female follows him to the area he has prepared, both of the fish will either shimmy their bodies together.

After their dancing is done, the female will lay a batch of 40-50 eggs in the pit of sand or flat surface that the male has prepared while immediately picking them up in her mouth afterwards. After she does this, she’ll grab the male’s anal fin with her mouth. When this happens, she stimulates the male to release a cloud of sperm into her mouth which officially fertilizes the eggs.

The fertilized eggs will stay in the female’s mouth for 21 to 28 days – or until the fry are free-swimming. During this time, it’s not common for the female to eat anything as she does not want to swallow any of her eggs/fry.

After the 21-28 days are up, the fry are officially released from the mother’s mouth and are protected by both of the parents. As a matter of fact, both of the parents will set up “stations” that the young fish swim between. This allows them to feel protected while still being able to swim around.

Our Recommended Breeding Technique

Required Aquariums:

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


  • Decorate a 200 gallon aquarium with several flat surfaces. Doing so, makes it easier for them to lay & fertilize their eggs.
  • Place 1 male and 2-4 female Red Empress Cichlids into the aquarium and provide them with the appropriate aquarium setting.
  • After the spawning has occurred the female will hold the eggs in her mouth for 21-28 days. Once the fry are free swimming, relocate them to a 10 gallon grow-out aquarium.
  • If you have a female who is a poor holder, strip her of her eggs 3-5 days after she begins holding them in her mouth. Then, place the eggs in an Egg Tumbler.
  • The 10 gallon growout 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 Red Empress Cichldis


Red Empress Cichlids were first discovered in Lake Malawi, Africa. Following their discovery, they were exported to enter the aquarium trade. Besides the aquarium, today they can be found in within Lake Malawi, Africa, Mozambique, Africa, and within the United Republic of Tanzania, Africa.

Conservation Status

The Conservation Status of Red Empress Cichlids was most recently published in 2006 as Least Concern, according to the IUCN.

Taxonomic Status

The Taxonomic Status of Red Empress Cichlids was most recently published in 1935 by Ethelwynn Trewavas as:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae
Subfamily: Pseudocrenilabrinae
Genus: Protmelas
Species: P. Taeniolatus



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