The Albino Zebra Cichlid are an Albino form of the Zebra cichlids (Mbuna) that are native only to the reefs of Lake Malawi in Africa. While they are plentiful in their habitat, they are considered vulnerable because of their limited range.
Mbuna is a Tonga word meaning “rockfish,” and like all mbuna species, zebras can be found in the wild scouring large, rock reefs for algae and other small organisms. In captivity, they appreciate a tank that replicates their home environment. They like a lot of rocks in the aquarium to feel secure. They will dart in and out of the crevices, establish territories, and graze for algae if the tank is to their liking. Albino zebras can also also be quite picky about water quality. Their native water has a very high oxygen and dissolved mineral content and they need a high pH to thrive in the home aquarium. Adding an airstone or heavy circulation is recommended to keep the oxygen levels in the water high. There are also several commercial mixes available that replicate the water chemistry of the Africa Great Lakes. Adding rocks such as limestone to buffer and harden the water is also a good way to keep conditions favorable for them. Albino zebras also need low levels of dissolved pollutants to remain healthy. Doing large, frequent water changes is necessary to keep Albino zebras happy and healthy. Otherwise, they can become susceptible to disease. Plants are most likely not a great idea as they will consume many of them, and most plants do not do well in the conditions these fish require. However, hardy plants such as Java fern, Java moss, and Anubias species can be kept successfully. Otherwise, use artificial plants to add some greenery to their tanks.
Albino zebras, like most mbuna, need a high amount of green matter in their diet. Otherwise, they are very prone to developing Malawi bloat which is difficult to treat and often fatal. Feed Albino zebras with commercial algae wafers, blanched vegetables, or spirulina to avoid any complications. The occasional meaty treat such as mysis shrimp can be given, but use a lot of caution when giving mbuna any meaty food.
Albino zebras are one of the more peaceful mbunas, but it certainly does not mean they can be kept in peaceful community aquariums. They are aggressive and do best in large tanks with other mbuna species. They appreciate the company of their own kind, but rival males will kill each other if there isn’t enough room for their aggression to be spread around. Most people who keep mbunas successfully long term overstock their tanks to ensure the often intense aggression is spread out among a large number of individuals. Even then, fatalities due to fighting are not uncommon. Good candidates for stocking include species such as aceis, electric yellows and johannis.
Albino zebras are maternal mouthbrooders. If conditions are suitable, these fish will breed quite easily. Males and females can be slightly difficult to tell apart depending on the strain. Albino zebras will be sexually mature at around 7.5cm. They can be conditioned by feeding more frequently, but it usually isn’t necessary to encourage a spawn. If you don’t see your fish breeding, it may be due to aggression in their tank, so you may need to create a more peaceful environment to encourage mating. The female will usually lay about twenty or thirty eggs on a flat surface in the male’s territory. She will then scoop up the eggs into her mouth and stimulate the male to fertilise the eggs in her mouth. It is believed that the eggs spots on the fins of many males can confuse the females into thinking that those spots are eggs and encourage her to stimulate the males. After about three weeks, the female will release her fry. They can be fed crushed flake flood once they are free-swimming. If you would like to keep a large amount of the fry, stripping the female of her eggs once they are fertilised can be done. It is a delicate but not too difficult process. The eggs can then be transferred to a separate tank to be hatched and raised.
- Species – Metriaclima sp “Albino”
- Common Name – Albino Zebra
- Origin – Lake Malawi
- Diet – Omnivore/Herbivore
- PH Range – Alkaline 7.5 – 8.5
- Water Type – Hard
- Temperature – Tropical 24°c
- Breed Type – Mouth brooder
- Current Size – approximately 5cm (Grows to approximately 12cm)
- Sex – Un-sexed