The Eye Biter is a large and impressive open-water predator. This fish is constantly on the prowl, and therefore is not territorial, unless preparing to spawn. In appearance, it is typically a whitish-silver with a single brown horizontal stripe on its side. Sexually mature males put on quite a display of colors: electric blue with fluorescent reds and oranges on their fins. It is a rather distinctive fish in that its jaw alone is approximately one-third its total body length. With this huge mouth, Eye Biter females are able to brood 250 fry at a time! If you ever see one of these monsters open its mouth, you’ll understand how it can brood that many.
Also of note is its unique hunting style: Eye Biter (Dimidiochromis compressiceps), whose name is derived from its compressed body, uses its extremely narrow body to its advantage in ambushing prey. It has also been observed biting the eyes out of other fish prior to devouring them, hence its common name. It hunts with its head angled downward, and its narrow body outline toward its prey so as to minimize its visibility. The Eye Biter is often cruel to its prey, catching, crippling, and then leaving its prey to die. They are incredibly quick and can turn its long body in a flash. They also prefer the open water and tend to hang out at the top of an aquarium, probably because it is more open and less hindered by rocks or plants.
If you plan to keep one of these large predators, there are a few things to take into consideration. First of all, keep aquarium decorations to a minimum as they prefer the open, unhindered space. Second, respect that this fish gets quite large 20+cm and requires a large, long tank. Third, and most important, keep in mind that this fish is a predator by nature. Smaller fishes, such as Pseudotropheus species, should not be kept with the Eye Biter. In the wild, this fish preys on other cichlids, mostly Pseudotropheus and Aulonocara species and could easily revert back to this practice in the aquarium if preventive measures are not taken.
For the aquarium, pellets, shrimp, krill, or even mussells are recommended foods. They could also be fed feeder fish if the tank doesn’t contain any Mbuna or other smaller-sized fishes, because the feeder fish could possibly make them more aggressive toward any smaller tank mates.
The Compressiceps is a mouth brooder. Most members of the mouth brooding variety of African Cichlids are easily bred while in the aquarium, if given the proper aquarium set-up and water conditions. A small group of 5 to 7 females and one male will provide the optimal breeding opportunities.
- Species – Dimidiochromis compressiceps
- Common Name – Eye Biter or Malawi Eye Biter
- Origin – Lake Malawi
- Diet – Omnivore / Piscivore
- 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 25cm)
- Sex – Un-sexed