Johanni Cichlid: Care & Species Profile

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The Johanni Cichlid is a vibrant, fascinating, freshwater fish species that originates from Lake Malawi. It is commonly known as the Blue Mbuna, Electric Blue Johanni, Blue Johanni, or Bluegray Mbuna. Renowned for their striking electric blue hues, these popular aquarium residents add color and vibrancy to your fish tank.

What to Know about the Species and Identification of Johanni Cichlid?

The Johanni Cichlid, known scientifically as Pseudotropheus johannii, is an exciting fish species that is cherished by aquarium hobbyists for its brilliant colors and energetic behavior. It goes by several common names, including the Blue MbunaElectric Blue JohanniBlue Johanni, and Bluegray Mbuna.

Identifying a Johanni Cichlid can be quite easy due to its unique attributes. Its most distinctive trait is its vibrant blue color, which ranges from electric blue to a subdued gray.

It is common for males to exhibit a brighter hue compared to females. Furthermore, the species is known to reach a maximum size of around 3 inches (7.5 cm), thus being relatively small compared to other cichlids.

The natural habitat of Johanni Cichlids is Lake Malawi in Africa, where they live among the rocks. They have an aggressive demeanor, thus they need a spacious tank to allow them to establish their territory.

In terms of lifespan, Johanni Cichlids can live up to approximately 12 years if given proper care and a nourishing diet. This lifespan is relatively long, contributing to the species’ appeal amongst aquarists.

What Supplies do You Need for Johanni Cichlid?

To ensure optimal health and comfort of your Johanni cichlid, there are a few essential items you’ll need. These supplies will help to provide a suitable habitat and promote healthy lifestyle for your aquatic pet.

  • Tank: The desideratum is either a 75-gallon tank or a larger one. The Johanni cichlid requires ample space due to its aggressive nature. This will mean a tank length of 48″(122 cm) or more.
  • Substrate: You should opt for fine sand as this mimics their natural environment in Lake Malawi. This type of substrate is beneficial as it allows the fish to burrow and sift through it.
  • Rocks and Caves: Johanni Cichlid loves to hide. Place clusters of rocks or specially made caves for them. These will serve as territories as well as hiding places.
  • Filtration system: A powerful filtrating system is compulsory to keep the water clean. Given the high waste output of these fish, a robust filter will help maintain water quality and reduce the frequency of water changes.
  • Heater: Remember, Johanni cichlids originate from warm waters of Lake Malawi. A reliable aquarium heater that maintains temperature between 73°F to 82°F (23°C to 28°C) is important.
  • PH Test Kit: Regular monitoring of water pH is crucial as these fish thrive in a pH range of 7.7 – 8.6. A pH test kit made for freshwater aquariums will be of great assistance.
  • Food: Providing a varied diet is key to keeping the Johanni Cichlid in good health. They are omnivores, so a mix of commercial cichlid pellets or flakes, as well as occasional servings of brine shrimp or worms, are ideal.

Carefully chosen and reliable supplies will go a long way in ensuring your fish stays happy and healthy.

How to Setup a Tank for Johanni Cichlid?

Before introducing the Johanni Cichlid, also known as the Blue Mbuna or Electric Blue Johanni, to a new home, tank setup requires careful consideration. Aim for a minimum tank size of 75 gallons, as the Johanni Cichlid is a lively swimmer and appreciates ample swimming space.

  • When setting up the tank, distinguish between three main areas: the bottommiddle, and top. Johanni Cichlids primarily reside in the bottom half of the tank. Therefore, pay close attention to the choice of substrate and look for darker, fine-grained varieties. This will closely mimics their natural habitat in Lake Malawi, the rocky coastlines, and sandy floors.
  • Rocks and caves are essential components. Set up hiding spots with various sized rocks. Here’s an insider tip: arrange the rocks before adding the substrate, this prevents the Cichlids from burrowing and collapsing the rock formations.
  • Plants can be included, albeit sparingly. They should be robust as Johanni Cichlids tend to dig around and may damage more delicate varieties.
  • To maintain the water quality, invest in a powerful filter system. This species is not overly sensitive to water flow, and the extra oxygenation and movement can aid in maintaining cleaner water.
  • Basic lighting is adequate for this species. Remember: the sharper and more defined the light is, the better your Johanni Cichlids’ colors will appear.

