19 Fin-tastic Facts About The Humphead Cichlid For Kids!

Discover fascinating humphead cichlid facts about its feeding, distribution, habitat, diet, and more!

The humphead cichlid, Cyphotilapia frontosa, is an East African species of cichlid that is also commonly known as frontosa and front cichlid. It is known as frontosa because of its distinct forehead of a relatively large size. The frontosa cichlid is a big cichlid and varies between 8.6-13 in (21.8- 33 cm) in length. There are unique markings present on its body with five to seven vertical bars that are black in color. It can have a blue or white-colored head and body. Its trailing fins are also of a blue shade. As it gets older, it develops its characteristic pronounced cranial hump. This hump is bigger in males as compared to females.

This magnificent, non-aggressive, fish belongs to the diverse Cichlidae family and the genus Cyphotilapia. Like many other species of cichlids, the frontosa cichlid is also endemic to Lake Tanganyika. This species can be found in the northern region of Lake Tanganyika across four countries, namely, the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Tanzania, Burundi, and Zambia. It has been observed to inhabit deep waters in the wild. It is quite famous in the aquarium trade due to its patterned appearance. It can be kept in a group of 8-12 fish or alone in an aquarium where the temperature must be within the range of 77-86oF (25-30oC). The aquarium must have caves, rocks, and plants so that this fish feels comfortable. Their diet comprises crustaceans, macro-invertebrates, and small fish in the wild, and in captivity, they readily accept high-quality prepared food. Keep reading to discover more facts about this interesting fish's habitat, breeding, appearance, and more!

If you enjoyed reading our facts about the humphead cichlids, check out our cool rainbow cichlid facts for kids and Midas cichlid interesting facts!

Humphead cichlid

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Small fishes, macro-invertebrates, live or frozen foods, mosquito larvae, shrimp, vegetable matter, mollusks, algae, and organic detritus

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

10-50 eggs

How much do they weigh?

3.5 oz (100 g)

How long are they?

8.6-13 in (21.8- 33 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Black, blue, white, and gold

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Pollution, fishing, and habitat degradation

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Littoral, sediment-rich, rocky environments of a lake


Central Africa





Scientific Name

Cyphotilapia frontosa





Humphead Cichlid Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a humphead cichlid?

The humphead cichlid, Cyphotilapia frontosa, is a fish. It is a magnificent fish that is endemic to Lake Tanganyika, in Africa, like the fairy cichlid. It is renowned for its characteristic hump on its head and is one of the biggest cichlid species.

What class of animal does a humphead cichlid belong to?

The frontosa cichlid belongs to the class Actinopterygii, the family Cichlidae, and the genus Cyphotilapia. Its genus name is a unique combination of an ancient Greek word and a local dialect word, with 'cypho' meaning 'curved' and 'tilapia' meaning fish.

How many humphead cichlids are there in the world?

The population of these cichlids has not been evaluated yet. However, we do know that these cichlids are bred in captivity in large quantities to meet their demand.

Where does a humphead cichlid live?

In the wild, this fish can be found in Africa's Lake Tanganyika, in its northern half, across four countries, namely, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, and Zambia. Lake Tanganyika is a freshwater lake that is the world's second-oldest freshwater lake, the second-largest by volume, as well as the second-deepest.

What is a humphead cichlid's habitat?

In Lake Tanganyika, the frontosa cichlid resides in deep water, unlike other cichlid species that can be observed swimming in shallow water. This species of fish can be seen at depths between 98.4-164 ft (30–50 m). It has been spotted rising to shallow waters, to feed on smaller fish at dawn.

When kept in captivity, their tank size must be 200 gal (757 l) to ensure a comfortable home for this fish in the long term. They do not require bright lighting, it is a matter of the owner's persona choice. However, low lighting is preferred for breeding. The tank must mimic this fish's natural environment and must have a sandy substrate with rocks and plants. They also need caves to hide in. This species of fish is not tough to care for and does not fussy about the tank's water conditions. The temperature of the tank must be within the range of 77-86oF (25-30oC). Water changes of 30-50% can be performed weekly.

Who do humphead cichlids live with?

These cichlids have been observed to swim in groups called schools in the wild. In captivity, its tank mates must be non-aggressive. It must not be kept with smaller fish as its predatory instincts may arise. The female to male ratio must be one male to several females, like 1:3. This cichlid thrives in a colony.

How long does a humphead cichlid live?

The average lifespan of the frontosa cichlid is 10-12 years. It can live as long as 25 years too!

How do they reproduce?

