A Complete Frontosa Fish Care Guide

Frontosa fish are beautiful fish that are highly prized. They are known for their beautiful coloring and peaceful mannerisms. So, how do you take care of such a treasure?

Fontosas are calm fish but can be difficult for novice owners to care for. They are carnivorous, preferring to eat smaller fish that swim at the bottom of the tank. Fontosas can live up to twenty-five years if taken care of properly. For best results, Fontosas should not live with other fish.

So, if Frontosas are highly-desired, how can you make sure you are taking care of your fish? Can they live with other fish? How should you set up their tank? Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about Frontosa fish, their diet, lifestyle, and how to set up their tank.


Frontosa Basics

Frontosa’s are a type of cichlid that is highly prized in the fish-keeping community because of their large size and coloration. They have a blue or white body with six or seven black bands. Some even have gold accents on their dorsal fin.

They are also known as the Humphead Cichlid because of the large hump that grows on their head as they get older.

It can be hard to determine the sex of Frontosas, but males are typically larger and have longer fins.

The Frontosa fish can grow up to one foot and three inches and can live up to twenty-five years of age if taken care of properly. In aquariums, they usually live twelve to fifteen years. They grow slowly, taking three or four years to reach sexual maturity.

Frontosias are social creatures. Some owners of Frontosas have been able to feed their fish right out of their hands. They get excited when they see their owner and become more active. Also, their tails will start to move around. But, other owners find that their fish will hide from them, so it depends on your fish.

They are generally gentle but are known to be territorial, which is why they should not live with other fish in their tank.

There are many types of Frontosa fish, depending on their location. Knowing which one you have is important as there are slight differences in care.

  • Burundi Six-Stripe Frontosa: This type of fish usually has a large hump on its head, a blue body, and six bands instead of seven.
  • Zaire Blue Frontosa: This variation is named for the former name of the Congo Republic. It has the bluest body out of all Frontosa fish. Some even are so blue they appear purple. The band on their head runs between the eyes to the gills. Some are blue and some have blue dots on their bands.
  • Kavalla Frontosa: This type of fish is extremely rare. It has six bands, blue accents, and a yellow dorsal fin. It will turn dark when its mood changes.
  • Tanzanian Six-Stripe Frontosa: This type of fish looks similar to the Burundi Six-Stripe. If the two mated, their offspring would have slanted bands.
  • Tanzanian Seven-Stripe Frontosa or Frontosa “Kigoma”: This type is highly prized. You can identify this fish because of its seventh stripe which looks more like a mask on its face. It also has a blue hump on its head and gold accents on its dorsal fin.
  • Zambian blue Frontosa, or Blue Face Frontosa: This variation’s band on its head fades just above its eyes.
  • Samani Frontosa: The male has a blue color, while the females have almost no blue coloration. This variation is also hard to breed.
  • Kipili Frontosa: This type is usually not exported because its appearance is not as eye-catching as the others.


Frontosa fish are carnivores, meaning they eat small fish.

In nature, Fronstosas will eat almost any live food they can catch. In an aquarium setting, Frontosas eat slowly. They will eat anything from feeder fish, worms, pellets, and crustaceans such as shrimp and krill. It is important to be careful when introducing live foods into your tank because they could have bacteria and parasites.

They do not like to put a lot of effort into feeding, so it is important to make sure the food you give to your Frontosas swims to the bottom of the tank. Most Frontosas only eat what slowly passes by their mouths. Good examples of foods that do this are shrimp, krill, prawn, and earthworms.

Bloodworms are not a good option for Frontosas because they can cause bowel inflammation. They should also not be fed beef or chicken because they cause fatty deposits.

Frontosa fish should be fed two to five meals a day. Spreading out their meals keeps the quality of water higher. You should only feed them as much as they can eat within a two to three-minute period.

