Cyrtocara moorii 


There are a few sites that talk about these species but not one i can find contains all of the information in one place.


 I keep a specimen tank of Cyrtocara moorii  or as they have been come to be known as blue Dolphin cichlids, and the purpose of this page is for anyone who keeps or would like to keep them can learn everything there is to know !  Also im mad on them and want to share what i know to help the fish community.

Heres The Basics...


-           95% males grow up to 8 inch (F1 can go up to 10, biggest i have ever heard of was 12!)

-          Females grow to 6.5 inch (again f1 slightly more)

-          Growth rate is dependent on diet and feeding pattern i feed mine twice a day on tetra prima and a blend of sometimes blood worm sometimes king british flake and alot of the time hikari cichlid gold sinking pellets... On this they grow  5-8mm a month until they get to 4inch then the slow down growing around 3-4mm a month 

-      To tell male and female apart simply look at the dorsal fin if it goes further than the beginning of the tale fine then this is a male 9 times out of 10 this is how to tell and the only way i have found able to tell without venting them. both male and female develop a hump so they will always look similar the male will out grow the female however. 

-      they are mouth brooders like other Malawi cichlids and very good parents the female should be moved to a tank of her own when she is carrying eggs in her gullet but she can be left with the fry as she will look after them even after they are free swimming, each evening when the tank lights are turned off she scoops the young back into her mouth for safety through the night.

-      They grow big, so they need a good size aquarium, its best if they were kept in something like a 6ft x 2ftx 2ft as its nice and long for them, however i keep mine in both a 6x2x2 and also in  a 4ft x 2ft by 2.5ft tank... and they are very happy, it comes down to water quantity they really need minimum 200L but the more the better... in my 4x2x2.5 there is a sump under that is 3x2x2 and its all connected meaning my fish think there in a huge 800L tank and are very happy. 

-       they love to swim !!!! make sure rocks are kept to the out skirts of the tank so they have room to swim and also if you want to keep them really happy  get a duel wave maker (12000 lph) off ebay for around £18... put that in there to make a currant for them and watch them swim hard against it, they seem to love swimming and playing in the currant...    

(if you want to go even better, then after you get the wave maker.. zip tie an air-stone to the bottom of it so that when you turn it on it fires air bubbles into the currant... dose wonders for the tank oxygen levels and helps freshen the water here is a photo of one in my 6x2x2 tank)    

Cyrtocara moorii, Breeding and fry

A male Cyrtocara moorii will dig a small pit or look for a smooth stone... Slate is often a winner, the male with then develop his mating colors this is a dark blue color... even his fins will go darker it looks very impressive and you will notice straight away when he dose. 

He then will swim over to the female of his choice and the vibrate his body in a seizure looking way with all his fins up in full display of the female, if she is impressed and conditions right she will follow him to the rock or pit and they will begin to circle each other  as you can watch in the video under the text. 



Breeding in a pit (notice the bodge under the females mouth as she collects the fertilized eggs in her mouth.  

Tricks to get the breeding going  

A Female will be ready normally at around 2.5 inches at the youngest 

A Male will be ready at also 2.5 inches but both of them are much better at breeding at around 4 inches.  

you  can't  force it, its down the fish when there ready but there are some tricks that can do to speed things along a little.... 

Trick 1 :  Do a 50% water change the fresh water sudden change makes them thing its the wet season at triggers there baby making urges...  

Trick 2:  Put a mirror up against the tank glass... when the male spots it he gets angry and it brings out the same amazing colors as if he was trying to impress a female... keep the mirror there for at least a minute while the male go mad and try's to lock his jaw against what he thinks is a threatening male, then take the mirror away and let him calm down... he should then start chasing females to plant his seed before the other male(the mirror) comes back, after all it all about who's the boss in there world and if he has already had all the females then he is the boss.  

( one thing to note is that the male will get wise to this trick if the mirror is left to long or used to often, if your male doesn't attack then its because its not the dominant male in the tank or because its a been mistaken and must be a female) 

Trick 3:  This Trick depends on your tanks temperature, if your tank is 28C or above then try bringing it down slowly (1C an hour!) to 26C if your tank is 25C then bring the temp up again slowly ! to 27-28C make this change and check the fish every hour after for while to make sure there ok with it they should be fine, leave the temp this way for a week or so and hopefully you will see some breeding take place. 

Note : breeding wont work if your fish are not mature enough for it, try these 3 tricks and it should work if they are ready, if no breeding takes place Do not be dis heartened then may simply need more time to mature before they are ready and also make sure your not really unlucky and have all males or all females... 

Fry care and what you need to know

Fry grow 2mm a week normally. 

The mother is a very good parent, she will work hard to protect her baby' s, its best when a female is pregnant to catch her after about 16 days of holding the eggs in her mouth. move a net very slowly to catch her, any sudden movements or scaring her she may spite out the eggs, 

(this is normally fetal as other tank mate see a quick meal but try pulling out all nets quickly and leaving the room, come back 5 minuets later and see if she has picked them back up again sometimes you get real lucky)   

Using two different color nets to trick the female slowly catch her at move her to her own tank or to the other side of a divider, give her a cave and lots of cover so she feels safe, after 21 days normally the eggs hatch and the mother lets them free for sort periods of time, if you come up quickly to the tank she will gather them back in her mouth as she feels threatened, it may be an idea to give her more cover if this keeps happening...  

The Fry are not fussy eaters its important to feed them the right thing however, i feed mine with king British flake food that i crush up to tiny tiny powder like pieces then push a small amount under the water so that it sinks down to them. another thing to feed them would be decapsulated Brine Shrimp Eggs these can be bought on eBay at around £3 for 50g, the fry grow at a good rate, there first development is there eyes you will see on day 1 most have just black dots but after day 3 they should all have proper eyes and be around 1cm in length.  

Here is a video of Cyrtocara moorii fry on there first day of being let go from there mothers mouth. 

most of the time Cyrtocara moorii feed well in the right conditions good size tank ect will grow 2mm a week ! until they get to 4 inches and then they slow down.

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