These cichlids are oviparous, meaning that they are egg-laying creatures. Females of this species are mouth-brooders. They spawn on the substrate in an aquarium and in sandpits and rocks in the wild. The female lays about 10-50 eggs that are fertilized by the male. These fertilized eggs are now kept in her mouth where they are incubated. The eggs go through incubation for seven days in the female's mouth until they hatch. They hatched eggs, known as fry, emerge. These fry rise to shallow waters as oxygen level is high there. The fry attains sexual maturity after four years. The isolation of different breeding colonies has caused variations in color. They are many geographical variants that differ in color found in the Lake Tanganyika, like, Burundi six-stripe frontosa, Zambian blue frontosa, Zaire Blue frontosa, and Tanzanian six-stripe frontosa.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the frontosa cichlid is Least concern as per the IUCN's Red List. Their major threats are habitat degradation, fishing, and pollution.

Humphead Cichlid Fun Facts

What do humphead cichlids look like?

Humphead cichlids have quite a unique appearance. They range anywhere between 8.6-13 in (21.8- 33 cm) in length. There are five to seven vertical black-colored stripes present on their blue or white-colored head and body. Its trailing fins are of a blueish shade. As they get older, they develop their characteristic pronounced cranial hump. This hump is bigger in males as compared to females. Their name originated from this characteristic hump which is only present in adults. They have different varieties and their number of stripes varies. They are many geographical variants that differ in color found in Lake Tanganyika due to isolation between breeding colonies. They can differ in shade, number of stripes, placement of color, and presence of yellowish-colored membrane on some fins.

The humphead cichlid has a characteristic hump on its head that distinguishes it from others!

How cute are they?

These cichlids have a majestic appearance due to their unique body and their coloration, like the peacock cichlids. They draw a lot of attention due to their eye-catching appearance. They are a star in the aquarium they are kept in. Their white and black stripes are their characteristic features.

How do they communicate?

These cichlids are observed swimming in a group called schools.  Adult fish line up side-to-side and swim at a slow pace in deep water.

How big is a humphead cichlid?

The blue striped humphead cichlid is a slow-growing species that can range between 8.6-13 in (21.8- 33 cm) in length. The humphead cichlid size is larger than many other species of cichlids. In captivity, its size depends upon the space and its tank mates. It is about the same size as the Texas cichlid!

How fast can a humphead cichlid swim?

The speed of the frontosa cichlid has not been evaluated yet. However, we do know that they're slow-swimmer who have been observed to swim slowly in deep regions of water bodies they inhabit, between the depths of 98.4-164 ft (30–50 m).

How much does a humphead cichlid weigh?

The frontosa cichlid can weigh up to 3.5 oz (100 g)!

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for males and females of the frontosa cichlid species.

What would you call a baby humphead cichlid?

The baby of the frontosa cichlid can be called a fry.

What do they eat?

These cichlids are slow swimmers and thus, are slow-eaters. In the lake, in their natural environment, they feed upon crustaceans, macro-invertebrates, and smaller fish. In captivity, their diet includes a range of animal and plant-based foods. They accept high-quality prepared foods like mysis, shrimp, worms, mosquito larvae, vegetable matter, mollusks, krill, algae, organic detritus, and small fish like feeder fish. It has been observed to only consume sinking food that passes near its mouth. They are believed to be preyed upon by larger fish.

Are they aggressive?

No, these African cichlids are non-aggressive and non-territorial. However, they are known to defend their territories if they feel threatened. They are known to swim in schools in the deeper waters. In an aquarium, they can live with any species that is non-aggressive.

Would they make a good pet?

These cichlids make attractive and easy-to-care pets. If the environment and feeding are taken care of excellently, they can thrive in an aquarium. It is an attractive fish that is adored by many fish lovers.

Did you know...

The frontosa cichlid is caught in large numbers and is supplied to the markets locally. It is also consumed by the local African people!

Why are humphead cichlids so expensive?

These cichlids are quite expensive due to their stunning appearance and their restricted geographic range. They are found at depths ranging between 98.4-164 ft (30–50 m), which makes them quite difficult to catch. They are bred in captivity now, which makes them available at a moderate cost. A juvenile can have a price of $10, an adult $20, and a breeding pair $120.

Having your own humphead cichlid

The frontosa cichlid is a stunning addition to an aquarium and is quite the eye-catcher. There are certain essentials the owner needs to keep in mind, for the fish to thrive in captivity. For long-term care, the set-up should mimic its natural environment in the lake with proper lighting, plants, substrate (rocks and sand), and optimum water conditions. There also must be good water movement. The humphead cichlid tank size must be 200 gal (757 l) to ensure a comfortable home for this fish.  It can be kept in a group comprising 8-12 peaceful fish.  The female to male ratio must be one male to several females, like 1:3. Water changes of 30-50% can be performed weekly to prevent the accumulation of nitrate and ammonia. In captivity, their diet comprises food items like krill, worms, mysis, feeder fish, and krill.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these convict cichlid fun facts and red zebra cichlid facts for kids pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable betta fish coloring pages.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.