Copadichromis verduyni

Copadichromis verduyni has a number of geographic variants with a slightly different colour. In the aquarium, they grow bigger than in the wild.


Copadichromis verduyni

Copadichromis verduyni was officially described by Konings in 1990. The name Copadichromis consists of two parts in ancient Greek: Copa means carved and Chromis means fish. The species name verduyni is a reference to Dirk Verduijn of Verduijn Cichlids in Oud Verlaat, The Netherlands.

Before Copadichromis verduyni was officially described, they were already commercially available, then under the name Haplochromis borleyi Eastern. Two species very similar to the Copadichromis verduyni are Copadichromis sp. Verduyni Blueface and Copadichromis sp. Verduyni Dwarf, it cannot be ruled out that these are only geographic variants.


The Copadichromis verduyni males have different colour forms depending on their geographic location. The head is always blue, on the flank the blue shines a red, yellow or brownish colour. The anal fin can be reddish or yellow. It is therefore difficult to recognize this species because it has so many different variants. The females are silver/grey/brown and have 3 dots on the flank. The males sometimes also show these dots when they are not completely coloured.

The Copadichromis verduyni males can reach a total length of about 12 centimetres in Lake Malawi, but due to the powerful food in the aquarium, they often grow a bit longer, up to about 16 centimetres. The females stay a few centimetres shorter.

The males occupy a small territory on the rocks in the intermediate habitat. The females and immature males form small schools that swim a few meters from the substrate. The mouth-brooding females seek shelter among the rocks.

Copadichromis verduyni
Copadichromis verduyni


Copadichromis verduyni can only be found in Lake Malawi. They inhabit the open water and the waters around rocky parts. Its distribution area includes the Eastern coasts between Chimwalani Reef and Gome Village. Usually, they predominantly inhabit the waters at depths between 7 and 15 meters.


In the wild, Copadichromis verduyni feeds on plankton in open water and the occasional edible food particles on the rocks. In the aquarium, it is not a picky eater. As long as you feed them alternately with frozen and / or live food. Alternate this with cichlid sticks, granules, etc., but do not forget to feed them spirulina flakes every now and then. Plankton consists of both animal and vegetable material.

As with all Malawi Cichlids, you cannot feed them tubifex and red mosquito larvae, as the chance of Malawi Bloat (disease) is considerably increased with these two types of food.

The Aquarium

Because the males in the aquarium can grow to about 16 centimetres, you need a fairly spacious aquarium. For a small harem, you need an aquarium with a length of at least 150 centimetres, which amounts to about 400 litres. You can also keep them in a group of, for example, 3 males and at least 5 females, which gives a more natural ratio. It goes without saying that you must have a larger aquarium of at least 250 centimetres in length when keeping them as a group.

Decorate the aquarium with (filter) sand on the bottom. Provide some rocks here the males can build their territory and between which the females can take shelter when brooding on their eggs.

The temperature of the water may be between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius. Keep in mind that if you keep the temperature constantly at the maximum, they will probably live a little shorter. At a higher temperature, the metabolism is a bit faster, they are more active, more aggressive, etc. The pH may be between 7.5 and 8.5 and the GH between 12 and 16.

Spawning Tank and Conditioning

It is not necessary to set up a special spawning tank for breeding Copadichromis verduyni. You can usually breed them in an aquarium that also contains other Malawi cichlid species. You also don’t need to provide special food to bring the parents into the breeding mood.

The Spawn

If possible, the males build a small sand burrow in a small cave. The male tries to lure a female to his burrow with vibrating movements. He shows her his flank, expands his fins and shows his best colours. When she joins him to his place of choice, they start circling each other. He slides over the substrate with his anal fin. Circling, the female lays an egg, turns around and takes the egg directly into her mouth. The man circles with her, showing his egg-spotted anal fin. The woman also tries to pick up these egg spots, after which the male releases some sperm. This fertilizes the eggs.

Raising the fry

The eggs are incubated by the female in her mouth. After about 3 to 4 days the eggs hatch in her mouth. The fry then live on their egg yolk sacks for quite some time. The young are only released by the female after about 21 days. During this time, the female does not eat at all.

In an aquarium with other fish species, the fry will soon be eaten. If you want to keep a whole nest, you can transfer the female to a separate aquarium after about 15 days of brooding. Make sure there are some hiding places in it in the form of rocks or something similar to make her feel comfortable. After releasing the fry, the female will not eat them immediately. You have plenty of time to catch her and place her back in the aquarium.

You can feed the fry with finely crushed flakes, dust food and small live food such as brine shrimp.



John de Lange

Copyright images

Herman Wunderink

Review of Copadichromis with the description of a new genus and six new species; Jay R. Stauffer and Adrianus F. Konings.

Additional information


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