Getting the initial tank setup right is a worthwhile investment in the long-term well-being of your Johanni Cichlid. Paying attention to their specific needs will lead to a healthier, happier fish, and a more vibrant aquarium for you to enjoy.

What are the Best Water Requirements for Johanni Cichlid?

Creating an ideal and stable aquatic environment for your Johanni Cichlid is key to its wellbeing. Begin by establishing the correct temperature range. Johanni Cichlids thrive in tank temperatures between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23-28 Celsius). Consequently, controlling your tank’s temperature within this range is paramount – invest in a reliable aquarium heater to mitigate temperature flux.

As for the pH level, these cichlids do best in mildly alkaline waters. Maintain a pH between 7.7 and 8.6. Frequent water checks are useful in maintaining these levels. A good quality pH test kit will help you manage this process. Remember, sudden pH alterations can distress your pet, leading to serious health issues.

Your attention should not skip the hardness of the water, indicated by KH levels. The recommendation for Johanni Cichlids is a range of 9 to 19 dGH. Ensuring the correct hardness relates directly to the health of your fish; this is especially true for maintaining their vibrant coloration.

Lastly, consider the tank size; the minimum recommended tank size for Johanni Cichlid is 75 gallons (283.91 liters). These cichlids are territorial and demand ample space for smooth swimming and hiding spots.

Johanni Cichlids flourish in water that is:

  • 73-82 F (23-28 C) in temperature
  • pH level between 7.7-8.6
  • KH level of 9-19 dGH
  • A minimum tank size of 75 gallons (283.91 liters)

By maintaining these conditions, you help ensure a healthy and stress-free environment for your Johanni Cichlid.

What is the Ideal Diet and Feeding of Johanni Cichlid?

In feeding your Johanni Cichlid, it’s essential to consider they follow an omnivorous diet. They love to nibble on different types of foods but what gives them a well-balanced meal are protein-rich foods and plant matter.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Johanni Cichlid enjoy a variety of food. Preferring both vegetable matter and small proteins. Hence, you can serve them a mixed diet of commercially prepared cichlid pellets, live or frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, and vegetable supplements.
  • When feeding, do so sparingly. Remember the rule that they should only eat as much as they can consume in 2-3 minutes. Overfeeding can degrade water quality and harm your fish.
  • Finally, diversify their food. To mimic their natural feeding habit, create a weekly feeding schedule that combines these food items.

Adults generally need feeding one to two times daily, while younger ones may need feeding two to three times daily. Following these feeding tips and maintaining the right diet is key to ensuring your Johanni Cichlid lives a healthy life.

What is the Best Care Schedule for Johanni Cichlid?

Caring for a Johanni Cichlid might seem challenging due to their lively disposition, but let’s break it down into manageable steps. Your preparation should start with understanding their behavior, habitat, and nutrition needs.

Aggression Monitoring: Being well-known for their aggressive nature, it’s crucial to keep an eye on Johanni Cichlids. Remove any fish that shows extremely violent behavior towards other tankmates. Weekly monitoring is suggested.

Tank Cleaning: In order to replicate their natural habitat of clean, clear water, a bi-weekly tank cleaning is essential. Check and clean filters regularly to ensure the water remains pristine.

Feeding: Johanni Cichlids, being omnivorous, require a balanced diet of both plants and meat. Feed them twice a day with high-quality flake or pellet foods, brine shrimp or bloodworms, and vegetable matter.

Water Quality Check: The water parameters must remain consistent for the health of your Johanni Cichlid. Weekly checks are advisable with adjustments made to pH, temperature and hardness as required.

Health Check-up: Conduct a visual inspection daily for signs of health issues. Look for changes in color, spots, blemishes or behavioral changes like lack of appetite.

It’s the consistency in care that ensures your Johanni Cichlid remains healthy and vibrant. Above all, remember that these fish are more than just pets; they are your responsibility and deserve your time and care.

What are the Common Health Problems of Johanni Cichlid?

