Home / Fish / Frontosa


By | Last Updated : 3rd August 2020

Frontosa or front cichlid indigenous to Lake Tanganyika of east Africa makes for a great aquarium fish because of its striking appearance and bright coloration. Its genus name “cypho” means curved, while tilapia translates to fish. On the other hand, it gets its species name due to its increasingly large forehead.


Quick Information

Scientific NameCyphotilapia frontosa
Other NamesFront cichlid, humphead cichlid
OriginLake Tanganyika in eastern Africa
TypeFreshwater fish
Conservation StatusLeast Concern (by the IUCN)
Behavioral CharacteristicsGentle, and tolerant, but territorial too
School SizeThough they live best when kept alone in a tank, a school of 2 to 3 fish would do good
Physical TraitsHeavy deep body; broad, round head; large, bulbous forehead with a cranial hump; two big-sized pectoral, long ventral fins, and round caudal fins
Growth RateSlow; Approximately 5 inches (12.7 cm) by the time they are 1 after which the fish grow 2/3rd inches yearly until it attains its full size
ColorsDeep blue or white body with 5 to 7 black bands arranged vertically; white or light blue fins The species have several geographical variants showing alterations in color
Size (How big do they get)Males: 15 inches (40 cm)
Females: 8 – 10 inches (20 – 25 cm)
LifespanApproximately 15 years
Sexual DimorphismPresent; Males are larger than females with a more pronounced nuchal hump
Probable Diseases Ich, bacterial and fungal infection, and swim bladder disease
Approximate Price (How much is it for)About $50
Frontosa Fish
Frontosa Kipili

Tank Setup & Care Sheet Details

Care LevelIntermediate
Tank Size70 gallons (265 liters) for a single fish

Water Parameters

pH Level8.0 – 8.5
Temperature78.8° to 82.4°F (26 – 28°C)
Hardness12 – 14 dGH
Aquarium  Water FlowModerate (since they are slow-moving)

Tank Ambience

Substrate TypeGravel and sand alongside rocks and caves for hiding, with fewer plants too
Tank MatesCompatible with: Certain semi-aggressive species indigenous like the blue dolphin cichlid, Placidochromis phenochilus, Altolamprologus calvus, and Altolamprologus compressiceps. Oscars can also serve as moderately good tank mates to the frontosa though they could act aggressive and boisterous

Incompatible with: Small fish as the frontosa species are piscivores
Suitable Position in the TankBottom


DietLive and frozen foods like brine shrimp, and bloodworms, crustaceans like shrimp and mysis, feeder fish, flakes, and pellets
Frequency 2-3 times a day
Frontosa Burundi
Frontosa Kigoma

Important Things to Know for Fish Keepers

  • Your frontosa could turn black or lose color due to stress. Check the water levels alongside other factors and also do a partial water change if needed.
  • Many owners have often mentioned seeing their frontosa swimming upside down or floating. Apart from stress, the other possible causes include bloating and swim bladder disease (that they are prone to).
Blue Zaire Frontosa
Front Cichlid


Q. What are the different types of frontosa cichlids?

The geographical variants of the frontosa include the Burundi six-stripe frontosa, Zaire blue frontosa (bluest of all), kipili frontosa, frontosa kigoma, frontosa mpimbwe, red frontosa, Zambian blue frontosa, samazi frontosa, and kavalla frontosa.

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