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Melanochromis auratus

Melanochromis auratus
Malawi Golden Cichlid
The auratus cichlid, Melanochromis auratus, is a freshwater fish of the cichlid family. It is also known as golden mbuna and Malawi golden cichlid. It is endemic to the southern region of Lake Malawi, particularly from Jalo Reef southward along the entire western coast down to Crocodile Rocks. This cichlid is found in rocky habitats and prefers a pH range of 7.5–8.5 and a temperature range of 24–28°C.
Auratus cichlids are small, elongate fish that can grow up to 10 cm. Juveniles and females are bright yellow with black and white stripes on the upper half of the body. Adult male coloration is drastically different with dark brown or black body and light blue or yellow stripes on the upper half of the body.
Like many other cichlids from Lake Malawi, auratus cichlids are mouthbrooders. Females hold their fertilized eggs and fry, in their mouth for a few weeks before releasing the fry.
The auratus cichlid is among one of the most popular mbuna cichlids in the aquarium trade. Juveniles of this fish have a striking coloration and are commonly available in most pet shops. However, auratus cichlids, especially the males, are territorial and highly aggressive, even on the mbuna cichlid standard. In most cases, it is best to keep one adult male with many females. Some fish stores only stock female Auratus in their tanks, because Auratus have the ability to change gender color. Most commonly, this is the case of an all-female tank where the most dominant assumes the male role, and changes in coloration but no actual gender change. Very rarely will a male change into a female. Their tank should be set up with a lot of rocks with caves and hiding places. Auratus cichlids natural food source is algae but those in aquariams will usually take whatever food that is fed to them.