The Blockhead Cichlid is a rheophilic species known from fast-flowing segments of the Lower Congo River Basin. Here the water is turbulent and highly oxygenated. This habitat should be replicated as closely as possible in the home aquarium by using extra powerheads (in addition to the return flow from filters) to create a river type effect. The surface of the water should be visibly moving to ensure that there is a very high amount of oxygenation within the water at all times. An additional air-pump is also a handy back-up. Without such a high level of oxygenation and water movement, Blockhead Cichlids will not fare well at all.
These fish should really only be added to aquariums that are fully mature. Such tanks will have a good established growth of algae on the decor for the fish to graze upon in order to consume the micro-organisms within. Lighting should be fairly bright in order to encourage a decent amount of algal growth. Ideally, the aquarium will be at least 3 foot long, and contain a multitude of hiding spots amongst rocks, cobbles and bogwood.
Humphead cichlids like to dig, provide a sand substrate and ensure all decor is secure and rocks are placed on the aquarium base (rather than on top of the substrate) so that they cannot be undermined. Flat smooth rocks should be placed in the path of the flow, where these fish will often congregate just as they would do in their natural boulder-strewn habitats. Be sure to incorporate a number of quieter resting areas out of the path of direct flow too. Plants can be included in the river style aquarium, but not all species will fare well under fast current. Having said this, many aquarists have had a good deal of success with Anubias species and Java fern (Microsorum sp.) tied and trained to grow on the decor. Plants are not found in great abundance in the natural habitat of Blockhead Cichlids, so are not considered essential, but they will help with water quality and will make the aquarium look more aesthetically pleasing. Blockhead Cichlids are territorial and best maintained as a male-female pair – they should not be kept with any other cichlid species. Tankmates could include some of the African tetra species or Synodontis catfish. These characterful cichlids are unusual in that they spend a lot of time hopping about on the bottom of the aquarium, in much the same manner as gobies. This is because they have a modified swim bladder that reduces buoyancy in the midst of vigorous currents. May also be seen on sale as Lionhead Cichlid.
- Species -Steatocranus casuarius
- Common Name – Humphead Cichlid, African Blockhead
- Origin – Congo River
- Diet – Omnivorous
- PH Range – 6.0 – 7.8
- Temperature – Tropical 25°c – 30°c
- Breed Type – egg layer
- Max Size – approximately 12cm
- Sex – Un-sexed