Bumblebee Cichlid (Pseudotropheus crabro): Ultimate Care Guide

Bumblee Cichlids (Pseudotropheus crabro) is a type of African Cichlid that is native to Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the fourth largest body of fresh water in the world. It is also the home of over 1000 different species of fish, most of which are cichlids. Bumblebee cichlids, as their name suggests, are very reminiscent of bumblebees. This is because both have golden bodies with black stripes running along them. But that is not always the case; bumblebee cichlids are also called chameleon cichlids or hornet cichlids. The chameleon cichlid name is from the fact that they can change their colors similar to a chameleon.

Bumblee cichlids are also known as chameleon cichlids; this is because they can change their colors just like a chameleon. In the wild, bumblebee cichlids will turn completely black in order to trick Bagrid Catfish. It’s an interesting relationship; when the bumblebee catfish is its standard color, the bagrid catfish will let it feed on parasites on its body. But as soon as the bagrid catfish lays eggs, the bumblebee cichlid will turn black and begin feeding on the eggs. It will then quickly revert back to its original color, and the bagrid catfish will have no idea what happened to its eggs.

Bumblebee Cichlid Care

Bumblee cichlids are an aggressive freshwater species of fish. That means they need to be housed with compatible species if you plan on having a community tank. But if you plan on having a single bumblebee cichlid in your tank, you need to have a tank that is a minimum of 50 gallons in size. They can grow pretty large, which means you need to keep an eye on the water parameters, so it is not polluted with waste.

Bumblebee Cichlid
Bumblebee Cichlid (Pseudotropheus crabro)


The native habitat of Bumblebee cichlids in Lake Malawi in Africa. It is a tropical lake and locale, so Bumblebee Cichlids prefer to have their tanks emulate those conditions. Bumblebee Cichlids require the water in their tank to be between 76 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 – 28 degrees Celcius. If you plan on keeping your bumblebee cichlids in a community tank, it is imperative that you ensure all the species in that tank require the same temperature parameters.

Water pH

Bumblebee cichlids are known to prefer a slightly more acidic pH level. Their preferred pH level is between 7.8 – 8.6. Keeping the pH level of your tank in that range is the best way to keep your bumblebee cichlid both happy and healthy. An easy way to keep your pH level high is to add crushed coral to your tank; it dissolves faster than other salts. But you will need to keep an eye on the pH level to ensure it doesn’t get too high. If it does, it could be deadly to any species contained in your tank, not just your bumblebee cichlid.

Bumblebee Cichlid Size

Bumblebee cichlids require a large tank, at least 50 gallons in size. This is because they can get surprisingly large. Bumblee cichlids have a thick body, and males of the species can grow to be nearly 6 inches in length. On the other hand, females usually average just over 5 inches in length. That larger size combined with their aggressive attitude makes bumblebee cichlids a menace for most community tanks that aren’t appropriately researched.

Bumblebee Cichlid Tank Size

Bumblebee cichlids can grow to be up to 6 inches in length went fully mature. That size means they need a tank that will adequately fit them and give them room to move and prosper. With that in mind, bumblebee cichlids require a tank size of at least 50 gallons. That size will quickly increase if you plan to house more than one bumblebee cichlid or if you plan to breed them.

Food & Diet

Bumblebee cichlids will eat larvae, parasites, and even fish eggs in the wild. That means they’re omnivores, and they’ll eat both plant matter and meat.  When in captivity, bumblebee cichlids like a diet that is high in protein. That means most high-quality flakes are a good option for them. They also need vegetables in their diet. Veggies provide fiber, which is vital to keep their digestive system healthy. Be warned, as, with most fish, bumblebee cichlids will not stop eating. So you need to feed them carefully so that you don’t overfeed them.

Bumblebee Cichlid Lifespan

When it comes to keeping any pet, the proper care and environment are crucial to keeping them happy and healthy and ensuring they live a long and prosperous life. That is especially true of any fish kept in a tank; they need to be held in the right conditions, fed regularly, and cared for carefully. If cared for properly, a bumblebee cichlid can live to be over 10 years old.  That’s an impressive lifespan and one you’ll want to be sure you experience.

