Chindongo demasoni

Chindongo demasoni, one of the most beautiful Malawi cichlids but often very aggressive. Despite its small size, a somewhat larger aquarium is recommended to prevent accidents.

Chindongo demasoni

Chindongo demasoni was officially described in 1994 by Ad Konings. Initially under the name Pseudotropheus demasoni. It has been known for some time that the genus Pseudotropheus is a receptacle for several unrelated species. In 2016, a number of species were split into the genus Chindongo. The type of this species is Chindongo bellicosus.

The genus name Chindongo is a common name in Malawi for small, rock-dwelling fish. This species is named after Mr Laif DeMason, importer/exporter and breeder of cichlids in the United States.


Chindongo demasoni is considered a dwarf cichlid. This species is highly aggressive towards conspecifics. Males and females have the same colour: a bright light blue body with dark blue/purple to almost black vertical stripes. In terms of length, males and females are almost the same size. Males have slightly longer pectoral fins and more pronounced egg markings.

Their name demasoni could as well been derived from the word demon. It is a fierce small cichlid. If you want to breed this species, keep them together with other, somewhat larger and hardy species. They can be relentless to similar sized fish.

It is best to keep this species in a harem. Keep one male with at least three females. Sometimes, however, the male keeps chasing the females until they die of exhaustionon. In that case, you can consider adding an extra male. In this way, the attention is divided among the female. The second man acts as a distraction for the dominant male. The females will have some rest if he has to focus attention on the second male. It goes without saying that this is only possible in a larger aquarium. In an aquarium that is too small, the dominant male will soon kill the second male.


You can find Chindongo demasoni in a limited distribution area in Lake Malawi. The type specimen came from Pombo Rocks, which is about halfway up Lake Malawi in Tanzania. In the waters of Malawi they also occur above Ndumbi Point and Ndumbi rocks which is about 4 kilometres to the North.


In the wild, Chindongo demasoni mainly feeds on grazing aufwuchs. The strands of algae are combed with their teeth. With this, they mainly feed on algae particles with very occasionally some tiny invertebrates. It is, therefore, best to feed them in the aquarium with food for herbivores. Spirulina flakes should not be missing either. If you feed frozen foods such as brine shrimp, Mysis, and mosquito larvae, do it very sporadically. In any case, avoid tubifex and red mosquito larvae as this can cause Malawi Bloat, especially in the herbivorous Malawi cichlids.

Plants have no use in an aquarium with Chindongo demasoni, as plants will be eaten. Some try Anubias, which have somewhat harder leaves, but the fish try to eat them anyway.

The Aquarium

The aquarium must be at least 120 x50x50 centimetres in size. I kept them in a 100x40x50 aquarium but found this too small for a species aquarium. It often happens that the male kills all other Chindongo demasoni if the aquarium is too small or if there are not enough hiding places!

Decorate the aquarium with lots of rocks and hiding places such as PVC pipes. Terracotta flower pots are also widely used. They prefer sand as a substrate. The fish regularly into the sand in search of something edible. Filter sand is often used because it clogs up less quickly.

The lighting can be quite strong. This will cause the rocks to get some algae. The fish will certainly appreciate this because they will graze in it. The temperature may be between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius with a pH between 7.5 and 8.5.

Breeding Chindongo demasoni

Like most Malawi cichlids, Chindongo demasoni is a mouthbrooder. No breeding females have been found in the wild, so their behaviour in the wild is not really known.

In the aquarium, the male does not really make a territory. As soon as he notices that a female is ready to spawn, he will start courting. He puts on his fins and shows his flank with vibrating movements. The colours of the fish are at their brightest. Circling each other, the eggs are laid in the sand by the female and fertilized by the male. The female keeps circling and takes the eggs directly into her mouth.

Chindongo demasoni’s nest is not very big. Usually no more than 10 eggs. The female hatches the eggs in her mouth. The eggs hatch after 3 to 4 days but do not leave the mouth yet. The fry are only released after 19 to 21 days. They have to take care of themselves after being released.

Not many young survive in an aquarium with adult cichlids. If you want to keep more fry, you can catch the female at 15 days and place her in a small aquarium. The aquarium does not have to be larger than about 40x30x30 centimetres. Decorate the aquarium with some sand on the bottom, some rocks for the female to hide, a small filter and a heater. After releasing the fry, you can put the female back in the aquarium with the other adults.

You can raise the young Chindongo demasoni with finely ground flake food.



John Ponsen – John de Lange

Copyright images

Mircea Popa


Additional information







Pseudotropheus demasoni

First described by

Ad Konings


Breeding behaviour

Social behaviour







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Minimum length


Length maximum


Temperature minimum


Temperature maximum


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