Aulonocara ethelwynnae

Aulonocara ethelwynnae is one of the smaller aulonocara. They occur at greater depths than normal for Aulonocara. They grow up to 11 cm long.

Aulonocara ethelwynnae

Aulonocara ethelwynnae was described in 1987 by Meyer, Riehl & Zetzsche. Aulonocara comes from Greek; ‘aulos’=’flute’ and ‘caras’ means ‘face’. This refers to the lateral line pores that resemble the holes of a flute. The name ethelwynnae is a reference to the well-known scientist Ethelwynn Trewavas.


This is one of the smaller Aulonocara species. Aulonocara ethelwynnae occurs at greater depths than normal for an Aulonocara species. Adult males forming a territory are only found below 15 meters depth.

The male has a yellow glow over the flanks. The dorsal, anal and caudal fin glow blue under the right lighting. The females are a somewhat dull brown/grey as with all Aulonocara.

Both males and females have egg spots on their anal fins. Males usually have more eggspots and they are a brighter yellow.


Its distribution area is on the west coast of Lake Malawi and extends from Ngara to Chilumba. There they inhabit the transitional biotope from sand to rocks. Mainly the part of the sand which is strewn with rocks.

The males choose a territory at a depth of over 15 meters. There they only chase away the conspecific males. Young, immature males and females form loose shoals in relatively shallow water at a depth of around 3 metres.

Aulonocara ethelwynnae - Chitende Island
Aulonocara ethelwynnae – Chitende Island


In the sand, the Aulonocara ethelwynnae searches for crustaceans and insect larvae.

In the aquarium, they should therefore be fed with live or frozen food (no red mosquito larvae or tubifex). They are generally not picky eaters.

The aquarium

Aulonocaras usually are being kept in a harem of 1 male with 2 or 3 females. Make sure you have a sufficiently spacious aquarium where the females can escape the attention of the male. Use an aquarium with a minimum length of about 120 centimetres.

Set up the aquarium with sand on the bottom so they can display their natural foraging behaviour. At the edges, you can use rocks to create some hiding places for the females.

Plants are not necessary for keeping Aulonocara ethelwynnae. They usually leave them alone. If they do pick on the plants, you can always use some tougher plants such as Java fern (Microsorum pteropus) or Anubias.

Breeding Aulonocara ethelwynnae

When a male senses a female is ready to spawn, he tries to lure her to a spot in the sand. He shows his breeding dress, showing his best colours. With his fins spread out wide, he shows his flank to the female. He shows how big and beautiful he is and shakes his body.

If the female follows him to the sand, they start circling each other. The eggs are deposited in the sand, while they keep circling. The female turns around after laying one or several eggs and takes the eggs in her mouth. The male circles with her and rubs his anal fin over the sand. The egg spots on the fin cause the female to bite, trying to pick up the egg. The male releases some milt so that the eggs are fertilized in the female’s mouth (egg spot method).

The female incubates the eggs for a few days, but the fry remain in the female’s mouth for up to 3 weeks. Once they are big enough, the female spits out the fry and they have to fend for themselves. You can feed them directly with freshly hatched brine shrimp, finely crushed flake food or dust food.

If you let the female spit out the fry in a mixed aquarium, they often become food for the other fish. If you want to keep more fry, you can also separate the female after 2 weeks of mouthbrooding. She will not eat them for the first hours after spitting out the fry. You then have plenty of time to catch her and put her back with the other fish.



John de Lange

Copyright images

Hans Bergkvist
Carsten Gissel
Mark Thomas – Blue Earth Institution – Cichlids in their natural habitat

Additional information







First described by

Horst Zetzsche, Manfred K. Meyer, Rüdiger Riehl


Social behaviour

Breeding behaviour


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