Tank Setup

Lake Malawi is where bumble cichlids call home. That means you need to set your tank up to emulate that environment. A minimum tank size of 50 gallons is required. In that tank, you should be sure to include plenty of rocks and caves for your bumblebee cichlids to explore and play in. They also prefer a sandy substrate, which they’re likely to dig in.

How to Breed Bumblebee Cichlid.

Bumblebee cichlids aren’t hard to breed as long as the proper water conditions are met and maintained. If you plan on breeding your bumblebee cichlids, you need to be sure that you have only one male in the tank and several females. The male will then select a spot to lay the eggs and then begin cleaning the location before finding a female.

Bumblebee Cichlid Male or Female: How to tell the difference.

It is not difficult to tell male and female Bumblebee cichlids apart. Male bumblebee cichlids tend to be bigger and darker than their female counterparts. Female bumblebee cichlid’s fins are shorter and rounder than those of the males. Male bumblebee cichlids also have dark blue stripes; females have a brown zigzag pattern.

Bumblebee Cichlid Disease

Bumblebee Cichlids are susceptible to several different illnesses and infections. Malawi bloat is a common disease in many African Cichlids. It starts with a loss of appetite, swelling, and lethargy. It can quickly advance and lead to liver and kidney damage and death if not treated. Ich is a common infection for all freshwater fish. It is very infectious and can be easily spotted by the appearance of white spots on the body of the impacted fish. Bumblebee Cichlids are also susceptible to Swim Bladder Disease. It affects the fish’s swim bladder and prevents them from diving down, leaving them stuck on the surface of the water. It is usually caused by a poor diet and lack of fiber, which is one of the many reasons a balanced diet is so important.

Bumblebee Cichlid Tank Mates

Bumblebee cichlids are very aggressive and territorial, which means they don’t make the best tank mates in a community tank. They also tend to feed on fish eggs, so that’s another reason you may want to avoid having them in a community tank. Their size also means you’ll need a tank large enough to accommodate your bumblebee cichlid as well as any other species you choose to include. But with proper research, you can find some suitable tankmates for your bumblebee cichlid.

Compatible Tank Mates for Bumblebee Cichlids

The first thing you’re likely to consider is housing several bumblebee cichlids together. That will only work on one condition; there can only be one male. So bumblebee cichlids are compatible with one another as long as it’s one male and several females. This is easy to achieve because it isn’t too difficult to tell male and female bumblebee cichlids apart.

Incompatible Tank Mates for Bumblebee Cichlids

The list is quite long when it comes to fish that aren’t compatible with bumblebee cichlids. Any smaller fish than the bumblebee cichlid or less aggressive ones are likely to get bullied and attacked. Starting at the top, male bumblebee cichlids aren’t compatible with one another. They will fight and likely kill one another. A single male and female bumblebee cichlid aren’t compatible either. Males get very aggressive when they breed, so it is recommended to keep them with several females.

Bumblebee Cichlid and Yellow Lab

Yellow Labs and Bumblebee Cichlids are both native to Lake Malawi in Africa. That means their preferred habitat is highly similar and their required water parameters. But despite those similarities, yellow labs and bumble cichlids likely won’t get along in the same tank. Bumblee cichlids are very aggressive, while yellow labs tend to lean more towards being docile.

Bumblebee Cichlid and Angelfish

Angelfish are a species of cichlid native to rivers in South America. They’re one of the most popular freshwater species for aquariums. So, of course, one would wonder about compatibility with other species.  Bumblebee cichlids and Angelfish likely wouldn’t get along very well in the same tank. Angelfish are more relaxed and less aggressive than bumblebee cichlids are.

Bumblebee Cichlid and Oscar fish

Bumblebee Cichlids and Oscar fish should not be kept in the same tank together. Both have very different water parameters requirements; this is because they come from two very different parts of the world. Oscars are native to South America, while bumblebee cichlids are native to Lake Malawi in Africa. Also, bumblebee cichlids’ aggressive nature means they’re likely to bully oscar, so much so they’ll probably perish.

Where can I find Bumblebee Cichlid for sale and price?

Bumblebee Cichlids are pretty popular and likely to be sold by most pet stores. If you can’t find them in a pet store, you’ll be able to purchase them in a specialty aquarium store or online. The price for a single bumblebee cichlid varies from store to store, but for the most part, they sell for around $10 for a single one. Should you buy more than one at a time, you’re likely to get a better deal on them.