Red Zebra Cichlid (Metriaclima estherae)

Red Zebra cichlid or Metriaclima estherae or Maylandia estherae is an African cichlid that belongs in the Mbuna cichlid family. Red Zebra originated from Africa’s Lake Malawi. It is characterized by its attractive red and red orange coloring. Although Metriaclima estherae also come in blues and beige in the wild, the most popular Red Zebras for freshwater aquariums are red and red orange. Similar to other Mbuna cichlids, Red Zebra cichlids are rock dwellers. They are fairly aggressive and territorial. Red Zebra cichlids are probably not the best for a beginners tank. Red Zebra cichlids are mouthbrooders and can be bred at home.

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How Big are Red Zebra Cichlids?

Red Zebra cichlids are medium sized cichlids and can grow to 4-5 inches in length. Red Zebra female cichlids can grow up to 4 inches (10 cm). Red Zebra male cichlids can grow up to 5 inches (12.7 cm).

Are Red Zebra Cichlids Schooling Fish?

No, Red Zebra cichlids are not schooling fish. They do usually swim in groups so you should always have at least 8 Red Zebra cichlids in a tank. Having a big group of Red Zebra cichlids in your tank will also help manage aggressive cichlids because they will have a harder time picking on one if there are a lot of cichlids in the tank.

Are Red Zebra Cichlids Aggressive?

Red Zebra cichlids are aggressive and territorial. It’s not the top choice African cichlid for a beginners tank.

What Water Parameters are Ideal for Red Zebra Cichlids?

Red Zebra cichlids will thrive in hard water tank that is set at 78-82 F at a PH level of 7.8 to 8.6.

Aquarium Set Up for Red Zebra Cichlid

Red Zebra Cichlids are rock dwellers, they prefer to swim and forage around rocks rather than swim in the open water. The ideal aquarium set up for your Red Zebra cichlids is to recreate the rocky environment that they are used to in Lake Malawi. Red Zebra cichlids are aggressive fish and will usually swim in groups (although not schooling fish). In order to recreate the Lake Malawi rocky environment, set up the aquarium with plenty of rocks and caves for hiding with a sandy bottom. You can buy caves and rocks from amazon or go out and find some in your backyard. Be careful, don’t stack rocks precariously, they can fall on your cichlids!

Minimum Tank Size for Red Zebra Cichlids (Metriaclima estherae or Maylandia estherae)

Red Zebra Cichlids are fairly big and can grow up to 6 inches long. You should house your Red Zebra cichlids in a big aquarium at a minimum 60 gallons, ideally 150 gallons.

How Many Red Zebra Cichlids (Metriaclima estherae or Maylandia estherae) in a 75 gallon tank?

You can have around 19 Red Zebra cichlids in a 75 gallon aquarium. Use our Mbuna cichlid tank calculator to calculate how many mbuna cichlids to house in your tank.

How Often to Change the Water of Red Zebra Cichlid Aquarium?

Red Zebra cichlid aquarium water should be changed weekly. Change 25% of water weekly. It’s important to keep up with water changes to maintain good water quality.

What to Feed Red Zebra Cichlid (Metriaclima estherae or Maylandia estherae)

Red Zebra cichlids (Metriaclima estherae or Maylandia estherae) are herbivores. In the wild, they feed on aufwuchs. Aufwuchs are algae that grows on rocks. Feed your Red Zebra cichlids vegetarian pellets. Be careful, don’t overfeed your Red Zebra cichlids, they may develop digestive issues.

How to Breed Red Zebra Cichlid

Red Zebra Mbuna cichlids are mouth brooders. The eggs are laid in caves and then scooped up by the female. She then incubates and carries them for 25 to 35 days. Even when the fry are free swimming, if there is danger or at night, she will keep her babies in her mouth for safety.  Mouth brooding Red Zebra Mbuna cichlids can be bred at home with ideal water conditions and aquarium set up. 

Here is an infograph showing step by step the breeding process of Red Zebra Cichlids.

mbuna cichlid breeding
Mbuna cichlid breeding process

Are Maylandia Cichlids the Same as Metriaclima Cichlids?

Yes, both Maylandia Cichlids and Metriaclima cichlids are the same. Scientists disagree on the name that’s why Maylandia and Metriaclima are used interchangeably. That’s why Red Zebra cichlids can be called Metriaclima estherae or Maylandia estherae.

Infographic on Metriaclima Cichlid

Below you will find an infographic on Metriaclima cichlids.

Metriaclima Cichlid facts infograph

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