Freshwater Fish‎ > ‎Cichlid-African‎ > ‎

Paratilapia polleni

Paratilapia polleni
Black Diamond Cichlid
Paratilapia polleni is a medium sized cichlid fish from Madagascar. It was first described by the Dutch ichthyologist Pieter Bleeker in 1868. In 1882, a second species, P. bleekeri, was described, but it is now known to be a junior synonym of P. polleni. It is sometimes referred to by the common names Polleni Cichlid and Black Diamond Cichlid, while the name Marakely ('black fish') is used among locals in Madagascar. It has a relatively small distribution and is likely to be subjected to habitat loss. 

P. polleni is a laterally compressed full-bodied fish. Like most cichlids it resembles a perch-type fish in shape, hence the taxonomic designation perciformes - 'perch-like'. Males in captivity will develop a nuchal hump, a layer of fat above the eyes, though not to the same degree as other similar African cichlids, such as the Cyphotilapia frontosa and Tilapias of Africa. Adult P. polleni, and sub-adult dominant individuals are jet black in color, covered with brilliant iridescent spots which shift from golden to blue depending on the movement of the fish and the angle of the light, the eye is a bright yellow. 

In the wild, P. polleni inhabits a number of rivers and associated streams in northern Madagascar, including the environs of the town of Andapa, where most individuals exported for the aquarium trade in recent years were collected. It is an omnivorous fish and occasional opportunistic piscivore, approaching smaller unsuspecting fish by stealth, with their dark coloration giving them an advantage. P. polleni observed hunting in the aquarium environment will sneak up on smaller fish from below during the pre-dawn hours and suck the smaller fish into their mouths using the typical cichlid 'suction effect' caused by quickly opening their mouths. Thus, using stealth and crypsis they are able to prey on fish they would otherwise not be able to catch. In Madagascar, P. polleni is a food fish, and like many cichlid fishes in many regions, reputed to have a good flavor.

P. polleni is temperature and pH tolerant, and reasonably hardy and not shy. As such, this fish is an ideal aquarium fish if given the appropriate environment and tank mates for a medium sized aggressive cichlid. 
P. polleni rank among the more aggressive African cichlids, comparable to Malawi and Tilapia cichlids. Some individuals have been known to kill their tank mates upon reaching maturity, though as a rule P. polleni tolerates tankmates too large to eat fairly well. Successful aquarium spawnings are common.There have been reports of P. Polleni living with other cichlids as they are not that aggressive however they are best with other fish and cichlids around about the ame size given that they are cichlids.