The electric blue hap is one of the most popular species of cichlids due to the piercing blue coloration of the male fish. These fish are no more difficult to keep than most other species of cichlid and make an excellent addition to a freshwater system with Lake Malawi. They don’t show up in the aquarium trade too often, however, and are often misnamed as one of their close relatives.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about Blue Hap electrical maintenance and keep these lovely fish in your own aquarium!
Sciaenochromis ahli is commonly known as the electric blue Hap cichlid. This species was named after a German zoologist, Dr. Ernst Ahl, who originally described the fish as Haplochromis serranoides. Today these fish are commonly known as electric blue hap cichlids. This is not to be confused with the very closely related and often incorrectly labeled electric blue cichlid Sciaenochromis fryeri.
It is very common for S. fryeri and S. ahli to be treated as the same species in the aquarium trade. As we shall see later, these two types are slightly different from each other. You are also much more likely to come across Sciaenochromis fryeri than Sciaenochromis ahli, as S. ahli is rarely sold in the hobby.
There are only four different species of the genus Sciaenochromis, S. benthicola and S. psammophilus, with only S. fryeri and S. ahli being the most commercially available aquarium fish.
The electric blue hap is native to both the shallow and medium depths of Lake Malawi in Africa. Lake Malawi is the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world, measured by water volume, and is known for its variety of cichlids. Electric blue haps can be found to a depth of 150 feet and usually create areas around caves made of rocky bottom. Water temperatures stay at 23.9-28.9 ° C (75-84 ° F) and maintain an average pH of 8.0.
It should be noted that Sciaenochromis fryeri is also native to Lake Malawi, but occurs in much shallower coastal areas and reaches a maximum depth of around 50 m. S. fryeri is also believed to be found in most regions of the lake, but electric blue haps (S. ahli) only in the northern sections.
Electric blue cichlids get their name from their bright blue body. It can be difficult to distinguish a true electric blue hap (S. ahli) from a S. fryeri, as S. ahli are rarely imported and have very similar colorations. it gets even more confusing as many hybrids of S. fryeri have different colorations and may even have different markings based on depth and where they were collected.
Both species have electric blue bodies and may have darker vertical bands that start at their gills and end before their tail tail. The only true distinction between the two species was found in the head length of both fish; True electric blue hap cichlids tend to have elongated heads, while S. fryeri has a shorter, more obtuse point. Other colorations, such as a more reddish anal fin and a light blue stripe on top of the dorsal fin, could be due to geographic differences in populations. Women of both types will be much simpler and will not have a solid blue body.
Because these fish are so similar and S. ahli is rare, it is sometimes debated whether there are any real electric blue haps at all. In the aquarium hobby, they are usually considered as one and the same fish. In the scientific database, however, there are two different fish species that occur in Lake Malawi and live in completely different ecosystems.
While it is unlikely that you will ever come across S. ahli in your regular pet store, it is best to only trust the most reputable breeders and importers when they say they have one available. Even then, it will be incredibly difficult to properly identify the species.
How big do Blue Hap electric cichlids get?
Male electric blue Hap cichlids grow to be around 7 to 8 inches long when fully grown, which is considerably larger than some other brightly colored cichlid species. Women are getting a bit smaller and simpler.
Requirements for electric blue hap tanks
If you are lucky enough to come across a real electric blue cichlid, make sure you are giving your fish the best possible care! The electrical care of blue cichlids is very similar to that of other Lake Malawi species.
A minimum fuel tank size of 75 gallons is recommended for starting. These fish will appreciate the many cracks and crevices to form areas over rocks or terracotta plant pots. Just make sure that both are cured for aquarium use, as uncured decorations can cause variations in water parameters. Electric blue haps will also appreciate some twigs for extra coverage and add a natural element to the setup. A sandy subsoil is most recommended.
The water parameters must be kept stable so that your cichlids are not stressed. The water temperature should remain constant between 23.9 and 27.8 ° C (75 to 82 ° F), with the pH between 7.6 and 8.8 being slightly more alkaline than usual. It may be worth using crushed coral to help maintain a higher pH.
