The Aulonocara hansbaenschi received its official name in 1987 and was described by Meyer, Riehl and 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.
This species has no official synonyms, but it is commercially offered under a number of names such as: Aulonocara Red Flush, Aulonocara Red Shoulder and Firebird Cichlid.
The Aulonocara hansbaenschi (Redshoulder) is a very nice addition to the aquarium with its metallic blue body with a red pattern on the front. The name is widely used in the trade for this beautiful species, but some classify it as Aulonocara stuartgranti (Ntekete). Like many Aulonocara species, this species can be mixed well with the calmer Mbuna and Utaka. It is advisable to keep no more than 1 male in the aquarium, combined with 2 or 3 females.
This Malawi cichlid can be found in the south-east of Lake Malawi. They only occur in four locations; Masinja (the type location), Fort Maguire, Mara Point and Thumbi West Island. Unlike many other Aulonocara, they inhabit fairly shallow waters at depths of about 4 to 6 meters. Typically they can be found among rocks in holes, cracks and crevices.
With the lateral line organs on their jaws they search above the sand for small invertebrates. As soon as they notice movement in the sand, they take a bite and sift the sand through their gills. The edible food is swallowed and the excess sand is washed away through the gills.
In the aquarium you can feed them with small live food such as artemia, pieces of shrimp (preferably unpeeled), white and black mosquito. You can also give them flake food such as cichlid flakes, krill and spirulina flakes.
John de Lange