White Spotted Cichlid – Species Profile & Facts

Tropheus duboisi cichlid has many different names: Duboisi African cichlid, or white spotted cichlid.

This fish is an incredibly interesting fish species and is a great option for those who want to have a fish that will change colors throughout the course of their lives.

They are certainly a fascinating fish to own and observe as they grow up.

When they are juvenile, they will usually be black-ish with white spots all over their bodies. However, as they grow up, their colors will start to change completely.

They will go from black-white to blue-ish. Their head will become blue, and an almost entirely black body with a white mid-section stripe, making them a unique sight in your aquarium.

But if you’re someone who wants to know more about this fish – how to care for it, and how it behaves, and more things about the fish, then you’re in the right place.

They are certainly a nice fish to look at, but there are some things to keep in mind when you want to keep this fish.

They can become territorial and relatively aggressive, but if you do everything right, then you should experience little to no problems at all.

White Spotted Cichlid Natural Habitat

The white spotted cichlid, or the tropheus duboisi cichlid, is a fish that’s endemic to the waters of the Lake Tanganyika in Africa.

These fish were relatively unknown until the mid-20th century. They were completely discovered as a species in 1959 by Marlier. Since then, they became a very popular fish species worldwide.

In their natural environment, you will most likely find them in coastal, rocky areas of the lake. However, you are unlikely to encounter the fish in the wild, as they are deemed as vulnerable (VU).

That’s why you should keep a close attention on how you care for the fish – throughout the years of human interaction and with other species, they have become vulnerable.

Most likely, these fish will find themselves at depths between 9-49 feet, although they can go much deeper than that.

The deepest they have been found at is 96 feet. In their natural habitat, they are most likely to seek out natural vegetable food sources – algae, most likely.

And you won’t find them over sandy areas, as they prefer to live in a rocky environment.

These fish are lively fish that are likely to swim around actively, but they have been known for being territorial and aggressive on occasions.

White Spotted Cichlid Tank Requirements

The most important thing with this fish is that you give them enough space. Normally, the tank requirement for a single fish is 50 gallons.

That’s because they like to swim around actively, but the thing is that they can also become relatively aggressive towards other fish in the tank. Even though they are not the largest fish in the world (5”), they will demand quite a lot of space.

Keeping this fish is certainly not meant for beginners. In addition to their relatively aggressive behavior, they are known for easily contracting various infections and health problems.

They will do best if they are kept with other fish species from the same genus, although they can co-exist with other fish species, provided they have enough space.

They like to live in groups – 10 of them, most likely, but you will need to keep just one male for every 10 fish.

That’s because the males will actively chase and seek out female fish, and these fish will get quite a lot of stress when this happens. Make sure they get enough space.

They will do well in freshwater or slightly brackish water. Sometimes, salt is added to the water, and you’ll also require to make regular water changes.

The best substrate for these fish is gravel, although you can also consider sand. Normal lighting is ok, and you can also provide a slightly more powerful light source, although not too powerful.

  • Tank size: 75 gallons for a group of fish
  • Substrate: Gravel/sand
  • Lighting: Normal – moderate lighting
  • Plants: Yes (sword plants, anubias, water fern, Java fern)
  • Rocks: Yes

White Spotted Cichlid Water Conditions

So now that we know how to set up the tank properly, let’s take a look at how to maintain the proper water conditions.

The crucial thing here is to take care of the proper water temperatures. You’ll want to provide tropical water conditions, which means relatively high water temperatures (from 72 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit).

And, you’ll want to keep the PH relatively high – between 7.8 and 9. This is the best water setting for these fish, and it’s what they usually experience in the wild.

In terms of hardness, it should be between 10-20 KH. This is the best hardness, although it can vary. One thing that you’ll want to make sure is to provide powerful filtration with a moderate water flow.

Having an adjustable flow rate on your filter will be helpful, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to use the filter at the highest powers.

If you will want to keep the water clean constantly, then you want to make sure you get a very strong filter for the aquarium. Another thing to keep in mind is to get a heater if you’re not capable of maintaining the water temperatures naturally in the desired levels for the fish.

Regular water maintenance will also be important. Make sure you make regular water changes and cycles – weekly or biweekly will work best, most likely. Although you’ll need to make constant and regular water checks to make sure the water is at the desired levels.

  • Water temperature: 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Acidity: 7.8 – 9 Ph
  • Hardness: 10-20 KH
  • Filtration: strong
  • Water flow: Moderate

White Spotted Cichlid Diet and Feeding

Now let’s take a look at the feeding patterns for this fish and what to feed it. The great news is that this fish is not too demanding in terms of diet.

They are an omnivore. This means they are likely to eat both types of food (herbivorous and carnivorous), although the majority of their diet will consist of plant-based foods.

In their natural habitat, they like to consume the algae attached to the rocks in the environment. However, the majority of the diet in your aquarium will have to be spirulina-based pellets and flakes.

But you’ll need to combine the pellets and flakes with a variety of other types of food. Namely, you should combine them with at least one type of vegetable foods once a day (spinach, romaine).

However, you’ll want to combine these foods at times with other meaty based foods, such as live foods. These will provide a valuable source of protein for your fish.

Consider feeding them brine shrimp, beef heart, as well as Tubifex. Mosquito larvae can also be a great source of food for these fish.

However, you’ll want to feed them these foods sparingly, as they can become a source of bloating for the fish, especially if they are overfed.

They have a relatively long intestinal tract, which can also mean that they will bloat quite quickly, especially if overfed.

It’s better to feed this fish 3 times per day in small pinches or meals. However, you can also feed them once a day, with a bigger meal.

But feeding them three times a day with smaller meals will keep their digestion working better and it can also keep water quality levels at a better level.

White Spotted Cichlid Tank Mates

Considering they are an aggressive fish species, they are not the type of fish you’ll want to combine with other fish species.

They will do the best if you keep them with other fish of the same species. It’s best to keep at least 12 of these fish together, and restrict the number of males to 1-2.

However, if you really want to use them with other fish species, then you can do so, but you’ll have to think well which fish you pick.

They are kept best with other herbivorous African cichlids that have similar behaviors to these fish. However, pick slightly more peaceful fish that will be able to evade these fish.

Some fish tank mates include:

  • Sardine cichlids
  • Goby cichlid
  • Upside-down catfish

White Spotted Cichlid Breeding

They have been bred in captivity before. Just have a group of these fish together – 12 of them, and a harem will naturally be created.

Females will try to resist the breeding attempts from males. However, once the breeding is successful, the female will take eggs into her mouth.

At this time, the female should be placed in a separate tank to prevent potential aggression.

Then, the female will carry the eggs in her mouth and release them once the fry spawns. And the fry will grow quite quickly, and you might want to ensure some care for them in the first few days and weeks.


Tropheus Duboisi Cichlids are an incredibly interesting fish species to own. Watching them grow up is very nice, as they tend to change colors.

With this easy guide, you’ll be able to own them and care for them, even though they can be complex.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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