Copadichromis parvus

Copadichromis parvus is a very dark blue with a beautifully contrasting white blaze. They grow up to 11 centimetres in length.

Copadichromis parvus

Copadichromis parvus was described in 2006 by Jay R. Stauffer and Ad Konings as part of a revision of the Copadichromis family. In the books of Ad Konings he can be found in photos from 2001 under the name Copadichromis sp. “verduyni dwarf”

The name parvus comes from Latin and means small, a reference that this species is small compared to the other Copadichromis species. The name Copadichromis is divided into 2 parts, from the Greek kopas = carved and chromis = fish.

Description of Copadichromis parvus

The males in breeding colour are dark blue to almost black. From the lips, they have a white stripe across their head that continues into the dorsal fin. On the flank, they have 7 to 8 vertical black stripes, in between dark blue. The pectoral fins have black rays but are otherwise transparent. The pectoral and anal fins are black but may have a white margin. When they are not in breeding colour, they can show 3 black spots on their flanks, which disappear quickly when they have to impress the females.

The females are grey/brown with 3 black spots on their flanks. The gill cover and throat are colourless. The dorsal fin is pale blue/grey with grey spots on the top, edged with a yellow/orange edge. The pelvic fins are transparent except for the first 3 membranes, which are grey, the anterior margin of the pelvic fins are trimmed with a white border. On the head, you can sometimes vaguely see the first start of the white blaze, which is so clearly present in the males.

By Copadichromis standards this is a calm species, especially outside the breeding season, but even during the breeding season, it is not very aggressive. Prefer to keep alone with other calm species.

Copadichromis parvus
Copadichromis parvus


Within the Copadichromis family, the distribution area of ​​Copadichromis parvus is the largest. They occur from just north of the Chiloelo River to the bay north of Metangula in Mozambique. The territorial males usually live at a depth of 11 to 23 meters and occupy a spot where the sand is replaced by rock. Females and non-territorial males usually reside about 1 to 3 meters above the bottom and feed in the open water column and on the bottom with small invertebrates. The mouthbrooding females seclude themselves and stay close to the bottom.


In the wild, they feed on plankton in the open water and invertebrates on the bottom. In the aquarium, they can be fed a varied diet of brine shrimp, krill, mysis shrimp, etc. As usual with Malawi cichlids, do not feed red mosquito larvae and tubifex! Make sure you don’t feed too much, the food should be eaten within a few minutes and nothing should be left behind. This species has a tendency to keep eating causing them to become too fat. They are not picky eaters and will take almost any food you put in front of them.

The aquarium

The aquarium should be set up with sand on the bottom. As soon as they are ready to spawn, the males build a breeding pit in the sand at the bottom of a large stone. So make sure you have a sufficiently thick layer of sand that borders a large rock. They also need sufficient swimming space. Therefore keep a minimum aquarium length of 150 centimetres with 400 litres of water. Mouthbrooding females need a few rocks to hide between.

Copadichromis parvus - Close up
Copadichromis parvus – Close up

Breeding Aquarium and Conditioning

Breeding this beautiful Malawi cichlid is not difficult. Breeding usually works well in the presence of other Malawi species. As long as they are well-fed and healthy they will breed. You don’t need to condition them differently…just give them a variety of high-quality food.

The Spawn

The male makes a pit in the sand at the bottom of a large stone. This pit is about 15 to 22 centimetres in diameter and no more than 3.5 to 6 centimetres high. In the wild, the rock under which the man digs his castle is usually larger than the diameter of the castle. Once the pit is ready, he tries to lure the female to it by showing his flanks and making trembling movements. The fish circle each other, the female lays an egg that is fertilized by the male. After this, the female takes the eggs into her mouth.

Raising the fry

The eggs are incubated by the female in her mouth. After about 3 weeks, the female will spit out the hatched fry. It is not necessary (even undesirable) to manually remove the eggs. If the fry hatch into an aquarium containing adult Malawi cichlids, they will usually be eaten almost all of them unless you have lots of small cracks and crevices for them to hide in.

If you want to keep whole nests with fry for breeding, you can catch the female after breeding for a week or two and place her alone in a smaller aquarium. Make sure the water values ​​match. Breeding aquariums are usually kept fairly bare in order to be able to clean them properly. The female does need some hiding places in the form of a few caves (which can be just stacked rocks as long as they can’t fall over). After spitting out the fry, the female will not immediately eat the young. So you have plenty of time to catch the female that day or the day after. The fry can be fed with fresh brine shrimp and other very small food.


The contrast between the dark fish and the bright white blaze makes this an attractive species to keep in the aquarium. They are not too big and quite peaceful, so make sure you have suitable tankmates. Despite the limited size of the fish, it does require a spacious aquarium!



John de Lange

Copyright images

Jurgen van Valckenborgh


Jay R. Stauffer en Ad Konings – Review of Copadichromis (TEleostei: Cichlidae) with the description of a new genus and six new species; (niet meer beschikbaar)

Last Updated on 19 December 2021 by John

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