Red Empress Cichlid (Protomelas Taeniolatus): Ultimate Care Guide

Common NameRed Empress Cichlid, Spindle Hap
Scientific NameProtomelas Taeniolatus
Water pH7.5 to 8.5
Adult Size4.5 to 6 inches

Red Empress Cichlid Facts

  • Red Empress Cichlids tend to grow larger in the wild than they do in captivity.
  • Red Empress Cichlids require a large tank. They require a minimum of 75 gallons for just one. If you are planning on keeping a grouping of them together, you will need a much larger tank of at least 100 gallons.
  • Red Empress Cichlids are mouth brooding fish. The female keeps her eggs in her mouth for their entire gestation period which can last up to 4 weeks.
  • Red Empress Cichlids are considered a hardy fish, and they will easily adapt to a wider range of water parameters. This makes them an easier fish to keep for beginner aquarium hobbyists.
  • The Red Empress Cichlid can come in a wide variety of colors, but they have predominantly blue heads with reddish or grayish bodies depending on if the fish is male or female.
Red Empress Cichlid (Protomelas Taeniolatus)
Red Empress Cichlid (Protomelas Taeniolatus)

Red Empress Cichlid

Red Empress Cichlids (Protomelas Taeniolatus) is a species of African Cichlid that have a predominantly blue head that in the males fades into the reddish orange coloration of the body. In females, the body is grayish silver. The Red Empress Cichlid males will develop their striking coloration as they reach full maturity, and you should be able to see their coloration change and deepen into their vibrant red during this time.

Male vs Female Red Empress Cichlid

Male Red Empress Cichlids tend to be larger than female Red Empress Cichlids are at full maturity. The male Red Empress Cichlid has bright reddish orange color, while the females stay a duller gray silver. If you are still unsure if you have a male or a female Red Empress Cichlid, you can look at their dorsal and anal fins. The fins of the male tend to be sharper looking and more pointed, where the fins of the female are more rounded.

Red Empress Cichlid Size and Lifespan

The Red Empress Cichlid can live up to 5 years when cared for properly. At full maturity, the Red Empress Cichlid can grow from 4.5 to 6 inches in length. When kept in captivity, they tend to stay on the smaller side. It is more common for them to grow larger in their natural habitat.

Food & Diet

In the wild, Red Empress Cichlids are omnivorous and they will often eat the algae that grows on rocks. In captivity, it is important to include rocks in their tank setup so that they have places to graze for algae.

Red Empress Cichlids do best when fed a quality flake or pellet food that includes spirulina/algae base. You can also give them thawed and live foods, but this should be done periodically.

It is better to feed Red Empress Cichlids 3 to 4 times a day in small amounts that they can completely consume in 30 seconds. This helps cut down on any aggression or competition for food. It can be quite easy to overfeed these fish as they have hearty appetites. You will notice your fish becoming more rounded if they are being overfed.

Tank Setup

Red Empress Cichlids are considered an easier fish to care for, but they require a lot of space to thrive. For a single Red Empress Cichlid it is recommended that they are placed in a tank of at least 75 gallons. If you have a small Red Empress Cichlid, you could house it in a 55 gallon, but these fish thrive in larger spaces. If you have the room for it, a 100 gallon tank is best. Giving your Red Empress Cichlid enough space is key to their health and happiness.

Red Empress Cichlids do best in water that is 75°F – 79°F, and has a pH of 7.5 to 8.5.

It is important for the health and happiness of the Red Empress Cichlid that it be housed in a larger aquarium. They require a minimum of 75 gallons for one Red Empress Cichlid. If you are planning on keeping more than one together, you will want to keep one male with at least three females. If you are wanting to keep more males in a tank, you will need a much larger tank that is a minimum of 200 gallons so that there is no fighting or aggression between the males.

An ideal tank setup for Red Empress Cichlids would include plenty of space for them to explore, a fine sandy substrate, and rocks for them to graze on. The closer you can get their aquarium to mimic their habitat in the wild, the happier and healthier your Red Empress Cichlids will be.

Red Empress Cichlid Tank Mates

Red Empress Cichlids are best kept in a small group with only one male Red Empress Cichlid. However, they do well with other docile fish of roughly the same size, provided that there is enough room to house them all. Keep in mind that they will fight with other cichlid species as they exhibit the same aggression during their spawning time.

Are Red Empress Cichlids Aggressive?

Red Empress Cichlids are considered one of the more peaceful cichlids, but they are aggressive when they are spawning. If you try to keep more than one male in a tank, you may encounter aggression issues if your tank is too small. For the most part, you will notice Red Empress Cichlids keep to themselves rather than bother the other fish in your aquarium.

Red Empress Cichlid Breeding

If you are planning on breeding Red Empress Cichlids, you will want to provide them with a breeding tank. Red Empress Cichlids can become aggressive during spawning.

Red Empress Cichlids are considered a relatively easy fish to breed when the right conditions are met. You will want to make sure that your breeding tank has a flat sandy surface, or flat rock surfaces for them to spawn. When the male is ready to spawn, he will initiate the breeding ritual by chasing his selected female around until she reaches his chosen flat spot. The male Red Empress Cichlid will shake his body in a vertical position, and the female will lay around 40 to 50 eggs and collect them in her mouth. Once the female has collected the eggs, she will then collect the sperm from the male to fertilize the eggs.

Red Empress Cichlids are mouth brooders, and the female will keep the eggs in her mouth throughout the entire gestation period which lasts from 3 to 4 weeks. Red Empress Cichlids do tend to care for the fry for a short time after they hatch. The parent fish will protect them until they are ready to swim freely on their own.

How Fast Do Red Empress Cichlid Fry Grow?

Once the Red Empress Cichlid fry have become free swimming and are no longer in need of parental protection, they tend to grow at a faster rate than other fish, reaching their full maturity at around 8 to 9 months of age.

When Do Red Empress Cichlid Fry Start To Gain Their Color?

You will notice your Red Empress Cichlids begin to gain their color at full maturity. Once the Red Empress Cichlid male reaches full maturity, you will be able to notice the color deepening by the day until they reach their full vibrant coloration.

Red Empress Cichlid Disease

Red Empress Cichlids are susceptible to many of the same ailments as other freshwater fish. They can catch ich, bacterial infections, parasites, and fungal infections. It is important for their health that you monitor their water parameters to make sure that they remain content, and so that you are aware of any changes in their aquarium before any problems arise.

You can help prevent your fish from catching illness by quarantining any new plants, or fish that you plan on adding into their aquarium. It is easier to prevent an ailment than it is to try to cure one.

Where Can I Find Red Empress Cichlids For Sale?

You will want to make sure that you purchase your fish from a reputable seller. This will ensure that you receive correct, and healthy fish. You can easily find a seller online, or purchase Red Empress Cichlids from a pet store.

Red Empress Cichlid Price

You should expect to pay anywhere from 10$ to 50$ for your Red Empress Cichlid. The price of the fish will depend on the size and coloration. You will pay more for a larger male with more coloration than you will for a smaller female.

Red Empress Cichlid vs Super Red Empress

The Super Red Empress Cichlid is a European bred line of fish that tend to gain their coloration at a much smaller size. These Red Empress Cichlids were specifically and selectively bred to show off their brighter more vibrant coloration once they have reached their full maturity. These fish have been given the name of Super Red Empress Cichlids for this reason.