Tank Set-Up

Frontosas are from a lake in Africa, Lake Tanganyika. They are found in the deeper waters along the lake floor. Lake Tanganyika is the second largest lake in the world. This lake has over eighty types of cichlids and twenty other species of fish.

A tank is a great environment for Frontosas because it resembles Lake Tanganyika and is a safe place for them to live.

For an adult Frontosa, their tank should be a minimum of 70 gallons (265 L). Since Frontosas need to be in groups, it is better to have a two hundred-gallon-sized tank (750 L).

The water should be between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit (22-28 C), with a pH between 7.8-9.0, and a kH between 10-20. Lake Tanganyika’s water is high in oxygen, so having a bubbler working 24/7 will be important for the health of your Frontosa.

Having sand or small gravel substrate in your tank will help keep up the tank’s pH. Frontosas like to move the sand around also, so it will create a nice addition to their home.

Frontosas like to move things around, so having plants or decorations might be tricky. Rocks and caves are a good idea because Frontosas like to hide sometimes. All tank decorations should be secure and smooth because Frontosas are clumsy and quick to startle.

The lighting in the tank should be low because Frontosas live in low lighting in nature. Harsh lighting can also cause stress to your fish.

Also, Frontosas jump when they feel stressed or threatened, so a secure lid on the tank is a must. They do stress during tank cleaning, so it is a good idea to remove them from the tank for their safety.

Here is a video that shows what a Frontosa tank could look like.

Tank Mates

Frontosas are calm, social creatures. They are slow swimmers that are peaceful and relaxed. It is important to note that in a group of Frontosas, there should only be one male. Males are very territorial. The typical number is having six to eight Frontosas, with just one male.

Other fish can be in the tank with Frontosas as long as they are 3 inches (7.6 cm) or larger. Anything smaller will be seen as prey. Any fish added to a tank with Frontosas should be non-aggressive because of the calm nature Frontosas have.

Here are some options of tanks mates for Frontosa fish:

  • Plecostomus
  • Bichirs
  • Clown Loach
  • Blue Dolphin Cichlid
  • White Calvis
  • Petricola
  • Other African Cichlids

Health and Diseases

If taken care of properly, Frontosa fish can live a long time. Keeping an eye on your fish and looking out for signs of illness is crucial.

There is no specific illness that harms Frontosas, but since they are freshwater fish, they are diseases that freshwater fish can get.

A typical disease that freshwater fish can get is ich. Ich symptoms include twitching, rubbing their bodies on hard surfaces like they are scratching themselves, and white spots on their bodies and gills. There is medicine for ich and fish heal quickly after receiving the medication.

Frontosas can also get parasites and infections from fungus and bacteria. Keeping an eye on their behaviors and diet is a good way to catch this.

When a fish gets sick, it is important to quarantine the fish so your other fish do not get sick. A separate tank with no plants or gravel is helpful so your fish can heal. If your entire tank is sick, the tank should be treated.

Frequently cleaning the water is one of the most important things you can do to keep your Frontosa fish healthy. Small water changes should be done every week. Large water changes can harm your Frontosas. Checking the water regularly will also help keep your fish healthy.

How to Buy a Frontosa Fish

You can buy a Frontosa at a tropical fish store or online. The average price from $10 to $70, depending on which type you are looking for. Typically, when you buy in bulk, the fish will be cheaper. When buying a breeding pair though, you could pay around $120.

Remember, Frontosas are highly desired and can be very expensive. Since people started to breed them, they have become cheaper, but you never know if or when the cost could spike.

Below is a video about Frontosa that gives great information and also shows what they look like.

We hope that this post has helped you learn about Frontosa Cichlids and their habits!

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Rick Kesler

I'm Rick and I've kept freshwater fish for over 5 years now. My main tank now is a 55-gallon tropical freshwater tank and my wife and I both just love watching all of our different fish while they swim around, some schooling and others not. I've also learned a lot about what to do and what not to do to keep our fish healthy and happy.

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