Electric blue Hap tank mates
As a cichlid, electric blue haps are semi-aggressive fish. They need enough space to set up areas and tend to be more aggressive towards fish of similar color. It is recommended to keep multiple women for each man to spread aggression and harassment. To keep more than just one male and 3-4 females, an aquarium of 100 gallons (378.5 L) or more is recommended.
Some compatible types are:
- Deep water hap (Placidochromis electra)
- Peafowl (Aulonocara jacobfreibergi, Aulonocara maylandi, Aulonocara baenschi). Avoid getting similar looking fish when holding peacock cichlids with your electric blue hap. This means that it is probably best to avoid green and blue colors. It is also important to note that different species of peafowl should not be kept together in the same tank, as the females can hybridize with males of other Aulonocara. However, it is also believed that the females are known to hybridize with Sciaenochromis! You can find complete instructions for keeping peacock cichlids in our care sheet here.
- Tramitichromis intermedius
- Cuckoo catfish (Synodontis multipunctatus)
Electric Blue Hap Diet
These cichlids are largely carnivorous, which means that their diet consists primarily of animal foods. In order for these aquarium fish to keep their colors vivid, it is best to offer a varied and high quality diet. This includes a selection of live, frozen, freeze-dried and flake / pellet foods.
Foods like brine shrimp, worms (earthworms, blood worms, Tubifex worms) and krill are usually supplied live, frozen, or freeze-dried. However, some of these can be fatty and shouldn’t be your cichlid’s staple foods. Instead, a high-quality fish flake / pellet with additional delicacies should be offered on a regular basis.
While they’re mostly carnivorous cichlids, electric blue haps occasionally enjoy the green. You can offer seaweed waffles or other blanched vegetables like spinach and zucchini from time to time. However, shortly after feeding, remove any uneaten food so it does not rot.
Note: Some resources even categorize members of the genus Sciaenochromis as fish-eaters, which means that these fish will eat other fish. This means that smaller fish that are added to the aquarium are at risk of becoming a meal. On the other hand, it also means that feeder fish can occasionally be used as a treat for your cichlids.
Electrical blue hap behavior
Since these fish are rarely properly identified in the aquarium hobby, it can be a little difficult to predict their exact behavior. Generally they are groundwater and mean water column swimmers.
Are Blue Hap Electric Cichlids Aggressive?
One can assume that Blue Hap electric cichlids are aggressive. Like any other cichlid, electric blue haps defend their territory and hunt down other male electric blues and similar looking species. Some hobbyists have had more active fish and find that their electric blues regularly swim around the perimeter of the tank instead of being limited to a limited area.
Breeding Electric Blue Haps
Electric blue haps are attractive to breed because of their stunning colors and rarity. The main problem is that since not many hobbyists have owned these cichlids, there isn’t much information on how to successfully breed them. However, as long as they are happy, your fish will most likely spawn on their own.
To breed these fish, it is best to set up an aquarium dedicated only to this species. Only one male per 75 gallons should be kept with 3-4 female electro blues to dispel aggression. The water conditions should be stable, and many cracks and crevices should be made with stones so that the male can establish a territory.
The male attracts a female, and the eggs are laid on the rock or platform. The male has chosen such a specific location that these eggs then usually roll closer to him where he will fertilize them. Like most species of cichlids, electric blue haps are mouth breeders, which means the female then puts the fertilized eggs in her mouth.
The eggs are ready to hatch after approx. 3 weeks. At this point the female has an apparently distended jaw in which to house the brood. If stressed by the male or if water parameters / conditions change, he may spit or swallow them.
It is important to consider how to care for the brood after hatching as it is best to remove the female completely from the main display to avoid nuisance from the male and the other females. However, if the female is removed for too long, she may lose her position in the harem and the other females may not accept her back.
The fry are a decent size when they hatch, so they can ingest most small foods like brine prawns and micro-worms right away. As they get older, they can be given other shredded fish foods.
If you are looking for a rare cichlid, check the box. In the aquarium trade, however, they are often confused with similar S. fryeri, even though they are definitely different species. These fish have similar needs to other species of cichlid, but must avoid more aggressive species and similar looking fish.
If you have any questions about Blue Hap electrical maintenance, or if you have any experience keeping these rare and beautiful fish, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!