Keeping a Johanni Cichlid can be very rewarding, but just like any other pet, they can succumb to various health problems. It is crucial for you as an owner to familiarize with them for quicker diagnosis and treatment.

Ich is a prevalent condition. This protozoan infection manifests as white spots on the Cichlid’s body. It can be treated using over-the-counter medications available at most pet stores.

Another common issue is bloat, which is exceptionally fatal with Cichlids. This condition results from overfeeding or feeding inappropriate diet, causing the fish to swell noticeably. Once noticed, reduce feeding and enhance the water quality immediately.

Skin flukes and parasitic infestations can also occur. These are tiny worms that dwell on the fish, causing severe discomfort. Regular use of an antiparasitic fish medication can prevent such incidences.

Additionally, keep an eye out for Gill Flukes, another parasitic condition. It’s identifiable by difficulty in breathing, loss of appetite, and frayed fins. Medication for parasitic infestations will clear this.

Lastly, loss of color and appetite might indicate stress or underlying conditions. Try to improve fish living conditions, bring variations in diet and don’t forget regular water changes.

With the proper tank setup, optimal water parameters, and a balanced diet, you can minimize the chance of your Johanni Cichlid encountering these problems. However, make sure to have a local vet who specializes in aquatics as a backup plan.

What are the Best Tank Mates for Johanni Cichlid?

While creating an ideal community tank, it’s crucial to harmonize its inhabitants. Johanni cichlids are territorial and assertive species. Picking the right tank mates can significantly minimize altercations.

  • Other Mbuna Cichlids: Johanni cichlids are a part of the Mbuna group in Lake Malawi, naturally sharing a habitat with other Mbunas. However, refrain from pairing them with species displaying similar colors, to avoid territorial disputes.
  • Yellow Lab Cichlids: This species is known for its vibrant yellow color that distinguishes it from Johanni cichlids. Thus, they can cohabitate in a spacious tank without provoking each other.
  • Synodontis Catfish: A hardy, night-time feeder, Synodontis catfish have the ability to manage well with the assertive nature of Johanni cichlids.
  • African Red-Eyed Tetra: Unlike the territorial Johanni cichlids, these tetras are peaceful in nature. They can provide a calming balance to the tank ecosystem.

Remember, the size and layout of your tank can also affect compatibility. A larger tank with well-planned hiding spots and territories can better accommodate diverse species. A size of 75 gallons (284 liters) or larger is recommended.

Plot a wise course when selecting your tank mates, to ensure a harmonious and vibrant aquarium. Keep a watchful eye on your tank, particularly in the initial periods. Be ready to adjust as your fish adapt to each other.

How to Breed Johanni Cichlid?

When breeding Johanni Cichlids, firstly, ensure you have both a male and a female. Males are generally more colorful, displaying vibrant shades of blue, while females are predominantly yellow or orange.

Provide an optimal environment for breeding. This includes a sizable tank; remember, a minimum of 75 gallons (285 liters) is necessary. Combine this with quality food and consistent optimal water conditions, typically pH levels of 7.7 to 8.6.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to breed your Johanni Cichlids:

  • Step 1: Begin by introducing the male and female. Keep an eye on their behaviors. Aggression is common, especially from the male.
  • Step 2: Provide hiding places. Rock structures are great places for the female to hide if the male becomes overly aggressive.
  • Step 3: Feed them a balanced diet. This contributes to healthier, more productive fish.
  • Step 4: Watch out for the breeding signs. If the female is ready to lay eggs, she will select a flat surface to do so.
  • Step 5: After the female lays the eggs, she will pick them up and store them in her mouth for about 21-28 days till they hatch. This is called “mouthbrooding”.

Do not attempt to feed the female during this time as she will not eat. After the fry are released, the female can be separated and given time to regain her strength.

Always be patient when breeding Johanni Cichlids. They may take time to adjust and start the breeding process.


Caring for Johanni Cichlid can certainly be a rewarding experience. With the correct tank setup, nutrition, and water parameters, these vibrant fish can thrive and offer endless fascination. We’d love to hear about your experiences with Johanni Cichlids, so please leave a comment below!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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