Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

The Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Nyerere’s Victoria Cichlid, Crimson Tide Flameback, or Flameback is only found along the shallow coast lines of several islands located at the southern end of Lake Victoria, East Africa.

All Pundamilia nyererei from Lake Victoria are beautiful and highly aggressive, even more so than many Malawi Mbuna cichlids.  Adult males are regarded as one of the most beautiful freshwater fish in the world.

Juvenile Crimson Tide Cichlids are a gray color with faint bars and yellowish tinged fins.   At this stage it is almost impossible to tell males from females.  As juveniles mature, the males change from their silver gray body color to a brilliant rainbow of colors that vary on geographic location.

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlids are colored a vibrant red, black, green, and yellow with a black belly and dark vertical stripes that go from the belly to the back.

Females are a drab green gray color with black stripes.

Although males and females both have egg spots on their ventral fins, adult males have many more than the females.

Female Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

A typical male will have anywhere from 5 to 10 spots.

Females grow slower than males and are always much smaller.   They also retain their gray green body color.

Some other common geographical color varieties are listed below:

  • Pundamilia nyererei (Anchor Island)
  • nyererei (Igombe Island)
  • nyererei (Luanza)
  • nyererei (Makobe Island)
  • nyererei (Mwanza Gulf)
  • nyererei (Python Island)
  • nyererei (Ruti Island)
  • sp. “blue bar” Hippo Point Blue Bar
  • sp. “crimson tide” Red Snout
  • igneopinnis Black & Orange Nyererei

Pundamilia nyererei are extremely aggressive and will defend their territories against any fish than interlopes.   Even in a highly stocked Lake Victorian cichlid tank, they will attack and kill any species of similar color, especially during breeding.   Housing a single male in a single species tank with at least 3 to 5 females is recommended to prevent males from harassing a single female to death.

In an African community tank environment, recommended tank mates include, Malawi Peacocks, Cichlids from Lake Victoria, mild tempered Mbunas like the Lemon Yellow Mbuna, and Synodontis Catfish.   Avoid placing them with cichlids from Lake Tanganyika.,

Crimson Tide Cichlids should be kept in at least an 80 gallon aquarium with a sparse layer of coral gravel or a sand as a substrate and plenty of lava rock work for hiding places.   Live plants are beautiful and improve water quality but this species will quickly uproot them.    Some tropical fish keeping enthusiasts use artificial plastic plants in the tank for aesthetics, but most natural plants will be uprooted by their digging activities.

Pundamilia nyererei require almost pristine water conditions so a couple of Bio-Wheels or a large capacity wet/dry filtration system is highly recommended, along with regular 20 to 30% water changes.

Crimson Tide Cichlids are maternal mouth brooders.    The female lays her eggs, the male immediately fertilizes them, and the female gently picks up the eggs in her mouth and broods them for about 3 weeks or so until she releases the the fry back into the aquarium.   The fry are able to eat baby brine shrimp, Daphnia, and crushed cichlid flakes immediately after being released.

In the wild, Crimson Tide Cichlids are rock dwelling insect pickers that feeds on insect larvae, small fish, and mosses.    In an aquarium environment they need a varied diet of live, frozen, or freeze dried foods such as bloodworms, mysis shrimp
, brine shrimp, a quality Cichlid flake or pellet, and and algae based food like spirulina flakes.   A varied diet is essential to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

The Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei) is not readily available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts but are occasionally found in cichlid forums, from breeders, specialty tropical fish shops, importers, and online auction sites when they are 1 1/2″ size to adult breeding pairs, at premium prices.

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)

Crimson Tide Cichlid (Pundamilia nyererei)








Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Extremely Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 74-78°F, dH 6-10 °d, pH 7.2-8.6
Max. Size: Males 3.25″ in the wild to 7″ in aquariums
Color Form: Silver, Black, Red, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species
Origin: Lake Victoria, Africa
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 4-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

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